USC basketball picked 2nd in Pac-12, but did anyone notice? – Orange County Register

LOS ANGELES — USC was picked to finish second in the Pac-12 preseason basketball media poll Thursday, its highest-ever conference projection.

But you would be hard-pressed to hear about it with the cloud hanging over the program. USC coach Andy Enfield should probably be worried right now as a federal investigation into his program continues following the arrest of assistant coach Tony Bland last month.

The question is whether Enfield knew Bland took $13,000 in bribes and funneled $9,000 to the families of two USC players?

“I found out when everybody else did,” Enfield said at Pac-12 media day. “We all love Tony. It’s very difficult on a personal level. It’s very difficult on a program level because we all had great relationships with each other.”

An assistant at a major conference Division I school with more than 15 years of experience believes most head coaches are aware of what happens within their programs.

“It’s honestly impossible to be in deep recruiting a player and getting to know their family and the people around them and not have the head coach aware that they have their hand out and want more,” said the coach, who asked not to be identified.

>> USC quarterback Sam Darnold has a fond memory of Utah, the Trojans’ opponent on Saturday.

“They were my first (scholarship) offer,” he said.

>> What a tough break for former USC quarterback Max Browne, who underwent shoulder surgery Thursday and will miss the rest of the season at Pittsburgh.

Browne was always a team player at USC, and never became a negative influence after losing the starting job last season to Sam Darnold. He never acted like an entitled athlete and you would never know he was the top-ranked quarterback in the nation his senior year of high school.

He completed 96 of 135 passes for 997 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions with Pitt.

>> Darnold apologized to USC coaches this week for comments that suggested improving the play calls. More than a few…

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