UCLA-USC: If you read my last Column, you know that I predicted that UCLA would win the game against USC. Sadly, it turns out that I was correct. Since the writing was on the wall, I will not call this an upset. It was plain to see that USC had lost its Mojo, and was trying to win by reputation alone.
At the beginning of the season, the Trojans got caught up in their own hype. They sincerely thought that they were the number one team in the nation, and also that Matt Barkley would win the Heisman Trophy. The Kiffins broke one of the cardinal rules of coaching of any sport, at any level. That rule is to never assume that you are going to win the next game. Whenever a team gets overconfident, they do not practice hard, or pay attention to the details. Everyone knows that they're going to win, so why bother. Maybe the other team is so frightened that they won't even show up. Well, the Bruins did show up, and they smacked the Trojans right in the face. They beat them like they were a $.50 rug, and they also injured former Heisman Trophy Candidate, Matt Barkley.
The Bruins are riding high, and the Trojan Nation is in mourning. "How could this have happened to us?", they ask. The answer is simple, it is a result of talented players who did not receive the proper coaching and motivation. The Trojans were not nearly as determined, as they should have been. After all, some of the players on this year's team, were on last year's team that beat the Bruins by a score of 50-0. For crying out loud, UCLA has a rookie quarterback. Everyone knows that your quarterback has to be at least a Junior, in order for you to have a chance to win any games. UCLA did not get the message!
As bad as it was last Saturday, this upcoming one is likely to be much worse. Notre Dame is coming to town. This is the team that the Trojans thought they would be. Undefeated, with a record of 10-0, and ranked number one in the Polls. The Irish are a tough, well disciplined team, and they like breathing that rarefied air. They are presently on top, and they fully intend to stay there. They plan to give the Trojans a spanking, and then to send them home early.
USC Athletic Directive Pat Haden now has a real problem on his hands. Maybe I should say two problems, since there are two Kiffins. When nice guy Haden was hired, there was an assumption that the Klfflns were great coaches, but they had a tendency to get caught breaking the NCAA rules. So, he and J.K. McKay, the Assistant Athletic director, would watch them 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Then, there would be no way for them to get into any trouble. We all know how that turned out, don't we?
Haden, an old Trojan Warrior, was a popular selection. He may have been an effective worker in some areas, but the football and basketball teams at USC are disasters. He has never had to fire a major coach yet, and he appears to be wishing that this is a chore that he will not have to do. So, it seems to me that he will be inclined to try to ride out the storm, if he can. It is not a bad idea, the only problem is that it will not work. Lane Kiffin and his father are not great coaches, and they will always be troublemakers. They have to go, and the sooner the better.
Mike Garrett and Reggie Bush: These two gentlemen made significant contributions to the success of USC's Athletic Programs.
On Garrett's watch, the previously moribund football program came alive and earned national prominence. In addition, he was the driving force in getting the Galen Center built. This was a Project that had been in the planning for over 40 years. Iron Mike got it done.
Prior to that, he was one of USC's all-time greatest running backs, and he won the Heisman Trophy. In 1964, he led the Trojans from a 0-17 halftime deficit against previously undefeated Notre Dame, to a thrilling 21-17 comeback victory. It was one of the greatest days in the history of the world. As great as Mike was, he was not perfect. It appears that he broke some of the NCAA Rules and Regulations, and therefore he has been banished, and he is now persona non grata at USC.
Reggie Bush will be always revered in the hearts of the Trojan Nation. He gave us thrill after thrill with his incredible speed and crafty running. He took those hard tackles, and he would immediately bounce up as if they did not hurt him. However, sometimes you could see that he was in incredible pain. There was just no quit in him, and he led the Trojans to victory after victory.
They have been punished enough, and it is now time for USC and the NCAA to make it possible for USC to honor them for their many accomplishments. It is too late for this to happen this year, but one of the goals for next year should be to invite them to the Campus, so that those who love them can show their appreciation.