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IMHO Sunday: Tradition

By Greg Katz – WeAreSC

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

Here we go again: In a recent Twitter comment by Trojans sophomore defensive tackle Kenny Bigelow, the lineman tweeted, “We need a younger more… Open to change fan base,” telling The Times he was alluding to the Trojans uniforms.

Here we go again – Part 2: Kenny Bigelow told The Times that the team is “divided” on the uniform issue. Certainly the Oregon Ducks have caused quite a stir as it relates to uniforms, and it seems like every university is trying to be creative. The Trojans, too, have dabbled in subtle uniform changes or have you already forgotten last season’s metallic red helmets and the very forgettable shoes under Lane Kiffin.

Here we go again – Part 3: Heck, even Notre Dame, as traditional as it gets, has had alternative uniforms. But that’s what sets USC apart from the rest. They don’t need drastic uniform change; all they need are championships. Call it what you want, but there are few uniforms, especially the home uniforms, that are equal to the Trojans.

Better yet: The Trojans are also apart from the others in not putting players last names on the back of their jerseys. Isn’t it “we” instead of “me”? Or as they say, if it ain’t broken, don’t’ fix it. The USC Trojans are one of the few teams in college football that don’t need gimmicks. I’d be more concerned about winning football a Pac-12 South Division and making tackles rather than being preoccupied with uniform colors and designs.

The defense team: In the Kenny Bigelow Times story, the young lineman tried to clarify his position on uniforms by saying he found himself “on either side of the spectrum from time to time.” Bigelow certainly has a right to give his opinion, but you never heard two-time Trojans All-American Leonard Williams overly concerned, at least not publically, regarding uniform colors and styles.

Never forget: When Pete Carroll’s teams were winning all those championships, there certainly wasn’t any real drive or need to be creative in the fashion world of uniforms. In fact, when the Trojans were white hot with conference championships and national titles, sales of the “traditional” jersey went right through the roof nationally.

Never forget – Part 2: Winning changes a whole programs perspective. When the Trojans were floundering by their standards under Paul Hackett, the Coliseum was called every ugly name in the book. When Pete Carroll had the Trojans rolling, the Coliseum was called historic, intimidating, and one of the great stadiums in the country. It’s all about the “W”.

Never forget – Part 3: And let’s not forget that Pete Carroll did actually change the Trojans uniforms upon his arrival back to the look of the McKay 1960s years.

The change: John McKay changed the look of the Trojans uniforms in 1972, which was the season the Trojans won another national championship with a team many argue is the greatest college football team of all-time.

The Big Cat: Leonard “Big Cat” Williams continues to be at Trojans spring practices and you really get the impression that if the money coming his way wasn’t so overwhelming, he’d just as soon play another season with the Men of Troy. The Big Cat comes to spring ball still wearing USC gear and doesn’t at all seemed too distracted by all the NFL draft talk.

The Big Cat – Part 2: Talk with those close to the team and they’ll tell you that Leonard Williams not only loves being at USC, but he is truly a down to earth guy, who has no problem saying hello to the school president, team managers, or maintenance men in and around the John McKay Center.

Being accounted for: Trojans athletic director Pat Haden, who has a gay son, said Tuesday on Twitter that he will boycott the College Football Playoff committee meetings in Indiana this past week due to the state’s newly passed religious freedom law. Three cheers and a loud hooray for the Trojans athletic director for standing up not only for his son but for logic, compassion, and justice. The whole deal in Indiana smells to high heaven of prejudice, inequality, and exclusion.

From the press box…

Saturday practice: There was a ton of football coaches from the Trojans Football Clinic in attendance for Saturday’s practice in the Coliseum. Oh, yes, there were also some “known” football recruits along the sidelines including the likes of heralded Long Beach (Calif.) Poly two-way star CB/WR Jackie Jones, class of 2016.

Gaining depth: For those that pay close attention to the Trojans offensive line depth, the second unit on Saturday featured true freshman LT Roy Hemsley, redshirt freshman LG Chris Brown, sophomore C Toa Lobendahn, junior right guard Jordan Simmons, and true freshman RT Chuma Edoga.

Looking ahead: One gets the feeling that when the 2016 Trojans offensive line opens against Alabama to open the season in Dallas, the center will be Toa Lobendahn.

To the Max: We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, of all the Trojans quarterbacks, sophomore Max Browne easily throws the best deep ball. All Max did on Saturday in the Coli was throw three touchdown passes with the longest being an 80-yard bomb to junior JC transfer Isaac Whitney, who has started to flash as spring practice winds down.

Hear here: Trojans head coach Steve Sarkisian might be the most vocal head coach the Trojans have had in recent memory. When he doesn’t like something, a player(s) definitely know about it.

Shouldering the pain: It appears that Trojans senior defensive tackle Claude Pelon’s remaining spring practice days are in question. With a huge ice pack on his left shoulder and looking like he had just lost his best friend, Claude certainly wasn’t a happy camper with just one week of spring ball remaining.

Getting better: Head coach Steve Sarkisian is very liberal and generous in his appraisal of his players, but the coach is not going overboard when he discusses the improvement and greatness of outside linebacker Su’a Cravens, who has really upped his game to that proverbial “next level.”

Here’s the catch: It’s hard to criticize Trojans super sophomore wide receiver JuJu Smith, but if there’s one area that can be improved, it would be consistency in catching the ball. JuJu had some drops on Saturday that even he would tell you aren’t acceptable. I know, picky picky…maybe.

Muzzled: If you’re wondering why WeAreSC isn’t doing any interviews with true freshmen Quarterback Ricky Town, linebacker Cameron Smith, and offensive linemen Chuma Edoga and Roy Hemsley, all of whom are participating in spring ball, Steve Sarksian said they will not be available until fall camp in August.

The post-game show…

A major influence: When choosing his major of real estate development, junior linebacker Jabari Ruffin said, “When I first got here, I had a talk with Hayes Pullard, and he is one of the guys I really looked up to when I came to college in how much a leader he was and how intelligent he was as a man. He was talking to me about real estate, and I felt it would be a challenge for me and like challenges.”

Prediction: Given the growing preseason hype for the upcoming season, the anticipation good Southern California weather, and “free” tickets for season ticket holders, there could be a big crowd for Saturday afternoon’s Spring Game in the Coliseum, which kicks off at 3 p.m.

Time is of the essence: The spring game in the Coliseum will begin at 3 p.m. (PDT) and will be televised live on the Pac-12 Networks.

Intense: One of the more intense matchups of this past week was the one-on-one physical contest between linebacker Scott Felix and tight end Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick. They were really going after each other and actually had to be separated on one point.

The Nico offense: One of those that has improved dramatically this spring is sophomore offensive tackle Nico Falah. Falah said after practice on Saturday that much of his current success is that he has his confidence back after having gone through a difficult set of injuries the past year.

The final word: This week, Trojans season ticket holders received “email tickets” for the spring game at the Coliseum So far, no StubHub scalping on the $10 base price…so far.

Greg Katz
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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