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IMHO Sunday: Take a seat

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

Renewal conundrum: After being sent a 2019 season ticket renewal application email this week, many USC fans are considering whether to renew or not to renew their season tickets. This indecision is based on the controversial Coliseum renovation, seat relocation, total ticket cost, and the prospect of another season as Clay Helton as the Trojans head coach. As of now, there are conflicting reports on how many fans are or aren’t renewing. Deadline for season tickets renewal is Feb. 28. One thing for sure, it is an indication of the unrest in the Trojans’ football community.

Renewal conundrum – Part 2: In normal times, renewing one’s Trojans football season tickets brought optimism, excitement, and anticipation for the upcoming season. In normal times, renewing USC season tickets was as routine as sleeping in on Sunday morning. However, these are not normal times in Trojans football and in the short term, fans may just show their displeasure with the program by either not renewing their season tickets for 2019 or buying individual game tickets at a reduce cost through sites such as StubHub. And there is always the option of staying home and watching games on a big screen television.

On the other hand: Trojan fans may project that things will change after next season and renewing one’s season tickets will be more an investment in the future. No question the USC ticketing and marketing department will be holding their collective breathes through August to find out the final season tickets count. And don’t think for a second that Trojans’ athletic director Lynn Swann won’t be taking a sneak peek in the coming months at the incoming season ticket renewal numbers.    

Optimistic: From a recent Trojans Athletic Fund email, “The Coliseum Renovation project engagement and seating campaigns were a tremendous success. At this time, all Trojan Athletic Fund (TAF) members and Season Ticket Holders have selected their 2019 seats, totaling more than 30,000 seats committed to in the renovated Coliseum. Based on the success of the seating campaigns, we have added 3,000 new members to the TAF family! We are thrilled to near the completion of restoring one of the most iconic sports stadiums in the world and look forward to stepping into the renovated Coliseum together this August.”

Come on down: After dealing with what seems like an endless stream of disappointment and anger, some good news for 2018 USC season ticket holders as an email has gone out to Trojans Athletic Fund members that those two complementary Coliseum seats will be made available for pickup beginning in early March. If you’re a Trojans Athletic Fund member, you have a priority window to select your pick-up date and time prior to all General Season Ticket Holders. Coliseum seats for TAF members will be distributed the first three weekends in March.

Come on down – Part 2: According to the complementary seat information email to season tickets holders, everyone is REQUIRED to choose a pick-up time by February 1, 2019 at 5pm. If you do not choose a pick-up time, seats will not be available for you to pick up.

Curb size service: The complementary seats will be placed at your car and it will be your responsibility for loading and securing the seats in your vehicle. You are advised to take note of the dimensions and weight of the seats listed below prior to arrival to make sure they will fit inside your vehicle.

Curb size service – Part 2: The Coliseum seats are 52 lbs. and measure 43” wide x 29” tall x 10” deep, so make sure you have a vehicle that fits the size of the two seats.

No shopping: There will not be an opportunity to select specific complementary Coliseum seats, seat numbers or type of seats. Seats are provided as-is and will include all the imperfections, so don’t be disappointed that the seats that you sat in for so many seasons probably won’t be the ones that you’re given.

Read the fine print: According to the complementary seat information email,Due to unforeseen circumstances, we are unable to supply a refurbished or a pre-mounted seat, as we initially offered. However, for fans wishing to have their seats mounted, you will have the opportunity to purchase an easy to assemble, in-home mounting kit. Details about the mounting kit will be sent after you have chosen your pick-up time.”

Big thumbs up: No matter how you think the handling the football program is going at this point in time, it would be hard to argue that the complementary season ticket seat giveaway isn’t a wonderfully appreciated public relations gesture and a delightful post-holiday present.

From the press box…

Banned: The removal of USC’s iconic The Song Girls from men’s basketball games is a self-inflicted wound by the athletic department and the logic given doesn’t pass the smell test. Here is a very good Times article that was run this week, and it doesn’t reflect well on USC athletic director Lynn Swann. We recommend you read it as written by Brady McCollough.

From top to bottom: Respected Pac-12 West Coast columnist Jon Wilner ranked the 2018 conference football coaches from best to worst. To no surprise, Washington State’s Mike Leach received an “A” for his team’s performance this season. Ranked last was Trojans’ coach Clay Helton who received an “F”. There is no lack of motivation for Clay Helton to prove his detractors wrong in 2019.

From top to bottom – Part 2: In commenting on Clay Helton’s 2018 “F” performance, Jon Wilner wrote, “An easy call, thanks to Helton’s own boss (Lynn Swann), who noted the deficiencies in every aspect of the program while announcing the coach’s return for 2019. With all that talent, the Trojans had one victory over a team that ended the season with a winning record. Oh, and they lost to every rival (Notre Dame, UCLA, Stanford) and to every California school. The grade is F only because nothing lower exists.”

You don’t know Jack: If Jack Sears doesn’t leap over JT Daniels in the open quarterback competition in the spring, don’t expect Sears to transfer. Sears is scheduled to get his degree this fall, but once he gets that degree, all bets are off.

The waiting: There was initially good news recently when 5-star wide receivers, Bru McCoy (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei) and Kyle Ford (Orange, Calif./Lutheran) announced on national television that they will be attending USC in 2019. McCoy is already attending spring classes. However, with Kliff Kingsbury’s departure and no OC at the moment, there are concerns that Ford may sign elsewhere. However, one gets the impression that Kyle and his family are waiting to see who is named the new Trojans’ offensive coordinator.

The post-game show…

Sign of the times: No USC underclassmen have entered this spring’s NFL draft, which is the first time since 2003. The good news is that these 2019 returning seniors could be major components in this season, and it’s very visible to see the improvement between a junior and senior season.

Addition: Trojans’ CB Iman Marshall has been added to the Senior Bowl roster, which already includes USC linebacker Cameron Smith and offensive tackle Chuma Edoga. Safety Marvell Tell lll was invited to the Senior Bowl, but his ankle still hasn’t healed from last season. The 2019 Reese’s Senior Bowl from Mobile, Alabama is January 26 and will be televised by the NFL Network (11:30 a.m. PST).

Improvement: The good news is that three Pac-12 teams actually won bowls games this past post-season. The bad news is that four conference teams lost bowl games. The good news is that nobody can blame the Trojans for contributing to the loss column of this season’s bowl games.

Done: In case you hadn’t heard, DE/OLB Oluwole Betiku Jr. has departed the Trojans program, and Wole has to rank right there in recent memory as another excellent athlete that never was able to live up to the hype.

Announcement: Bill Hancock, Executive Director of the College Football Playoff (CFP) has announced that former Trojans’ assistant coach R.C. Slocum (1981) along with Terry Mohajir and Ray Odierno have been appointed to the selection committee by the CFP Management Committee. The new members will each begin a three-year term starting this spring.

The last word: With the Trojans and Rams home football season over, it’s full steam ahead on the Coliseum renovation project. Here’s the latest real time camera view on 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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