Monday, January 18, 2010

USC Football Toes Line with Talent, Trouble

What a tumultuous week for the Trojans football program. First Pete Carroll left the team after a spectacular nine-year career to lead the Seattle Seahawks. The timing couldn't have been worse for the Trojans. On the field they recently limped to a 9-4 record for the season, which is the worst finish since Carroll's first year in Cardinal and Gold back in 2001. A slew of underclassmen (Stafon Johnson, Everson Griffen, Joe McKnight) were already leaving the program and incoming recruits were left wondering what the hell was happening. And of course, there was the little problem with Joe McKnight's SUV situation and the looming sanctions for the football program regarding Reggie Bush and a general lack of institutional control.

USC quickly nabbed former USC offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin from Tennessee to lead the team. Lane brings with him an unimpressive record at the Oakland Raiders and Vols as well as a reputation for minor recruiting violations and running his mouth. But he's also only 34 (the youngest head coach in FBS Subdivision) and brings an All-Star coaching staff led by his father Monte Kiffin and recruiting coordinator (and former USC assistant coach) Ed Orgeron.

It appears the Trojans will retain most of its players and swagger. By making this hire Mike Garrett is clearly enamored with prolonging the Carroll era with one of Pete's disciples. Carroll amassed a 97-19 record but also earned a reputation for running a loose program.

Lane Kiffin represents the price of winning in college football. He's a rainbow and a rainy day.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Trojans Victory Ruined by Self-Imposed Sanctions

USC 47, Arizona State 37

The recipe is clear. Tenacious defense and a deliberate offensive is Kevin O'Neill's blueprint for success. So far it's working for the Trojans. USC defeated Arizona State to improve to 2-0 in Pac-10 play and extend its win streak to eight games. It was a brutal match with only 26 made field goals and 25 turnovers.

I wrote the above last night when starting a post about last night's game. Alas, all of the team's effort (yesterday and going forward) will provide no payoff in March. Today Athletic Director Mike Garrett announced self-imposed sanctions against the men's basketball team. The penalties are as follows:

* one-year post-season ban for the 2009-2010 season
* reduction of one scholarship for 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 seasons
* reduction of one coach who can recruit off-campus during the summer of 2010
* reduction of recruiting days during the 2010-2011 season

Clearly the first penalty is the most severe and pertinent for this season. What a shame that O.J. Mayo fiasco is coming back to hurt this head coach and these group of players. Further shame should be dealt to Garrett, who panicked in (basically) firing Tim Floyd and quickly levying these sanctions about the basketball program in hopes of steering attention away from the corrupt USC football team.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Trojans Hold Off Wilcats in Pac-10 Opener to Continue Hot Streak

USC 56, Arizona 50

USC basketball makes me feel differently than USC football. That is to say Kevin O'Neill's undermanned but tough-as-nails team brings me joy while Pete Carroll's underachieving, arrogant group of rule breakers leave me frustrated.

Now that football season is over (at least for USC after its unimpressive win in the Emerald Bowl) I can now concentrate on basketball. The Trojans have been one of the big surprises of the college basketball season. After struggling in the first eight games (including tough matchups at Texas, at Georgia Tech) USC was 4-4 and all the prognosticators that picked the Trojans to finish ninth in conference looked line geniuses. Following Tim Floyd's abrupt resignation following allegations of paying O.J. Mayo the Trojan program suffered an exodus of talent. Taj Gibson, Daniel Hackett and DeMar DeRozan all bolted early to the pros. USC also lost at least four recruits, including three (Lamont Jones, Solomon Hill and Derrick Williams) to Arizona.

But USC received a boost when Charlotte PG transfer Mike Gerrity and suspended forward Leonard Washington were allowed to play.

Washington brought some much needed depth to a squad that only has a single freshman on scholarship. But it was Gerrity who instantly fixed USC's ballhandling issues. He led the Trojans to an upset win over Tennessee. And since Mike's arrival the Trojans are undefeated, winning the inaugural Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii (including wins against St. Mary's and UNLV) followed by Thursday's victory.

Currently USC's RPI ranges in the 40's and the Trojans are on pace to reach the NCAA tournament, a monumental turnaround for a program that was in disarray only a month ago.