Taking stock of the USC Trojans 2018 football season is like Groundhog Day. Lots of hype and lots of amazing recruits onboard. So much talent that the sky is always the limit of each years team. We start off slow only to surge and then hit the skids if faced with a Power Five elite opponent in a Bowl. We have a coach in Clay Helton that has an impressive won/lost record but when you peel it back painfully is it as good as the roses paint on the car we are starting at?
It’s painful for the fans and deep spirited alumni to sit back silently and not protest what we see under the Helton era. On the one hand you have a coach that on a personal note you would send your sons and daughters to be mentored by. But on a power five school level is that the same response you would give based on the body of work now in it’s third year and not showing the type of dominance it shows promise towards every spring?
Can it be attributed to the fact that the Fall Camp and Seasonal weekly practices mimic the Spring Camp so much that the impact on Saturday is Gee Wally these guys hit hard? The late Denny Green said it best, “They are who we thought they were”. Denny had a spirit that most coaches aspire to. He respectfully left it all on the camera that night and meant every word. Not saying we need Helton to move in that direction as Denny (RIP) was a one of a kind that night but Clay needs to start taking deep ownership.
In America we have a fondness with Soccer. Families love the spirit of the game and the lower physicality of the game than American Football. Not saying one is better than the other but with American Soccer (notice Im saying American) there is this “Participation Trophy” mentality that feels like the USC Football program today. We have a coach and a staff that want everyone to be happy and participate. They use dirty words occasionally like Physicality, but really don’t mean it. They have their white ribbons ready and hugs for the players who might not be playing as hoped. But can this be a sustainable build of a program in the Power Five format? Not a chance.
Lynn Swan has a difficult challenge. He is new as well so who does he lean on for that mentorship we all need from time to time. Can he really evaluate a Head Coach when he himself has never coached nor even held similar roles as AD. Swan is the person who the program depends on. A head coach is as good as it gets every Saturday. The AD is the person who must reflect the desires of the school, fans and alumni who donate their hearts and pocket books to the school. One can only hope that he has that person in his network to help him Fight On through all of this and rise above the season that could have been and do the right thing in 2019.