In my humble opinion, cardinal and gold thoughts on what I see, what I hear, and what I think.
Timing: An impressive turnout for the Trojans’ Junior Day on Saturday, and many in the Class of 2019 had a chance to meet the new coaches on board. Those in attendance included big names like explosive tailbacks Sean Dollars (Santa Ana, Calif./ Mater Dei, who just happens to wear No.5) and Jordan Wilmore (Lawndale, Calif./ Lawndale), defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux (Westlake, Calif./ Oaks Christian), and corner Chris Steele (Bellflower, Calif./ St John Bosco). And did we mention explosive Arizona receiver Jake Smith (Scottsdale, AZ/Notre Dame Prep)?
It’s official: Not exactly earthshattering news, but it’s now official that Bryan Ellis and Keary Colbert are fulltime parts of Clay Helton’s coaching staff. The news of Ellis elevation has been out there, but what’s interesting about the naming of former Trojans’ wide receiver standout Colbert is while it had been rumored that he would assume the responsibility of coaching tight ends, there was the official announcement that in addition to tight ends, Keary would have the additional title of “inside receivers” coach.
It’s official – Part 2: One would assume that Keary Colbert also being the “inside receivers” coach would mean that he will teach slot receivers, which would make a lot of sense based on his playing career. After all, Keary was a four-year starting receiver for Troy, winning a national title in 2003 and playing five NFL seasons. Good move on Helton parts in allowing Colbert to dabble in his original expertise.
Keary me back: Keary Colbert had been a Trojans’ quality control assistant this past season and he replaces John Baxter, who will now devote more time to his special teams. I think this is a really good move not only for the present, but one for the future if the wide receiver coaching position should open up. Obviously, Keary would be the logical candidate to instruct the entire wide receiving corps if that position should open up.
Keary me back – Part 2: Some say that Keary Colbert is unproven, but the reality is you can either teach and motivate or you can’t. If you can teach and explain to somebody how to tie a shoe and motivate at the same time, you can teach most anything. Much like the highly successful earlier hiring of the once inexperienced Kenechi Udeze as the defensive line coach, the Colbert hiring could prove to be just as productive. If true, you have to give all the credit to Clay Helton. Obviously, Helton got the thumbs up from athletic director Lynn Swann on not only Colbert but Bryan Ellis, as well.
Resigned: It’s all over except for playing Conquest, but Trojans’ offensive coordinator Tee Martin has, according to ESPN, signed a multiyear extension to remain at Troy after having interviewed with the Raiders along with contacts from other universities. Now comes the hard part. Trying to run an offense without Sam Darnold and the constant scrutiny over who is calling the plays – Tee alone or a committee of others that will include new quarterback coach Bryan Ellis and head coach Clay Helton.
The explanation: In an ESPN article regarding his continuation with USC, Tee Martin, 39, said, “I’m just excited to be here at USC, where the future is so bright, and working for somebody the caliber of Clay Helton. There were some other opportunities, but you don’t leave USC for a lateral move. I want to help us get to that next level, and everything is in place here to do that.”
Still waiting: The lone position coach still in “help wanted” limbo is the running backs coach vacancy. With Deland McCullough now old news, having departed for the Kansas City Chiefs, Helton may wait to see what NFL vets are available with so much post-season movement in the professional ranks. If Clay can get another McCullough to coach the backs, who’s complaining?
Opening week: While the Trojans will open the 2018 season on Sept. 1 against UNLV in the “under construction” Coliseum, there will be a number of “big” games the same weekend. Those big games include Michigan at Notre Dame, Washington vs Washington (Atlanta), and LSU vs Miami (Arlington, Texas). Of course, if you want to stretch the word “big”, I guess you could include Florida “Lane Kiffin” Atlantic at Oklahoma or Cincinnati at UCLA.
From the press box…
Progress report: So how many of you are following the Coliseum renovation by going to the Coliseum website? No? Well, tickle your fancy with this: https://app.oxblue.com/open/usc/lacoliseuin .
Progress report – Part 2: With so much interest in watching the controversial Coliseum renovation project evolve in real time, the IMHO will incorporate the the Coliseum “live” camera into the weekly IMHO Sunday.
The plaza: The peristyle plaza at the to-be-renovated Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum will be named the Julia and George Argyros Plaza in recognition of a $7.5M gift from the Argyros Family Foundation.
Staffing: If you look at the football staffs of John McKay, John Robinson’s first term, and the Pete Carroll era, when all their programs were at their zenith, they had assistants that were second to none. It could be argued that McKay had the longest tenure of great assistants all the way up to the day he departed to the NFL and Tampa Bay. Robinson’s first go-round with the Trojans continued the tradition of great assistants, some of whom were holdovers from McKay’s tenure. Carroll had an all-star Trojans staff in his national championship heyday, but he dismantled his all-star staff in favor of a coaching youth movement – and not giving much thought to inexperience. Certainly, Clay Helton has been guarded or at least methodical in his approach to hiring new assistants.
Love is beautiful: If you thought you had seen the last of Stanford’s superstar running back Bryce Love, guess again. Mr. Love has decided to return for his senior season and with returning QB KJ Costello, the Trojans will more than have their hands full when they travel up to Palo Alto for their Sept. 8 game against the Cardinal.
No brainer: Expect in preseason conversation that Stanford and Washington, both of whom will their backfields returning, will be considered the two best teams in the Pac-12. The good news for the South Division Trojans is that both the Cardinal and the Huskies are in the North Division, and again the Trojans again won’t be playing Washington during the regular conference season.
The post-game show…
Name game: So, you know that the Trojans will host UNLV in the season opener on Sept. 1, but can you name the Rebels’ head coach? (answer below).
Back together again: Pete Carroll has hired former Trojans linebacker coach and most recently San Francisco 49’ers assistant Ken Norton to be the new defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks. I know what you’re thinking, Pete will call the defense and Kenny will, well, assist.
FYI: The former Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator was former Trojans’ DB Kris Richard, who was fired by Pete Carroll. Wow.
The answer game: In answer to our UNLV trivia question, the head football coach at UNLV is Tony Sanchez, who became the Rebels’ head man after tremendous success at national powerhouse Las Vegas Bishop Gorman High.
The answer game – Part 2: You might also want to know that the UNLV football operations director is former USC administrative assistant Dennis Slutak, who worked under Pete Carroll.
The last word: There has always been discussion on the best or most exciting Trojans football game in your lifetime, but what’s the worst USC football game, home or away, that you’ve ever attended?