Losing top talent in sports happens. Good programs are sought after constantly. Many are staring at the recent early departure of players like Sam Darnold at USC as an indication that the program lacks depth in coaching which would be an attraction to staying for another year. So which path do you take? Is the current leadership at USC an indication of weakness at the top (Swan & Helton) or are we just seeing a good program graduating players early and losing quality coaches to new and more challenging opportunities.
I see this as the minor leagues of major league baseball. There are players and coaches just like football and the minors feed the majors or “The Show” as MLB likes to refer to it. Or was that Fake News? College football is the minors to the NFL and as such there will be movement from within college football programs and promotional considerations that see good players and coaches and administrators go from CFB to the NFL Simple as that right?
Not so quick. Sometimes there are many reasons why things change a bit ahead of schedule or presumed schedule. Money is the biggest culprit of course and the opportunity to better one self is key. But sometimes there is the risk reward decision. For instance, If I stay will the current staff help me get better at my craft? Will the current and future additions to my school be a benefit or will I be better off going to the NFL early and sitting on the bench and trusting the coaching staff at the higher level to take my game to theirs.
Losing the juniors to the NFL is not the end of the world. It’s an opportunity for the program to elevate the youth that has been on campus as freshmen and red shirts. The talent is there but the development of the talent will be under the microscope and the media will be all over the USC administration. The media is already looking for the gauntlet and will peek in to the minds of the players as closely as they can to show any splinter that the staff has lost the locker room
It’s time for the players to play. It’s time for the coaches to let these athletes compete and risk injury in practice to elevate the level of play to mimic the real time hitting of the NFL Coach Helton has a chance in his third year to take that next step and position his tenure and thus legacy among the greats of all time. He can also fall off this wagon and never find a path back as this year is no honeymoon given the schedule presumed to be mild and the PAC-12 is no where near the level of competition it needs to be.
Be physical coach. Go hard and strong. Start fall camp by changing the tradition of No Pads November and allow Competition Tuesday to stamp these Trojans in 2018 and beyond Take back the field of play. Show up in the tunnel and own it.