EUGENE, Ore. — A student equipment manager for the USC Trojans intentionally deflated at least five game balls used in the first half of this weekend’s game against the Ducks.
Would such a small adjustment have an impact on the match-up?
We now know Pac-12 referees re-inflated the game balls before the USC-Oregon game, but two more of USC’s footballs remained under-inflated through the first half. It wasn’t enough to catch spectators’ eyes and not enough for any of the Ducks to notice either.
“I don’t know what advantage that would give,” said UO safety Avery Patterson.
“Maybe for guys with smaller hands? I don’t know, but it doesn’t have anything to do with us, so it’s not a concern. Just didn’t think one way or another,” said Chip Kelly, UO Head Football Coach.
The air adjustment was easily under the radar considering that in NCAA games, each team uses its own balls when they have possession, meaning only USC players could have benefitted from the balls their student manager deflated in the first half.
But how much could the Trojans possibly benefit from such a minute adjustment. We asked former Oregon State quarterback coach Jay Schakke to test that out with us in a game of catch. He could tell one of the footballs was softer than the other.
Coach Schaake’s conclusion: The manager’s attempted trickery didn’t make much of a difference at all–at least not in USC’s win column. However, it did affect their budget, resulting in fines from the Pac-12 and end of the student manager’s tenure with the Trojans.