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WeAreSC Mailbag

Hi Garry. What will it take for the PAC and USC to change their scheduling philosophy? It’s obvious that conferences that play 8 game schedules have a built in advantage because the 9th game guarantees another 6 losses for the PAC teams which hurts SOS perception. The PAC can continue on it’s moral high horse which will only result in missing the CFP more times than not, or it needs to influence the ACC and SEC to go to 9 games (which I personally strongly prefer). Similarly, it is very clear that number of losses remains the overriding criteria for selecting the 4 CFP teams. USC should schedule ND and two easy OOC games. USC as an undefeated or 11-1 PAC 12 champion will make the CFP in almost every scenario regardless of who those other 2 OOC games are against.

These are legitimate questions. I would also rather see all conferences go to 9 and I think it’s a big element if the CFP system is going to work. To your point about scheduling two easy OOC games, I really would hope that our scheduling strategy doesn’t change, rather I would hope that the committee gives a little more measured weight to those stronger OOC games. This also goes for conference title games, do they matter or not? I also think enough people are talking about these issues that some tweaking will happen sooner rather than later.

Is Viane Talamaivao still injured? Will he play in the bowl game?

Viane had surgery and is out for the season, he will not play in the bowl game.

What players can we possibly gain back from injury by the Cotton Bowl? If you could pick key recruits to sway from the coaching changes around the nation, who would they be? What the possibility of any upperclassmen starters returning to SC rather than going pro?

The biggest possibility in terms of a return would be Porter Gustin, and Helton said prior to the Pac-12 title game that there was a possibility, although he didn’t sound overly optimistic about it. The one thing we know with Porter is that if he’s cleared by the doctors, he will be out there. In terms of swaying other players committed elsewhere that are impacted by coaching changes, I would start with CB Olaijah Griffin (UCLA) and S Steve Stephens (Oregon). Michael Ezeike (Colony) just decommitted from Oregon and he is a potential tight end target. For SC starters thinking about leaving, I do think we will see a loss or two, hopefully not more, but we will have a lot more staying than leaving.

What is the practice schedule leading up to the Cotton Bowl? How many days do they get? When do they travel to Dallas?

The team will travel to Dallas on the 23rd (staying at the Gaylord Texan) and will hold the first practice out there on the 24th. There will be practices on the 25th, 26th and 27th and a walk-thru on the 28th. The first practice will be at Coppell HS, the rest at AT&T Stadium. All practices are closed. We haven’t received a schedule for on-campus practices yet for the weeks of Dec 11th and 18th.

Garry, I know this is a educated guess only, but in your opinion, do the following players come back for their next season at USC, or bolt for the NFL:

Darnold: This one could go either way.
R Green: NFL
Tell: stay
C Smith: stay
Daniel I: stay
Gustin: stay
I am assuming Ronald Jones is gone(which is the right decision): NFL


Can you talk about the selection criteria for ‘Coach of the Year’ in the Pac 12? What obstacles did veteran coach, David Shaw, overcome in order to be selected as COY over a coach that beat him twice and won the Pac12 in only his second year?

I don’t get it. Anything that Shaw and Stanford accomplished this year should be trumped by the fact that he lost twice to Helton and the Trojans, including in the title game.

Garry, I am all for the idea that the PacXII needs to go to an eight game intraconference schedule. I think schools can sub in an OOC team geographically closer to them and also drop one farthest away game where schools can reduce thousands of travel miles, which will benefit the conference as a whole. PacXII away game travel is a killer with some teams like USC having to travel 8,500 or more away game miles, all by air. Btw, USC with the Santa Clara game added in puts USC at over 9,000 miles of travel. Wow…
What’s your take on this potential added benefit?

If everyone else in the CFP world is going to an 8-game conference schedule, then we should do it but as noted in a question above I would prefer everyone going to nine. I’ve always liked the thought of including local schools in the OOC rotation, teams like San Diego State, San Jose State, Fresno State, etc. I just like the thought of supporting California and west coast football. And I know this would kill the mileage argument but I would like to go back to playing an away game at Hawaii every few years.

From what you have observed in practice/ limited game time, What is/are the biggest steps each of the following players needs to make to be solid contributors next season?:

Josh Imatorbhebhe? Consistency. Josh has been limited a lot due to injuries and has shown some flashes of playmaking ability when he’s out there but they are few and far between. If he wants to crack this rotation more he needs to show that he can make more plays.

Betiku? Continue learning the game. His physical skills are so good that if they match up with his knowledge of the game he will be fine, but he’s not there yet.

‘Pie’ Young? We haven’t seen enough of Pie on the field healthy to know how he could fit next year in the slot, especially against guys like Trevon Sidney, who has looked real good.

Jamel Cook? In less than a year Jamel has gone from safety to slot corner to outside corner and he’s still learning the footwork for the latest position. I hope it works, he’s too good of an athlete to have sitting on the sideline.

Connor Murphy? I think Connor should bulk up and look to make a move inside. He’s a strong guy and we could use his length to help bat down passes.

Any truth to JT Daniels reclassifying to 2018?

Nothing is confirmed but he is trying to make it happen.

Why is the Cotton Bowl at ATT Stadium rather than the actual Cotton Bowl? Is it as simple as just a better facility? If that’s the reason, hopefully they don’t one day try to move the Rose Bowl to he new Rams stadium.

At the time the bowl game moved they were on the outside looking in of the BCS bubble and they needed to try and make a splash. From a business standpoint the moved work to go with Jerry’s World as the game in now part of the NY6 rotation for the CFP. The reason the Rose Bowl would never need to consider that is the Rose Bowl itself is already the attraction and the game would never be on the outside looking in.

Jordan Simmons was named Jersey Mike’s Sub of the Game. Did he play due to an injury to a starter or has he come into his own as a key reserve?

I assume you mean Jordan Austin, who was pressed into action after Andrew Vorhees left with a neck injury. There were no plans for Jordan to play, it happened due to the injury, and he played well when he had his opportunity.

Any favorite must eat stops at ATT stadium?

I limited myself to the press room meals last time and they were very good, didn’t get a chance to sample anything else inside the stadium. I’m going to make it a point to hit Pecan Lodge this trip.

Is Justin Dedich the only recruit that is set to sign in December? Also, and I know this would be speculative, but do you know if any other committed recruits would like to sign, but SC is deferring signing because they are anticipating other uncommitted recruits may eventually to commit to SC. Our past history reflects that we do not offer everyone, but just a grouping of those that we know have a high probability of coming to SC. In the end it does come down to numbers and even though we have offered, we can only take in so many each year. I was also hoping Palaie and Tuli would be early signees thus giving SC fans a nice Xmas gift. Anyway I appreciate anymore insight you can provide in the recruiting process! Fight On!

Kana’i Mauga is another who will likely sign, and I’m sure there will be others that aren’t clear yet because the SC coaches are proactively monitoring the situation to see how it plays out. This early signing period is such a wild-card in this first year to see how it’s going to work because you’re correct, there will be kids who want to sign early but may not be able to do because the coaches think there might be others in play for the February signing day. Helton and staff have shown to be very good at managing this part of the process in their first two years so you have to imagine they are on top of this.

Just got tix to the Cotton Bowl! What injured players that we haven’t seen in awhile will we get to see in the Cotton Bowl thanks to the long layoff? Who do you think will make the biggest impact? FIGHT ON!!! (BTW: David’s BBQ in Arlington/Pantego TX is a strip mall locale just 5-10 minutes from ATT that has amazing beef brisket. They run out of meat by 8 pm each night.)

Thanks for the brisket recommendation. As for the injured players, Porter Gustin would really be the main guy who could make a difference, and we probably won’t know too much more on him until later on in the practice sessions, or if he gets cleared by the doctors. Other than that we are fairly healthy right now.

Hi Garry, fans’ opinions to the contrary, it would be odd to see coaches from a successful 11-win team, which just completed a run to a conference championship, being replaced. Checking the direction of the wind, would you be surprised by any coaching turnover this off-season? Either by our coordinators getting poached, or assistants being replaced?

I do think there will be some turnover but it won’t be as drastic as some fans are hoping for. I’m guessing Clancy could have some options in the NFL, and he brought Bradford is so that spot could be in play. I’m watching the musical chairs as it pertains to Tee Martin and Tyson Helton, it wouldn’t surprise me if one of them leaves as the play-calling flow is a pretty hot topic.

Which recruits are impacted by this game?

There are four main recruits who could be impacted and they are good ones: LB Solomon Tuliaupupu, LB Palaie Gaoteote, OL Jackson Carman and S Jaiden Woodbey. Gaoteote is a longtime SC commit who will visit Ohio State this weekend while Woodbey is a Buckeye commit who is from Bosco and has spent plenty of time around USC this year.

Gary: I have found where most of our players landed in the NFL last year but I can’t locate Darreus Rogers whom I thought would be an excellent Pro wide out. Where did he land and is he still in the NFL?

He’s on the Bears practice squad, he got signed in mid-October after being cut by the Seahawks as an UFA.

Garry, there has been a lot of chatter on the board this past week expressing dissatisfaction with Larry Scott and the national perception of the Pac 12. What’s your take? Any specific you would like to see made to the TV deal, conference scheduling, etc. to fix this?

I think Scott has had a chance to set in motion his media plans and I don’t think it’s been a huge success for USC. The conference media rights are on the low end compared to other major conferences, there are a LOT of late start times, and weekday games, and a Friday night championship game that announced 48K in attendance but actual fans at the stadium was a much lower amount. Since I don’t have a lot of faith in Scott looking out for SC’s best interest, I would like to see USC use some leverage by making sure we don’t play weekday games, we don’t play at 11am on a Saturday, and our 7:45 start times are limited. We’ve got every right to make these demands considering the current distribution model is an equal share for all conference teams. The highest-rated games aren’t equal (the vast majority involve USC) so there’s no reason for revenues to be equal without some concessions to USC. If they don’t want to do it, tell them NBC is on the phone wanting us to go independent in football so they can show Notre Dame-USC doubleheaders each Saturday.

Without trying to sound sarcastic, how do the New Year’s Six Bowl games include Cotton on the 29th, Orange and Fiesta on the 30th yet exclude Citrus and Outback which really are played on New Years Day?

What a great example of NCAA thinking.

Garry Paskwietz

A 1988 graduate of USC with a degree in Sports Information. Worked in sports marketing for LA Lakers and Miller Brewing Company. Began covering the Trojans in 1996 with the Trojan Football Fax. Founded WeAreSC in November 1998 with stints at Scout and ESPN. Emmy-winner while covering high school football at Fox Sports West.

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