By Greg Katz – WeAreSC
In my humble opinion, cardinal and gold thoughts on what I see, what I hear, and what I think.
Top ranked: Respected ESPN Pac-12 columnist Ted Miller this past week ranked in order the Pac-12 head coaching football positions 1-12, and Ted proclaimed the USC job as the best head coaching job in the conference, which either brings smiles from Steve Sarkisian or even more expectations.
The national evaluation: Overall nationally, ESPN ranked the USC head coaching job No. 3 behind Texas and Alabama in that order. “Our panel was torn a bit on the Trojans, with the five votes ranging from No. 1 to 6. The divisive part, with both our panelists and the coaches we talked with, was Los Angeles. You’re either enamored by it or you can’t stand it. It’s polarizing that way.”
The national evaluation – Part 2: “With the NCAA matters now behind the Trojans, roster limitation is no longer hanging over anyone’s heads. Leveraging momentum, USC added a baker’s dozen of ESPN 300 recruits in the 2015 class. If Steve Sarkisian cannot win big in the next couple of seasons with all the talent on campus, it really will be someone else’s job.”
The Road to the CFP: Also this week on the ESPN.com college football site, writer Heather Dinich listed the top-10 easiest head coaching paths to the College Football Playoffs. The Trojans were listed No. 6 behind in order: Texas, Florida State, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and Clemson.
The Road to the CFP – Part 2: Of the Trojans being coached by Steve Sarkisian or any other head coach, Dinich wrote, “When this storied program is at full strength — without scholarship limitations and postseason penalties — there’s nothing in the way of a top-four ranking. Its pipeline of players to the NFL is proof.”
Youth movement: If you wonder why the Trojans and Steve Sarkisian are so optimistic regarding the future of the program, two of the five “cover boys” on the 2015 USC Spring Media Guide are true sophomores, DB/WR Adoree’ Jackson and WR JuJu Smith. The other “cover boys” include senior QB Cody Kessler, senior C Max Tuerk, and junior OLB Su’a Cravens.
Best of the best: In the Trojans 2015 Spring Media guide, Steve Sarkisian calls his All-Pac-12 center Max Tuerk “the best in the country.”
Monster Inc.: Heading into spring ball, Steve Sarkisian calls his tandem of tailbacks Tre Madden and Justin Davis “a two-headed monster.”
It’s Greene: For my money, I can’t wait to see how much redshirt freshman quarterback Jalen Greene has improved. He brings the ability to run, which many believe Sark would like to see more of from his quarterbacks in the future.
It’s Mad Max: While he won’t beat out senior Heisman Trophy candidate Cody Kessler at quarterback, this should be a very productive spring for sophomore Max Browne, who should now know the Sarkisian offensive playbook in and out. And don’t worry about Max’s attitude; he knows that he has the inside position for the 2016 starting spot, and that the Trojans open 2016 against Alabama in Dallas.
De La Salle: A defensive player worth watching in the spring will be junior Michael Hutchings, the former Concord De La Salle star. If Michael can gain some weight from last season when he is being listed as 6-feet-1 and 210 pounds, things could get interesting in the inside linebacker spot.
Old Kentucky Rain: He’s back…senior Kentucky native Lamar Dawson. Assuming he is finally recovered from knee surgery, Dawson is an intriguing prospect, considering he has yet to play in Justin Wilcox’s style of defense.
Coping with tight ends: If there is one area that will be interesting to view its development, it’s the Trojans tight end position, which seemed to disappear at times last season. In talented sophomore Bryce Dixon and junior Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick, coming off the academic comeback trail, there is a solid foundation there in which to build.
The disappointment: Although it’s understandable, it is still disappointing that sophomore defensive lineman Kenny Bigelow apparently won’t be in contact to let his knee continue to heal. If Big Kenny (6-3, 310) could have participated in spring ball, it would have gone a long way in seeing if he could fill the vacated spot left by Leonard Williams.
The disappointment – Part 2: You can also throw in the spring practice MIA due to rehab with senior tailback Tre Madden (toe) and junior linebacker Jabari Ruffin, (knee).
And now from the press box…
It’s Bush: Always a reminder that NFL also stands for “Not For Long,” former Trojans tailback Reggie Bush, now 29-years-old, was released by the Detroit Lions midway through his four-year contract. Bush was released because he couldn’t stay on the field because of injuries, thus not earning his money in the eyes of management and to make cap space for resigning defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.
It’s Bush – Part 2: Don’t feel sorry for Reggie Bush when it comes to the money, he has made a lot in the NFL. However, it’s Bush’s life after the NFL when he’ll be faced with the prospect of alienation from his alma mater unlike his college quarterback Matt Leinart, who has already twice lead his alma mater out of the Coliseum for big games.
The Broncos: The Western Michigan Broncos, who the Trojans open with in 2017, finished last season at 8-5.
The Broncos – Part 2: Last season, Western Michigan lost to Air Force 38-24 in the 2014 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. Who knew?
The Broncos – Part 3: Last season, Western Michigan defeated host Idaho 45-33. Idaho, 1-10 in 2014, travels to Los Angeles to play the Trojans in the second game of the upcoming 2015 season.
The post-game show…
The return of No. 6: The NFF Orange County (Calif.) Chapter will host its 45th Annual Scholar-Athlete Awards Dinner on Monday, March 9, at the Anaheim Convention Center. The guest speaker will be former Trojans quarterback Mark Sanchez, now of the Philadelphia Eagles, who was honored as a scholar-athlete by the chapter in 2004. The chapter will honor 68 high school and two collegiate scholar-athletes.
Season ticket bonus: For those that order season tickets, they will get complimentary tickets to the spring game, which will be held Saturday, April 11, in the Coliseum at 3 p.m.
Viva Las Vegas: The Trojans open the 2019 season by hosting UNLV, which isn’t a bad thing. However, a better thing would be the Trojan traveling to Las Vegas for the home opener, and I’ll stay at the Wynn, thank you very much.
CFP: In case Trojans fans were wondering, the second College Football Playoff Championship Game will take place next January 11 in Glendale, Arizona, which hosted this past season’s Super Bowl. Hmmm, now how long a time distance is that from L.A. to Glendale, Arizona?
The final word: Really, do USC Trojans fans really care that much about the upcoming NCAA basketball tournament and the Final Four when spring football is going on?