USC basketball picked 2nd in Pac-12, but did anyone notice? – Daily News

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LOS ANGELES — USC was picked to finish second in the Pac-12 preseason basketball media poll Thursday, its highest-ever conference projection.

But you would be hard-pressed to hear about it with the cloud hanging over the program. USC coach Andy Enfield should probably be worried right now as a federal investigation into his program continues following the arrest of assistant coach Tony Bland last month.

The question is whether Enfield knew Bland took $13,000 in bribes and funneled $9,000 to the families of two USC players?

“I found out when everybody else did,” Enfield said at Pac-12 media day. “We all love Tony. It’s very difficult on a personal level. It’s very difficult on a program level because we all had great relationships with each other.”

An assistant at a major conference Division I school with more than 15 years of experience believes most head coaches are aware of what happens within their programs.

“It’s honestly impossible to be in deep recruiting a player and getting to know their family and the people around them and not have the head coach aware that they have their hand out and want more,” said the coach, who asked not to be identified.

>> USC quarterback Sam Darnold has a fond memory of Utah, the Trojans’ opponent on Saturday.

“They were my first (scholarship) offer,” he said.

>> What a tough break for former USC quarterback Max Browne, who underwent shoulder surgery Thursday and will miss the rest of the season at Pittsburgh.

Browne was always a team player at USC, and never became a negative influence after losing the starting job last season to Sam Darnold. He never acted like an entitled athlete and you would never know he was the top-ranked quarterback in the nation his senior year of high school.

He completed 96 of 135 passes for 997 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions with Pitt.

>> Darnold apologized to USC coaches this week for comments that suggested improving the play calls. More than a few observers believe the coaches should apologize to Darnold for the lack of creativity and unmemorable supporting cast surrounding Darnold this season.

>> The rivalry between USC and Utah has not always been friendly. After Utah defeated USC, 10-6, in the 2001 Las Vegas Bowl, the coaches from both teams got into a pressbox elevator to go down to the field. After a Utah assistant made a comment about the victory, a near-altercation ensued.

Perhaps the story becomes more understandable when you consider Lane Kiffin was in the elevator.

>> When USC played Utah in 1948 at the Coliseum, it was televised on the first day of broadcasting for Channel 13, which later became KCOP-TV. It was the only thing broadcast that day.

The game announcer was Sam Balter and there were only two cameras that cost $18,000 each. The game required the services of 10 men, including Balter, for a total of $1,000.

>> USC turned down a $5 million pledge from Harvey Weinstein, following allegations of sexual assault and sexual harassment. Is this the first time USC refused money from anyone?

>> Utah’s become a thorn in USC’s side but only when the game is in Salt Lake City. The Utes have not won in Los Angeles since 1916, when the game was played at Fiesta Park. USC has played so indifferent this season I would be tempted to pick Utah if quarterback Tyler Huntley were guaranteed to start.

But Huntley is day-to-day with a shoulder injury, which means either Troy Williams or Cooper Bateman will start. And will this finally be the week USC looks like the team it was supposed to be?

Without a healthy Hunley, it probably doesn’t matter. I’ll take USC, 38-24.



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