Did USC break an NCAA rule by having a player change numbers mid-game? -
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Did USC break an NCAA rule by having a player change numbers mid-game?

The reason why Southern Cal should be under investigation for this, and should have been penalized during the game is due to the fact that they had two players wearing the same jersey.  Not just the same number, the same jersey.

It’s typical to see duplicate numbers on the field, and with teams having 100 players or more (including walk-ons), they pretty much have to.  The only rule is that the players with the same number can’t be on the field at the same time, which usually means that teams have a player on the offensive and defensive side of the ball with the same.  This way they don’t get players confused or mixed up.

For example, on USC quarterback Matt Barkley wears #7 and so does their star All-American safety TJ McDonald.  The instance that is being called into question though is when their backup quarterback Cody Kessler and their punter Kyle Negrete.

Kessler is normally #6, but for their win on Saturday against Colorado, he was seen wearing #35 (Negrete’s number).  Kessler went out to run a two-point conversion wearing #35, it was successful except it was called back due to a holding call.

Then in the second half, Kessler came out in his normal number 6.  The penalty for trying to deceive an opponent by changing players numbers during a game according to the NCAA rule book is:  “Numbers shall not be changed during the game to deceive opponents.” A team caught doing so will be assessed a 15-yard penalty and “flagrant offenders shall be disqualified.”

To me it seems as though they blatantly violated the NCAA rules, but here is what USC Head Coach Lane Kiffin had to say: “We change jerseys all the time with our guys.  We’ll change some more this week. Everything’s within college rules.”

Sure they can change them during the week as much as they like, they can even change them on game day prior to the game; something that Michigan has done all year when unveiling their “legends uniforms.”  But, if Kessler changed his number, then why did he go back to his old number at half time?  It seems a lot like an NCAA violation to me.

H/T: Detroit Free Press

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