In my humble opinion, cardinal and gold thoughts on what I see, what I hear, and what I think would make appropriate 2018 New Year’s resolutions.
* I resolve to try and blot out the final score of the 82nd Goodyear Cotton Bowl and appreciate the 2017 Trojans for their 11-3 record and Pac-12 title and not harp about what could or should have been this season because most college teams in America would love to be 11-3. But then again, USC has a storied and national championship history and should not considered “most” college teams, so help me Lynn Swann.
* I resolve not to believe that winning the Pac-12 Conference is meaningless just because the conference finished a horrendous and embarrassing 1-8 in post-season bowl games. Does 1-8 mean, however, that Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott will schedule less nationally televised Friday night games so not to expose the perception the conference as the Mountain West Conference on steroids?
* I resolve not to believe the fake news that the Pac-12 just completed the worst bowl season for a conference in Power 5 history.
* I resolve not to believe the rumors that before the Cotton Bowl that in order to shorten the length of ESPN telecast, Urban Meyer and Clay Helton agreed that the Trojans would not run screen plays, draw plays, or misdirection plays to slow down the Ohio State pass rush and relentless penetration.
* I resolve not to have reoccurring nightmares of Sam Darnold being turned into a human tackling dummy by the vicious Ohio State pass rush.
* I resolve to maintain my composure when elite physical teams like Ohio State or Notre Dame manhandle the Trojans on the offensive and defensive lines, an all too annual presentation. This can’t be the storied USC Trojans, can it?
* I resolve not to have nightmares at the thought of what the Trojans’ 2018 offense might look like if Sam Darnold doesn’t return to play quarterback next season.
* I resolve not to tell Sam Darnold that no way should he enter the NFL draft if the Cleveland Browns are going to select him in April’s 2018 draft. And Darnold thought the eight sacks by Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl was punishing. Try the NFL for size behind Cleveland’s O-line, Sammy.
* I resolve to appreciate that Clay Helton has changed a rudderless ship from the previous two head coaches and that he treats everybody with respect and dignity. But can Helton take the Trojans to the national championship level?
* I resolve to believe that the one thing future Trojans teams could use is a little – okay, a whole lot – of old school John McKay discipline. Given the huge amount of penalty yardage and personal fouls this past season, the wrath of John McKay’s ghost may soon be upon us.
* I resolve in short yardage and goal line situations to remind myself to “silently” scream, “Put in a lead fullback, take the snap from under center, and run the damn football.”
* I resolve not to close my eyes on first-and-goal at the 1-yard line and fantasize that John McKay is calling the plays, and The Silver Fox orders up a Student Body Sweep (AKA 28-pitch) with pulling linemen while leading another Heisman Trophy winning tailback around the corner.
* I resolve to never second guess defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast when his defense gives up less than 24 points per game. Despite the loss to Ohio State, a great defensive job against the Buckeyes.
* I resolve to be patient with the quarterback development of early 2018 fall enrollee J.T. Daniels, the 2017 Gatorade Player of the Year, who, despite his great prep resume, will need time to adjust as did Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, and Mark Sanchez.
* I resolve to stop wondering how in the world did the Coliseum renovation plan got passed when it’s so obviously flawed and gets ripped by almost everybody.
* I resolve to be patient with the Coliseum as it undergoes some drastic and dramatic changes in 2018.
* I resolve to continue to get goose bumps when the Trojans Marching Band performs “Conquest.”
* I resolve to continue to get chills when Trojan fans chant “We Are…SC” when the Men of Troy have secured a victory.
* I resolve to resolve never to take the Notre Dame Weekender for granted, the Chicago Navy Pier pep rally for granted, and watching a game in Notre Dame Stadium for granted.
From the press box…
* I resolve to appreciate and remember how classy the Trojan players were to the media in their locker room not long after their humbling defeat to Ohio State. While you could see the pain on their eyes, players like Chris Hawkins, Sam Darnold, Cameron Smith, Rasheem Green, Deontay Burnett, Ronald Jones ll, and Uchenna Nwosu were all class and dignity given the difficult circumstances.
* I resolve to again thank the Cotton Bowl for its unbelievable hospitality and treatment of the media, which included complimentary daily breakfast, lunch and dinner and for Friday night’s post-game buffet (12:30 a.m. – 4:30 a.m.) at the Omni Hotel.
* I resolve to continue to enjoy USC home game drives to and from the Coliseum with legendary sports writer Steve Bisheff, who continues to mesmerize me with some of his best John McKay and general sports stories.
* I resolve to not stop hoping that the Trojans will someday play Michigan in the Big House…before I depart the planet.
* I resolve to continue harping and complaining that the CFP should expand from a four-team tournament to an eight-team tournament, meaning all conference champions automatically enter the seedings along with three at-large teams.
* I resolve to believe that it’s as much about highly paid college football coaches that don’t want playoff expansion to eight teams because it adds another layer of pressure to their job expectations. Ask the Ohio State and USC players if they would have wanted another week of football if they could have been part of the playoff system. I know, a rhetorical question.
* I resolve to try and stay positive during the weeks approaching the final February recruiting signing day, as verbals de-commit and new names are added to the mix.
* I resolve to stuff as much Kettle Corn in my mouth as I can at every Coliseum home game next season.
* I resolve to be understanding of my UCLA friends who think that Chip Kelly is the second coming…
* I resolve to not remind my UCLA friends how many wins in a row the Trojans now have over the Bruins.
The post-game show…
* I resolve not to think about the day Dr. Arthur C. Bartner (photo above) retires as the Trojans Marching Band Director after the 2019 season. Noooooo!
* I resolve to maintain my enthusiasm in covering two “must” road games, at Texas and Stanford, which again will have huge national and conference implications in 2018.
* I resolve not to mumble under my breath after another high school player commits by releasing a promotional video announcement.
* I resolve to not compare USC Song Girls of the present with those of the past.
* I resolve to continue to pray there will be no drastic changes in the Trojans’ home and away uniforms.
* I resolve to no longer be astounded by the high cost of parking in and around the Coliseum on game day.
* I resolve to fully appreciate and admire the peristyle end of the Coliseum when there are no longer those eyesore, tented suites blocking the historical peristyle end.
* I resolve to always admire what a beautiful view of downtown Los Angeles and the Hollywood sign from atop the Coliseum press box.
The last word: I resolve to stop wondering if Reggie Bush will ever apologize for his part in putting the Trojans through NCAA draconian sanctions, and resolve to forgive some of my media buddies who actually think bygones should be bygones. Why not ask the Trojan players that suffered through their playing days on sanctions what they really think.