Lincoln Riley, USC may already be in trouble for playing ineligible player in Week 0

Since Arizona transfer Christian Roland-Wallace should have been suspended for a 2022 ejection, it looks like Lincoln Riley played an ineligible player in USC's Week 0 game.
USC DB Christian Roland-Wallace (17)
USC DB Christian Roland-Wallace (17) / Katelyn Mulcahy/GettyImages

USC football's opener against San Jose State in Week 0 was a smash hit on offense and a giant flop on defense as Alex Grinch's unit gave up 28 points. Somehow, that showing just got worse.

The Trojans' highest-graded defender, according to Pro Football Focus, was defensive back Christian Roland-Wallace. And he shouldn't have even been playing in the first half.

Jason Scheer of Wildcat Authority brought this all to attention on Thursday when he pointed out to Arizona head coach Jedd Fisch that defensive lineman Tia Savea was ejected from the second half of the Wildcat's rivalry game with ASU. That means he should be suspended for the first half of the first game of 2023.

ASU has already confirmed that Will Shaffer and Elijhah Badger will be suspended for the first half of the Sun Devil's opener for their role in the rivalry melee.

The problem for USC is they already played Arizona transfer Christian Roland-Wallace, and he was among the players who were ejected in that Territorial Cup.

Since Fisch didn't seem aware that he'd need to hold out one of his players who was ejected in a game he actually coached, best guess is that Riley and company never realized Roland-Wallace was even facing a suspension.

Is USC in trouble after playing Christian Roland-Wallace in Week 0?

NCAA rules state that any player who is ejected in the second half of a game has to sit out the first half of the following game. That suspension carries over to the new season if it happens in the final game of the campaign.


So yeah, Roland-Wallace definitely shouldn't have played in the first half of the opener. But he did. What does that mean for USC?

Technically, there is a threat of USC's victory over San Jose State being forfeited because of the participation of an ineligible player. That's just a highly unlikely outcome. Instead, the Trojans are likely to go to the NCAA with a mea culpa and have Roland-Wallace serve that suspension in a later game, perhaps as soon as the Week 1 outing against Nevada.

This is an odd situation to be in, but fortunately for the Trojans, it shouldn't be a difficult issue to resolve.

UPDATE: The Pac-12 released a statement confirming that all the players ejected in the Territorial Cup will serve their suspensions in Week 1. Roland-Wallace is included in that declaration.

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