Todd McNair fights back against the NCAA

Former USC assistant coach Todd McNair is appealing the NCAA's rulings against him, claiming misconduct by investigators as well as factual inaccuracies used in the Committee on Infractions' report.

And his 85-page appeal is compelling. Consider this from USCFootball.com:

The most serious charge leveled by McNair was of post-hearing misconduct by the NCAA. According to the appeal, the committee [COI] had ex parte communications with the enforcement staff by sharing a draft of the committee's infractions report in order to correct "factual errors." NCAA bylaws 32.8.8 and prohibit such ex parte communication.

"That kind of communication is strictly forbidden," former committee chairman Tom Yeager said. "The committee has so many attorneys on it that would raise all kinds of red flags; they just wouldn't go down that way. In my years on the committee, the conversation with any NCAA [staff] is almost exclusively with the committee's own staff people. They just don't talk to the enforcement staff."

It's been fairly well established that the NCAA's investigation of USC was sloppy. The bigger issue for McNair and USC is whether pointing out any of these flaws will matter to the Infractions Appeals Committee.

The Appeals Committee is not allowed to consider new evidence. So McNair and USC are basing their appeals on process and precedent and hoping that a new set of eyes will see a two-year bowl ban and loss of 30 scholarships over three years as too harsh based on the already presented evidence -- and, in McNair's case, a "show cause" penalty against him which prevents him from having contact with recruits for one year because he provided "false and misleading" testimony.

McNair and USC have strong cases. If they presented their cases in front of a judge and jury, they'd win. But the NCAA doesn't work like that, so USC fans should still see any potential mercy from the Appeals Committee as a long shot.