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IMHO Sunday: Kingsbury’s Swann song?

In my humble opinion, cardinal and gold thoughts on what I see, what I hear, and what I think from Los Angeles

The waiting game: It’s Sunday and Trojan fans and probably a whole lot others in the Trojans football program are awaiting what is going to finally happen in the continuing cardinal and gold version of The Game of Thrones. Right now, there are a whole lot of unanswered questions in the great Kliff Kingsbury real time drama. Is he going? Is he staying? Yes, so many questions begging answers that only the participants know the answers and maybe they don’t even know. Yes, the questions and don’t kill the messenger…

The latest: The Trojans are reportedly denying the NFL – namely the New York Jets and the Arizona Cardinals – permission to interview Kliff Kingsbury, the recently hired USC offensive coordinator and QB coach. However, why is it that the Trojans are being held accountable for denying the NFL permission to talk with their new OC as opposed to – as posted in Friday’s O/NSO – Kingsbury making a public announcement saying he is signed and committed to the cardinal and gold?

The latest – Part 2: Is it true that just hours after the Trojans denied the NFL permission to interview Kliff Kingsbury, Kingsbury threatened to resign, or is this his agent’s doings? What in the name of Tommy Trojan is going on?

The protagonist: When this whole Kingsbury apparent game of gridiron chicken is over, will Lynn Swann (photo above) become the hero? Or is it Kliff Kingsbury who upon further review having buyer’s remorse?

The antagonists: Who is the bad guy here or is there one? Is it Lynn Swann for holding his new offensive coordinator to his contract? Is it Kliff Kingsbury or his agent for testing the limits of the new contract? Is it the NFL with their new rule of asking athletic directors for permission to speak to college head coaches? Clay Helton for having a 5-7 season and creating a post-season dominoes effect that has helped get us to this point?

The buyout: It’s being reported that Kliff Kingsbury has a low buyout clause if he elects to leave the Trojans. Being a private school, USC does not have to release that information, so it’s likely the low buyout info is coming from the Kingsbury camp. The fact that a buyout is already out there begs this question: Has Lynn Swann basically challenged Kliff Kingsbury to either pack his bags or get with the program?

The crosshairs: Already burdened with the highly unpopular decision to retain Clay Helton as his head football coach, does the potential Kliff Kingsbury fiasco place Trojans athletic director Lynn Swann in even further scrutiny and potentially further tarnish the former Trojan great’s legacy?

The poll: Is there even a question that USC fans almost everywhere have grown sick and tired of this Kliff Kingsbury saga and have come to the conclusion that if the coach is not all in as the cardinal and gold offensive coordinator and quarterback coach, is it time for Kingsbury to move on?

Buyer’s remorse: If the Trojans had not denied the NFL from interviewing Kliff Kingsbury, would the former Texas Tech head coach have gone ahead and done the NFL interviews or has that become a rhetorical question?

The stand: Were you impressed that Trojans’ athletic director Lynn Swann, a member of the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame, denied the NFL from interviewing Kliff Kingsbury or has Swann made matters worse?

Hypothetical: If Kliff Kingsbury doesn’t remain as USC offensive coordinator, what offense will the Trojans be running in 2019?

Hypothetical – Part 2: If Kingsbury heads to the NFL, will there still be an open quarterback competition in the spring?

The point spread: How many more wins will the Trojans garner with Kliff Kingsbury as OC and play-caller and how many losses will the Trojans incur if KK isn’t?

From the press box…

The relief: Just how relieved were Trojan fans when All-World prep wide receivers Bru McCoy (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei), who actually signed during the early signing period and kept it quiet until Saturday, and Kyle Ford (Orange, Calif./Lutheran) both announced on national television they would be attending USC during the All-American Bowl in San Antonio?

Timing: Not to take away a little of the excitement of the announcements of McCoy and Ford, but are the Trojans going to get some February signings from any quality offensive and defensive linemen?

Man of Steele: With DB Chris Steele (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) announcing at the All-American Game in San Antonio that he will be a Florida Gator, how will that affect the Trojans’ future secondary?

Still searching: Who will be the surprise recruiting signing come February that we don’t know about?

The big fella: Trojans’ early signee offensive tackle Jason Rodriguez (Oak Hills, Calif./Oak Hills) participated in Thursday’s Under Amour All-America Game in Orlando, Florida, but will he stay at tackle and or be moved to guard when he comes to Troy?

The post-game show…

The question: So, did you really miss the Trojans not being in a lower tier bowl game?

The betting man: There seemed to be some confusion when it was announced that former safety Bubba Bolden had been reinstated into USC. Some folks thought it meant both a return to classes and back on the football team. Turns out Bolden’s reinstatement had nothing to do with the football team but was the young man’s option to attend spring classes along with a reopening of the original investigation. Well, if I was a betting man, it says here that Bubba Bolden will never play a down for the Trojans, and it’s questionable whether Bolden really wants to roll the dice and waste his gridiron future on a committee that has not looked favorably on athletes alleged misdeeds in the past. Innocent or not, would you really blame Bubba if he went in another direction?   

Number changes: The comparison of the Trojans football program current redo and that of Notre Dame’s past redo, which resulted this season in the Irish’s eventual CFP spot in the semi-finals, deserves scrutiny. The Trojans dismissed three coaches while the Irish ushered in 17 new faces. From a Trojan fan’s point of view, would you call the Trojans moves a true program makeover?

The update: Have you been distracted with all the Trojans coaching and recruiting happenings that you’ve forgotten about the ongoing Coliseum renovation? Here’s the latest real time camera view on the Coliseum renovation project: https://app.oxblue.com/open/usc/lacoliseumrenovation 

In memory: Former Trojans inside linebacker Matt Gee, 1991 captain when he led the Men of Troy in tackles, died in his sleep at age 49 last Monday in Simi Valley, Calif. A service will be held on Jan. 10 at 11 a.m. at Ascension Lutheran Church (1600 E. Hillcrest Dr., Thousand Oaks, Calif., 91362), followed by a reception at North Ranch Center (1400 N. Westlake Blvd., Westlake Village, Calif., 91362).

The last word: My nephew, Mikey, called me from San Francisco where he lives and works, to tell me how excited he was that he and his girlfriend would be attending Monday night’s CFP National Championship Game in Santa Clara. He said that ticket prices had really dropped and were affordable. Asked about who would win the game, I said it’s Alabama 34, Clemson 30. Roll Tide!

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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