Kyle Bonagura — (ESPN Staff Writer) LOS ANGELES — During two days on the witness stand in his defamation trial against the NCAA, former USC assistant football coach Todd McNair experienced a range of emotions. He laughed, he cried, at times he showed frustration and mostly he remained calm.
It was an opportunity he waited nearly eight years for, and when his lawyer, Bruce Broillet, was done with his redirect on Friday, McNair wasn’t ready for it to be over. He still needed to get something off his chest.
“Can I touch on something?” McNair asked.
“Sure,” said Broillet, who seemed surprised and quickly modified the response into an open-ended question to let McNair speak.
McNair outlined what it was like to sink into depression after becoming one of the faces in one of the biggest scandals in college sports history. The more he spoke, the more passionate he became.
“Was there more at stake for you in this case than money?” Broillet asked.
“This ain’t about money. It’s not about money,” McNair said. “It ain’t never been about the money.”
“Nobody’s going to make me know Lloyd Lake,” he went on to say. “You cannot make me know Lloyd Lake. I don’t care how many people are in front of me. I don’t care how many trials, hearings or anything else. That’s never going to change. It’s never going to change. I didn’t know Lloyd Lake.”
It was easily one of the most powerful moments in the two-week-old trial, and it seemed to give McNair some form of temporary relief.
An interview with Lake, a convicted felon, was what the NCAA relied most heavily upon to slap McNair with a one-year show cause penalty that McNair’s lawyers have argued ended his coaching career. Lake told NCAA investigators McNair knew he was providing Reggie Bush with improper benefits during the running back’s celebrated career at USC. McNair and Bush denied the former running backs coach had any such knowledge.
The NCAA’s attorney, Kosta Stojilkovic, started his cross-examination of McNair on Thursday but waited until the beginning of the day Friday to display five personal checks from Bush to McNair from late 2010 to 2015 that totaled more than $60,000.
McNair referred to the money as loans but said he doesn’t have to pay the money back. It also was revealed that McNair — whose contract with USC was not renewed in June 2010, shortly after the NCAA Committee on Infractions report linked him to the scandal — received $240,000 from USC in 2011.
As expected, Stojilkovic spent a bulk of his cross-examination shining a light on the effort McNair made to get another job in coaching. McNair testified he reached out to only a few NFL teams and college programs, while opting to rely on the network of friends he has in the coaching industry.
In order to show there were other friends McNair could have reached out to, Stojilkovic displayed a list of several names McNair mentioned during his testimony the previous day. The attempt backfired, as McNair went down the list, one by one, with simple explanations for why the people Stojilkovic insisted could have helped him really could not.
“Retired … retired … deceased … retired … he’s still playing … he’s just a parent,” McNair said.
Stojilkovic also insisted that McNair should have been suspicious when Bush started driving a late 1990s-model Chevrolet Impala, which later was determined to have been provided by Lake.
“If he pulled up in a Mercedes, I would have said something,” McNair said. “That Impala was trash.”