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IMHO Sunday: On a run

Greg Katz – WeAreSC.com

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

Good times: It’s good times for USC Trojans sports this academic year with Clay Helton’s football team making a dramatic return to the national stage, capped by a huge Rose Bowl comeback win over Penn State, and now Andy Enfield’s men’s 11th seeded basketball team on quite a run with two consecutive NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament victories and now could advance to the “Sweet Sixteen” with a win over No. 3 seeded Baylor late this Sunday afternoon (4:45 p.m. PDT/TruTV/Radio 690).

Good times – Part 2: The football team returns to spring practice on Tuesday for the remaining 12 days of honing their skills in preparation for a highly-anticipated 2017 season, but all eyes now are focused on Tulsa, Oklahoma, where the men’s basketball has taken center stage in the world of the cardinal and gold.

Good times – Part 3: And for those that follow the Trojans women’s basketball team, look for current Long Beach State coach Jody (Anton) Wynn, the former USC basketball standout, to be a strong Trojans head coaching candidate after Wynn’s No. 16 seeded 49’ers took No. 8 Oregon State, a No. 2 seed, to the edge, as the two teams battled through nine ties and 13 lead changes before the Beach fell in the final seconds to the Beavers by a score of 56-55. Wynn would make a tremendous choice as the new Trojans women’s coach if extended the opportunity.

Support group: A number of former Trojan football players have used social media to support the Trojans men’s basketball team during it run in the NCAA Tournament.

The possible: When spring ball is all said and done, is it conceivable that junior Jalen Green could not only be a starting wide receiver but the backup quarterback for Sam Darnold, as well?

The revealing truth: With spring ball resuming, we’ll know very soon if Clay Helton is adamant that Sam Darnold’s backup will come from either Matt Fink or Jack Sears.

The revealing truth – Part 2: Next Saturday, the Trojans will hold their first scrimmage and while first scrimmages aren’t the final depth chart, we’ll see just how improved Matt Fink is after a redshirt season and how far behind true freshman Jack Sears is in challenging Matt for the backup role. It will be interesting to see if Jalen Green gets some snaps, as well.

On the line: Barring a catastrophic injury to Sam Darnold, Clay Helton has to be looking at a short-term relief pitcher who can spell Darnold for a series, a half, or maybe a game.

But who’s counting: If you’re looking for a little evidence to support your Trojans with a debate with some of your Pac-12 or Notre Dame buddies, remind them that USC football has 11 national championships, 34 bowl victories, 166 All-Americans, six Heisman Trophy winners, 43 College Football Hall of Famers, 485 NFL players and 15 Pro Football Hall of Famers.

But who’s counting – Part 2: And let’s not forget 22 Academic All-Americans.

For the record: The 2017 Trojans return 81 players from the 2017 Rose Bowl champions (51 of them saw action in the famed saucer) including 14 starters (6 on offense, 7 on defense, and 1 specialist).

From the press box…

Lookalikes: Trojans inside linebacker verbal Bo Calvert (Westlake, Calif./Oaks Christian) and current Trojans starting junior linebacker Cameron Smith. Maybe it’s just the red hair, but Calvert looks like he could be the younger brother of Smith.

Slim pickins: If you were looking for an abundance of quality of offensive and defensive linemen at the Nike Los Angeles Opening Regional, you would have been greatly disappointed. In hindsight, the Trojans picked the right time last recruiting season to clean up on D-line and O-line talent. Not there weren’t linemen players capable of playing in the Pac-12, but few at the USC level.

Welcome home: Former Trojans lineman and Los Angeles Chargers second-year center Max Tuerk must have thought he died and went to heaven with the relocation of the former San Diego Chargers to L.A. Tuerk, who played his prep ball at Rancho Santa Margarita Catholic in Orange County (Calif.), joins former Trojan wide receiver Robert Woods, who prepped at local Gardena (Calif.) Serra, as  cardinal and gold returners to Los Angeles, although Robert signed as a free agent with the Rams.

City by the Bay: For those that thought that former Trojans quarterback Matt Barkley wouldn’t last this long in the NFL, Matt has signed a contract with the San Francisco 49’ers, which punctures the narrative that Barkley isn’t NFL caliber. Barkley spent last season with the Chicago Bears and, folks, there’s nothing wrong with being a journeyman quarterback bringing in millions.

City by the Bay – Part 2: Joining Matt Barkley with the San Francisco 49’ers is former Trojans linebacker and Super Bowl XLVlll MVP Malcolm Smith. Smith spent the last two seasons across the bay in Oakland.

The legacy: Speaking of doubters, former Trojans fullback/tight end Rhett Ellison was once considered a legacy throw-in for a USC football scholarship. Well, when it comes to heart, Rhett was always a 5-star recruit, and it’s nice to see that he is joining the New York Giants after spending his recent past with the Minnesota Vikings.

FYI: By signing with the New York Giants, Rhett Ellison joins former Trojans linebacker Devon Kennard.

The post-game show…

The retirement: Former Trojans receiver Jordan Cameron has retired from the NFL. Cameron retired after concerns regarding concussions. Jordan didn’t want to push the concussion envelope.

The trend: With all the current information and tragedies regarding NFL players and concussions, expect to see more early retirements from the game whether they wore the cardinal and gold or some other colors.

It’s a holiday: The San Diego County Credit Union has agreed to become the Holiday Bowl’s new title sponsor.

The gathering: The NFF Orange County (Calif.) Chapter will host its 47th annual scholar-athlete banquet March 20 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, Calif.

April draft: For your information, the NFL will hold its annual draft April 27-29.

The last word: Former Trojans offensive line coach Bob Connolly is part of the Nike Regional Camps as an offensive line instructor.

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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