The Obvious: After this past season’s forgettable outcome, the 2018 Holiday gift giving edition probably couldn’t have arrived soon enough. So, let’s pass out the neatly wrapped cardinal and gold presents and hope the recipients either have a sense of humor or take it to heart, and most importantly, Happy Holidays to all our WeAreSC members, readers, and followers!
The Not So Obvious: Ho, ho, ho, so here comes your holiday cheer baked in with a little sarcasm, satire, and just plain truth, which will always set you free, especially during this giving time of the year. And don’t forget your hot chocolate and gingerbread cookies. Shall we begin to unwrap?
The Obvious Gift for WeAreSC publisher Garry Paskwietz: A full recovery from your recent medical challenges.
The Not So Obvious Gift: Appreciation from your large WeAreSC fan club of readers who understand that nobody knows the amalgamation of USC football knowledge, recruiting knowledge, rumor knowledge, historical knowledge, and best restaurants from coast-to-coast (including Hawaii) like GP does.
The Obvious Gift for Trojans’ athletic director Lynn Swann: Recognition that after taking incredible heat for retaining Clay Helton as head coach, you did go out and get Kliff Kingsbury, the highly-respected offensive coordinator and play-caller.
The Not So Obvious Gift: Squashing the rumor that you gave Clay Helton an offer he couldn’t refuse: Either you let Kingsbury run the offensive show and play-calling completely and allow him to name his quarterback, or you’ll be in the athletic director’s office not just on Monday mornings but Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, as well.
The Obvious Gift for head coach Clay Helton: A major turnaround in his team’s won-loss record in 2019.
The Not So Obvious Gift: The good sense not to become Pete Carroll-jealous if offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury (AKA – Norm Chow 2.0) lives up to the hype and delivers the offensive goods using his system.
The Obvious Gift for new offensive coordinator coach and quarterback coach Kliff Kingsbury: A lot of scoreboard points because you’ll probably need them given that the first half dozen games are about as brutal as it gets, especially the road games at Washington and Notre Dame.
The Not So Obvious Gift: Opening up the quarterback competition in the spring and naming a quarterback at the end of spring practice so not to prolong the agony for JT Daniels, Jack Sears, and Matt Fink. Oh, you say you’ve already announced the open competition? Never mind.
The Obvious Gift for quarterback JT Daniels: The same drive and determination you arrived with last summer, and best of luck when the Trojans’ quarterback competition is hopefully open for transparency and not just lip service.
The Not So Obvious Gift: Proof that the Kliff Kingsbury offense is a much better fit for you than the “previous” Clay Helton offensive system.
The Obvious Gift for freshman quarterback Jack Sears: A real opportunity to win the starting job during spring ball. Kliff Kingsbury says it’s an open competition, so here’s your “real” shot, kid.
The Not So Obvious Gift: To continue you show younger players the class you displayed especially after the ASU game when JT Daniels started following next week and you went back to the bench.
The Obvious Gift for quarterback Matt Fink: A legit chance to become the Trojans’ quarterback under a new system.
The Not So Obvious Gift: To prove you can be an effective passer in the Kingsbury offense. The good news for you is that this will be the Kingsbury offense and not the previous one that may have actually restricted your athleticism.
The Obvious Gift for wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr.: A 2019 All-Pac-12 season.
The Not So Obvious Gift: Another two inches on your high-point vertical leap for 50-50 balls where you already seem to have an advantage.
The Obvious Gift for wide receiver Tyler Vaughns: See Michael Pittman Jr.
The Not So Obvious Gift: The good sense when to make a move after a catch for chunk yardage and when to just settle for a first down and just move the chains.
The Obvious Gift for wide receiver Velus Jones: Another season of improvement.
The Not So Obvious Gift: The release of your 40 time since your vaunted speed has never really been stated for public consumption.
The Obvious Gift for USC fans: No more Friday night games.
The Not So Obvious Gift: No more 7:30 p.m. games.
The Obvious Gift for running back Vavae Malepeai: More playing time.
The Not So Obvious Gift: More draws and screen passes to utilize your running and receiving skills.
The Obvious Gift for defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast: A defense that can stop the UCLA running game.
The Not So Obvious Gift: The elimination of opponent explosion plays.
The Obvious Gift for true freshman tailback Markese Stepp: Because of the resemblance on how you go about running the football, a LenDale White action figure.
The Not So Obvious Gift: Fifteen carries a game.
The Obvious Gift for new running back coach Mike Jinks: Another Aca’Cedric Ware.
The Not So Obvious Gift: A Reggie Bush without the off-field issues.
The Obvious Gift for senior inside linebacker Cameron Smith: A decent NFL draft selection this spring, and a selection by a team that fits your talents.
The Not So Obvious Gift: Continued grace and class that you exhibited as a captain during this past trying season while still telling it like it is when you revealed that this season’s team record might have been better had your teammates played with the same type of intensity and purpose as you.
The Obvious Gift for new secondary coach Greg Burns: A hard-hitting secondary devoid of pass interference penalties, blown tackles, and blown coverages.
The Not So Obvious Gift: Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco DB Chris Steele’s autograph on a February letter of intent.
The Obvious Gift for senior outside linebacker Porter Gustin: A healthy body.
The Not So Obvious Gift: A broadcasting career once your playing days are over.
The Obvious Gift for senior offensive tackle Chuma Edoga: A highlight film of your best blocks during your USC career.
The Not So Obvious Gift: A highlight film of your best holding calls during your USC career.
The Obvious Gift for Trojans recruiting coordinator and linebacker coach Johnny Nansen: The signatures of WRs Bru McCoy and Kyle Ford, and DB Chris Steele during the February signing period.
The Not So Obvious Gift: More talented athletes from Hawaii, California, and Utah.
The Obvious Gift for special teams coach John Baxter: More special teams blocked kicks.
The Not So Obvious Gift: A job as a sportswriter after your coaching days are over but remembering not to ask any “stupid” questions.
The Obvious Gift for senior corners Iman Marshall: A position switch in the NFL from corner to strong safety.
The Not So Obvious Gift: Appreciation for all the times you spoke to the media and took accountability when things didn’t always go your way.
The Obvious Gift for Pac-12 officials: A referee camp supervised by SEC officials.
The Not So Obvious Gift: The good sense not to call a hold or pass interference on what seems to be after every explosion play.
The Obvious Gift for senior safety Marvell Tell lll: See Cameron Smith
The Not So Obvious Gift: To put to bed the rumors why you didn’t dress for the Notre Dame game.
The Obvious Gift for Trojans offensive line coach Tim Drevno: An offensive line recruiting class that will help return the Men of Troy to a more “physical” style of play.
The Not So Obvious Gift: A tutor to help learn the blocking philosophies of the “Air Raid” offense after having been previously been educated by Jim Harbaugh on power football.
The Obvious Gift for running back Stephen Carr: Good health.
The Not So Obvious Gift: A chance to be the type of all-around running back you were before the back surgery.
The Obvious Gift for new defensive line coach Chad Kauha’aha’a: A pass rush.
The Not So Obvious Gift: More sacks.
The Obvious Gift for tight end Daniel Imatorbhebhe: See Stephen Carr.
The Not So Obvious Gift: One more outstanding game like you had at Washington back in 2016.
The Obvious Gift for senior nickel back Ajene Harris: A chance at being on an NFL roster in 2019.
The Not So Obvious Gift: A developmental video for younger players showing how to improve from season to season and how to adjust to position changes in the secondary.
The Obvious Gift for talented senior running back Aca’Cedric Ware: A solid NFL draft round selection to one of your hometown Texas teams.
The Not So Obvious Gift: The opportunity to be a running backs coach someday at the college level.
The Obvious Gift for freshman defensive tackle Jay Tufele: A 2019 first-team All-Pac-12 season.
The Not So Obvious Gift: Taking your gifted skills to a higher level in 2020 and becoming an All-American.
The Obvious Gift for senior center Toa Lobendahn: A switch to guard in the NFL.
The Not So Obvious Gift: Amnesia when it comes your memory of that bad center snap against Cal that led to a Bears’ safety.
The Obvious Gift for Traveler: A new Coliseum track to run completely around.
The Not So Obvious Gift: Your own dressing room in the renovated Coliseum.
The Obvious Gift for the Coliseum: Compassion for what they’ve done do your beautiful body through the renovation project.
The Not So Obvious Gift: A big smile when they take down those hideous corporate suites that have blocked and hidden your gorgeous peristyle columns.
The Obvious Gift for injured kicker Chase McGrath: A healed leg
The Not So Obvious Gift: A chance to regain your starting placekicking position.
The Obvious Gift for sophomore outside linebacker Kana’i Mauga: A starting position in 2019.
The Not So Obvious Gift: A chance to show why you were so sought after having capped a tremendous prep career in Hawaii.
The Obvious Gift for junior inside linebacker John Houston Jr.: More weight without losing your speed.
The Not So Obvious Gift: A chance to play some outside linebacker, a likely position for the NFL.
The Obvious Gift for offensive linemen Austin Jackson: A 2019 All-Pac-12 first team selection.
The Not So Obvious Gift: The opportunity to make your legacy grandpa, former USC OT Melvin Jackson, proud.
The Obvious Gift for Trojans radio voice Pete Arbogast: Election into the USC Trojans Athletic Hall of Fame.
The Not So Obvious Gift: Continued recognition for your continued charity work outside the broadcast booth and showing there is more to life than “How do you do!”
The Obvious Gift for Dr. Arthur C. Bartner: Reconsidering your decision to retire after the 2019 season.
The Not So Obvious Gift: A statue of you directing the band in front of the USC Music Department Building.
The Obvious Gift for freshman inside linebacker Palaie Gaoteote IV: More bone-crushing tackles on national television in 2019.
The Not So Obvious Gift: To first-year sportscasters, a pronunciation guide for saying your first and last name correctly.
The Obvious Gift for WeAreSC staffer and former Trojans DB Darrell Rideaux: Continued good luck with your new WeAreSC video show “Film Study.”
The Not So Obvious Gift: One more chance to wear the cardinal and gold and run out of the Coliseum tunnel for a big game against the Bruins.
The Obvious Gift for former Trojans all-star linebacker Kevin Bruce and WeAreSC author of Defensively Speaking: A book co-authored by you about the lead-in week to the 1974 USC/Notre Dame game, the game itself quarter-by-quarter and halftime, and the ramifications after the game.
The Not So Obvious Gift: One more chance to play against the Irish in the Coliseum.
The Obvious Gift for WeAreSC staff writer/columnist Chris Arledge: Many more outstanding “Arledge musings” regarding the 2019 Trojans and success with your new WeAreSC podcast, The B&A Show, with Kevin Bruce.
The Not So Obvious Gift: Forgiveness for having me misspell your last name, proving, your council, that I indeed have the beginnings of old age.
The Obvious Gift for all Trojans fans: And finally, to all of you good readers, happy holidays, good health, a very Happy New Year, and, needless to say, a better USC football season than 2018!
The Not So Obvious Gift: Okay, I’ll say it… a national championship in 2019. Okay, one can dream, can’t they?