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Musings from Arledge: USC’s Draft, Porter Playing Through Pain, and Coaching Attire

“He runs a clean program, he graduates his players, he recruits well, he produces NFL players.”

I’m not sure that putting guys in the league should be an important consideration for a college football coach (other than the extent it impacts future recruiting). But if that’s really an important consideration, should Lynn be asking for a mulligan at this point?

In case you were wondering, here are the composite recruiting rankings for those three schools over the last five years according to CBS Sports: USC is #5, UCLA is #21, and Utah is … well, I don’t know, because CBS only ranked the top 25 programs, and while five Pac 12 teams made the cut, Utah did not.

I think that means we either have to give Kyle Whittingham a ton of credit for identifying talent where other coaches don’t see it or for developing players to their potential. Either way, hat’s off to Whittingham.

On the other hand, recruiting top five classes and having nobody drafted before the third round isn’t a particularly good look. I’d like to see us go a different direction there if we can.

If you want to feel even worse — and you must, otherwise, why would you be reading Musings?

Check out Wilner’s other tweet:

Wazzu’s performance on the field so far exceeds its recruiting rankings, that I think Washington State’s administration should be thanking Mike Leach with an appropriate gift, maybe Blackbeard’s sword or the Black Pearl or something. We don’t need to look at Wazzu’s composite recruiting rankings: they only get leftovers. We all know that. And look what the Dread Pirate Roberts does with them.

I don’t know whether the Air Raid is the answer for USC. But I’ll ask it again: if you do think that USC should go that direction, why in the world are we relying on a young assistant from North Texas instead of the Pirate guru himself?

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In the comments to last week’s Musings, I was asked why I didn’t include any Game of Thrones references. Normally that would be an absurd question for a football columnist, but it’s actually a fair question considering what the type of nonsense that tends to find its way into these articles. The answer is that I wanted to write a section comparing USC personalities (and maybe college football personalities) to the GOT characters. And a few actually made sense.

Lane Kiffin as Joffrey. Clay Helton as Samwell Tarly, if Tarly loved film rather than books. Nick Saban as the Night King. But ultimately I just couldn’t make it work.

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So Porter Gustin (photo above) apparently regrets trying to play through the injuries.

I can understand that, but I’m not sure that sitting out would have helped his draft stock. Not playing is a pretty good way not to get drafted also. And when a guy is that muscular and that fragile, it’s going to raise some red flags, and those red flags were not helped by Gustin’s positive test, whether he was entitled to an exception or not. I like Porter. I wish all of his teammates would have shown the same passion and work ethic that he showed. Losing him was a huge blow to the defense. I hope he stays healthy and makes a roster. But it’s pretty hard to blame NFL GM’s for doubting his ability to do that.

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Can somebody help me understand coaching attire? Basketball coaches wear suits. Football coaches wear khakis and polos. Baseball coaches wear team uniforms. How does that even make sense? Should Nick Saban be wearing full pads on the sidelines just because his players do? (If so, does this mean Helton should wear shorts and shells since that’s what his players are always wearing? Sorry. I can’t help myself sometimes.) Do wrestling coaches wear winglets?

Story time: I played baseball my freshman year of college. After my duel with Bob Welch, I suppose I was in high demand. And, yes, I played only one year in college, and you’re about to see why.

We traveled to Florida over spring break to play as many games as possible while Missouri was still cold and miserable. We were playing the University of North Florida at their beautiful facility. I believe they were ranked number one in the nation in one of the smaller school divisions and may have been the defending national champions. Don’t google it. Just work with me here. You don’t come to Musings for iron-clad small college baseball rankings.

We had 26 players on that trip and 25 new, gray uniforms. (We were a small school. And poor. Like the Honduras of small college baseball, maybe.) It’s a pretty safe bet that whoever doesn’t qualify for a uniform, anybody who can’t make the top 25 most important players, probably isn’t playing that day, right? So maybe that guy can sit in street clothes on the bench? Nope, not if that guy is me, and he was. I had to wear one of our old powder blue uniforms. I had gray practice pants and a warmup jacket. I begged the coach to wear them. I could have hidden my shame. Coach said no. You’re wearing the blues. Hester Prynne knows nothing about public shaming. She would have traded places with me in a second.

Fortunately, there was one other player who was also stuck wearing a blue uniform. Those of you proficient in arithmetic are wondering why that would be, when we had 25 uniforms and 26 players. The answer is because the coach insisted on wearing one of the uniforms himself.

Which brings us full circle. You will never truly appreciate the absurdity of baseball coaches wearing a playing uniform until you’ve tried digging a hole in the infield and crawling inside to die because you’re stuck wearing a blue clown suit while the coach is wearing a uniform that could have been yours.

Think about this: we had played a double header the day before. That means we had two starting pitchers that would not, under any circumstances, be playing in that game against North Florida. Zero chance. It was more likely that Shoeless Joe would wander in from left field to take batting practice than it was that those guys would play in the game. They got gray uniforms.

Not my worst coach, either. The guy in high school who taught us the proper technique for charging the mound sits in the top spot.

P.S. One of the fans asked one of my teammates, “Why are those two guys wearing different uniforms than everybody else? Are they All-Americans or something?” No. They were most certainly not.

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So I guess Art Bartner is retiring after this year. I assume that means we’ll see some changes from the next director. As best I can tell, Bartner hasn’t changed anything in all the time I’ve been going to games. Granted, that’s only 35 years so maybe he had some stuff in the works.

(Hold on. I need to check when Heartbreaker was released. Yep. 1979. So that was in the rotation when I started attending.)

This sounds like criticism of Art Bartner. It’s not. I’m not really interested in changes. Marching bands are old-fashioned. They’re not new. They’re not hip. I don’t like it when a marching band plays the latest rap hit or something from Ride the Lightning. It just doesn’t feel right. I wouldn’t like it if Metallica played Stars and Stripes Forever either. Stay in your lane, people. If you’re directing a marching band, you’re doing something old-fashioned, and you should stay with the old stuff. I’m okay with Heartbreaker. And I’ll make an exception for Seven Nation Army. But I don’t want new. I want old. I want the same old thing every freakin Saturday. Give me the fanfare,Tribute to Troy, Conquest, and Traveler. And the Song Girls. Definitely give me the Song Girls. Give me that, and I’m good. Do you hear that new guy, whoever you are?

Don’t change anything, and we’ll get along just fine.

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Speaking of not changing things, is it really necessary for the LAPD to chase down the hot dog vendors outside the Coliseum after the game? I think everybody who buys those dogs from a guy who speaks six words of English and is selling food from a grocery cart MacGyvered into a hot dog grill knows that the health department hasn’t exactly inspected their facilities. And those people are apparently willing to take that risk. Can these adult citizens of a free republic not decide for themselves whether that’s a good idea? Look, I’m as excited as the next guy about enforcing the Nanny State at the point of a bayonet, but can we cool the jets just a little on the hot dog crew? After all, what’s more likely to hurt one of the spectators — a hot dog that the health inspector hasn’t studied, or a dozen desperate people pushing their red-hot carts through a large crowd at a full sprint? I can’t wait until the authorities start tazing those guys to keep them from getting away.



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Chris Arledge

Chris Arledge is a graduate of USC’s Gould School of Law and is the co-founder and managing partner of an intellectual property law firm. Chris’s forgettable football career started at Elsinore High School, where his Tigers defeated Kyle Wachholtz’s Norco squad for the league title (Bring on Brad Otton’s team, too!), and ended at William Jewell College, where Chris was a team captain and an all-conference defensive back.


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