Let it not be said that USC hasn't learned from their past history with Reggie Bush ; when details surfaced that freshman running back Dillon Baxter had taken a golf cart ride with a USC student attempting to kickstart a fledgling career as an agent (a student already warned by the Trojan compliance department to stay away from USC's players), the Trojans wasted no time in declaring Baxter ineligible and holding him out of Saturday's 36-7 loss to Oregon State .
With that game and the investigation (such as it must have been) behind them, however, the Trojans are ready for the NCAA to sign off on Baxter returning to the fold for this week's game against Notre Dame :
USC self-reported the infraction and also filed an official request with the NCAA for Baxter's reinstatement. As part of the request, USC put a nominal value on the golf cart ride that Baxter would have to repay, likely to a charity, USC vice president for athletic compliance David Roberts said.
"We're hoping that that this is going to be the end of it and the NCAA will understand that we acted proactively and quickly," Roberts said. "Obviously we'll take further action in this coming week to make sure that there are no other contacts between these people and our players."
Depending on how much value USC placed on that golf cart ride, maybe Teague Egan -- the agent-to-be in question, who said he offers "15-20" golf cart rides a day to his fellow USC students -- should simply start a campus golf cart taxi service instead. But assuming the NCAA finds no other malfeasance, that USC responded as quickly as they did in the face of such a seemingly minor violation would indicate that the days of Bush-style lawlessness are behind them.
(It's at this point that many college football fans would ask why Baxter was held out for something so piddly while Cam Newton has continued to play after serious allegations that his father solicited up to $200,000 for his services. There's no clear answer to that question, though your perspective likely alters how you'd expect that answer to arrive; the media consensus appears to be that Auburn is simply thumbing its nose at the usual sit-first-ask-for-reinstatement-aft
er process and daring the NCAA to act, though Auburn fans will tell youthat Newton's continued appearances indicate just how un serious the threat to his eligibility really is. It seems we'll all find out when the NCAA says we'll find out, unfortunately.)