This week, the mailbag tackles questions about Reggie Bush, Clancy Pendergast, and the transfer portal.
Q: 1. USC needs to provide the ncaa with advance notice that as of a certain date in the future (e.g., the date of the Fresno State game) the directive mandating that USC disassociate itself with Reggie Bush is null and void. (By the way, this doesn’t mean that there is a circus every week in his honor. It means that he is treated like every other ex-player.)
2. USC needs to either retire #5 or issue it.
Agree or disagree?
A: I think your second point has merit. I just think the issue is the first point. If USC wants to retire it, they aren’t going to do it as some unnamed No. 5. So the ban needs to be lifted first so it can be retired properly. In a way, it has pretty much been unofficially retired.
As to your first point, I can’t even imagine what the NCAA would try to do if USC defied them like that (mostly because it’s impossible for anybody to correctly guess what the NCAA would do in literally any situation). At this point the NCAA looks like a petulant child that knows it made a mistake and would rather dig its heels in and make in a hundred times worse than just admit it messed up. I think a lot of this is just bad timing for USC right now, though. If the school had all its ducks in a row, it would be on much sturdier ground in trying to lecture another organization about operating improperly.
Q: Have you seen a positive impact on players from Coach K on the defensive line, Coach Burns with the DBs and Coach Drevno with the OL? Do you think the players from those units will show significant improvement based on what you’ve seen so far?
A: The defense line looked terrific this spring, and there was immediate impact from newcomers and signs of life from players we hadn’t seen much from to this point. I think coach Burns in the secondary is a massive improvement, but it might be unfair to expect a huge jump in performance from that unit just because USC lost so much experience and they’re going to be relying on so many young players. If the offensive line doesn’t improve this year, I don’t know what the answer is up there. There’s a coaching improvement with Drevno, a simplified scheme that should take a lot of the confusion out of blocking assignments, and a massive call to attention to prevent pre-snap penalties. I’d be surprised if the Trojans didn’t see real improvement from all three groups, but I’m not yet ready to say its enough to register as the best in the conference.
Q: It looks like the hiring of Harrell and the rest of the staff has had a positive effect on recruiting, has that been reflected in the field as far as better recruitment conditions?
A: The new guys are all active recruiters and both Harrell and Mike Jinks have put in a ton of work in Texas. We’ll see how that plays out, but I’d be surprised if we don’t see more than a handful of Texas prospects make it out to USC for camps this summer and official visits as well. They’re just recruiting at a tough time for USC right now, in terms of turning effort and contacts into commitments. Recruits are absolutely wanting to wait and see the product on the field this fall, but I think this staff will set itself up nicely to take advantage if they can put together a strong season.
Q: How does the Transfer Portal work in regards to the overall scholarship count and where do we stand with that? Are we at our max for total (85) or recruiting period? Can we add players now or do we need someone to officially transfer first? Do transfers count towards a specific class? Are grad transfers counted differently than underclassmen? If someone enters the portal and is not accepted anywhere else does USC have to honor the previous offer? Basically, anything you can clear up regarding the roster and how it could change. Thanks
A: USC does not have all 85 scholarships accounted for, but I believe they have used all 25 initial counters for the 2019 class. That means they are unable to bring in any more prospects via the transfer portal, unless the player comes in as a blueshirt and counts against the 2020 class. Even if someone transfers, USC still couldn’t add a player to make up for it, because all incoming players count as initial counters to the current class. In that regard, there is no difference between a first-year player and a grad transfer.
If a player enters the transfer portal, the school can pull their scholarship and is under no obligation to bring them back on to the team. I believe what happens in most cases is the player is allowed to stay on scholarship until they finish that semester.
Now that Drew Richmond has announced his intention to transfer to USC, I wouldn’t expect another roster addition in a transfer, unless the player is brought in as a blueshirt, put on the roster two days into fall camp, and counted against the 2020 class.
Q: Erik,any updates on the USC players who are in the transfer portal? What will they be doing next?
A: Trevon Sidney and Oluwole Betiku have both announced their intentions to transfer to Illinois. Matt Fink also took an official visit to Illinois this past weekend. Velus Jones took an official visit to Auburn late last month and that seems to be a fit that makes sense, as it’s closer to home for him. Josh Imatorbhebhe recently tweeted that he is about a week away from graduating from USC. No word on a potential destination for him, or for Ykili Ross at this point.
Q: With the coaching changes on defense, do you believe come game time anything really changes with Clancy still calling the shots?
A: One thing that was mentioned over and over this spring was the defense line playing more gap-sound football and getting upfield quickly. That was obviously something everybody still in the program felt was missing last year and I don’t think you have to read between the lines too carefully to see that Clancy Pendergast and Kenechi Udeze did not mesh well as coaches. Defensive line coach Chad Kauha’aha’a talked a lot about doing things that he’s been instructed to do by Pendergast, and if that happens, I think Pendergast having a true idea of what the defensive line is capable of and what they are going to do on every play is going to benefit him greatly as a defensive coordinator.
Q: 1. Does the addition of Drew Richmond strengthen our Oline, and will McKenzie move to rt guard and compete with Voorhees for the starting position?
2. Is it possible for SC to incorporate a power run game with the air raid offenses, especially since our running backs average 225 lbs?
3. Is it possible if SC could hires Urban Meyers as a coaching consultant?
A: 1. Based on Tennessee fan’s reaction to losing Drew Richmond, it feels a lot like if Chuma Edoga had transferred elsewhere for his senior season. Vols fans were waiting for more heralded younger players to take the right tackle spot eventually and saw Richmond as a bit of a liability. That being said, Edoga wound up a third-round pick and graded out pretty well his senior season. I don’t think there’s any guarantee as to how Richmond performs this season coming into a completely new program and system without a ton of time to adjust. That being said, adding any offensive lineman with that kind of experience playing in the SEC is absolutely an overall positive for the line. We didn’t see McKenzie take any reps anywhere other than right tackle this spring, and it’s not like Richmond is a longterm solution at right tackle. I’d imagine McKenzie sticks at right tackle to battle for the starting spot and maybe Liam Jimmons takes a few more reps at right guard.
2. There is definitely a power run aspect to this air raid, but it won’t come from an I-formation, under center look. The benefit to the air raid is that you have these 225 pound backs running against at boxes that aren’t loaded with 8-9 defenders.
3. I don’t think there’s any chance Meyer would come on as a consultant. He doesn’t have any real need to do follow the career path of what a lot of those Alabama consultants have done. If he gets back into any kind of coaching, it will be as a head coach somewhere.
Q: Will Dominic Davis make a contribution this year? It is said that you can’t coach speed.
A: Davis actually looked pretty good at cornerback this spring, given some extended reps. I wouldn’t bet on him having a breakout year or anything like that, but getting something out of him would be a pleasant surprise.
Q: Has Reggie Bush ever apologized for his behavior or accepted responsibility for the actions he and his family did that broken known NCAA rules? Has he ever apologized to his former team mates that had the time at USC ruined with post season bans because he broke known NCAA rules?
A: I have not seen an apology from Reggie Bush to USC or the players at any point.