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IMHO Sunday: Wole World

By Greg Katz – WeAreSC.com

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

Wole World: The Trojans are in serious need of a pass rusher, and Gardena (Calif.) Serra defensive lineman Oluwole Betiku, a physical specimen (6-4, 246), certain fits the bill. A native of Nigeria, Betiku early-on was being mentored by former Penn State linebacker great LaVar Arrington, but that relationship has sailed, and it appears that “Wole” wants to stay local. It also didn’t hurt during his official Trojans visit this weekend that Betiku was accompanied by current Serra teammate and Trojans safety commit C.J. Pollard (photo above). Ya think all the rest of the current Serra-Trojans like Adoree’ Jackson gave the Serra recruits a warm welcome this weekend at the John McKay Center?

Wole World – Part 2: In what has been a recruiting odyssey that may soon warrant a “kaboom” or at the very least a cardinal and gold ear-to-ear grin, the Trojans are said to have the inside track with Oluwole Betiku (6-4, 246), a former UCLA commit. “Wole” has been spending more and more time on the Trojans campus, including an official visit this weekend. Yes, it’s all a very good sign.

The smirk: Nobody is more critical of Reggie Bush than this space. He broke rules and got, IMHO, what he – not USC – deserved up to a point. However, the NCAA also broke rules and will get what they deserved, as well, through the Todd McNair case. All that being said, I had no problem with Bush walking into the Trojans dressing room for a moment after a workout at Levi’s Stadium. In fact, I rather liked it.

The smirk – Part 2: Everybody seems to be investigating how Reggie Bush made his way into the stadium and now the matter is between USC and the NCAA – yet again. I do know this, I was surprised that photos of Bush’s appearance in the Trojans locker room appeared on the school’s official website. However, my immediate response was “considering how the NCAA played the Trojans, I was glad it showed up on the official website. Is that called an NCAA facial?

Timing is everything: The Holiday Bowl will kick off at 7:30 p.m. PT. Ye-, That’s a much later kickoff than last season’s game, which kicked off at 5:00 p.m. PT. Bring your thermals, baby!

Sark the Shark: IMHO, this lawsuit by former Trojans head coach Steve Sarkisian against his former employers is for the birds. Sark brought this all on himself and now is looking for a big payday. I don’t know anybody that supports his position other than his legal team. That being said, maybe there was incompetence by the Trojans athletic department in dealing with the firing of Sarkisian. This reminds of a student suing a teacher for failure him when the student didn’t do his work, failed to turn his papers, and broke a teacher-student contract for misbehavior.

Sark the Shark – Part 2: IMHO, Steve Sarkisian is looking for a payday to recoup losses he might suffer from his dismissal and his personal life. You wonder if potential Sarkisian employers are not already evaluating the situation.

Mr. Kennedy:
Of all the assistant coaching replacements to be addressed, the role of offensive coordinator is No. 1 in my book. Why? While defense and the offensive line coaching positions are obviously a big priority, there’s a real possibility that former beloved former Trojans assistant coach and player Kennedy Polamalu – currently running backs coach at UCLA – could and should be in the mix to return as offensive coordinator.

Mr. Kennedy – Part 2: If Kennedy Polamalu is named the OC or some other title like “run game coordinator, credibility for Clay Helton’s decree of returning to the USC heritage of a power running game would be further validated. You can bet that those like Marcus Allen will be watching.

Mr. Kennedy – Part 3: If there is one thing we can all agree on, Kennedy Polamalu knows how to run the ball and coach running backs. A fullback under former Trojans College Football Hall of Fame coach and run-game guru John Robinson, Kennedy not only knows the running game, but he also knows how to use it.

Getting a fullback: It’s intriguing when you think about it. If Kennedy Polamalu returns, would the Trojans again begin recruiting fullbacks as a priority? And would the Trojans incorporate the fullback more into the offense the same way that Polamalu was used by John Robinson? Lead blocker, runner on quick traps between the tackles, and a receiving threat?

The decommit:
It was rather curious or ominous that Amari Rodgers, son of Trojans wide receiver coach Tee Martin, has withdrawn his USC verbal commitment. While Rodgers says he still is open to the Trojans, we’ll see if Clemson, his alleged dream school, is his final selection. Something is going on and perhaps it has to do with the Trojans offensive coordinator’s position or maybe not. Stay tuned.

From the press box…

Tickets anyone: The Trojans ticket department sent out three separate emails encouraging season ticket holders to buy Holiday Bowl tickets. Deadline was this past Friday.

On Wisconsin:
If the Trojans don’t sell their ticket allotment, you can bet your Wisconsin farm that the Badger fans will gobble them up. Remember the Rose Bowl that the Badgers played UCLA, and the Bruins fans sold their tickets? The Granddaddy of Them All turned into Wisconsin’s Camp Randall Field.

Get your program…not: It was hard to believe that the Pac-12 Championship Game in Levi’s Stadium did not have a game program. With all due respect, it’s almost unfathomable that a championship game of this caliber would not have an official program. So how were fans supposed to know the players on the field without a numerical roster?

You had to be there: Having been there, I actually came away somewhat impressed with the atmosphere and ambiance of the Pac-12 Championship Game. I think it’s one of those growing events that you have to attend to feel the excitement. No, the stadium wasn’t close filled, and that was disappointing. I do think, however, in a smaller venue it’s a sellout, and the aura would be electric with a Rose Bowl bid or bigger on the line.

Viva Las Vegas:
IMHO, if the Pac-12 title game eventually moved to Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas it would be a good thing. Right now, the stadium is too small (35,500) judging by this past Pac-12 title game (58,476). If Sam Boyd Stadium was enlarged to accommodate a bigger turnout, Las Vegas should be a future consideration.

The post-game show…

The arrival: The Trojans will head down to San Diego for the Holiday Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 26, which will also feature a team welcome dinner.

All-Americans: Trojans linebacker Cameron Smith and cornerback Iman Marshall have been named to the USA Today freshman All-America football team. It would have been a bigger shock had they been not been named to the team.

The experts: In the recently released Pac-12 All-Century team, it was announced that the voters consisted of 119 combined players, coaches and media members. Quite frankly, some of those voters were way too young to have seen many of the worthy candidates. In fact, some of the voters not only were too young to make an appraisal, but they didn’t even grow up on the West Coast to follow college football.

The experts – Part 2:
WeAreSC writer and colleague Steve Bisheff voted on the Pac-12 All-Century Team and even he couldn’t decide on former players like the quarterback position, and he had seen all those QBs play that made the team. Voting on a Pac-12 All-Century team is such a thankless task and much depends on how old you are as to whether you had the knowledge to make the selections.

The last word: USC is cardinal and Wisconsin is red. Which color will be the predominant one in Qualcomm Stadium for the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 30? As we approach game time, you might check with ticket broker to find out.

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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