UCLA versus USC - This is the game that both local and international fans have been waiting for. USC lost last year, and their team is hungry for revenge. UCLA has had bragging rights for more than a year, and they enjoyed rubbing salt into the wounds of the Trojans.
This whole season has been a mystery shrouded in a fog. Who will be the next head football coach at USC? Will it be Ed Orgeron if USC wins? Will it be Ed Orgeron if USC loses? Early in the season, UCLA led by Jim Mora could do no wrong. USC had Lane Kiffin as the head coach, and they were simply pathetic. It seemed that the balance of power, so long held by the Trojans, had shifted to the Bruins.
Then, after a devastating loss, USC Athletic Director Pat Haden fired Kiffin. It appeared that he was conceding that this season was a bust, and was writing it off. He would use the remaining time to find a real coach, and in the meantime, he named Ed Orgeron to be the Interim Head Coach. A majority of the USC Alumni had strongly advised Haden to fire Kiffin before the season started, but somehow he was not listening.
To the shock and amazement of the Trojan Family, Coach Orgeron won five of the next six games, losing only to Notre Dame. He was unbelievable! He went up to Oregon and beat the Oregon State Beavers, and then he upset mighty Stanford, at the Coliseum. This unexpected victory ignited the fans in the Coliseum, and re-energized the spirit of Trojan fans all over the world. Everyone, or nearly everyone, is absolutely crazy about Coach "O". Haden seems to be reluctant to offer him the head coaching job. Some Trojans feel that Coach O may be too "down to earth for him."
It appears that he may be interested in Kevin Sumlin, head coach at Texas A & M, or possibly Jon Gruden. In a previous column, I had suggested Sumlin, a very successful African-American coach for the job. The ideal time to have done this would have been before the season started. Now, such a hire would be awkward. However, I do think that Sumlin will ultimately be as successful here, as he has been in the past.
I think that Jon Gruden would be a disaster of major proportions. He may know more about all phases of football than anyone else in the whole world. He is a man who never stops talking, coaching, or explaining. He is a great coach, but he seems to have a shelf life of about two years. After that time, it seems that no one listens to him. Whenever he is doing a television broadcast of an NFL football game, I mute the sound and listen to the game on the radio. If he became the head coach, and miraculously became successful, he would likely return to the NFL if he received an offer.
Haden wants to improve the image of USC. My suggestion is for him to listen to some of the interviews of USC's athletes on radio and television. He will quickly learn that some of them need a lot of help in the classrooms.
KOBE BRYANT - Please count me among those who feel that Bryant did the right thing by getting the best possible salary that he could from the Lakers. There are some who feel that he should have taken less money, so that the team could hire better players to join him. That approach may, or may not work.
I happen to think that the NBA Players made a mistake when they agreed that teams could have a salary cap. The idea is to keep the wealthy owners from spending more money that they can afford. So, they have these millionaires protecting the financial health of the billionaires. I have not heard of a Profit Cap for the Owners. Have you?