USC student manager deflates footballs

Published On November 8, 2012 | By Jill Saftel

There’s a reason NCAA officials keep tabs on game footballs, according to USA Today. Deflating them can give your team an advantage, since each team uses their own balls and a less inflated ball is easier to both throw and catch.

So, when it was discovered that a USC student manager had deflated game balls during the first half of Saturday’s loss to Oregon, the Trojans were reprimanded and fined by their Pac-12 conference. According to the USA Today report, USC had the following to say about the incident in a statement:

“Game officials discovered and re-inflated three of the balls before the game and two others at halftime. All balls were regulation in the second half.

“When informed of this allegation by the Pac-12, USC investigated it immediately. The student manager confirmed that he had, without the knowledge of, or instruction from, any USC student-athlete, coach, staff member or administrator, deflated those game balls after they had been tested and approved by officials prior to the game.”

USC holds to the fact that head coach Lane Kiffin, his staff, and the players weren’t aware of the actions of the student manager, but this isn’t their first run-in with questionable tactics.

The team was criticized when they changed backup quarterback Cody Kessler‘s number from 6 to 35 before a game against the Buffaloes last month, with No. 35 the same jersey number as punter Kyle Negrete. The Trojans then used Kessler on a two-point conversion in the first half while wearing No. 35 before moving back to No. 6 for the second half.

“Numbers shall not be changed during the game to deceive opponents,” reads the NCAA rulebook. A team caught doing so will be assessed a 15-yard penalty and “flagrant offenders shall be disqualified.”

USC has said that since the jersey was switched before the game, it doesn’t represent any rule violation. Regardless, neither incident is good publicity for a USC team under-performing on the field.

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About The Author

Jill studies journalism at Northeastern University, covers Hockey East for College Hockey News and is the sports editor for The Huntington News. You can follow her on Twitter at @jillsaftel, just don't ask her to choose between hockey and baseball, it's impossible.