USC fires student manager who deflated balls in Oregon game

November 8, 2012

Is that ball sufficiently inflated, Matt? (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images)

Southern California tried its hardest to keep pace with Oregon‘s high-octane offense on Saturday night at the Coliseum, but at least one member of the Trojans’ staff took that effort too far.

USC has fired a student manager who intentionally deflated game footballs below NCAA-mandated pressure levels during Oregon’s 62-51 win. The university reported the firing of the unnamed student on its Web site late Wednesday night, according to the Associated Press.

Under-inflated balls are easier to grip, making them easier to throw, catch and hold. While the slightly softer balls might have contributed to Matt Barkley‘s 484 passing yards, they did nothing to help a defense that gave up a whopping 730 yards of offense – the most in USC history.

According to the school’s report, the manager admitted that he deflated the balls of his own accord after they were checked by game officials. USC has been reprimanded and fined by the Pac-12 for the incident, the school said.

Last month, USC coach Lane Kiffin came under fire for switching the jerseys of a backup quarterback to that of the team’s punter. Cody Kessler (6) wore punter Kyle Negrete’s No. 35 jersey in an Oct. 20 win against Colorado, which included a failed two-point conversion attempt in which Kessler was involved. The Trojans claim since they switched Kessler’s jersey before the game, it does not violate NCAA game rules, as reported by USA Today.

Wednesday’s announcement came the same day the NFL fined the San Diego Chargers $20,000 because an equipment staff member failed to immediately turn over towels to a game official that were suspected to have an adhesive substance on them during an Oct. 15 game against the Denver Broncos.

The league said Wednesday that the Chargers did not used banned sticky substances or violate any rules. The team said it will appeal the fine.

Follow us: @MattBrooksWP | @CindyBoren

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Cindy Boren | November 8, 2012