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IMHO Sunday: The survey says…

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

The survey says: In the spirit of that popular game show The Family Feud, hosted by Steve Harvey, the climatic moment of the show is when two members of the winning family try to fill in blanks to a sentence to see if their answers match a poll survey of 100 audience members. With that in mind, in the first section of IMHO Sunday, here is our version The Family Feud survey (below) in which I match my answers to poll questions and request your answers by commenting on our WeAreSC.com message board if you wish to play along.

 

The survey says, in your opinion, although it’s still way too early, optimistically, the Trojans record after the completion of the 2021 regular season will be _____.

IMHO: 9-3

You say: (fill in the blank)

The survey says, in your opinion, although it’s still way too early, pessimistically, the Trojans record after the completion of the 2021 regular season will be _____.

IMHO: 6-6

You say: (fill in the blank)

The survey says, in your opinion, although it’s still way too early, realistically, the Trojans record after the completion of the 2021 regular season will be ______.

IMHO: 8-4

You say: (fill in the blank)  

You can find all sorts of opinions how the Trojans (photo above) will perform in 2021, but 8-4 may be the average between optimistic (9-3) and pessimistic (6-6).

 

The survey says, in your opinion, assuming the seven Coliseum home games have no capacity restrictions (77,500 capacity), the home attendance average per game will be _________.

IMHO: Given the fear of COVID, even with no restrictions, I’ll go with an average of 48,000 per game.

You say: (fill in the blank)

The survey says, in your opinion,
yes or no, Trojans’ quarterback Kedon Slovis is a serious candidate to win the Heisman Trophy, and the answer is ______ .

IMHO: At this point, I see Slovis a Heisman candidate but not a serious one or at least a top level candidate. It all depends more on his mental stability during a game than his physical condition. It wouldn’t shock me if he has football’s version of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after all the shots he’s taken in his two seasons as the USC quarterback, especially given the lack of protection and a running game.

You say: (fill in the blank)

Is Trojans’ All-Pac-12 quarterback Kedon Slovis (photo above) a 2021 Heisman Trophy front-runner? (Photo by Jose / MarinMedia.org Pool for USC Athletics)



The survey says, in your opinion,
yes or no, Trojans’ receiver Drake London should be considered a strong Biletnikoff Award candidate, and the answer is ________.

IMHO: Yes, Drake should be a serious candidate for the best receiver in the country. Although he won’t be a strong Heisman candidate, he should be a strong candidate for the Biletnikoff Award. Win or lose, Drake figures to be rewarded with a lot of money when he is an NFL first-round draft pick in the 2022 NFL draft.

You say: (fill in the blank)

The survey says, in your opinion, yes or no, there will there be a major improvement in the Trojans running game in 2021, and the answer is _____.

IMHO: Based on the question, which says a major improvement, as of today I would say no. Why? Because at best a leopard doesn’t change its spots (Graham Harrell), and because any improvement will be modest because how much better can the Trojans be when they no longer have a first-round selection among the starting five O-linemen?

You say: (fill in the blank)  

Offensive tackle Alijah Vera-Tucker (photo above) is the second USC offensive tackle (2021) along with Austin Jackson (2020) to be taken early in the first round in successive NFL drafts.


The survey says, in your opinion,
yes or no, the Trojans be successful in short-yardage and goal line situations this season, and the answer is ______.

IMHO, I very cautiously will say yes, but that may be wishful thinking. It’s likely there will be little change if the Trojans continue their pattern of quarterbacks not taking the snap from under center. Pay no attention to Alabama, Ohio State, Notre Dame, and Clemson and what they do; they don’t know what they’re doing, right?

You say: (fill in the blank)   

The survey says, in your opinion,
the average number of points per game the defense will allow in 2021 will be _____.

IMHO: 23 ppg.

You say: (fill in the blank)

The Trojans are hoping that their defense (photo above), which showed promise in spring ball, will be among the best in the West. (Photo by John McGillen/USC Athletics)


The survey says, in your opinion,
the average number of points per game the offense will average this season will be _____.

IMHO: 31 ppg.

You say: (fill in the blank)

How many points per game will the Trojans offense (photo above) average in 2021?

 

The survey says, in your opinion, yes or no, you think that there is a direct correlation between no USC final spring practice depth chart and the NCAA Transfer Portal deadline of July 1, and the answer is _____.

IMHO: Does a bear defecate in the woods? Is the Pope Catholic? Is Clay Helton a Texan? Unless told otherwise, not having a final spring depth chart provides no written evidence of a starting unit for the offense, defense, and special teams. In other words, withhold any information that might provide motivation and emotional anguish for a player to justify entering the NCAA Transfer Portal. My final answer is yes.

You say: (fill in the blank)   

The survey says, in your opinion, yes or no, you’re concerned with the amount (3) of former Texas Longhorns that have transferred to USC, and the answer is ________.

IMHO: I say it only concerns me if they aren’t any good. The first two transfers, RB Keaontay Ingram and S Xavion Alfred, look pretty good at this point. Look, if a player transfers in and can play and help the Trojans win, who cares where he comes from.

You say: (fill in the blank)  

Former Texas receiver Malcolm Epps (photo above) is the latest Longhorn to transfer into USC for 2021.

The survey says, in your opinion, yes or no, you think that the spending spree on football support staff will bring about a big change in the program, and the answer is _______.  
IMHO: Look, you can make all the entertaining and rah-rah videos you want and even personalize them, but the single most influential selling point to recruits is rather simple: Winning championships. Winning championships cures almost anything.
You say: (fill in the blank)  
The survey says, in your opinion, yes or no, this will be Clay Helton’s last season as the Trojans head coach, and the answer is ______.
IMHO: First, I think that Helton has to win the Pac-12 to keep his job, but others may disagree. If he doesn’t win a 2021 conference title, one would think, combined with his last three seasons, his days would be numbered considering no conference titles to show for it.
You say: (fill in the blank)      
The 2021 season could be a critical campaign regarding the future of Clay Helton (photo above) as USC’s head coach.

The survey says, in your opinion, if Clay Helton is fired, his replacement will be _______.
IMHO: Right now, if I was a betting man, which I am not, I would put money down on current University of Cincinnati head football coach Luke Fickell, who was once hired by former Cincy and current USC AD Mike Bohn. If not Fickell, look for a direction that points to either Iowa State’s Matt Campbell or Minnesota’s P.J. Fleck.
You say: (fill in the blank)     
From the press box…

 

The billboard wars: Notre Dame has thrown down the branding and social media gauntlet by placing Irish football player(s) billboard advertisements around the country, beginning with Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas, Detroit, Indianapolis, Charlotte, Jersey City, New York City, Phoenix, and Los Angeles. The Irish LA billboard on the 405 Freeway shows a photo of former Crespi High receiver Matt Salerno in his Irish uniform and the walk-on is quoted as saying, “I’m from Los Angeles and I chose Notre Dame.”

Notre Dame has opened up a whole new national recruiting war by placing billboards (photo above) of selected players and signed recruits in their hometown areas.

The billboard wars – Part 2: Okay, let’s all get ready for the invasion of college football billboards on our Los Angeles freeway systems. You can just see Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, Michigan, Texas and on and on right into Orange County showcasing Southern California area players that are part of their respective programs. It’s all part of  branding of players, and can’t you just imagine a recruiting pitch saying, “Sign with us and you’ll have your own billboard along the Hollywood Freeway” or “You’ll be looking good along Sunset Strip.”
The billboard wars – Part 3: It’s not like the Trojans marketing department hasn’t already used our local freeway system to promote a prominently signed recruit, or have you forgotten when the Trojans had that picture of DL Korey Foreman, considered by many the No. 1 recruit in the country, on its large Galen Center video billboard that faces the 110 Freeway? 
Before Notre Dame started placing billboards around the country to promote its players and signed recruits, the Trojans beat the Irish locally by using its Galen Center video board (photo above) next to the 110 Freeway to promote the signing of defensive lineman Korey Foreman, the nation’s No. 1 recruit.

College football magazine alert: Lindy’s national college football magazine will be hitting newsstands next month (June).
Carol is added: According to San Jose Mercury Pac-12 Hotline columnist Jon Wilner, USC president Dr. Carol Folt has been quietly added to the committee that is in search of the next Pac-12 commissioner. Wilner writes, “Folt’s presence makes sense because, well, the Los Angeles schools should have a voice in the process — USC, in particular.”
Carol L. Folt (photo above) has been added to the Pac-12 committee, which is looking to select a new Pac-12 commissioner to replace the departing Larry Scott. (Photo by USC Photo/Gus Ruelas)

Carol is added – Part 2: According to Wilner, the scribe believes that there are two current leading candidates. The current favorite is Oliver Luck, who “has both campus experience, as the former athletic director at West Virginia and a sports business background, as the commissioner of the XFL and president of NFL Europe. An NFL quarterback in the 1980s, Luck is familiar with the Pac-12 and spent several years as the NCAA’s executive vice president for regulatory affairs, which could be viewed by the presidents as an asset on upcoming legislative and governance issues.”
Carol is added – Part 3: Wilner’s second candidate behind Luck is Randy Freer. According to Wilner, Freer is a strong candidate having been the former Fox Sports and Hulu boss, lives in Southern California, knows the Pac-12 media landscape exceedingly well, negotiated Fox’s end of the $3 billion, 12-year partnership, and was “integral in reforming the Big East, oversaw Fox Sports’ multimedia rights partnership with USC, and has high-level connections throughout college sports.”
Another candidate for Pac-12 commissioner is said to be Randy Freer (photo above), a former Fox Sports media boss.

IMHO: I was convinced the Trojans weren’t done trying to bring in players from the NCAA Transfer Portal (i.e., quarterback/O-lineman). Well, Helton’s Trojans did recently bring in a Portal transfer with the recent Twitter announcement by former Texas (yep, another Longhorn) tight end/wide receiver Malcolm Epps (6-6, 253), who is expected to  play for the Trojans next season. Gezz, at that size, maybe he could bulk up and play offensive tackle? Just kidding?
Texas bound: According to media outlets both in Texas and in SoCal, it appears that Trojans linebacker Palaie Gaoteote will be transferring to Texas. If that is the final destination of Gaoteote, he must be aware that first-year Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian already has four transfer linebackers in Devin Richardson (New Mexico State), Ovie Oghoufo (Notre Dame), Ben Davis (Alabama), and Ray Thornton (LSU).  
From all reports, it appears that “former” Trojans inside linebacker Palaie Gaoteote (photo above – No. 1) is transferring to the University of Texas, now under first-year head coach Steve Sarkisian. (Photo by John McGillen via USC Athletics)

On the air: Thursday night your humble scribe appeared on the popular Harvey Hyde radio show, and we thank Coach for having us on. Here is the broadcast:    

 

The post-game show…

 

Physical practices: The Trojans are using their social media tools to present the case that this spring’s practice sessions were the most physical yet of the Clay Helton era. Are you buying it? Below is the latest video advancing the physical practices argument.

 

The recruiting motivator: With the recruiting period dark continuing until June 1, if you’re wondering where the Trojans recruiting efforts are focused, imagine being a recruit and seeing the social media football promotional video below.

 


Crosstown champions:
For the 12th time in the competition’s 19 years, the Trojans have captured the Crosstown Cup, the annual head-to-head, all-sports competition with the Bruins. 


Crosstown champions – Part 2:
The Trojans accumulated 10 points apiece in this season’s competition in football, men’s basketball, men’s track, women’s track, men’s golf, women’s golf, men’s tennis and women’s beach volleyball.  The Trojans added five points each in women’s volleyball, women’s soccer, men’s water polo, women’s water polo and women’s rowing.

When the Trojans defeated UCLA in football this past season (photo above), it helped add to the point total that eventually gave USC the Crosstown Cup, the annual head-to-head, all-sports competition with the Bruins. (Photo by Jose / MarinMedia.org Pool for USC Athletics)

Helmet to helmet: The recent Sunday celebration honoring of Dr. Arthur C. Bartner was a success, as was fundraising for the band. However, the band still needs new “helmets” and are asking for donations. While the band consistently purchases uniforms every 10 years, the helmets are only replaced when they are broken and unwearable. This results, according to a band media release, in an inconsistent look. If you would like to help, you can text: TBHELMETS to 71777
The Trojans Marching Band (photo above) is looking for donations to replace its iconic but worn out helmets.

The call-in show…

 

Caller No. 1: Greg, what do you think of Dr. Folt being part of the Pac-12 commissioner’s process?

Caller No. 1, I think it’s a good thing for USC and the Southern California area to have a representative on the Pac-12 committee. Is Dr. Folt qualified for such a position? Now that could be debatable, but she will probably be getting advice from her athletic director and others knowledgeable of the process from within the university. Folt’s selection to the committee could be a positive to further educate her on the importance of USC to the Pac-12 and football in general. I don’t see any real negatives unless she is just a figurehead or speaks without prior knowledge.    

Dr. Carol Folt (photo above) has been added to the Pac-12 committee that is researching for a new Pac-12 commissioner to replace outgoing commissioner Larry Scott, who will depart in June.

Caller No. 2: Mr. Katz, are you surprised that Clay Helton didn’t have a post-spring depth chart and reportedly won’t have a depth chart until the Friday before the first game with San Jose St?  
Caller No. 2, how many times must I repeat this answer? With transferring from one university to another and having a one-time free transfer with immediate eligibility, it’s going to be the Wild, Wild West when players and their minions or advisers figure it all out. In the meantime, the rosters of universities across the country could be greatly impacted from season to season.
On a side note, although the Pac-12 has not officially endorsed a new rule that would basically coincide with the new national NCAA Transfer Portal rules, it is expected that the Pac-12 will allow a one-time transfer within the conference with instant eligibility. In other words, a USC quarterback could transfer to ASU and be eligible to play against the Trojans in the upcoming season.
In answer to your question, why release a depth chart and create a potential movement of players. In other words, let a sleeping dog lie or don’t shake the hornet’s nest.  
Following spring practice (photo above), the Trojans did not release a final depth chart but will do so on Friday, Sept. 3, before the first game against San Jose St. on Sept. 4. (Photo above by John McGillen/USC Athletics)

Caller No. 3: GK, who do you really think is the backup quarterback behind starter Kedon Slovis?  
Caller No. 3, based on what I saw and what I hear, it appears that Jaxson Dart will be next man up if Kedon Slovis goes down. Dart had more explosion plays during spring ball than did Miller Moss. However, I wouldn’t count Moss out by any means. He’s a competitor and once the bright lights of a real game shine on him or Dart for that matter, we’ll see how each reacts to a game.  
By all accounts, it appears that true freshman quarterback Jaxson Dart (photo above) will head into training camp in August behind starter Kedon Slovis. (Photo by John McGillen/USC Athletics)

Caller No. 4: Katz, do you really believe that wide receiver Drake London can be or is a generational player?

Caller No. 4, he’s the best receiver at potentially controlling a game since Mike Williams back in the early 2000s. I talked recently with a former decorated Trojan linebacker who said that teams will try and “high-low” defend him, but London’s basketball ability and size can neutralize a double-team. At 6-5 and physical, he can split that double-team. If Mike Williams had an advantage over London, it’s the fact that Big Mike was helped by having a potent running attack to keep the defense fairly honest while London obviously does not have a running game to help him out.      

Junior wide receiver Drake London (photo above) may be the most impactful receiver the Trojans have had since All-American Mike Williams in the early 2000s. (Photo by John McGillen/USC Athletics)

Caller No. 5: Gregorio, what motivates you?  
Caller No. 5, interesting question. Professionally, I like to surround myself and be around not just high-energy people that are smart, but folks that are proven winners at a high level. I had no problem being a leader (AKA head coach) or being an assistant in a great program during my coaching time. I have coached and/or been part of CIF champions in football (Huntington Beach (Calif.) Edison High CIF champs 1979 and 1980) and basketball (Santa Ana High – 1988 large school CIF Final Four).
There is, however, no greater motivation than players and coaches that motivate each other. When I was playing in high school, I experienced neither, so I have been on both sides of the fence. Also, professionally, I can say without reservation that WeAreSC.com founder Garry P. created a wonderfully motivated product and staff, and nobody was more motivated than Garry to be first rate and first class. It is why I continue with WeAreSC and remain motivated to continue the legacy of our celebrated and beloved founder.    
The 1979 CIF-SS D-1 Champion Huntington Beach Edison Chargers (photo above) were such a joy to be around not only because they were one of the best high school teams in the nation that also featured future Trojans TE Mark Boyer, and DB Duaine Jackson, but they were so motivated that it was truly inspirational.
The last word: One of the best “finds” I can pass on to readers is that in my limited “functional” ability to use a computer, I have been able to link USC football YouTube games to my 75-inch HD TV. Recently, I was watching the 1973 Rose Bowl game between the Trojans and Ohio State for the national title. Needless to say, it was USC football entertainment at the highest level. All you need to link your computer to the TV is a computer-to-TV extension cord. Trust me, it will be well worth the effort.


Greg Katz
Author
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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