The USC Football team is no longer about 2018. It hasn’t been for weeks. This team is loaded with talent and thus potential. Wasting such talent and not converting it to the potential they share is unacceptable to anyone who follows the school let alone the sport of college football. Tip the hat to the recruiting process and the depth that has been mounting each of Clay Helton’s three years to date. I give him and his staff an A for the effort and results. But to let this incredible gathering of national talent go to waste is all on Lynn Swan now. Lynn as athletic director has a heavy job on his hand. To most its obvious but he is weighing a challenge that #88 never faced before. You see, he too is new at this.
This is the structural mistake made when this staff and leadership was put together. It didn’t matter that they could recruit as no one on the staff was ready for the true task of delivering these high school stars to the national spot light of college football. This was a deep miss. No where to turn in the organization for mentorship as the very leader of the athletic department was also new to this experience. No way out fans. It is what it is and 2019 lays in the balance when it comes to restocking the team and depth. As we saw with the NCAA sanctions post Pete Carroll we will begin to see a different step back when it comes to verbal commitments to the 2019 class of recruits.
The media is 24×7 today so recruits and their families regardless of their geographic location know the status of their wish list schools every day. Every positive and negative are amplified by the moves taking place on the field of battle and the weekly updates from practice.
When you look at the body of work brought to us from Clay Helton you can’t help but shake your head. He inherited hell. He took it knowingly. He also knew his resume wasn’t going to put people at ease when it came to his campaign to take USC back to the top. By top, Im not talking about the PAC-12 South title or the PAC-12 Championship. Im talking about a seat at the table for the prize. The national championship is all that matters. It’s the expectation on the kids coming in and the alumni who have been there before. This is about a program not a coach or player. This is about setting a bar at the highest level and being critical when it’s not met. In today’s USC Football team it’s so far from all of the expectations that roll off the tongues of the Cardinal & Gold fan base that it’s creating a harsh reality that this coach and staff are not in our future.
Clay Helton succeeded in bringing a level of calm and accountability to the swinging door at Heritage Hall but he truly cannot take the program beyond a run at the Pac-12 Title. He has done this so we know he can but he also had a gift in Sam Darnold. He might have the same gift in Jack Sears but one game does not give the fans a solid ground to jump on that bandwagon just yet. Hope yes but Jack needs to be unbridled in the playbook and allowed to sense the moment. Clay and Tee Martin have not been able to trust in these dynamics and quite frankly their ability to manage a game is still a mystery.
It’s time to let go. It is time for Lynn Swan to do something he has never been faced with as a young intern to the AD position. It’s time to say goodbye to a good man who is not ready for the job he was given.