When is enough, enough? (from Bruce Bagni)

Discussion in 'GarryP's Trojan Huddle' started by ErikMcKinney, Jan 4, 2021.

  1. When is enough, enough? (from Bruce Bagni)
    ErikMcKinney

    ErikMcKinney Administrator

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    #1
    *Bruce Bagni is a 1966 graduate of USC and a longtime friend of Garry Paskwietz and WeAreSC.com.

    I am a life-long SC fan and longtime financial supporter of Trojan Athletics. I first started watching Trojan
    Football around, 1956/57, when my boyhood hero, Jon Arnett, made Number 26 a lasting part of Trojan
    Lore. “Jaguar Jon” was an incredibly quick, fast, tough and elusive running back, whose agility had been
    greatly enhanced by years of gymnastics and ballet. As you can imagine (or, actually, know in the case of
    you older guys), I’ve experienced the various highs and lows (mostly highs) of SC Football during that
    roughly 65-year period. Although we’ve had some bad seasons, we’ve been able to maintain our
    reputation as an elite program and iconic brand. I’ll come back to reputation and brand equity later in
    this article.

    I was a freshman at SC in 1962 when we went undefeated, beat Wisconsin in one of the more
    memorable Rose Bowls (remember when we used to own the Rose Bowl?), and won the national
    national championship. This was the beginning of John McKay’s run during which he won three more
    national titles. The 1972 Team is still considered by many as the greatest team ever, having gone
    undefeated and producing many All-Americans and 14 draft picks in the ’73 draft. John Robinson had
    some great teams, as well, as did Pete Carroll. Even though we had some bad coaches and mediocre
    seasons during the period between Robinson and Carroll, we still produced tough, physical teams and
    lots of All-Americans and high draft picks. For the most part, we were still considered the class of the
    West Coast and a feared foe for just about all of our opponents. Carroll, of course, changed the
    trajectory and brought us back to the pinnacle of college football--- and continued and strengthened our
    tradition of playing tough defense and pounding our opponents with big, physical offensive lines. Sadly,
    the post-Carroll era has been marked by bad coaches and bad athletic directors. To be sure, the
    unwarranted and unduly harsh NCAA penalties played a significant role, but we’ve still been able to
    attract many outstanding recruits. The chances—and players—have been there, but we’ve largely seen
    mediocre teams and players that have not improved. It’s been coaching, coaching, coaching, and we all
    know that.

    Now, we have reached the absolute nadir of Trojan Football! The coaching is atrocious and the players
    are undisciplined. Neither the players nor the coaches seem to improve. To be sure, we have some
    bright lights like Hufanga, Slovis , St. Brown and London, but they have been stymied by the coaching.
    Look at a guy like Stepp. Do you blame him for transferring when we continue to require him to start his
    runs from a stationary position out of the spread, even on 4th and 1, or the goal line? Unlike Trojan
    teams of the past, we ask our runners to run sideways, often without any extra blocking. It’s painfully
    obvious that the QB needs to be under center, probably with a blocking back, so that the back gets a
    head start . So, if we can all see it, why can’t the coaches see it? Poor Slovis! This offensive system is
    killing this kid. No running game, a bad offensive line and long-developing pass plays are a prescription
    for QB injuries. Ask J.T. about how things have been for him this year compared to his time at SC. As if
    the offensive side isn’t bad enough, the defense is just as erratic, giving up too many big plays, especially
    third and longs.

    Special teams seem to be better, but I continue to be amazed by the lack of a return game. Overall, we
    play undisciplined and inconsistent football. Too many penalties and puzzling times-out.

    The sad reality is that we are no longer the Trojans that our opponents once feared and the television
    networks loved (don’t get me started on Larry Scott!) The trademarks of SC Football are only
    sporadically there, and fading. Marv Goux’s guiding principle, “Big Man on Big Man” and the kind of
    toughness and desire that it implied, are merely faint echoes on the practice field these days . We catch
    only an occasional glimpse of a big, strong dominant offensive line, power running and a dominant
    defense. Let’s face it: we are no longer the formidable West Coast power feared and admired
    throughout the country. This is particularly painful for me as a Florida resident having to listen to all the
    SEC talk (lots of it justified). We have all watched (helplessly) as our reputation and mystique are
    evaporating, as we have morphed into a “finesse” team that runs sideways and tackles inconsistently.

    This is the turning point for the program. Our reputation and brand equity were built over many years,
    and we still have a measure of them on which to rely. Many big recruits and their families still believe in
    us and want to continue the Trojan Tradition, as do all of us. But make no mistake about it: the
    administration and the head coach are squandering that equity and reputation, and we are on the road
    to becoming a nice Mid-American Conference team. Just like trust, once these virtues are lost, they are
    damned difficult to revive. The time to act is now!
     
       
  2. GoSC27!

    GoSC27! Points Member


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    #3
    Thank you for your post! I think you could not have said it any better. I have been posting that USC’s worst enemy right now is TIME! As you stated it isn’t getting any better.
    After reading about Texas this past weekend, there was a great article written on ESPN. Essentially it said that it will cost Texas about $40–$50M to make this coaching change on the gamble that Sarkisian will get them back to Competing for National Championships. Personally I don’t think Sarkisian will do much more better then Herman as a Head Coach. That is just my opinion.
    But it got me to thinking that we are in a similar situation like Texas, although Herman maybe in a higher category then Helton coaching wise. Who is out there that can get us back to the days as you described as people feared playing us. Obviously if there were no money constraints we could inquire about a Saban, or Dabo, or Ryan Day, but that is not a reality. Is USC still an attractive destination for proven coaches? Do they even want to come here as USC competes with high profile professional teams that are winning world championships! The cost of living is not great and it is becoming non business friendly. Meaning higher taxes etc. High risk low reward. So that would mean we would have to gamble on an up and coming coach! Always mentioned are Fickell and Campbell, but if they had any interest I think it would be proposed to Folt and the board.
    I would love to get your thoughts on a coach to get us back to the glory years! At least you got to experience it 3 times as many only recall the CPC years!
    Fight On!
     
  3. CO4SC44

    CO4SC44 Points Member


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    #4
    Couldn’t agree more. Other than cutting donations and vocalizing out displeasure, what more can be done? I’ve emailed the AD and Folt multiple times. Of course no response. If there is more we can do, I’m in. Fight On!
     
  4. tommytrojan1122

    tommytrojan1122 Junior Member


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    #6
    Great read.

    USC has gone from Big Man vs. Big Man to a finesse team. I read a comment yesterday from someone close to the program who said the best O-line pass blockers start. That is the system USC runs. Is it any wonder USC cannot convert on 3rd or 4th and 1? It is not just about putting a quarterback under certain. It is about a mindset. When you practice soft, you play soft. When your identity is built around a quick pass attack where the O-line needs to only slow down the rush, you get a soft team. And the Air Raid has a trickle down effect on the entire team. Remember when Helton said "iron sharpens iron?" The statement should have been "weakness breeds weaklings." When the defense goes up against a soft offense in camp, an offense which cannot run the ball when it is needed, the defense suffers. Even in practice, there are no Big Man vs. Big Man battles. Think of the epic practice battles between Fred Matua, John Drake, Ryan Kalil vs. Sean Cody, Mike Patterson and Lofa Tatupu. Do you think any practice today has any resemblance of that?

    Texas's decision to fire Tom Herman illustrates their commitment to winning vs. USC's commitment to mediocrity. I suspect Herman will land a new job relatively quickly. If not a head coaching position, then at least a top tier OC. If Helton is fired, where would he go? Who wants Helton to either lead their program or even their offense? Forget a power-5 conference, I suspect he wouldn't get a job with any FBS team.

    USC has reaped what it has sewn.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2021
  5. dbw021

    dbw021 Junior Member


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    #7
     
  6. dbw021

    dbw021 Junior Member


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    #8
    Thanks for a great post, Bruce. You nailed it and probably summed up the feelings of many loyal USC alumni and fans.
     
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  7. J4SC75

    J4SC75 Junior Member


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    #9
    Bruce, thanks for a great post and many of us have experienced the ups and downs of SC football. I think the biggest issue that has not been addressed is the problem of leadership of athletics over time at SC. SC became not only a football power, but perhaps the premiere institution for college athletics over the 20th century. When I attended SC in the early 1970s, we not only won two NC's in football, we won four NC's in baseball and two in swimming/diving. SC had the advantage of having great geography and iconic coaches - Daland, McKay, Dedeaux, etc. But there was no organizational leadership - no athletic director who addressed the total program - in fact, John McKay was the athletic director in addition to being football coach in his final years. So what's wrong with that? The problem is the rest of the country, at a time with increasing NCAA rules and regulations, began to identify true athletic directors who helped coaches follow rules and advocated for all sports, knowing full well that football brought home the bacon. While other schools identified talented athletic directors, SC never placed a great deal of importance on doing so. As a result, SC athletic programs were sanctioned as much or more than most programs and it had a negative effect. Sanctions after JR1, for example, set the football program back in the 1980s; it wasn't just Ted Tollner. When iconic coaches retired, they were replaced by much less competent coaches - we know about the hires made by Garrett and his predecessors, as well as those of the last 10 years. Our athletic directors have been reactionary, not visionary. On another thread, someone commented that Ohio State always seems to have a good football coaches and the reason is that Ohio State has long had great athletic directors. So now we have finally chosen a career athletic director, who has demonstrated some competence, but does he understand SC and have a vision for SC consistent with what we have been? I think the answer to that is uncertain, but I do feel that the future of SC football, and other athletics which have survived based on fortuitous hires, is at stake. Hopefully Bohn will be empowered to make the most of his time at SC and that he will be courageous enough to make the changes, starting now, that can correct our current direction. I will, as I hope others will, take advantage of every opportunity to inform the University of my concerns and how my discretionary money will be spent. We have made mistakes in our past, we are making mistakes in the present, but SC still offers a great opportunity for success in football and athletics in the future.
     
  8. heyrev

    heyrev Junior Member


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    #10
    Well, I've read a lot of posts and this is another one of them. Been a fan longer than the OP and sorry, too much whining for me. Yeah, I like to win, but whether USC goes 7-5 or wins a national championship, I don't notice the quality of my life changing one way or another. It's a hobby...always has been, always will be. I get that some people don't see it that way. I will say it seemed a lot more fun when there wasn't such a fervor over crowning a national champion. In fact, they used the word "mythical" to describe it. Now it's become something akin to chasing the Ark of the Covenant. Sorry, this hobby will never become a "win it all or bust" for me.
     
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  9. usc88

    usc88 Junior Member


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    #11
    Helton is known for his poor decisions.
    He hired relatives and friends for staff.
    His teams lacked discipline and fundamentals.
    The 5-7 season and going downhill is result.
    Born seems competent but somehow everyone above him loves Helton.
    Would like to get Mike Garrett type back.
     
  10. JImmytheGreek

    JImmytheGreek Junior Member


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    #12
    I don't understand what it could mean to be a fan if don't care whether or not the team you support is being competently managed. It strikes me as an incoherent position.
     
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  11. conquest4ever81

    conquest4ever81 Points Member


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    #13
    The Helton haters on this board continue to whine that this is the darkest era in Trojan football. I wonder if these malcontents are either too young to recall or simply in denial about how awful the Hackett years were in comparison. Aside from the fact Clay has a far better record, I can currently watch USC games with an expectation we have a shot to win it. After the beginning of Hackett's second season there were too many games when USC gave up 3 score leads and lost. My mentality before a game was unless we had a 5 TD lead we're probably going to blow it. I had little confidence we could win any game. There were no come from behind victories. The only bright spot was seeing Carson Palmer play during Hackett's last season, but we still were a steady sub .500 team. To me and other USC alum and fans back then the Hackett years were a friggin nightmare. Do any of you remember this gloom and doom guy?
    s_hackett_i.jpg
     
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  12. rich24

    rich24 Junior Member


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    #14
    Great post. Thanks. you nailed it.
     
  13. conquest4ever81

    conquest4ever81 Points Member


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    #15
    Thank you.
     
  14. Trojack

    Trojack Junior Member


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    #16
    The problem with me was that I did notice the quality of my life changing. After a loss, it took me several days to get over it. I used to teach an afternoon class every Monday at USC and would always have lunch with my Dean before the class. He was also a long-time season ticket holder and pretty much saw things the same way as everyone else did, but also had an insider's insight into what was going on. Once he explained the culture inside Bovard to me, I realized just how little control any of us have over the situation. From that point forward, it would always be just Saturday afternoon entertainment and nothing more and nothing would change no matter how many people complained about it. It made me sad that they decided to go in a different direction but it also focused me to the real world.
     
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  15. LoyalTrojan

    LoyalTrojan Junior Member


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    #17
    upload_2021-1-5_10-16-18.gif
    you knew this jackass would have give his contribution to this thread....
     
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  16. gubo&palanka

    gubo&palanka Points Member

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    #18
    And still Slovis was almost maimed.
     
  17. gubo&palanka

    gubo&palanka Points Member

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    #19
    That was me. The point was made on espn radio over the weekend. Arguably their worst coach was John Cooper, who had a pretty damn good record.
     
  18. WCKDVPR

    WCKDVPR Junior Member


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    #20
    OK, So I went and did some research on coaches, winning percentage, and seasons as head coach. You can do your own analysis, but Clay Helton has lasted longer than any coach with his winning percentage other than Jeff Cravath. Jeff coached from '42-'50, so I'll give him a pass for coaching during WW2 and the recovery thereafter. Also, we were never a steady sub 0.500 team, even during the 90's. The only back to back years we were sub 0.500 were '34-'35, '40-'41, and '60-'61. Paul Hackett only had one losing season (2000 he went 5-7) which cost him his job. https://www.sports-reference.com/cfb/schools/southern-california/index.html I have Clay Helton as 6.5 seasons as he coached the bowl game in 2013 and won. Take out that game and he drops below Lane Kiffin in winning percentage.

    Fight On!
    upload_2021-1-5_11-36-15.png
     

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