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Van Blarcom academically ineligible and out of school

Times Staff Writer

USC kicker Troy Van Blarcom was declared academically ineligible for the Rose Bowl and has been dismissed from the university, Coach Pete Carroll said Friday.

Van Blarcom, a sophomore who has handled kickoffs the last two seasons, failed to raise his grade-point average to a standard that would have allowed him to maintain his eligibility. He did not attend practice Friday.

“He’s been on the edge of this for some time. ... It’s very unfortunate because he knew all along what was at stake and what he had to get number-wise,” Carroll said.

Van Blarcom committed to USC out of Orange Lutheran High but was not allowed to sign a letter of intent in February 2005 because of academic issues. He received clearance from USC’s admissions office two months later and appeared in all 13 games last season.

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During training camp this year, Van Blarcom held off a challenge from junior college transfer David Buehler. He consistently kicked the ball into or through the end zone in the first few games, but struggled with a hip injury for much of the latter half of the season.

“He had a great start to the season and tailed off a little bit at the end but had a very solid season and contributed for us,” Carroll said.

Carroll said Van Blarcom could transfer to a junior college or another four-year school. He also said Van Blarcom could apply for readmission to USC at some point.

“I talked to the family and they’re going to take some time to figure it out,” Carroll said.

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Buehler, who kicked a 49-yard field goal against California on Nov. 18, is eager for the chance to handle kickoffs against Michigan in the Rose Bowl.

“I’m going to be the guy,” he said. “I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to step in there and show what I can do.”

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Offensive tackle Matt Spanos also failed to qualify academically to participate in the Rose Bowl.

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Spanos, a fourth-year junior who was ineligible during the regular season, practiced Friday but declined to comment.

He will remain in school and attempt to raise his grades during the spring semester and summer school so that he can play next season, Carroll said.

Spanos worked at right tackle with the first-team offense early this week. Carroll said Spanos had not been on track to start ahead of Kyle Williams.

“We just wanted to see where he was in the event he would be eligible for us,” Carroll said. “We made the situation competitive like we always do during the early part of the week. ... We never had planned to start him.”

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Starters defeated the service team, 23-21, in a spirited mock game that was highlighted by John David Booty’s touchdown pass to C.J. Gable on the final play, Mark Sanchez’s touchdown pass to receiver David Ausberry and several big hits by linebacker Luthur Brown. ... Carroll said he was pleased with his team’s work in the weeks leading up to a three-day break. “We send these guys out of here with well-wishes for the holidays,” Carroll said. “We really want them to be careful in their traveling and all that and get everybody back in one piece.” ... After practice, several out-of-state players headed for the airport to catch flights home. Earlier this week, Booty said he would return to Shreveport, La., for Christmas for the first time since he arrived at USC in 2003. Tight end Fred Davis, who was suspended for the 2005 national championship game because he failed to return from Ohio on time, said he would remain in Southern California for the holidays.

gary.klein@latimes.com


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