Originally posted on Larry Brown Sports  |  Last updated 11/8/12

A student manager for the USC football team was fired for intentionally deflating game balls below NCAA-regulated levels for the team’s game against Oregon last Saturday, the school announced on its website Wednesday. According to the report on USC’s website, the game officials noticed the deflated balls and re-inflated three of them before the game. They re-inflated two more balls during halftime. Though all the balls used in the second half were regulation, some of the deflated balls reportedly were used in the first half. When informed of the issue by the Pac-12, USC reportedly began investigating immediately. The student manager is taking the fall. Per USCTrojans.com: 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 was reprimanded and fined by the Pac-12. Deflating balls makes them easier to catch and throw, so one has to assume this was done in an attempt to aid USC’s passing game. As the home team, USC can also control which balls their offense uses and which balls the opponent would use. USC lost the game 62-51 and allowed a school record-worst in points. Quarterback Matt Barkley went 35/54 for 484 yards, five touchdowns, and two interceptions. Oregon freshman quarterback Marcus Mariota was 20/23 for 304 yards, four touchdowns, and no interceptions. A few thoughts on the incident. It’s pretty obvious that USC was caught trying to cheat, which isn’t the first time that’s happened with the program this season. Two, though the student manager is taking the blame, there is no way on earth I believe he acted on his own without the knowledge or direction of the coaches. The person’s name isn’t even listed, so this won’t sully their reputation. The coaches are just blaming the little guy here to cover for themselves. Lastly, it’s quite fitting that the team was embarrassed in a game where they were trying to gain an advantage through cheating. I’m guessing the reaction from USC fans to this incident will be no different than what they’ve been thinking: fire Lane Kiffin. H/T Scott Enyeart

This article first appeared on Larry Brown Sports and was syndicated with permission.

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