Leave it to Southern California's Lane Kiffin to sign one of the nation's top recruiting classes even while the Trojans are appealing NCAA sanctions. Twenty-one high school recruits and one junior college player signed with the Trojans on Wednesday, despite the possibility of NCAA scholarship restrictions.
"What we did is we followed the guidelines of what we could do," Kiffin said Wednesday. "We could sign a maximum of 25 today, not counting the midyears (enrollees) that went into last year's class. So we got close to that."
Eight midyear enrollees began school last month and will be counted toward last year's class, which included 14 players.
- Last month, USC appealed the NCAA sanctions over violations involving former tailback Reggie Bush. The penalties — which include a 15-scholarship limit each of the next three years and a two-season bowl ban — have been suspended until the NCAA's Infractions Appeals Committee reaches a decision, expected next month.
Addressing the issue generally, NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn wrote in an e-mail, "The appeals committee can uphold, reduce or overturn the penalty. If the appeals committee upholds the penalty, then the effect date would change, but the amount of years would not. If the penalty is overturned, it is a moot issue."
In other words, if the NCAA upholds the penalty, the scholarship limits won't start until 2012. In the meantime, Kiffin stockpiled enough talent to weather the initial blow.
"I think people are looking towards this class to see is there any way SC can hold up with all the stuff going on and be able to sign a quality class," Kiffin said. "I hope we did that."
Kiffin's class tied for third nationally in a consensus of four major recruiting analysts. The Trojans have 80 on scholarship, under the limit of 85, and, according to spokesman Tim Tessalone, could sign one or two more.