17 min Read

IMHO Sunday: The Grand Old Lady, a sheltered victim too

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

Ms. Coli: She is our favorite octogenarian or in layman terms – senior citizen. Born in 1923, a grand matriarch who has always been there for us through thick and thin, through wartime and peacetime, through riots and protests, through football, baseball, rock and roll, the Olympics, to political and religious gatherings. Yet, our beloved, eternal sweetheart, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, has fallen victim, as well, to the extreme restrictions of the coronavirus, another symbol of our worldwide plight. She worries that her grassy backyard hallowed ground will turn into a petri dish. However, unlike us, she needn’t wear a mask or social distance, but like us she ponders a very uncertain future.

Ms. Coli – Part 2: However, please forgive her if she shows a slight sign of blushing after hearing last week from USC athletic director Mike Bohn that one of our city’s most recognizable and historic icons may – just may – be able to host a limited amount of cardinal and gold guests from her favorite beloved university. She knows it’s one step at a time, but she has had a lot of time for reflection and nostalgia. It may be out of sight but not out of mind.

Ms. Coli – Part 3: While our Lady awaits word for further clarification, she stares at last year’s multi-million-dollar facelift and wonders if it was all worth it if she becomes part of the virus contagion problem and not the solution. Our Lady knows if there is a USC college football season, her living room may be “dramatically reduced” from her 77,500, but if she is certified as safe, she can’t wait to see a few of her best friends and acquaintances, even when they are required to wear masks for the whole game.

But then again, she asks herself if anybody will make the drive from the vast Southern California area? Some may think all the changes and requirements just aren’t worth it, electing to watch the proceedings on television.

Given the potential for dramatic Coliseum home game restrictions, how many Southern Californians will want to make the trip into LA on the freeways (photo above) from various suburbs near and far…with no guarantee that ticket allocations will be reduced per season ticket holder.

Ms. Coli – Part 4: As our Lady restrains her optimism for a 2020 USC football season, she does allow herself to fantasize after learning this week that USC athletic director Mike Bohn has given season tickets holders the option of opting in or out of attending home games this season. However, she catches herself looking at restrictions and modifications should season ticket holders elect to come to her historic home, and it begins to curb some of her enthusiasm.

Ms. Coli – Part 5: Our Lady reads with tempered enthusiasm the new season ticket stipulations from athletic director Bohn to season ticket holders who have indicated they may want to visit her home in spite of the coronavirus. She reads that every effort will be made to accommodate a season ticket holders current seating location. However, due to the likelihood of a reduced capacity in her home and social distancing guidelines, a current season ticket holder’s seats may not be available. Additionally, TAF members may have their seat quantities reduced and will likely be required to select an alternative seat location for the 2020 season only. Seating options may also be in a different price level or Trojan Athletic Fund membership area. Her eyes widen as she reads on.

Ms Coli – Part 6: Our Lady then sighs as she reads on from Mike Bohn’s email that tailgating, the Trojan Walk, the Band Walk, and Fan Fest will be significantly limited and potentially removed altogether as a result of social distancing guidelines. So much for her pregame excitement leading up to the big kickoff.

Due to probable pregame restrictions, the popular Trojan Walk (photo above) may be suspended for the 2020 season.

Ms. Coli – Part 7: Our Lady nods her head yet gleans a tear after reading that concession stands, restrooms, elevators, United Airlines Coliseum Clubs, and other private and public premium spaces throughout the Coliseum will adapt to follow social distancing guidelines and capacity will be limited. She starts to have a mild anxiety attack with a migraine not far behind. She thinks to herself, “Is this all worth it for all my friends.” She has to remind herself it’s all about the game and not the party or convenience. Will there be complimentary cardinal and gold face masks and sanitary disinfectant soap given to her guests? 

Ms. Coli – Part 8: Still, our Lady asks of the coronavirus, “What did I do to deserve this?” How long will this invisible predator last, and will her parties ever reach 77,500, her favorite capacity number? Recently, she watched as protests for equality and justice were in her backyard. Our Lady has seen it all before and bows her head having seen it before but not like this. Forever the optimist, she still sees herself as a role model for welcoming back into her house all races, color, religions, genders, and age groupings. The Grand Old Gal knows her responsibility and hospitality bring people together – not divides them.

It figures that Coliseum home game attendance will be severely reduced, which means fans may have to still social distance when they enter (photo above) the Grand Old Lady through one of her celebrated tunnels.

Ms. Coli – Part 9: Our Lady has told herself that she may not see her most cherished and longtime acquaintances like her favorite guests from South Bend, Indiana, and their goofy little leprechaun. She longs for those golden dome helmets reflecting upon the Southern California sun or moonlight as has been the case in recent times. Our patriarch has her social calendar for 2020-21 and knows its pages remain fluid at best. It’s all the uncertainty that causes her not a moment of comfortability.    

Ms. Coli – Part 10:
Our Lady admits she loves the excitement of hosting her parties before games in her backyard, Exposition Park, and wonders when she will again smell the alluring aroma of barbeque, the fragrance of freshly made desserts, and the whiff of adult libations? And what about those visitors with portable satellite dishes, which allows her to see some of her concrete cousins that live in Ann Arbor, Gainesville, Columbus, and Tuscaloosa? Will they soon return, but she knows all too well it is a fluid situation? 

Due to the possibility of dramatic restrictions, those Trojans fans that get tickets for home games may be restricted from having pregame tailgating (photo above), or there might not be any tailgating at all.

Ms. Coli – Part 11: And most of all, our Lady wonders when can she see and hear the screams of excitement and the moans of disappointment from her public guests? When will she again get to see an electrifying run, a crunching tackle, a majestic field goal, an artistic pass reception and scoring run? And when, when, when, she asks, will she see and feel the warmth of her torch glowing all the way to the Harbor Freeway? She can only wonder…

From the press box…

The ballots: The following Trojans were named to this year’s College Football Hall of Fame ballots: OG Jeff Bregel (1983-1986), LB Jack Del Rio (1981-1984), and QB Carson Palmer (1998-2002).  

The ballots – Part 2: The 2021 HOF ballot includes 78 players and seven coaches from the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision and 99 players and 33 coaches from the NCAA divisional and NAIA ranks. Voting will run from June 16-July 7.

The ballots – Part 3: Of the three Trojans on this year’s College HOF list, offensive guard Jeff Bregel may be the sleeper. However, he was one heckeva guard. To refresh your memory, Jeff was a two-time consensus First Team All-American, a 1986 NFF National Scholar-Athlete, and a two-time First Team All-Pac-10 selection who led Troy to the 1984 conference title and a Rose Bowl victory. Jeff also earned the 1985 Morris Trophy as the conference’s most outstanding offensive lineman.  

On this year’s College Football Hall of Fame ballot is former Trojans two-time All-American offensive guard Jeff Bregel (photo above).

The ballots – Part 4: Jack Del Rio is certainly a known known in both college and the NFL. Jack’s qualifications for the College HOF include 1984 consensus First Team All-American, who earned Co-MVP honors in the Trojans 1985 Rose Bowl win, a two-time First Team All-Pac-10 selection who led USC to the 1984 Pac-10 title, and he led the Trojans in tackles for losses his first three seasons.

Also on this year’s College Football Hall of Fame ballot is former Trojans All-American linebacker Jack Del Rio (photo above).

The ballots – Part 5: Quarterback Carson Palmer is a 2002 Heisman Trophy winner and that alone could get him in on the first ballot. Besides being a Heisman winner, Carson was also a 2002 consensus First Team All-American and Heisman Trophy recipient; 2002 Pac-10 Co-Offensive Player of the Year who set conference/school career records for total offense (11,621 yds) and passing yards (11,818); and led USC to a share of the 2002 Pac-10 title and first 11-win season since 1979.

As a former Heisman Trophy Award winning quarterback, it wouldn’t be surprising if former quarterback Carson Palmer (photo above) is voted into the College Football Hall of Fame on the first ballot.

The ballots – Part 6: IMHO, if you were ranking the odds of the three Trojans nominated for the College Football HOF, I think it would be Carson Palmer, Jack Del Rio, and Jeff Bregel. All three are worthy of being in the HOF.

The post-game show…

The winner: Who benefited more from the return of Reggie Bush to the USC campus and activities, Reggie or USC?

The winner – Part 2:
In answer to the above question, IMHO, USC can use Reggie to strengthen its brand through personal appearances and recruiting, and Reggie can use USC to return to grace and help get his Heisman Trophy back. 

Now that former Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush (photo above) is back in the good graces of USC, how hard will the Trojans administration help in trying to get No. 5 his trophy back from the Heisman trust?

Sign of the times: Because of the coronavirus, the Pac-12 announced earlier that it has elected to hold next month’s Pac-12 Media Day as a virtual (digital) effect. The SEC became the latest conference to move its football media days to a virtual format. Who knew?

The waiting: If the Trojans do play Alabama in Arlington, Texas, would you travel and take the coronavirus risk if the game is actually played?

Virus casualty: The Manning Passing Academy, which has been attended in the past by USC quarterbacks, scheduled for its 25th year, has been cancelled due to coronavirus. Last summer, former Trojans quarterback JT Daniels, now at Georgia, was a camp counselor.

Former Trojans’ quarterback JT Daniels, now at Georgia, was a camp counselor at the Manning Passing Academy last summer, but there will be no academy this summer due to the coronavirus.

Scheduling FYI: Alabama and Arizona have agreed to a home-and-home football series in 2032 and 2033. Why not the Trojans making a similar series with the Crimson Tide? Are you still reading, Mike Bohn?

The call-in show…

Caller No. 1: Greg, is there a hidden factor of the coronavirus as it applies to college football? Yes, nobody seems to be talking about the age of the coaches. If you use the marker of 60-years-old and older as a marker as the most vulnerable, you check the current ages of the Trojans coaching staff. FYI, the ages of the USC staff are as follows: HC Clay Helton 48, WR Keary Colbert 38, OL Tim Drevno 51, OC/QB Graham Harrell 35, RB Mike Jinks 48, TE John David Baker 29, DC/LB Todd Orlando 49, Craig Naivar 48, DB Donte Williams 37, DL Vic So’oto 32, and SPT Sean Snyder 59.   

Caller No. 2: Mr. Katz, the Trojans are having a great 2021 recruiting class. Is there one factor that’s needed to help keep this class together?  Yes, besides winning games, I would say a key factor would be getting all these verbals on campus for an official visit. The local verbals have been to Troy, but the out-of-state commitments still need to get to campus. Some of them have made verbals without having been on campus.

Due to the coronavirus, when will the Class of 2021 be able to take official visits to campus (photo above).

Caller No. 3: GK, growing up, who was your favorite Trojans football player, and what was your favorite team? In my 58 years of following the cardinal and gold, I‘ve obviously seen a lot of players and a lot of teams. However, to be objective about it, I’ll admit that tailback O.J. Simpson was my favorite player growing up. Now I am talking about the young O.J. and not the one that left USC and once out of football was not the O.J. that I admired. As for my favorite team, the one that sticks out for me is the 1972 national champions. Not only were they super great, incredibly well coached with so many legitimate superstars, they were just a machine on both sides of the ball. They’re certainly the best USC team I’ve seen. They had everything.

Caller No. 4: Katzer, in the early going, I’ve noticed that every preseason football magazine I’ve purchased thus far has Clay Helton No. 1 on the hot seat. Do you think that it’s justified, especially since Clay seems to have done a good job of replacing his defensive coaching staff and current recruiting is going so well? Remember that most of these publications have their writers submitting their preseason thoughts right after spring ball. Because of deadlines, much of recent recruiting successes couldn’t be part of their stories. That being said, the truth is that Gentleman Clay’s future will be judged on his team’s record. The last two seasons have been pretty bad, given the USC standards of excellence. Given the horrendous Holiday Bowl loss, Clay Helton is fortunate the USC president wanted to keep the coach before the Holiday Bowl was played.

Caller No. 5: Mr. Meow, when you were a teenager, what was the first car that you owned? Ah, to be young again (sigh). For my 16th birthday, my parents gave me their blue 1962 Chevy Impala. They gave me the car for my birthday because they wanted me to be the driver of everywhere I went. It sent the message that I had no excuse to be where I shouldn’t be, and I had the wheels to leave a party or gathering I didn’t want to be at. It also allowed me to drive to and from school, sports practices ,and jobs. On a negative note, the car had bucket seats, which wasn’t so romantic for dating if you get my drift.    

As a teenager, your humble columnist drove a 1962 Chevy Impala (photo above), which was good for transportation but with bucket seats not a car that was dating friendly.

The final word: Whew, Trojans Class of 2021 QB verbal Miller Moss, formerly of Mission Hills (Calif.) Alemany, has been officially accepted and enrolled this week into Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei so them that has gits. Meanwhile, the Trojans other Class of 2021 QB verbal, Jake Garcia, is being hotly pursued by the Miami Hurricanes. What in the name of Paul Dee are the Hurricanes up to – again?   



Greg Katz
Author
Greg Katz

Now in his 58th 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 staff writer 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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