In my humble opinion, cardinal and gold thoughts on what I see, what I hear, and what I think from Los Angeles
Here we go again: Has the dust settled yet? Will we ever get back to spring football? What can you say after the latest USC scandal, which has again permeated into the athletic department? At some point, will it ALL catch up, and the results be heavens knows what? It’s one thing to have recruiting or player violations accompanied by accountability, but when adults inside the John McKay Center are in the middle of a national scandal and are on the personal take, holy Tommy Trojan! Enough is enough already.
Here we go again – Part 2: Sure, other universities like UCLA, Stanford Texas, Georgetown were also involved in this latest college admission’s scandal but given the other ongoing USC legal and other campus issues, it sure seems like the Trojans just can’t get out of their own way – academically or athletically. This latest flaming blivit was the last thing a wonderful cardinal and gold student body, dedicated professors, well-meaning alumni, fanatically loyal fan base, and even Traveler deserved – far from it. Will the better cardinal and gold angels please step forward and get the house in order? Honestly, enough is enough already.
Here we go again – Part 3: Perhaps by design, there had been no comments of the current drama from Trojans’ athletic director Lynn Swann until Friday in the Los Angeles Times. Not even a quick defense of his department, as it pertains to those coaches and administrators whose hands are clean and in no way are associated with their fall-from-grace comrades. Swannie basically told the Los Angeles Times: How would he or the university know that one of his longtime trusted administrators had gone rogue, but he will look to implement new safeguards. The former Trojans’ football legend says he and the university were “blindsided.” In other words, the left offensive tackle didn’t see the outside linebacker blitz coming, but shouldn’t he have?
Here we go again – Part 4: Some would argue that Lynn Swann’s “blindsided” translates into his own inexperience as an athletic director, but the NFL Hall of Famer argues that he had prior experience (raising capital, sitting on corporate boards, being chairman of the board of trustees for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, chairman of the President’s Council on Sports Fitness and Nutrition) to be the USC AD, all of which prepared him for the multi-million dollar industry known as the USC athletic department. Listen, I have a master’s degree in athletic administration (yes, it includes the collegiate level), and I fail to see the comparisons and credibility between being the USC athletic director and the chairman of the President’s Council on Sports Fitness and Nutrition or being on the board of trustees for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. But then again, maybe I am the one who is uninformed.
Here we go again – Part 5: Unfortunately for the beleaguered Trojans’ athletic director, this whole episode comes at a time when the football team is coming off a losing season (5-7), the basketball team just finished a losing season (16-17), and the baseball team currently has a losing record (5-10) heading into this weekend’s three-game series at Cal. All three teams and head coaches are under Swann’s watch, and those three major sports have now come under extreme scrutiny. Ask most Trojans fans about the state of the three big sports, and they’ll reply -fairly or unfairly – that enough is enough already.
Here we go again – Part 6: To nobody’s surprise, Lynn Swann, who has been USC athletic director for just under three years, told the Los Angeles Times he has no plans on resigning, and he hopes to be around USC for 10 more years like other CEOs in other fields. Ask the majority of Trojan fans regarding Swann’s future and you’d probably hear a unified chorus of “enough is enough already.” As Swannie surely knows, a team is successful when everybody is on the same page and pulling the rope in the same direction. Right now, the Trojans administration and the fan base are pulling from opposite ends of the rope, and its’ all on embarrassing national public display. As an athletic director, you’re either a unifier or you’re not. Enough is enough already.
Here we go again – Part 7: This latest Trojans’ transgression is all about the adults that are supposed to be educators setting the proper examples. Boy, the alleged wrongdoers have set some example alright. Nobody ever said college sports was a pristine enterprise but considering all the acrimony that is already permeating this university, this scandal takes it to a whole new level of eyeball rolling. Just think of all those highly qualified high school seniors who dreamt of being Trojans but were rejected, and now they find out that other applicants got into the University through cash bribes. You think the students that were caught are the only ones? You don’t think that there are other students in school that got in through the same nefarious means? A level admissions playing field? It sure looks like a farce. Enough is enough already.
Here we go again Part 8: Many of this spring’s academically rejected high seniors come from USC legacy families that bleed cardinal and gold – some for decades and generations – and encompass sons and daughters, nieces and nephews, grandsons and granddaughters. The truth be told is that those current and past USC adults indicted this week could care less about “Fight On” and the Trojan family. These money grabbing perpetrators only cared about lining their own pocketbooks at the expense of a tarnished but great university. Those outside the university that paid to get their children into USC deserve all that’s coming to them. Enough is enough already.
Here we go again – Part 9: So, who is to blame for the current USC athletic and academic situation(s)? Who is holding whom accountable? Where is the oversight? The current interim president is calling USC the “victim,” and the current athletic director says he was “blindsided.” In a “normal” business environment, heads would roll and there’d be no excuses. The victim here is not USC but the countless thousands of fans and financial supporters whose beloved university has let them down dramatically. Blindsided are the countless thousands of fans and financial supporters that have given their emotional and financial resources and expect the return of pride and school spirit will far surpass the investment. Blindsided won’t be an excuse for the athletic department when fans show their ultimate anger and disgust by holding back donations and season tickets renewals. Enough is enough already.
Here we go again – Part 10: To where we are today, let’s get this straight. The previous USC president, Max Nikias, was forced to resign due to a horrendous non-athletic scandal. The USC Broad of Trustees is still infighting and apparently can’t decide on a new permanent university president. A former choirboy quarterback/athletic director, Pat Haden, left in shame and disgrace for his misdeeds. The present athletic director, Lynn Swann, has become the focal point of perceived bad judgement, inexperience, and add ego and stubbornness. Collectively, it paints a pretty ugly picture of institutional control or lack of it, and please don’t kill the messenger. Enough is enough already.
Here we go again – bottom line: There’s the view by many that the current Trojans’ athletic director, who BTW is making millions on his job, is like that once great athlete that won’t retire from the team gracefully but challenges or forces his team’s management to release or cut him. How sad. There’s growing momentum amongst the masses that there needs to be a clean sweep of administrative duties, both in the cardinal and gold academic and athletic world, but who’s is going to do it? In summation, this whole series of incompetence and greed is a disgrace. As the Good Book says, “Money is the root of all evil.” Enough is enough already.
From the press box…
Change is good: One of the more fascinating aspects of spring ball is the revelation of position changes – some switching from defense to offense and vice versa. Seeing linebacker Raymond Scott move to safety is one those interesting experiments. Can a “former” linebacker be productive in pass coverage? Spring practice allows you that luxury to find out.
Back to football: The Trojans football team returns for the balance of spring practice on Tuesday (3:15 p.m.), and it will continue with the final 13 practice days. There’s some discussion if it’s a good idea to start with three practices and then take a week off, but the Trojans future growth and success certainly won’t be determined by Clay Helton’s decision to take a week off for academic spring vacation.
Season of change: What was important about the first couple of practices was the roster as in who’s on it and who’s not. With the return of CB Greg Johnson in a position of need and the potential return of WR Velus Jones, the Trojans haven’t been as burned with the Transfer Portal as originally feared. However, that doesn’t mean at the end of spring ball the Transfer Portal talk doesn’t reactivate again. It is college football’s new albatross.
More change: One position change that caught the eyes of media was that of “former defensive lineman” Liam Jimmons, who has switched from the D-line to the O-line. Jimmons, who hails from Huntington Beach (Calif.) High and tips the scales at 6-4, 290, is no stranger along the offensive line, having also played tight end at HB during his prep days. BTW, the Trojans have a storied history of moving tight ends to offensive tackles if needed.
A second chance: Spring practice also gives players that have yet to develop or reach their potential an opportunity to show growth. Part of that second chance can be the result of a new system and/or new position coach.One player that could benefit from a new scheme is junior offensive guard Frank Martin ll. Martin, a former Mater Dei star, has been wallowing on the depth chart, and O-line coach Tim Drevno would be pleased if Big Frank found a home thanks to the new offensive line concepts.
A star may be born: Having seen him perform, having scouts who I respect give their honest evaluation, it really does appear that a star may be in the making in big sophomore wide receiver Devon Williams (6-4, 205) who reminds many of former Trojans’ all-star receiver Mike Williams from the early Pete Carroll era. One respected former college head coach told me, “Devon is a superstar in the making.”
Judging the QBs: A highly respected former college coach told me that after three practices if you took off the uniform numbers of the quarterback competitors, you couldn’t tell the difference between JT Daniels, Jack Sears, Matt Fink, and even true freshman Kedon Slovis.
The post-game show…
The rush: With the deadline to renew season tickets past, there has been a heavy rush of phone calls, emails, and U.S. mail sent out by the Trojans’ ticket and marketing department to try and reconvince “former” season ticket holders to renew in spite of the passed deadline. It’s likely that the Trojans’ athletic department vastly underestimated the anger and loss of faith in the current football program and took out their dissatisfaction by not renewing season tickets.
Seat giveaway: For those season ticket holders that took advantage of driving down to
the Coliseum to pick up two free old removed seats from the Grand Old Lady, it
was a well-organized event, and the lines moved fairly quickly. There were two
types of seats given out: seats that were in good shape and very presentable
and seats that were rusty and pretty banged up, future tetanus shot
Sweat giveaway – Part 2: One of the challenges of receiving the two free former Coliseum seats was figuring how to mount them when you got home. Upon receiving the two seats, recipients were given a handout from a company called Stadium Seat Depot, which sells “seat feet” for mounting upright purposes. The company’s website has a L.A. Coliseum section for fans to pick out their given seat style, and then were given various mounting options with easy to bolt “shoes,” which fit into their particular seats.
The update: Speaking of the Coliseum, here’s the latest real time Coliseum renovation camera view: https://app.oxblue.com/open/usc/lacoliseumrenovation
The catcher: Corona Del Mar junior tight end Mark Redmond (6-6, 250) recently picked up a Trojans’ offer. Having seen Redmond in person, the kid is a legit big-time prospects. Another CDM Trojan recruit is big junior wide receiver standout John Humphreys (6-5, 205), who declared this past week to Stanford. FYI, CDM junior quarterback Ethan Garbers committed the first week in March to the University of Washington.
A high honor: Ronnie Lott, one of the greatest safeties in Trojans and NFL football history, has been named to the 2019 class of the Pac-12 Hall of Honor. Formal induction took place on Friday night during a ceremony prior to the semifinalist of the 2019 Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena.
A high honor – Part 2: Joining Ronnie Lott as 2019 inductees were Meg Ritchie-Stone (Arizona), Frank Kush (Arizona State), Natalie Coughlin (California), Lisa Van Goor (Colorado), Bev Smith (Oregon), Dick Fosbury (Oregon State), Dick Gould (Stanford), Ann Meyers Drysdale (UCLA), Steve Smith Sr. (Utah), Patricia “Trish” Bostrom (Washington) and John Olerud (Washington State).
The last word: The theme for next year’ s Rose Parade is “The Power of Hope.” Of course, that theme would be ironic if the Trojans actually made to this season’s Rose Bowl Game.