7 min Read

IMHO Sunday: Coliseum Swann song

By Greg Katz – WeAreSC.com

In my humble opinion, cardinal and gold thoughts on what I see, what I hear, and what I think.

Decisions: Whether he likes it or not, one of Lynn Swann’s first order of business as incoming Trojans athletic director will be to review the plans for the renovation of the Coliseum and give his thumbs up – or down – to what has become quite the cardinal and gold public debate.

Decisions – Part 2: The chief culprit of the Coliseum renovation controversy awaiting Lynn Swann is “The Tower” structure, the proposed restructuring of the press box side of the Coliseum, which basically carves out a significant amount of the current seating from goal line to goal line for the implementation of luxury boxes, VIP areas, and new press box. Swann appears to be walking into quite a hornet’s nest regarding the present “Tower” designs.

Eye-to-eye: What could make Lynn Swann’s job an immediate Coliseum hot potato is if the new Trojans AD doesn’t like what he sees with the way “The Tower” dramatically strips away the very heart and soul of the Trojans beloved home. Having spent much of his USC athletic life playing in the Coliseum, no doubt Swann has some special, personal feelings regarding its future appearance.

The visionaries: So how will Lynn Swann’s Coliseum vision mesh with Pat Haden’s Coliseum vision, especially if Haden’s view of “The Tower” is opposite of Swann’s vision?

The combination: What should be noted is that both Lynn Swann (above cover photo) and Pat Haden played together as a pass-catch team in the Coliseum in the early 70s. At some point we’ll see if the former All-America receiver and his former field general are on the same page.

Here come the Irish: It certainly would be prudent for the current Coliseum renovation leaders to again take a look how Notre Dame went about dealing with its own stadium renovations. The Irish have had continuous renovations and have basically left the inside the stadium relatively untouched, yet have increased capacity in the past and now are building luxury boxes and a new press box without disturbing the aura, mystique, and appearance of Notre Dame Stadium.

The Irish plan: Notre Dame has come up with the idea of expansion by building an outer shell that rises outside and above Notre Dame Stadium. When the Trojans return to South Bend in 2017, they will see the fruits of the Irish expansion of their fabled venue. The Irish are building a new press box and suites on the opposite side of the current press box and suites and will create more suites and amenities by building on both sides of the stadium without any seating dissection.

IMHO: Notre Dame expansion of building “outer shells/buildings” certainly should be given serious thought by the Trojans movers and shakers and should not be dismissed because “the Irish did it.

IMHO – Part 2: The current Coliseum designs – quite frankly – will change for the negative the whole character of the Coliseum, and you’d be hard-pressed to find somebody that would disagree. The new “tower” is like ripping out the torso of a body and the calling it an improved human being.

Obstructed viewing: I have yet to hear anybody say – based on the current plans for “The Tower” side of the Coliseum –that there won’t be obstructed viewing for fans that will sit next to either ends of “The Tower.” Just looking at the stadium photo renditions, I don’t see how general fans will see the entire field without “The Tower” blocking their view.

Secondary question: I also think we can all agree that the portable “Sun Deck” of stands that reside in front of the Peristyle end of the Coliseum is tacky and has always been so. So, is the current main reason that that the Peristyle end of the Coliseum will not be logically enclosed to create a significant home field advantage is because of the possibility of the Olympic Games returning to the Coliseum in the future and the extra space needed to input a track and field facilities?

From the press box…

Reinforcements: Because of the worrisome Trojans defensive line depth situation, it’s been awhile since a relatively unknown JC transfer defensive lineman like Josh Fatu (Long Beach City College) has received so such attention.

Paranoia: Because of the loss of Austin Thomas, former Trojans Director of Player Personnel and NFL Research, Trojans fans are already circling the recruiting wagons and the sky is again falling. Fear not, the future is fine and Clay Helton should find a quality replacement. Right now, Trojans coaches are on the road and their impact on a recruit is far more powerful than a director of player personnel.

Thomas speaks:
On a local Baton Rouge ESPN sports radio show, Austin Thomas recently told host Matt Moscona, “I am glad to be back home and rock and roll with the Tigers. (My wife) said let’s do what’s best for your career. We’re thankful to the people in Baton Rouge that made this happen. We’re really, really excited. It all boiled down to a couple of relationships that I had with the people and the community, our administration and the coaching staff.”

More Thomas interview: “Coach (Les) Miles did a great job of really getting on the phone. He presented this to me in a way that made me feel this was the best opportunity for us and our career.”

More Thomas interview: “And ‘Coach O’ (Ed Orgeron). He’s one of the best recruiters in the country and having a relationship with him that went way back. So he got on the phone and I spoke to him. LSU made this a great opportunity for us, and at the end of the day, that was what it came down to.”

The change: Regarding the change in USC athletic directors, Austin Thomas said, “It had no effect (on me) at all. In fact, I knew Pat (Haden) was leaving before I left LSU.

The microscope: What the loss of Austin Thomas does do in the immediate future is put more spotlight on current recruiting coordinator Johnny Nansen.

The post-game show…

The tribute: No matter what you may have thought about Pat Haden as USC’s athletic director, last week there was a very touching “thank you” video tribute to the outgoing athletic director by current Trojan athletes that was released on Ripsit, the Trojans official website.

The development: The surprising rise of Malik Dorton (6-2, 275), the former Bellflower St. John Bosco star, to probable defensive line starter was that when he entered USC, he was an outside linebacker. After redshirting in 2014, Dorton was switched to defensive end in 2015. Although he appeared in just two games last season (Arkansas State and Idaho) and recorded just one tackle in each game, Dorton is expected to play a vital role on next season’s defensive front.

Biggie deal: As much pub as he received before, during, and after the 2015 season, sophomore corner Iman “Biggie” Marshall will be under a bigger microscope this upcoming season. Biggie’s freshman season was objectively a roller coaster, but you have to admire Marshall that he still takes full responsibility for his play last season, which ranged from brilliant (UCLA) to very disappointing (at Oregon). In discussing his play against Oregon during the last week of spring ball, No. 8 reiterated that he completely got worked against the Ducks and vowed to learn from that horrendous Autzen Stadium experience.

Collision course: Some of the most nastiest hits and tackles for the Trojans have come during kickoffs. In an effort to curtail injuries, the future of football may have taken a giant step in safety when Pop Warner football recently eliminated kickoffs in all Tiny Mite (5 to 7 years old), Mitey Mite (ages 7-9) and Junior Pee Wee (ages 8-10) games.

Collision course – Part 2: Pop Warner football has decided that instead of kickoffs, the ball will be placed at the 35-yard line at the start of each half and after each score.

The last word: The Football Writers Association of America has selected its seventh “Super 11” group of sports information departments that were deemed the best in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision for the 2015 season. Congrats to the USC Sports Information Department on being named to the esteemed “Super 11.”

Greg Katz

Now entering his 59th season of either writing, broadcasting, or just plain watching USC football, WeAreSC columnist Greg Katz began his affiliation with the website back in 2001, introducing his well-received O/NSO (The Obvious/The Not So Obvious) column and later adding his respected IMHO Sunday opinion and tidbits column. Greg, a former ESPN.com college football columnist covering USC, is also a member of the Football Writer's Association of America. He is also known in Southern California as a professional public address announcer, having called the the 1996 Rose Bowl Game between USC and Northwestern. Greg also holds a master's degree in athletic administration and was a former varsity high school coach of 27 years.

More Articles By Greg