Todd McNair vs. NCAA: Plot thickens

Ever get into a debate with someone, and they keep changing the subject because they know they are wrong?

Welcome to the world of USC and Todd McNair vs. the NCAA.

USC fans might want to hold off reading this until Dec. 26. It might ruin your Christmas. While this is obviously from a USC-oriented website -- and it uses documents coming from the former Trojans assistant coach's side of things -- it does demonstrate the uphill battle against an entrenched foe that USC faces when it meets with the NCAA Infractions Appeals Committee next month.

The gist:

The former USC football assistant [McNair] says the Committee has made a flawed case far worse by bringing in, contrary to its own rules of procedure and evidence, new, mistaken, immaterial, irrelevant, contradictory and false allegations against him, even to the point of inventing quotes and making a first-ever "phantom finding."

A "fundamental violation of due process," is how McNair describes what the NCAA has done here.

The Infractions Committee's response "confirms that the findings against McNair are clearly contrary to the evidence," McNair and his attorney, Scott Tompsett of Kansas City, say in a November rebuttal to the Infractions Appeals Committee that was obtained by USCFootball.com.

It's worth a read, in large part because it shows how sloppy and arbitrary the NCAA has been in its handling of the entire USC case. Trojans fans have a right to wonder if other recent cases involving agents and pay-for-play schemes will get the same aggressive, take-no-prisoners treatment.

This final portion is pretty darn amusing, though. Remember that notorious 1996 Impala that was one of Reggie Bush's improper extra benefits provided to him by would-be agents? There apparently was some discussion of just how rocking cool this car was. The NCAA took a dim view of McNair for not being properly impressed, even though the car was not dudded up with fancy features until after Bush declared that he would enter the 2006 NFL draft a year early.

So ingrained was the misguided mythology of the Bush Impala in the mind of the Infractions Committee, former USC head coach Pete Carroll had to interject himself at the end of his Tempe hearing testimony to correct a comment from COI member Missy Conboy, Notre Dame's deputy AD.

Carroll said this: "Okay I just wanted to say we left something out there, that Missy [Conboy] said that the car was a cool car. It was not. It was not a car that kids really cherished and all that. That is - anyway, the kind of car that everybody would covet. It was kind of 'Why would you get that one?' It was really more so. You kind of left it out there like it was a hot-shot car and it really wasn't."

McNair's rebuttal finishes off the Committee's car silliness with this comment: "The COI has wide latitude in making credibility determinations. But that latitude does not extend so far as to denounce a person's credibility for voicing his personal opinion about a 1996 Impala."

This is a 1996 Impala. The Pac-10 blog now rules that all members of the NCAA Infractions Committee must drive one for two years.