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IMHO Sunday: For the love of Pete

By Greg Katz – WeAreSC

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

The return: Former Trojans head football coach Pete Carroll was welcomed back to USC in style this weekend for some grandiose celebrations and recognitions. First, there was the honorary degree during graduation and then Saturday’s induction into the USC Athletic Hall of Fame. Not surprisingly, Carroll charmed the masses and it was like he never left.

The celebration: When Pete Carroll left the podium after receiving his honorary degree, the attending students chanted “Pete, Pete, Pete,” and it took some effort to get things back to order. The love for the coach is still there.

Media mea culpa: Meeting with the media before being inducted into the USC Athletic Hall of Fame, Pete Carroll reiterated his love for USC and his stance on the NCAA. Carroll said, “It breaks my heart that that’s what happened to the university and the kids that were playing here because it wasn’t dealt with properly. I hope the university gets what they rightfully deserve.”

Media mea culpa – Part 2: Carroll also said, “The Trojan Family is extraordinary. It’s deep and rich and it works its way through the generations. The support that they bring really made the ‘Fight On’ spirit a real thing.”

One man’s opinion: Regarding the aforementioned honorary degree, not everybody was enthralled with the return of Pete Carroll. Wrote veteran Daily News columnist Tom Hoffarth, “To what degree did the former USC football coach merit an honorary degree, bestowed upon him by the university during Friday’s commencement ceremonies?”

More Hoffarth: “In the process of teaching L.A. the concept of how to “win forever,” was there an ethics class or two that we somehow missed along the way? Does the ability to sidestep the rush of NCAA investigators just before sprinting up to Seattle where it only rains buckets of money play into this new piece of sheepskin?”

Last add Hoffarth: “Some may justify it in that, no matter what was wiped off the record books under Carroll’s watch, it really did happen. And now that this is verification that a carpe diem had been achieved, perhaps there’s some expectation that Carroll will show up with Reggie Bush’s Heisman Trophy under his arm and sneak it back into Heritage Hall.”

Hoffarth epilogue: “It will be interesting to hear Carroll rewrite history this weekend. Maybe he can throw in a story about the time he dove into a swimming pool to save a drowning child? Or has that one already been taken?”

Feeling uptight: It was not exactly a shock that sophomore tight end Bryce Dixon is no longer enrolled at USC and part of the team. Whatever the reason, the only positive about this is that Steve Sarkisian had the entire spring to adjust to the situation, and this occurrence didn’t happen during the season.

Next man up: The loss of Bryce Dixon is a shame because the kid had so much talent and potential. However, one man’s loss is another man’s opportunity. Somehow this negative will turn into a positive. The window is now unquestionably open for junior Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick, walk-on Connor Spears, and incoming freshman Tyler Petite.

Block wall: Whether Dixon had returned or not, the biggest challenge for the USC tight ends won’t be their receiving skills but their block acumen.

From the press box…

Money ball: The Los Angeles Times has reported that fired former Trojans head coach Lane Kiffin earned about $3.4 million in total compensation, according to the school’s federal tax return for that fiscal year.

Homecoming: I am sure you’ll be shocked to learn that none of the Trojans conference road games will be a homecoming game for the opposition.

Joe Roth Game: If there is something akin to a road homecoming game, it’ll be the annual Joe Roth Game at Cal on Oct. 31 against the Trojans. Roth was an outstanding Bears quarterback who tragically passed away from cancer much too young.

Congrats: A number of Trojans football players received their degrees this weekend, and none were more appreciative than former tailback Javorius “Buck” Allen and nose tackle Antwaun Woods. Both have said publically that those that knew them growing up never would have predicted they would have attained a college degree.

Congrats – Part 2: It was rather touching hearing from Buck Allen and his overcoming a rough start academically at Troy. Allen took great care in recognizing the outstanding help from his Trojans tutors that was also echoed by Antwaun Woods. Woods said it was a real struggle in the classroom, but he is proud of himself for being up to the task and accepting the challenge. Both are the first in their families to graduate from college.

Congrats – Part 3: Trojans athletics celebrated graduation on Thursday at the annual Student-Athlete Graduation inside Galen Center, which featured among speakers All-Pac-12 running back Javorius “Buck” Allen.

Congrats – Part 4: Buck Allen was also the co-recipient of the Grimble Award for the most cooperative. He shared the award with Trojans tennis player Zoe Scandalis.

Congrats – Part 5: Former Trojans tight end Chris Willson was the recipient of the TAPA Community Service Award.

The post-game show…

TGIF: Don’t know it you’ve paid attention to the Trojans road schedule outside of Notre Dame on Oct. 17, but the Cardinal and Gold will travel to Colorado for a Friday night game on Nov. 13, which could be rain, snow, wind or a combination.

For the record: A little known fact: Trojans College Football Hall of Fame and All-American receiver Hal Bedsole (1961-63) was once recruited heavily out of local Reseda High by the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

Stanford red: If you were expecting to watch with amusement and some wrath the Stanford band when the Cardinal football comes to the Coliseum on Sept. 19, they’re not coming. The wild and crazy band has been banned by the university from participating in road games for a year for violating school policies.

Stanford red – Part 2: According to the university, “Violations included a tradition in which a band member was given an alcoholic concoction intended to make that individual vomit publicly; an annual trip in which some band members used illegal substances; and a band selection process in which individuals were asked a number of inappropriate questions on sexual matters.” This would have never happened under Dr. Arthur C. Bartner’s watch!

Taking it to the Max: The University of Hawaii football team has named former Trojans quarterback Max Wittek as one of its four captains for the 2015 season, which is interesting because head coach Norm Chow says he has not named a starter as of yet.

Attached at the hip: The future of Norm Chow could depend on whether Max Wittek is the starter and how effective the former Trojans quarterback can be. Max has just one season of eligibility remaining, and Chow’s tenure may be coming to an end. It appears that both go out in a blaze of glory or just a plain blaze.

FYI: Hawaii opens its season by hosting Pac-12 representative Colorado on Sept. 3 at Aloha Stadium.

The final word: Speaking of cap and gowns for graduation, how many of you still have yours from high school and/or college?

Greg Katz
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.

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