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O/NSO: 2021 Cardinal and Gold New Year’s resolutions – the good, bad, and the ugly edition

The Obvious: Happy New Year everybody and good riddance to the dastardly year of 2020 and don’t let the door hit ya on your way out!

The Not So Obvious: Transitioning into 2021, it’s time once again to purify the O/NSO cardinal and gold soul, so allow us to reveal our cardinal and gold New Years gridiron resolutions – the good, bad, and the ugly – and feel free to add your own on the Garry P. message board.

* I resolve to believe that someday the greatness of USC’s storied football past will return to rejoin the elite of today’s college football powers, but until proven otherwise, that “someday” may not be coming anytime soon under the current state of cardinal and gold gridiron affairs.

* I resolve to continue to appreciate the efforts and emotions of the 2020 Trojans team and those standout individual performances best exemplified by All-America safety Talanoa Hufanga.

* I resolve not to lament what the Trojans’ football program might look like today had Pat Haden and Lynn Swann not been both incompetent athletic directors – not to mention had current USC president Carol Folt not been duped by others or herself into believing that everything was and still is copacetic within the Trojans football program.

Former Trojans golden boy quarterback Pat Haden (photo above) was once the poster boy of USC football, but that all but disappeared after his destructive stint as the Trojans athletic director, which set in motion the current state of USC football,

* I resolve not to have nightmares of what the final score might have been had the Trojans – instead of Colorado – actually played Texas in the Alamo Bowl…especially after watching the Longhorns dismantle the Pac-12 Buffaloes, 55-23, in a game not as close as the score indicated.

* I resolve not to question if Alabama’s Nick Saban suddenly wanted to be the head coach of the USC Trojans and money was not an issue, whether he’d even get an interview or would be seriously considered to be hired by the current USC administration.

* I resolve not to lament what Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell or even Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell could do with the USC football program, but I’d be willing to bet USC athletic director Mike Bohn does.

Do you think that former University of Cincinnati and current USC athletic director Mike Bohn wouldn’t hesitate to go after current Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell (photo above), who was also a former assistant and “interim” head coach at Ohio State, if there became a USC head football coach opening? (photo by NBC sports)

* I resolve to believe – with support from both the USC head football coach and USC athletic director – that the current Trojans offensive coordinator has been allowed to transform the once physically feared and balanced USC offense into a powderpuff football unit without the flags.   

Has the Trojans Air Raid offense turned the once proud USC offense into an 11-on-11 flag football passing team (photo above) without the flags?

* I resolve not to set off a Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration the very moment the Air Raid offense is dispensed into the trash heap of forgettable eras of USC football history. 

* I resolve to temper my dismay that talented redshirt freshman running back Markese Stepp has entered the NCAA Transfer Portal because of the Trojans lack of commitment to a running game. The only real question left is will any of the remaining running Trojans backs join Stepp in the Transfer Portal?

Perhaps the most powerful and talented running back on the roster, underclassman Markese Stepp (photo above) has elected to enter the NCAA Transfer Portal. Will there be more running backs that join him? (photo by John McGillen via USC Athletics)

* I resolve not to obsess with how weak the 2020 schedule was and how the Trojans still couldn’t manage to win the Pac-12 title.

Despite struggling through a soft 2020 Pac-12 South Divisional schedule, the Trojans couldn’t upset the North Division runnerup Oregon Ducks in the Pac-12 Championship Game in the Coliseum. (photo by Dennis Hammond/Long Photography)

* I resolve to reject the concept that since the Trojans lost to Oregon by 32 points in 2019 and by just 7 points in 2020 that they are the cusp of overtaking the Ducks supremacy.

* I resolve not to try and figure out why in the final Coaches Poll that the Trojans head football coach ranked his Trojans No. 13 in the country while voting Oregon at No. 24 after the results of the recent Pac-12 Championship Game.

Many around college football are trying to rationalize how Trojans head coach Clay Helton (photo above) could rank the Trojans No. 13 in the country and Oregon No. 24 in the Coaches Poll after losing to Oregon in the Pac-12 Championship Game.

* I resolve not to cringe whenever the Trojans offense has a third-and-1 or fourth-and-1 when I know precisely that the opposition’s defensive line will suddenly turn into the legendary Pittsburgh Steelers’ Steel Curtain.

* I resolve not to question the determination of the future Trojans offensive line although I know the unit’s average recruiting evaluation was that of 3-stars.   

Although not from lack of effort, the quantity of quality of offensive linemen (photo above) has been limited in recruiting during the Clay Helton years and has translated into a lack of physicality and rushing dominance. (photo by Jose/MarinMedia.org Pool for USC Athletics)

* I resolve to continue appreciating the 2020 efforts of QB Kedon Slovis, WRs Amon-Ra St. Brown, Tyler Vaughns, and Drake London, OL Alijah Vera-Tucker, S Talanoa Hufanga, and DL Marlon Tuipulotu.

* I resolve not to chortle publicly when the Trojans head football coach and discipline are mentioned in the same breath. FYI, the Trojans were ranked 12th and last in the final 2020 Pac-12 stats for penalties (71.0 apg.), ahead by a large margin over the 11th ranked Arizona Wildcats (58.8 apg.).

Game officials (photo above) of USC football games were kept busy during Trojans games throwing flags. The Trojans were ranked 12th and last in the final 2020 Pac-12 stats for penalties (71.0 apg.), ahead by a large margin over the 11th ranked Arizona Wildcats (58.8 apg.).

* I resolve not to cover my eyes with both hands whenever Trojan’s quarterback Kedon Slovis drops back in the pocket in the face of a violent defensive pass rush.

* I resolve not to curse out loud when the Trojans continue mismanagement of the clock and their use of timeouts.

*I resolve to continue to get excited whenever Drake London catches the ball and fights for extra yards.

Trojans wide receiver Drake London (photo above) was a beast after catching the ball, which led to huge gains. (photo above by Jose / MarinMedia.org Pool for USC Athletics)

* I resolve to control my anxiety wondering if DE Korey Foreman, arguably the nation’s No. 1 recruit, will announce on Saturday (12 p.m./NBC) that he has signed with the Trojans.

* I resolve to try and maintain whenever the Trojans blow a play by missing tackles.    

* I resolve once again not to complain what future bowl games the Trojans are in… unless it’s the dreaded Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas.

The good folks at the Sun Bowl (photo above) do a wonderful job with their game, but the Trojans have not been overly excited about playing in El Paso.

* I resolve not to let unannounced Trojans COVID-19 team results consume part of my day.  

* I resolve not to be so amused in 2021 when Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush, and Urban Meyer discuss the state of the Trojans on the FOX pregame shows.

In 2021, it should be amusing to hear the thoughts from former Trojans Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart and coaching legend Urban Meyer (photos above) regarding the Trojans on the FOX college pregame shows.

* I resolve to accept all of the teams in the Pac-12 South Division will be better in 2021. Well, maybe not Arizona.

* I resolve not to be critical of the free meals in the Coliseum press box as long as we don’t have to go back to our cars to eat it.  

* I resolve to accept that the Trojans 2021 non-conference opponents – San Jose State, BYU, and Notre Dame – may be much stronger than anticipated and all three are capable of beating the Trojans.

* I resolve not to be depressed that there is no 2021 Rose Parade or Rose Bowl Game in Pasadena thanks to COVID.

New Year’s Day just isn’t the same without the world famous Rose Parade and the Rose Bowl Game (photo above). Hopefully, there will be a 2022 parade and game in the future.

* I resolve not to have nightmares at the thought of how many Transfer Portal players the Trojans may need to acquire in 2021.

* I resolve AGAIN not to get dismayed when the Trojans players are allowed to come on the field not all wearing the same color socks or other various other non=matching items.

* I resolve to believe that defensive coordinator Todd Orlando should have an improved team defense in 2021.

There is optimism that with a spring practice and the experience of the 2020 season, defensive coordinator Todd Orlando’s defense should show improvement in 2021.

* I resolve not to slap my forehead AGAIN when Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott talks about the strengths of the conference football programs and the CFP expanding to eight teams, although I fully support CFP expansion to eight teams.  

* I resolve not to slap my forehead when I see not enough USC players on the field for special teams duty or too many men on the field or the dreaded unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.

* I resolve not to giggle when I see the Trojans’ head coach running all the way down the sideline to the end zone desperately trying to call a timeout.

Who can forget in 2020 Trojans head coach Clay Helton (photo above in the grey hat) running down the sidelines to the goal line to call a time out during the Pac-12 title game against Oregon. (photo by John McGillen via USC Athletics)

* I resolve not to complain if the 2021 Trojans have a 9:00 a.m. kickoff… as long as I am covering the game from the warmth and comfort of my living room. 

* In 2021, I resolve not to become melancholy not seeing Dr. Arthur C. Bartner lead and direct the Trojans’ Marching Band.

When things get back to normal, the Trojans Marching Band just won’t be the same without colorful and animated Dr. Arthur C. Bartner (photo above) as band director.

* I resolve to one day again – and who knows when that will happen – get a big bag of Coliseum Kettle Korn and devour it while watching the Trojans from inside the Coliseum press box.

* I resolve never to forget – despite the tough times of the last decade – how grateful and lucky I am – thanks to late WeAreSC publisher Garry Paskwietz – to be a reporter and columnist who gets the privilege of covering one of college football’s most storied and legendary programs.

* And finally, I resolve not to be held accountable for any of the above resolutions with the exception of the previous one because it could be hazardous to my health. And a 2021 Happy New Year to you and yours!!! 

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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