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IMHO Sunday: Opening day, hot rumor, no big deal, Lindy’s, and voting

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

Date and rumor: First, some news and a rumor – you could use something cardinal and gold positive, right? It’s tentative, but the expected opening of training camp for the 2019 USC football team is Friday, August 2. We also are hearing a hot rumor that the Trojans may have a “Cardinal and Gold Game” in the renovated Coliseum, which would be open to the public (don’t just make it for season ticket holders), sometime in mid-August. If the rumor is true, it’s a great idea and smart PR move. Pete Carroll did it as a Coli dress rehearsal for the season, and it was well received by Trojan fans. Of course, it’s just a hot rumor. Make it happen Clay and Swannie. You need all the goodwill you can get with the public.

There is a rumor that the Trojans may be planning a “Cardinal and Gold Game” in the renovated Coliseum open to the public in mid-August. If true, it would bring back memories of the same “dress rehearsal” strategy used by Pete Carroll prior to the opening game of the season. Might a Cardinal and Gold Game include the Trojans Marching Band and the famous USC Song Girls?

Say who, say what: In a recent interview by Athletic writer Antonio Morales, current Trojans’ senior athletic director Steve Lopes gave a rather eye-opening comment about future USC football scheduling. Lopes, the longtime USC administrator, said, “We’re looking at schools that might not even be FBS, which I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. We may get criticized if and when we do it, but everybody does it. … Are you going to die on that sword? You can play very good FCS schools that are better than some of the FBS schools you’ll play, the directional schools you’ll play.”

Say who, say what – Part 2: A question: What would John McKay say about dumbing down the schedule? McKay, once also the USC athletic director and head football coach, wouldn’t say, “I don’t think it’s not that big of a deal; maybe we’ll just see if Whittier College is available, which should help get a win and help fill the Coliseum. I think our fans could get into that.”

Legendary Trojans’ head football coach John McKay was also at one time both USC football coach and athletic director. Do you think The Silver Fox would play a FCS school rather than a FBS school?

Say who, say what – Part 3: Okay, so if Steve Lopes suggests “softening” the schedule, how about lining up some Southland opponents that have some past football history with the Trojans. Here’s a list of local Trojans’ opponents with their record against the Cardinal and Gold and the last time they played: Cal Tech (11-1-1/1927); Chaffey College (1-1-0/1897); Loyola (6-3-1/1933); Occidental (16-5-2/1934); Pomona (13-4-4/1925), Redlands (4-0-0/1918); and Whittier (11-1-0/1934). Come to think of it, Cal Tech and Loyola no longer play football, so maybe the Trojans’ schedule makers should reinstate the rivalry with Whittier College for a non-conference gimme game, a team the Trojans last dominated 40-14 in 1934.

Trojans’ senior athletic director Steve Lopes drew scrutiny after remarks in the Athletic that the USC home football schedule may need to be filled with FCS schools and not traditional FBS colleges. Lopes said, “I don’t think it’s that big of a deal.” Trojans’ season ticket holders, many of whom play extra for better seating opportunities might disagree.

Say who, say what – Part 4: Dumbing down the schedule to get wins and then relying on the Pac-12 conference to take you to the CFP is not a good formula for playoff consideration. The Pac-12 is not in the same class of upper echelon SEC teams nor does the Pac-12 wield the same political power nationally. No, the answer isn’t a softer schedule but a USC football program that returns to its roots, ASAP, as one of college football’s most legendary programs. It’s just that simple.

In order to fill their future schedules and dumb down their schedule, might the Trojans consider renewing their “rivalry” with the Whittier Poets, which might help fill the Coliseum (wink). The last time the Trojans and Whittier got together was 1934 with the Trojans escaping with a 40-14 victory.

The good Samaritans: Wednesday night, the TAF (Trojans Athletic Fund) of San Diego presented its prestigious Marv Goux Award to late WeAreSC publisher Garry Paskwietz and former Trojans football great and broadcaster John “J.J.” Jackson, who is currently recovering from a stroke. This is a big deal for Garry and J.J., who used to annually come together down to San Diego to address the Trojan faithful. The award normally goes to a TAFSD board member who displays the character of Coach Goux in service to its club. The club, however, wanted to honor Garry and J.J. for their “unwavering support” of the TAFSD and USC. Plagues will be forwarded to Garry’s and J.J.’s family. The announcement was part of a program that also featured Trojans’ head football coach Clay Helton and men’s basketball coach Andy Enfield.   

The TAF (Trojans Athletic Fund) of San Diego honored late WeAreSC publisher Garry Paskwietz and John Jackson with their annual Marv Goux Award. Normally awarded to a TAFSD board member who displays the character of Coach Goux in service to its club, the TAFSD, however, wanted to honor Garry and J.J. for their “unwavering support” of the TAFSD and USC.

The good Samaritans – Part 2: Former Trojans cornerback great Adoree’ Jackson (Tennessee Titans), and his business partner James Moore paid for the burial expenses of Jaylon McKenzie, a promising eighth-grade football player from East Saint Louis, Illinois, who was killed by a stray bullet while leaving a party on May 5. Adoree’ was deeply moved by the fact that McKenzie said in a Sports Illustrated story that he wanted to follow in the path of the USC great and play in the NFL. Jaylon idolized Adoree’ and wanted to be just like him.

At Jaylon McKenzie’s funeral, the cover of the funeral program featured Adoree’ Jackson with Jalyon Mckenzie.

The good Samaritans – Part 3: Former Trojans and Pittsburgh Steelers’ safety Troy Polamalu and his wife, Theodora, have joined the #YMCKissCampaign in an effort to “kiss children’s mental health issues goodbye.”

Former Trojans and Pittsburgh Steelers’ safety Troy Polamalu and his wife, Theodora, have joined the #YMCKissCampaign in an effort to “kiss children’s mental health issues goodbye.” This is a project very close to the hearts of Troy and Theodora.

More Troy: Former Pittsburgh wide receiver Hines Ward remembers playing against Troy Polamalu, a very kind and gentle guy off the field but a warrior on it. Ward said, “When you put the helmet on, he would lay you out. He saw things that people didn’t really see. He knew coverages, combination coverages and would jump routes. He was always in the right place at the right time. He just came up big time and time again for our defense, and that’s what he always did for us.”

The ballot box: Have you placed your vote for USC’s all-time wide receivers? There is still time. The ballot, located on the right side of the WeAreSC front page, allows you to vote for two on the USC All-Time team. Over 3,500 fans have already placed their votes, and right now former Trojans’ All-American Mike Williams is leading the pack. Agree? No? Go vote.

So far, the leading vote-getter for wide receiver in the WeAreSC All-Time Team is former All-American Mike Williams. The two players with the most votes makes the prestigious team. Haven’t voted yet? Go to the WeAreSC front page and make your opinion count. FYI, so far quarterback Matt Leinart and tailback Reggie Bush have made the team. Who will be the receivers?

From the press box…

Lindy’s has arrived: If you read Friday’s O/NSO, we gave an overview how Athlon and Street and Smith’s national college football previews viewed the 2019 USC Trojans – both nationally and in the Pac-12. Lindy’s respected national 2019 preview has now arrived and is on newsstands.

Lindy’s has arrived – Part 2: To no surprise, the Trojans are not ranked in Lindy’s Top 25, although Clemson – not Alabama – is its preseason No. 1. The Trojans, however, are picked for second in the Pac-12 South behind favorite Utah. Oregon is Lindy’s pick to win it all in the Pac-12.

Lindy’s has arrived – Part 3: In terms of individual honors, Lindy’s selects a three-team preseason All-Pac-12. On the first-team offense for the Trojans is senior wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr., who also made Lindy’s magazine cover, while sophomore WR Amon-Ra St. Brown is on the second unit and junior OT Austin Jackson made the third team. Defensively, senior DL Christian Rector is on the first unit while sophomore Jay Tufele made the third grouping.

Senior DL Christian Rector was named to Lindy’s preseason All-Pac-12 defensive first team.

Lindy’s arrival -Part 4:  Regarding an overview analysis of the Trojans, Lindy’s writes, “USC ‘s first six games should be critical as the Trojans play Fresno State, Stanford, BYU, Utah, Washington , and Notre Dame. If the Trojans struggle, Helton might not make it through the entire season. Season ticket sales are down and the fan base lost patience last season. Helton’s best bet is to hope the new Air-Raid offense scores a lot and the defense is good enough to contain most of the opponents.”

Another hot seat: Following in the printed footsteps of Athlon and Street & Smith’s, Clay Helton is listed in Lindy’s as the No. 1 coach on the proverbial Hot Seat. Lindy’s writes, “We liked the original hire because Helton was the much-needed adult in the room, and USC should recruit itself, even without a dynamic personality at the helm. But Helton hasn’t proven he can win when he doesn’t have Sam Darnold at quarterback, going a blah (for USC) 31-17 since taking over for Steve Sarkisian in the 2015 season. Hiring Graham Harrell as offensive coordinator is Helton’s Hail Mary.”

According to Athlon, Street & Smith’s, and Lindy’s, Clay Helton is No. 1 on the national Hot Seat.

The post-game show…

Toughness and discipline: Trojans’ head coach Clay Helton has been under scrutiny because of perceived lack of discipline and toughness in his program.When folks question today’s college head football coaches regarding program discipline, we are reminded that football coaching legends like Alabama’s Bear Bryant got their coaching discipline from having served in our nation’s military. In fact, one of the reasons why football players in the 1950s and 60s were basically forced to wear their hair short and were so disciplined was because their coaches had come out of military service where one of the first things to go when joining or being drafted was your hair. Once the hair was gone, in came the intensive discipline.

Remembering Slough: Unless you were following the Trojans back in the late 1960s, you may not remember a violent and intense cardinal and gold inside linebacker named Greg Slough (6-3, 230). Slough, who positioned himself right behind the famous USC defensive line called the Wild Bunch, had come to Troy as a JUCO transfer from San Diego City College. Between two cycles of San Diego CC stops, Greg was in the military and fought in Viet Nam and brought that mental and physical toughness attitude to John McKay’s Trojans defenses. After USC, he played with the Oakland Raiders and the old World Football League’s Hawaii franchise.   

One of USC’s all-time toughest inside linebackers was Greg Slough (1969-70), who came to USC after having fought in Viet Nam before transferring from San Diego CC. Slough went on to play for the Oakland Raiders and for Hawaii in the World Football League.

Remembering Slough – Part 2: We recall the end of the 1969 USC/Stanford game in the Coliseum when Trojans’ kicker Ron Ayala booted a 34-yard winning field goal as the gun sounded. Fans rushed the field – a real no-no in those Coliseum days, and we must admit, we were part of that action. Anyway, a young kid -probably around 10-years-old – rushed by Slough who was still in game mode and tried to grab Greg’s chinstrap. As the youngster tried to swipe the chinstrap, the intense linebacker knocked the kid’s hand away and said like a former military vet, “Get your hands off my chinstrap, &*%$!” It certainly sent chills and fear down my spine. As Greg said later on a podcast, “I was pretty aggressive coming out of the military at that time.”

Jake and Bob:
We all know the fantastic story of recently graduated USC blind snapper Jake Olson, but for those of us old geezers, one of the Pac-12’s greatest quarterbacks recently passed away, and we’re talking about former Washington Huskies legend Bob Schloredt. Bob, who passed at 79, was the first-ever two-time Rose Bowl MVP and was a two-way player for UW. He played quarterback on offense, earning AP First-Team All-America honors and the 1959 W.J. Voit Memorial Trophy as the outstanding football player on the Pacific Coast. He was also a defensive back, intercepting seven passes in 1959. Washington beat Wisconsin 44-8 in the 1960 Rose Bowl, and he was co-winner of the Most Valuable Player Award. What contributed to making Bob Schloredt a legend was a childhood fireworks accident at age five left him with only five percent vision in his left eye. In other words, with just one good eye, he was able to overcome the handicap and still have a glorious college football career.

Get well wishes: We wish the very best to former UCLA coach great Terry Donahue who is battling an undisclosed cancer. Terry recently had surgery and is now undergoing chemotherapy. A Bruin through and through, he was always and still is a class guy who showed plenty of respect for the Trojans over the years. 

Even though he was a highly successful head football coach at UCLA, WeAreSC wishes former Bruins head coach Terry Donahue the best in his battle with (undisclosed) cancer. Terry was always respectful and appreciative of the USC football tradition.

In memory: We are saddened by the news of the passing of former CIF commissioner Dean Crowley, 85, who passed away on Friday night at the City of Hope in Duarte. A member of the Alhambra High Athletic Hall of Fame, we have known Dean for over a generation going back to his days as a CIF and college football and basketball referee. He was a good man and the last time we ran into each other over a year ago at the famous TooHey’s diner in Alhambra. He was there with some other ex-Alhambra High athletes and was wearing his trademark saddle shoes. He will be missed.

The latest view: More new seats are being installed,so here’s the latest real time Coliseum renovation camera view: https://app.oxblue.com/open/usc/lacoliseumrenovation

The last word: And a very safe and enjoyable Memorial Day to all.

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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