As has been suspected since Wednesday -- when Cretin-Derham Hall offensive lineman Seantrel Henderson committed to play at USC but did not sign a letter of intent -- the nation's No. 1 recruit is back on the market.
During an in-studio interview with KSTP-TV sports anchor Joe Schmit on Sunday night, Henderson and his father, Sean Henderson, made it clear that Seantrel will not sign with USC if NCAA penalties are too severe. But the extent of those penalties may not be known for months, and nobody knows how long the Hendersons are willing to wait.
USC officials will appear before an NCAA infractions committee later this month. The NCAA is investigating allegations that former football player Reggie Bush -- now with the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints -- broke rules by accepting cash, a car and free housing from businessmen who hoped to profit from Buch after he turned professional.
Schmit asked Seantrel Henderson if NCAA sanctions could change his mind about going to USC.
The 18-year-old said, "Yeah, I think it would. But at the same time, I would have to, you know, talk to the coaches to see exactly what’s going on and exactly what’s going to happen and then base my decision upon what’s going to be going on. Because that’s the school I would like to go to, but then at the same time I just can’t walk into anything that’s going to, like, make my future, you know, not as good as it could be."
Sean Henderson said, "I wouldn’t lose the leverage that we have. I mean, at the end of the day it’s still a business and at the end of the day it’s still my son’s future. And everything that’s going to possibly go on in his life could boil down to that decision and I wouldn’t sell him basically, per se, you know, but my son, his life away and put it in their hands not knowing, you know, what the future holds for USC or for him. And so I’d rather be able to at least let him keep his options open, because if things aren’t looking good come the 20th or the 21st [of February] or whatever, then we might have to move in a different direction, but it’s only for the sake of his future."
It's highly unlikely that the extent of NCAA sanctions against USC will be known anytime soon. Those decisions historically have been announced six to eight weeks after the NCAA holds hearing with the school involved. That makes it even more likely that Seantrel Henderson -- not knowing what will happen with USC -- may sign with another school.
John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/stribjohn