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IMHO Sunday: Streaming a Celebration of Life

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

Coming home: On Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. in a private Celebration of Life in the Galen Center’s Founders Room, a gathering of family, WeAreSC staff, local and national media, Trojan athletes, and close university friends of our late founder and publisher Garry Paskwietz (photo above – left) will give a final remembrance to a man that meant so much to so many. And for those of you that want to feel part of the celebration for Garry, the event is being live streamed at: https://www.youtube.com/user/WeAreSCProduction

Guest speakers: The master of ceremonies for the Garry Celebration of Life will be GP’s longtime friend Sam Lagana, whom many of you know as the public address announcer for the Los Angeles Rams and for his affiliation with Pepperdine University. Sam and Garry go back many years.

Guest speakers – Part 2:
Among the guest speakers at the celebration will be USC play-by-play radio voice Pete Arbogast; USC Sports Information Director Tim Tessalone; sportscaster, former WeAreSC reporter and former USC swimmer Natalie Kalibat (photo above -right); Sean Kennally of the San Gabriel Valley Trojans Club; longtime friend Bruce Bagni; WeAreSC attorney Eoin Kreditor; and your humble WeAreSC columnist.   

Guest speakers – Part 3:
The most intimate speaker, however, will be Garry’s sister, Kambria Lauffer, who will have the emotional task of representing her family by speaking about her beloved brother.

It’s cardinal and gold:
The family is encouraging everybody attending Garry’s Celebration of Life to wear either Tommy Bahama-style clothing or cardinal and gold colors.

Gridiron representation: A number of high profile former Trojan football players and their families are expected to attend. Out of respect for their privacy, we won’t mentioned them today, but a number of them are former top NFL draft picks, current NFL performers, and former members of USC national championship teams. You would easily recognize the names.

Family request: In lieu of flowers that many of you have inquired about to honor Garry’s memory, the family is asking that you consider joining the WeAreSC website membership group. Your membership will help WeAreSC.com continue as a lasting memorial and tribute to Garry. For those interested, please go to the WeAreSC front page and click on “view member details.”Gridiron representation: Among those former Trojans football players expected to attend are Mark Sanchez Lawrence Jackson, Stafon Johnson, Brandon Hancock, Shane Foley, and Darrell Rideaux. 

Video tribute:
At the Celebration of Life in the Galen Center Founders Room, a professional video tribute is expected to profile Garry in pictures and interviews.

Behind the scenes:
As per Garry’s wishes, much of what GP wanted to accomplish for WeAreSC.com for the 2019 season is being put into action by new publisher Erik McKinney, who plans to execute Garry’s ideas, plans, and vision.

From the press box

Class of 2020: This is the recruiting class that can make or break it if Clay Helton can have a comeback season in 2019 and remain as head coach. The biggest 2020 recruiting piece, committed Santa Ana Mater Dei QB Bryce Young – the nation’s top-ranked dual-threat schoolboy signal caller – is all in with the new Air Raid offense, especially new offensive coordinator and quarterback coach Graham Harrell. For the record, Helton said this week during his recruiting roundup presser that the new system “isn’t necessarily” an Air Raid offense due to attention paid to the running game.

Class of 2020 – Part 2: In an article last week by J. Brady McCollough in the L.A. Times, Bryce Young said, “He (Graham Harrell) is a really great guy, a really fun guy to be around, a really cool coach. I really got the chance to kind of sit down and pick his brain, look at what he does, system-wise. We went over a few drives from when he was at North Texas, and he was just kind of explaining how he calls stuff, his philosophy behind the plays he ran. I really like the system that he brings to the table.”

Class of 2020 – Part 3: Asked about Clay Helton and his future at USC, Bryce Young told the Times, “There’s been a lot of negativity and things circulating about USC. Despite that, I have complete confidence in and trust in coach Helton and his staff and the school that they know what they’re doing. I have complete confidence they’ll turn it around this year. Not many places can flip a narrative as fast as USC can. After one good season, they’ll be back to praising the school like they did after the Pac-12 championship and the Rose Bowl.”

Class of 2019: Without question, the recruiting Class of 2019 wasn’t one of the Trojans better efforts, having been ranked 18th nationally by the 247Sports Composite. It’s also Troy’s lowest ranking since 2001 (20th). However, the reality is that in any recruiting class you never know how it will translate onto the field until two seasons from signing day. That’s not a copout for Clay Helton, but it’s just a historical recruiting fact.

Class of 2019 – Part 2: Here is a head snapping fact: The Men of Troy signed only two of California’s top 20 prospects. While we all know the basic reasons why only two of the top 20 prospects signed with Troy, if that doesn’t get your attention in the John McKay Center, I guess nothing else will.  

Winners breed winners: There are three players from Corona (Calif.) Centennial (Drake Jackson, Tuasivi Nomura, Jayden Williams) that are part of the Class of 2019, and one thing for sure, these kids come from a nationally acclaimed high school football program. Just like getting players from Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei, you know you’re getting a fundamentally sound players from a bigtime winning program.

Getting a pass: It would be easy to blame offensive line coach Tim Drevno for the lack of bodies on his side of the ball and the inability to sign offensive line men like Enokk Vimahi (Ohio State) and lesser known Hunter Hill (Utah State). And there were others to be honest. However, given the offensive system uncertainty, coaching uncertainty, and some of the O-line prospects were from out-of-state, it all gets down to issues that Drevno was having to overcome. However, if this lack of recruiting quality offensive lineman persists in the future

Recruiting bottom line: The Trojans can survive the Class of 2019 if there isn’t simply enough talent, but they cannot survive the future as a serious contender in the Pac-12 if the Class of 2020 is a repeat of this season’s efforts. The only real positive is that the Pac-12 South recruiting for the Class of 2019 didn’t exactly turn heads make a statement.  

The post-game show…

Looking ahead: Recruiting is the life blood of any program, and you may want to close your eyes. In 2020, the Trojans travel once again to Arlington, Texas for the season opener with Alabama, which had the 2019 consensus No. 1 recruiting class while the Trojans finished – depending on your individual rating service – in the 15-20 range.

The invitation: NFL combine invitations are out, and five Trojans were thrilled to be invited. Congrats to LB’s Cameron Smith and Porter Gustin, CB Iman “Biggie” Marshall, S Marvel Tell lll, and OT Chuma Edoga.

Keeping count: So how many season ticket renewal reminder notices have you received or have you lost count?

Red Flag: The fan base of the Fresno State Bulldogs is renowned for travel with their football and basketball teams. Some have written that the “Red Wave” could bring at least 20,000 fans from the Central Valley into the renovated 77,000 seat Coliseum.

There is so much noise right now about how many USC season ticket holders have decided not to renew their tickets for 2019, so it’s possible for the grand opening of the renovated Coliseum that attendance for the Trojans and Bulldogs could be near a 50-50 split among the two fan bases.

Also conceivable:
It’s possible that the big reopening of the Coli might not sell out, which would certainly not present the optics of culture change for the Trojans.  

The last word:
With the rain having let up for the moment,  here’s the latest real time camera view of the Coliseum renovation: https://app.oxblue.com/open/usc/lacoliseumrenovation

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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