In my humble opinion, cardinal and gold thoughts on what I see, what I hear, and what I think from Los Angeles.
Product perception: With the type of fanfare from the Trojans’ athletic department normally reserved for 5-star commitments, two new ballyhooed employees were brought in from the 2019 national championship LSU football program to greatly enhance the cardinal and gold football social media messaging. Having seen the impressive video work of arrivals Jacob Brown and Will Stoud, it’s another step to raise the visibility of the USC football brand.
Product perception – Part 2: However, no matter how Hollywood glitzy and creative these Brown and Stoud videos are, nothing they produce will have more impact than winning national and conference championships on the field of play. As Trojans’ athletic director Mike Bohn likes to say, “Fight On to Victory”, which can only be accomplished not through slick video creativity but actual team performance and success – not exactly a stunning revelation.
Product perception – Part 3: In no way are we trying to understate the acquisition of Brown and Stoud, whose videos that might have even drawn praise from the famed Lucas Film School. But let’s keep in context that Howard Jones, John McKay, John Robinson, and Pete Carroll didn’t have these two Southeastern Conference imports when they were winning national and conference titles. Those aforementioned coaches did it the old-fashioned way: winning at the highest level through recruiting, coaching, fundamentals, discipline, organization, and letting the scoreboard results do their messaging.
Product perception – Part 4: To be fair, none of those aforementioned coaches had to deal with the NCAA’s upcoming individual player “branding” that will present a whole new aspect to recruiting and “marketing” of players, and that, too, will include Brown and Stoud. It isn’t hard to visualize the video marketing of Trojans’ quarterback Kedon Slovis in the next couple of seasons, a near certain Heisman Trophy candidate.
Product perception – Part 5: No argument here that we are in a completely new age of social media messaging, but it will help Jacob Brown, Director of Football Video Production, and Will Stout, Assistant Director of Football Production, mission if Trojans head football coach Clay Helton and his reorganized program can produce a 2020 championship team. Winning is nice at most schools, but at USC it’s defined as national titles, Pac-12 championships, and playing in high profile bowl games. Those are the undeniable expectations. In the overhaul of the USC football program, Clay Helton is now the last man standing; he is the final puzzle piece that hasn’t been replaced. Whenever the season starts – if it starts – Gentleman Clay will have one more opportunity to prove he is the right man for the job. If he is, then the Brown and Stout video messaging will light up the iconic Hollywood sign and will be icing on the cardinal and gold cake.
Product perception – Part 6: Give Trojans Athletic Director Mike Bohn credit for continuing to pursue new employees that he thinks can contribute immediately to the rehabilitation of the USC football brand. The hiring of Brown and Stout is yet an indicator that Bohn wants to compete at the highest level. It appears the AD is doing what he needs to do in terms of having the power to hire upgrades in the face of a university hiring freeze.
Product perception – Part 7: The real question now is whether Mike Bohn has successfully surrounded Clay Helton with enough upgrades that the coach can succeed in the face of those that continue to question his leadership and coaching competence. Helton is on record as saying that he now has the tools to return the Trojans back to the elite level. Perhaps the coach does have the tools, and maybe Mike Bohn has molded Helton into more of a CEO of the storied USC program who will leave the coaching and the strategy to his staff. There seems to be a window of opportunity here for Gentleman Clay’s USC football program, and if there is some sort of 2020 season, the best you can say for the present is the plot thickens.
From the press box…
Dan the man: On his popular radio show last week, sportscaster Dan Patrick announced that through a connected source, college football has a consensus plan to have a 2020 season with some major changes and adjustments.
Dan the man – Part 2: Regarding those changes and from his source, Patrick said, “Here’s a consensus going around for the major conferences if things progress at a predictable curve. We’re going to have 10 games with a later start. Nine conference games and regional conference games take precedence. You won’t have any FCS games (against Power 5 teams) with players returning mid-June or early-July. The conference that is struggling is the Pac-12. California is a concern. Money will be a concern (for all of college football) and attendance will be limited.”
Dan the man – Part 3: Yeah, sure, blame it on California, the huge state that also was one of the first to respond to “sheltering” successfully and holding down the death numbers. So maybe our state doesn’t take sports as seriously as some of the others that only have sports as a form of entertainment, or maybe California is just smarter than most of the nation and sees the bigger picture. As mom used to say, “Don’t do what you want to do but what you should do.”
Pac-12 Media Day: As a sign of the times, the Pac-12 Media Day for football is reportedly being switched from its traditional July setting in Los Angeles and will become a virtual media day(s). The Pac-12 joins the Big 12, Mountain West, American, MAC and Conference USA in the virtual media day format.
On second thought: Well, how does the current virus situation come into future play regarding Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott’s master plan to have some of his conference’s games played at 9 am in the morning, hoping to attract a larger East Coast viewing audience? With the anticipated health ban on fans attending Pac-12 games, guess old Larry won’t have to worry about conference fans getting up for those early morning kickoffs.
The post-game show…
Simon says (UPDATED): Maintaining a torrid recruiting pace, the Trojans and their rejuvenated staff received another out-of-state verbal on Sunday afternoon from four-star athlete Julien Simon (6-2, 221), a Tacoma (Wash.) product from Lincoln High. The two other possible destinations for the probable linebacker were hometown Washington and Stanford. For the record, the Trojans were Simon’s first offer more than two years ago.
The Shirt: Have you purchased your new “You Buy 1, We Give 1” USC T-shirt in support of those healthcare workers fighting the coronavirus? The second matching T-shirt will be donated to healthcare workers at the Keck Medicine of USC.
The Shirt – Part 2: For those wishing to purchase this special T-Shirt, here just click below:https://www.uscbookstore.com/wefightasone?utm_source=email&utm_medium=BKSlist&utm_campaign=spring20&utm_source=BKS+List&utm_campaign=d741183ba1-050520+We+Fight+As+One&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_4725a3b2a6-d741183ba1-121549881
Pac-12 Hotline: In a measure that could really affect the Trojans’ 2020 roster, popular Pac-12 Hotline columnist Jon Wilner from the San Jose Mercury writes, “Multiple conference sources with connections to the NFL believe the supplemental draft could come into play this summer for rising seniors if universities don’t commit to an on-time start to the 2020 season. The timeline is crucial to the potential for summertime departures.”
Pac-12 Hotline – Part 2: Wilner continues by writing “schools must commit in June to bringing players back in July in order for the season to start in early September. The supplemental draft is in July — after the window for a play/no play decision would have been made.”
Pac-12 Hotline – Part 3: Last add Wilner – “The likelihood of what another source called ‘a more substantial’ prospect pool entering the supplemental draft is not limited to the Pac-12. Players from across major college football could be tempted to make the jump if the season is canceled or delayed until the winter. But because states within the Pac-12 footprint have been more reluctant to loosen restrictions than those in other regions and because state restrictions could impact university decisions, it’s easier to envision schools in the Pac-12 being more conservative about starting the season than those in the SEC or Big Ten, for example.”
The call-in show…
Caller No. 1: Greg, there are reports that the 2020 football schedule will be revised, and the Trojans might not play Alabama. Do you think it is a good thing that the Trojans don’t play Alabama? Caller No. 1, in the big picture, I don’t think deep down Clay Helton would be overly depressed if the Trojans didn’t play Alabama. Already considered a double-diget underdog to the Crimson Tide in the early Las Vegas betting lounges, the last thing Helton and his program need is a potential shellacking to Nick Saban’s team in Texas. Now, that being said, the public comments would be that the Trojans see playing Alabama as an opportunity. I would suggest that by not playing The Tide helps the Trojans recruiting momentum efforts and keeps the heat off Helton.
Caller No. 2: Mr. Katz, given the fact that if there is a season, do you think it would be contained to just conference games? If there is a season, yes, I believe it will involve a conference season and potentially one non-conference game. I think the non-conference game would be at the end of the season between Notre Dame at USC (already scheduled), if both universities were still agreeable. However, it has been reported that Notre Dame may not be agreeable to playing the Trojans this season.
Caller No. 3: Coach, what kind of risk do you think the Trojans make when they offer a player that has a history of transferring high schools? I know that we’re in the age of transferring schools at any level. However, I think part of the vetting process of a high school recruit is finding out why a recruit transfers and how that plays into a recruit’s character. I always find it informative regarding the past history of player that transfers from one high school or college to another. Is there a pattern for players that enter the NCAA Transfer Portal because they did it during their high school days?
Caller No. 4: Gregorino, what do you continue to hear about the Trojans hiring former linebacker great Chris Claiborne? I am hearing from more than one source that things look good for No. 55. Because the Trojans are in a hiring freeze, it might account for why you haven’t heard much about Chris. BTW, there may be another former Trojan football player that may also be in the mix when the hiring freeze is lifted. My lips are sealed.
Caller No. 5: Katzie, with your self-admitted sheltering in place, how has it changed your entertainment options? Actually, I am probably watching more movies on TV than I normally would because of a lack of sporting events. I just watched “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” and “A Marriage Story.” I found both of them entertaining and a good distraction. I am probably going to watch The Irishman next, although it is such a long movie (over three hours), I am trying decided what time of the day I should start the viewing.
The final word: And in these very difficult times, stay safe, be well, keep the faith, and a Happy Mother’s Day to all.