Thursday, August 30, 2007

USC's McNair Tries to Clear the Air

USC running backs coach Todd McNair remained at the center of a storm Wednesday over two 1990s convictions for mistreating dogs, first brought to light by the site Bruins Nation.

McNair told the Los Angeles Times that both cases stemmed from his failed attempts at dog breeding.

"I had a number of different breeds at different points of time over a couple years," he told the Times. "I realized I got in over my head. I wasn't able to maintain it properly and it cost me."

But law enforcement officials told the paper that "all indications" showed McNair was involved in pit bull fighting.

"We didn't witness a dogfight taking place, but . . . that's what the dogs were used for," East Greenwich (New Jersey) Township police official Charles Barone said. "There was a treadmill used for [dog] training, and we found the dogs in an unsheltered, wooded area far from the highway, where they were held down by [automobile towing] chains connected to large tire rims. It was deplorable."

A judge ruled there was insufficient evident to convict McNair of dogfighting, but officials were able to convict the former NFL running back on 17 counts of animal cruelty and failure to license dogs. He was fined more than $4,900.

Police emailed several crime scene photos from the 1996 incident to the Times, including an image of one dog's mangled face. We have found what we believe to be that image online. Instead of posting it, we have chosen to only link to it. In other words, the image comes with a warning. Here is that link.

The Times' story also details a 1994 incident involving police shooting and killing a pit bull that was suspected to have belonged to McNair, and a 1993 incident that led to McNair being charged with animal neglect. He was convicted for failing to display tags on two dogs and received a sentence of probation and a fine.

McNair also tried to clear his name in story posted on USC Rips It, which is a site operated by USC. The story was authored by Ben Malcolmson, a former writer for the Daily Trojan who tried out and made the team in 2006. Malcolmson told the Wiz earlier this month that he is now employed by the USC athletic department and works on the site directly out of the football office.

The Daily Trojan also has an editorial titled, "Bruin blog site did not practice good journalism." Bruins Nation, of course, has a response for this. The teams play Dec. 1 at the Coliseum.

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