So earlier today Pete Carroll put up a Twitter poll:
... and inadvertently hit one of my few exposed proletarian nerves.
Said poll can be found here, nominating nine numbers representing 11 Southern Cal players (a couple numbers are shared by starters on opposite sides of the ball), each of whom Carroll lists by name. At the moment, with a little over 1,500 votes, No. 2 -- to be worn by safety Taylor Mays and running back C.J. Gable -- is leading the pack.
I gather that this is a bit of non-binding fun on Carroll's part. But clearly (and even one of the poll's commenters points this out) using an athlete's likeness to produce and sell anything is strictly verbotten. (From the NCAA manual, Section 12.5: "The student-athlete’s name, picture or appearance [may not be] used to promote the commercial ventures of any nonprofit agency." ... "Any commercial items with names, likenesses or pictures of multiple student-athletes ... may be sold only at the member institution at which the student-athletes are enrolled.") This is why Sam Keller can plausibly sue EA Sports. Collegiate jersey sales are based on the notion that the number somehow doesn't represent the name or likeness of any specific athlete; you shouldn't be able to find one with a name on the back. (In USC's case, there are no names on the actual jerseys the players wear in games, although, just as with online rosters in EA Sports' franchise, it's easy enough to add it yourself if you really want to.) So even though the replicas may cost $150, no athlete receives any of the proceeds. Because there is no specific player, right? Go team!
As Carroll proves, even the coaches don't bother to keep up this fiction. If USC markets the No. 2 jersey this fall, everybody knows exactly what -- and who -- they're buying: Taylor Mays and/or C.J. Gable. No. 4 is Joe McKnight. Elsewhere, No. 15 is Tim Tebow, No. 12 is Colt McCoy. They're openly marketed this way online and in stores, and now, for some reason, by one of the most high profile coaches in the country. There are no secrets, nothing to hide, until it's time to divvy up the profits.