19 min Read

IMHO Sunday: Logos, uniforms, colors, and stadiums

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

Ram-ing through: I don’t know if you’ve seen the new Los Angeles Rams logo, but let me put it to you this way – it sucks. It really does. Consider that when you start changing your logo, the risk can be an egg-in-your-face public response, and that’s what they got. I can compare the Rams past logos compared to this one, and I can only shake my head. That being said, hopefully with so much free time on their hands due to the coronavirus, the Trojans don’t get bored and decide to change their interlocking SC logo that seems to have universal acceptance.

The Rams changed their logos (photo above) and the public backlash has not been positive. Would the Trojans ever change their university logo?
Trojans’ fans seem to accept the current Trojans’ logo as featured on this shirt (photo above)

Ram-ing through – Part 2:
I recently watched a Rams’ promotional video explaining how the organization came to the conclusion that this underwhelming logo – which actually looks more like something from the Los Angeles Chargers or the old USFL – was the right choice. The Rams showed in the promotional video how they “just knew ” the selected new logo was “the right one.” The Rams used focus groups and surveys to help lead them to their conclusion of choice. Hopefully, the Trojans will learn from the Rams experience and try not to change for the sake of change.

Ram-ing through – Part 3:
The Rams say they are also excited to reveal their new 2020 uniforms. Oh boy, after looking at the logo change, longtime fans can’t wait! If it’s anything like the new logo, don’t expect Rams fans to go in droves to purchase the new jersey tops. As for the Trojans, when anybody wants to make drastic changes to the USC football uniforms, I always ask, “Why?” Now, to be fair, the Trojans have changed their uniform look every once in a cardinal and gold moon but not to the point that they don’t look like the Trojans. With the Clay Helton era mired in controversy among the masses, can you imagine a radical change from the traditional USC uniforms at this present time?

Trojans’ 1965 Heisman Trophy tailback Mike Garrett (photo above) wears the John McKay uniforms of the 1960s.

Change for change: When John McKay’s Trojans teams had consecutive 6-4-1 seasons in 1970 and 1971, the Silver Fox apparently wanted to do something to shake things up but not distract. McKay allowed jersey changes to the shoulder areas, removing the gold stripes and moving them down to the bicep level. McKay even changed the helmets somewhat with a blood red color and placing a different look by adding a new Trojans logo to each side of the helmet. At first, I didn’t like the new jersey top, but it didn’t seem like such a distraction when the 1972 team went on to win the national championship and became perhaps college football’s greatest team ever.

Anthony Davis (photo above) was wearing the “new uniform” jersey style and helmet (photo above) that head coach John McKay switched to in 1972 after the disappointing 6-4-1 seasons of 1970 and 1971.

Change for change – Part 2: The 1972 McKay new uniform look continued for decades until the arrival of one Pete Carroll. One of the more interesting changes made when Carroll arrived at USC in 2001 was when Coach Charisma decided to bring back the Trojans’ 1960s uniforms, and that change was welcomed. It certainly didn’t hurt when the Carroll era became college football’s ultimate dynasty, and fans across the nation were wearing the “old” USC look. He also added the interlocking “SC” to the top of the jersey above the numbers. One of Carroll’s greatest traits was that as a young man, he followed USC football even as a Northern California native, and he totally understood the tradition of the University and was gung-ho to preserve it. Carroll was able to link the traditions for both the on and off-field dynamics of USC football. Say what you want, but Carroll felt and understood the passion of being a Trojan.

When Pete Carroll became the Trojans head coach in 2001, he switched back to the USC jersey (photo above) from the 1960s and added the interlocking “SC” logo to the top of the jersey above the numbers.

The mask: I thought one of the improvements to the helmet over the years is when the Trojans changed to a grey facemask.

Many USC fans liked it when the Trojans went to grey facemasks (photo above).

Please don’t: Not all that long ago, I saw a tweet from a USC football player hoping that the school colors could – as a change of pace – incorporate the color black in the uniform. I just shook my head and said to myself, “Young man, you have one of the most respected classic uniforms in college football, and the school colors are cardinal and gold. How about winning the conference and not worry about changing school colors as a change of pace? You want to look cool? How about playing cool by winning conference and national championships.” For the record, however, I do like the black football shoes if worn with white socks.

Please don’t – Part 2: To be fair I couldn’t stand when the Trojans changed to metallic (chrome) red helmets instituted by former head coach Steve Sarkisian in 2014 and those god awful cardinal and gold shoes and socks that were first worn in the Lane Kiffin era either. Honestly, I don’t care for it when the Trojans men’s basketball team wears black jerseys either. I have absolutely nothing against the color black, but it’s simply not the school colors of USC and to me it matters. Radically changing tradition to me means you are creating a diversion from the expectations of Trojans athletics winning championships.

Many USC fans would like to forget when the Men of Troy came out of the Coliseum tunnel wearing those red chrome helmets (photo above) that were part of the Steve Sarkisian era.
And then there were the cardinal and gold football cleats (photo above) that were worn by the Trojans in the 2012 Sun Bowl against Georgia Tech, thanks to the direction of former head coach Lane Kiffin. And check out the cardinal and gold socks, as well.

Famous last words: One of the all-time blunders for comments about school identity and logos came from late Trojans head football coach Larry Smith. Smith had just lost embarrassingly to Fresno State, 24-7, in the 1992 Freedom Bowl and in the heat of the moment said, “Big names and logos don’t mean anything in college football anymore.” Not exactly good timing and that was the finishing touch to Smith’s USC coaching football career. The coach was quickly fired.

After his Trojans were upset and embarrassed by Fresno State in the 1992 Freedom Bowl, head coach Larry Smith (photo above) unleashed his anger by saying that “big names and logos don’t mean anything in college football anymore.” Those words helped mark the end of the Smith coaching era of USC football.

From the press box…

The governor speaks: On Saturday, California Governor Gavin Newsom responded to the report about the NFL hoping to start in the fall by saying, “I’m not anticipating that happening in this state.” Translation: If Newsom is correct, don’t expect sports at any level being played where stadiums and fans are involved, which would include the Trojans home football game against New Mexico in early September. I don’t think that Newsom was using hyperbole; he was just telling it like it is with the current information at hand.

The governor speaks – Part 2: Newsom also added that opening stadiums can wait until “we have the appropriate community surveillance and testing, and that’s not something I anticipate happening in the next few months.”

California Governor Gavin Newsom (photo above) said on Saturday that he doesn’t anticipate NFL games being played in the Golden State in the fall because he doesn’t expect stadiums to be opened and exposing fans to each other as it pertains to the coronavirus. Of course, this would also include the Trojans and all college football in the state.

The mayor speaks: On the subject of sports in the fall, Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti, said, “I can’t imagine that public-health professionals are going to say, ‘Let’s put tens of thousands of people back together in a stadium.’” It should be noted that not only would that affect the Trojans but other venues like Dodger Stadium and Staples Center.

Time needed: Trojans head coach Clay Helton told the Times that he believes it would take a “minimum of four weeks” preceding official training camp – which usually begins the first week of August – to get ready for the season. In other words, since the Trojans usually need a month of fall practice to be ready for the first game, you can figure that that if the Men of Troy can’t start training camp the first week of August but need an additional preceding four weeks to get ready, it seems here that if there is a season, it might not start at least until late September. Don’t blame Helton for his time schedule; it is what it is.

Trojans head coach Clay Helton (photo above) told the Times last week that he believes it would take four weeks before actual training camp to get his team in proper condition.

Time needed – Part 2: Let’s also remember that in order to have a college football season, you need the academic end of it to also be a “go.” In other words, college athletics isn’t going to be doing anything until it is decided when school is going to be resumed in the fall.  

The recruit:  Four-star Downey (Calif.) Warren safety Xamarion “X” Gordon (6-2, 190) committed to the Trojans on Friday. A Class of 2021 verbal, it’s certainly appears that the Trojans’ heralded new defensive coach Donte Williams is making an impact. Given Williams’s celebrated recruiting prowess, evaluation of talent, and track record, this recruit should be interesting to follow.

The Trojans were excited over the verbal commitment of safety Xamarion Gordon (photo above) for the Class of 2021.

The recruit: You’ve probably also heard that the Trojans got a commitment from 4-star Texas running back Brandon Campbell from Katy High. Although he was hoping to make an unofficial visit to Troy in April, that obviously isn’t going to happen because of the coronavirus. The rub here is that Brandon made the commitment without even setting foot on the Trojans’ campus.

The recruit – Part 2: One of the keys for Brandon Campbell’s verbal is that his father played high school basketball with Trojans’ running back Mike Jinks, and there is a family bond of trust that played into Campbell’s decision.

Trojans got a Class of 2021 verbal from tailback Brandon Campbell (photo above), a star at Katy High in Texas.

Get well: Showing no mercy regardless of one’s position of fame or fortune, former Trojans All-America offensive tackle Tony Boselli is in recovery after being hospitalized for the coronavirus. Get well soon, big fella.

Former Trojans All-America tackle Tony Boselli (photo above – No. 71) is recovering from the coronavirus.

Get well – Part 2:  Tony Boselli isn’t the only known Trojan fighting the coronavirus. Former Trojans linebacker Quinton Powell, too, has been hospitalized for the coronavirus. Quinton played extensively in the big Trojans win over Penn State in the 2017 Rose Bowl.

The post-game show…

The price is right: If reports are true that USC bought its school president, Dr. Carol Folt, an 8.6 million dollar home in Santa Monica that overlooks the Pacific Ocean, doesn’t it kind of further dispel the notion that the University didn’t have the money to buy out Clay Helton’s contract if it so desired?

South Bend bomber: Notre Dame head football coach Brian Kelly really zinged ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit for Herbie’s national comments believing that it’s highly doubtful there will be a college or NFL season this fall. Kelly said that Herbstreit had no business making a prediction of that magnitude because the ESPN analyst wasn’t a scientist or doctor. Bottom line: Herbstreit was asked his opinion and he replied honestly. Herbie had every right to say what he said and so did Kelly, although I think that Kelly’s remarks were put in a way that reinforced the perception of the Irish coach’s prickly personality.

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly (photo above) ripped ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit for saying he had serious doubts there would be a 2020 college football season.

The portal: If there is an athletic group that may be a little nervous at this point in time regarding the coronavirus and its impact on college athletes, it would be the NCAA Transfer Portal football players. If there is no season, those seniors or grad transfers could lose next season in which they hoped to improve their pro football stock. And considering there was no normal spring practice, there is a lot of stress for those portal transfers future.   

A shocker: UCLA officially cancelled this week its spring game, which was scheduled for April 18. Pass the smelling salts. How could they come to such a conclusion given the current coronavirus?

The call-in show…

Caller No. 1: Katz, health professionals are saying that the coronavirus could return in the fall for a second round of infection. Do you think that will have an effect on the decision made for the 2020 season? I would say that when the White House’s Dr. Fauci says he expects a second round in the fall, I am listening. Depending when the health professionals say it’s okay to mingle again, I think all options are on the table looking at the fall. Based on a peek into the fall, I am still not optimistic there will be a college or pro football season.  

Will the Coliseum (photo above) be empty for the 2020 USC season due to the outbreak of the coronavirus?

Caller No. 2: Greg, I read that ESPN’s College Gameday host Rece Davis says he also disagrees with colleague Kirk Herbstreit that the 2020 college football will most likely not be played. Davis says he respects Herbstreit’s position, which is based on science and medicine, but he is optimistic that the season will be played. What do you think? Easy call for me. I’ll take science and data any day over hope.

Caller No. 3: GK, when do you think we will find out if there is going to be a 2020 college football season? Good question, but before that happens, I think the best indication is when universities allow students back on campus. Not every school has the same academic calendar. Until everybody is back academically, there will be no athletics.  

Until the fall academic year for 2020 has students on the USC campus (photo above), student-athletics will also be affected.

Caller No. 4: Katzer, if there’s a college football season, where are the CFP semi-final and national championship games supposed to be played? The semi-finals games will be played on Jan.1, 2021, and the bowl games being used are the Rose and Sugar Bowls. The national title game will be played in Miami on Jan. 11.  

Caller No. 5: Sir, I would like to know how you are handling the coronavirus? I am not a risk taker, so I have more or less barricaded myself in my house. I keep busy by doing some WeAreSC writing, watching the MLB, NFL, and Pac-12 networks while checking in with the cable news networks. Aside from just surfing the web, I do my grocery shopping using Instacart.com, which has been effective. Do I like this sort of solitary confinement? Not really, but it beats risking the alternative at my age, which is finding myself in a hospital bed on a ventilator. No thank you.

The final word: So, in the height of your boredom of staying at home, did you watch Thursday night’s ESPN’s replay of the 2006 BCS USC/Texas National Championship Game? No apologies necessary if you didn’t. The outcome remained the same and so did the pain.

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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