Read the opposing argument from Loyal Homer.
With a less than stellar record, a controversial coach, and a history making scandal that overshadowed much of what was happening on the football field, there really isn’t a whole lot to like about the University of Southern California’s season.
Sure, the Trojans have some excuses… like they are rebuilding and they play in a very competitive conference. But the program has still found a way to underwhelm in spite of the lowered fan and media expectations and NCAA sanctions.
This season USC finished third in the Pac-10 with a 7-5 record. While that’s not exactly something to be completely embarrassed about, it should be noted that the team also posted a pedestrian 4-4 record in conference play. While losses to very good teams like Oregon and Stanford are understandable, the opposite can be said of losses to 5-6 teams like Washington and Oregon State. Now, those teams are not pushovers, but, quite simply, more is expected of USC.
Since the Lane Kiffin show rolled into town it seems USC is more flash that fight. Kiffin has come in amidst his usual whirlwind of unfounded high expectations and mediocre play. While it is not fair to judge a coach by his first season numbers, it seems that poor first season records are all Kiffin seems to record. He was 4-12 with the Raiders in 2007 and 7-6 in Tennessee in 2009. With so much movement it is tough to gage Kiffin’s long term potential, but the Trojan’s 2010 season is not exactly cause for great optimism.
Come to think of it, his hiring is a puzzle in and of itself. Kiffin is a lightning rod for controversy, and has been for quite some time. Bruce Pearl made that abundantly clear with his recent comments about missing the “[expletive deleted] [Kiffin],” and the distractions he made which got Pearl off the hook, when he made bad decisions of his own. Now, Kiffin brings those distractions to a new school and an even bigger media market.
It hasn’t taken him long to start making waves, either. By July he was stirring the pot by hiring away assistant coaches from other teams and kicking off touted prospects. It seems likely that a team amidst so much change would seek a sense of normalcy, and Kiffin does not exactly fit that bill. But then again the Trojans seem to do everything big.
Don’t believe me, just ask Reggie Bush who has created a scandal so unique in its enormity that it forever associates USC with the surrendering of the Heisman Trophy. Bush’s Heisman hijnks hijacked the headlines, surrounding USC in 2010 and for seasons to come. It is one thing for a team to have to answer for their own poor performance and misbehaviors, but it is another to have to answer for the actions of a player many years removed from a team. This season the Trojans’ players found out they must face a bowl ban and scholarship penalty for Bush’s poor decisions.
In all of NCAA football there really isn’t a more disappointing team than USC. All of these things – Bush’s Heisman fallout, Kiffin’s controversial coaching takeover, and a subpar season – combine to make 2010 a season to forget for the Trojans.