Scroggins' departure won't mean much for USC

Jesse Scroggins' transfer, officially announced Monday by USC coach Lane Kiffin after weeks of speculation, was not a big surprise.

It wasn't a big loss either, especially considering the Trojans are now right at the NCAA-mandated maximum of 75 scholarship players. Scroggins was No. 76.

The redshirt sophomore quarterback has been on the edge of leaving for close to a year now, flirting with academic ineligibility and disciplinary issues to fall far behind two younger players in the race to back up starter Matt Barkley. It turns out Scroggins is eligible to compete in 2012 after getting his academic act together in the spring semester, but no matter: There really wasn't any room for a fourth scholarship quarterback on the roster this year, considering the scholarship limitations.

Now, Scroggins will look at his transfer options. It's likely he'll spend this season at a junior college to pick up experience he missed out on over the last two years at USC. Then, if all goes as planned, he'll be a hot target next winter for FBS teams looking for a plug-and-play junior quarterback.

Scroggins struggled mightily with the playbook at USC, he himself admitted. But he has a rocket arm -- by far the strongest of the Trojan quarterbacks -- and good mobility in the pocket, and there's plenty of reason to believe he could be a desirable recruit on the open market.

It's up to him to make himself into that over the next six months, probably at a local junior college like Cerritos College or El Camino College, where former USC assistant Steve Sarkisian played quarterback in the 1990's.

The Trojans will move on without skipping a beat. Scroggins played such a small role with the team during spring football anyway, and backups Max Wittek and Cody Kessler are both clearly good enough to back up Barkley on their own.

The only problem scenario that could result from this news would be if the loser in the competition between Wittek and Kessler decides in August to jump ship and transfer to another school. In that situation, USC would have only two scholarship signal-callers, and walk-on senior John Manoogian would be the third stringer, like he essentially was last season.

To avoid that, Kiffin could simply refrain from naming a second-string quarterback all year, or at least until it's needed later in the season. That would probably keep both guys in the fold until next winter, when highly-touted high school senior Max Browne will enroll early and presumably compete to start.

Scroggins has potential, no doubt. But he fulfilled very little of it at USC. And he was way, way down the depth chart, both at the quarterback spot and in terms of overall value added to the football program.

It could've been worse.