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USC Trojan Football | A Fan’s perspective

A place for rational discussion of USC athletics. The author of this letter is Anonymous

Our letter to USC leadership:

Dear President Folt, AD Bohn, and BoT leadership,

Following the decision to retain failed head coach Clay Helton, you have empirically demonstrated to the USC community that the university has no interest in making a meaningful investment in its student-athletes, alumni, or legacy. Sadly, this is simply the latest in a series of poor judgments and missteps the program has suffered throughout the past decade.

Such consistent neglect underscores the reality that this behavior can no longer be considered a series of mistakes. Rather, alumni and fans have come, over time, to recognize this for what it ultimately represents: a premeditated institutional indifference toward winning at the highest level. How could even the most loyal and passionate members of the USC community continue to support a program that the university does not? How could uber-talented high school players who have dreams of achieving both an undisputed elite degree and competing for national championships realistically chose to go to USC?

When Tim Tessalone criticized USC’s own alumni and fans for rightly conveying outrage, dismissing us as “$100 donors,” it infuriated thousands. However, in retrospect, he gave us all the gift of transparency. That wasn’t a slip or gaffe, that was the truth. Though jaw-dropping to hear, it was helpful, and we thank him for that.

Of course, there was hope that with a change of leadership, there would be a new direction, new urgency and renewed dedication to a once-proud institution: USC Trojan Football. Sadly, your footwork over the past few weeks has done nothing more than add your names to the long list of tone-deaf program captors. Your voices have been heard and now join the chorus of indifference, neglect and malpractice that has defined this program for more than a decade.

USC has suffered an undue share of national embarrassment and scandal over the past several years. Our community needed an opportunity to come together and celebrate a once long-standing symbol of excellence: our football team, the Spirit is Troy, and the energy that permeates the Trojan family. Many alumni and fans have USC football woven deeply into the fabric of our being. Even non-football fans count on the fall gridiron as a rallying point for the year as it is the single most forward-facing aspect of the university.

Yet thanks to galactic incompetence and the unwillingness to protect the excellence of the university’s athletic brand, USC administrators have not only failed to nurture current and future excellence, they have allowed others to vindictively steal from the Trojan Family some of the most cherished memories of our past: a Heisman, a relationship with one of our most celebrated athletes, the entire 2005 season, a National Championship, 30 scholarships, the reputations of two former members of USC football aristocracy (Haden/Swann), our football brand, and national and regional relevance.

We looked for redress under this administration. We hoped you would understand that USC football at its best can be a powerful global symbol of a great and ascendant university. Tragically, we now find the program appears to still be run by amateurs, people with an agenda that does not seem to include competing for championships, or people who have not been at the university long enough to fully understand the culture.

The word “integrity” has been bandied about ad infinitum. Yet we are being laughed at nationally by smart observers who understand that one can have integrity without tolerating Mr. Helton’s mediocrity and continuously demonstrated incompetence. Hundreds of articles have spelled out the deficiencies in his record. One could say that it is the administration’s actions that lack integrity, as they reveal the university’s indifference to its stated aspirations to the highest levels of excellence.

So here we are at the end. We are exhausted, beaten down mentally and emotionally. It’s not just anger now, it’s the onset of indifference that is settling over this alumni/fanbase. For some, this may last forever. Which may simply be the fan base surrendering to the indifference USC leadership has conveyed for years. In that sense, I suppose this was inevitable. Though it was completely unnecessary.

The university has been part of my family for generations. And it will always be part of my past. I’ve followed university leadership throughout my life and will one last time. I am accepting your invitation to devalue USC football and devote my energy and resources elsewhere. Though unlike you, I will no longer be dressing up in cardinal and gold, attending games and pretending I care. You can have my USC gear. I hope you will give it to a member of the enormous homeless population that lives in Southern California and who knows all too well the deep meaning of Fight On.

Signed, A Once Passionate Member of the USC Football Community

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