Carroll is responsible for the latest letdown


F. Scott Fitzgerald ended The Great Gatsby with the metaphor of boats beating against the current, an image that has become so cliché it seems to have lost all meaning.

But it was hard not to think of the passage while watching USC flail against Washington on Saturday. And it wasn’t only the boats sailing on Lake Washington just outside of Husky Stadium that conjured up the image.

Unfamiliar ground · USC coach Pete Carroll is not often outcoached in football games, but that was clearly the case Saturday in the Trojans’ upset loss to Washington, columnist Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz writes. - Leah Thompson | Daily Trojan

Unfamiliar ground · USC coach Pete Carroll is not often outcoached in football games, but that was clearly the case Saturday in the Trojans’ upset loss to Washington, columnist Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz writes. - Leah Thompson | Daily Trojan

The Trojans’ struggles against a scrappy, mid-level Pac-10 team have become so institutionalized at USC that the annual event is almost a cliché in itself. Instead of being surprised by Saturday’s outcome, most Trojan fans felt like they were headed in a direction they had been before.

In fact, it’s a surprise there wasn’t a USC fan in the crowd who could have spoiled the ending for everyone based on past follies. A true fan might have stood up after USC’s tying drive and blurted out, “I’ve seen this one before — the other team kicks a field goal in the final seconds and the fans rush the field. I’m gonna head out and beat traffic.”

But this year was supposed to be different, right? USC coach Pete Carroll spent all week insisting the Trojans wouldn’t be caught off-guard again, that they had finally learned their lesson.

To the players’ credit, they certainly appeared up to the task. They made it look like they were on pace for another USC blowout with their first quarter performance.

“It wasn’t a question of being ready to play emotionally or anything,” Carroll said, drawing a contrast to past letdowns.

This wasn’t a matter of the Trojans falling behind and seeing their comeback cut short by time or one key play like in so many past losses.

It was simply a case of USC getting outcoached.

Carroll took ownership for the loss immediately afterward, despite most of his players showing maturity by placing the burden on themselves. But this mea culpa might mean the Trojans are in for more trouble.

With Carroll having more than enough scouting information at his disposal, there was no excuse for being unprepared for what the Huskies threw at the Trojans. USC coaches and players alike said after the game that there were “no surprises” in the game beyond their own mistakes, but maybe that’s a cause for concern.

The Trojans’ struggles to adapt down the stretch might have been understandable if Washington had beaten USC by employing some Boise State-like gadget plays.

But Washington could have broadcast its gameplan on the JumboTron and USC still might have been too fickle to adjust.

Carroll’s blunders are best exemplified by his handling of the quarterbacks throughout the week. Both he and quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates kept reporters guessing while they waited to see how Matt Barkley’s shoulder injury progressed. But with the bone bruise to the true freshman improving only incrementally over the week, sophomore Aaron Corp took all the first-team snaps and looked like he had seized temporary command of the position.

At some point, Carroll would have to invest himself in Corp and show him that the team was committed to rallying around him as a starter.

Or not.

Asked when the coaching staff told him he would be starting Saturday’s game, Corp said — with his head held low — that “they never really did.”

Corp would never say it, but the message came through louder than a bullhorn: USC’s coaching staff never really showed faith in him.

The coaches’ attitude was evident in the play-calling. Corp was forced to be a dropback passer instead of using his trademark mobility. It’s possible the decision was due to the lingering effects of Corp’s preseason fractured fibula, but coaches insisted during the week that he was 100 percent recovered.

Their trepidation also showed on a third-down play from the Huskies’ 7-yard line when the Trojans elected to run the ball instead of taking a shot at the end zone. Ensuring the game-tying field goal may have entailed the lowest risk, but since when has Carroll made it a point to adhere to coaching conventions?

Corp was not at his best on Saturday, but quarterbacking should never be a pop quiz. Yet Corp is the one who unfairly faces being a potential pariah among students instead of Carroll.

If Carroll isn’t a fan of Fitzgerald, perhaps he can learn through literature by picking up a book by Malcolm Gladwell. The coach references Outliers when referring to Barkley, but he might want to take a look at The Tipping Point, which details how the tiniest factors can catalyze unforeseen and sometimes disastrous endings.

The book could re-emphasize the point that if the Trojans can’t get back to their normal standard of play, they will find themselves falling short of another Pac-10 championship. Then the only thing at stake will be an at-large BCS bid. Or the Holiday Bowl. Or the Sun Bowl.

And if English isn’t Carroll’s pleasure, maybe a spelling lesson will do. Right now, there’s no “SC” in the word “finish,” despite what those T-shirts may say.

But finishing strong might be the only way for Carroll to right his ship.

“Tackling Dummy” runs Tuesdays. To comment on this article, visit dailytrojan.com or email Michael at middlehu@usc.edu.

  • SEC Fan at USC

    Krishna, I was foolish enough to entertain your attempt to steer the conversation away from sports and over to academics, where you could depend upon your trusty arsenal of well-rehearsed cheap shots. But that wasn’t the conversation we were having, was it? Such an action is typical of a whiny Pac-10 fan who really doesn’t know how to do much more than scream “Fight On” after USC blows out yet another high school team. It kind of reminds me of the LSU/Tulane games. Tulane always gets blown out, and the sour student section starts chanting “Safety School” over and over again. And your comment on Vandy’s football team? No, they’re not terribly respected. But perhaps that would change if they only played one ranked team each year. Such is not the case in the SEC.

    I find it funny that you’re willing to discuss wit when your best argument yet–“You probably researched US News to expediently support your weak repartee”–is just a more sophisticated way of saying, “Nah uh, you’re stupid.” In addition, judged on your weakly founded, cop-out, “you’re just proving my point” response, I can only assume that affirmative action has played a significant part in your being accepted at a major university.

  • Asim Rasheed

    Beating on Pete Carroll, a coach who has brought 7 Pac-10 and three National championships, by some wanna be writer would have been funny had appeared in Daily Bruin.

    Football teams lose a game or two here or there. That is part of the game. We put a whole lot of pressure and foist expectations from freshmen student athletes and then rag on them if they somehow don’t come up to our expectations.

    Michael, I would take your inane column more seriously once you take the helm of a Division-1 football team. Until then please keep to writing about things that you have some idea about.

  • Krishnamurti

    “SEC Fan” you bristle when someone has to say something contrary to your view. Typical of SEC football fans. You issue some inane comment in hopes that you elicit a response from SC fan. I took the bait. Again you respond with petulant blathering. You are not even offering up witty trash talk. Please grow up.

    As for academics, I don’t care about the endeavors of your matriculation. I concede Vanderbilt has a better ranking academically than USC on US News Report for National schools. My statement was made on the body of SEC schools. When you admit to bouncing around for your Undergrad, I wonder if you are even a Vanderbilt Alum. Your comment reeks of a convenient statement. You probably researched US News to expediently support your weak repartee. Anyways, outside of Vanderbilt what other SEC schools are even close academically? On the whole, does Vanderbilt even have (ever had) a respectable football program? In the end, you’re still here earning a degree from USC. You proved no point.

    I assume you’ll continue to run your childish mouth. The fact is USC is a well balanced school across many sports as well as academics. No SEC school compares. You’re a football polemicist with no real factual support. Besides, there’s no playoff system yet just the BCS that most everyone dislikes.

    Lastly, I didn’t come on hear to pick fight over which conference is better. The gist of my observation is that the SEC fan base has some strange obsession with going out of their way to make comments about the PAC-10 and in particular USC. You continue prove my point with your response. I recommend you spend your energy on earning that degree and move on. No one is going pay you for your opinion of USC football.

  • USC Family

    Pete Carroll isn’t perfect, but when you lose only 1 to 2 games a year consistently, you’re pretty close. When a kid, whose entire life is no older than one of my suits, offers advice, second guesses, and generally calls out the man who single handily restored respect back to our football program, that’s disrespectful.

    Pete Carroll has lived a thousand lives and overcame a thousand setbacks. He won’t be bothered by this article no more than a tick on his arm, yet I wonder how all those whom he mentored feel about their life coach dismissed in such fashion. I for one find it disgraceful.

  • SEC Fan at USC

    “Their attacks are overwhelmingly based out of fear and jealousy (misspelled) of a great and storied program.”

    Not at all. Believe me, there’s no jealousy and certainly no fear. Everyone outside the Los Angeles area seems to realize how overrated USC always is. If anything, I would love for USC to win out this year, and hopefully have a chance to win the national title–only to be massacred by Alabama, Florida or LSU. I want USC to schedule one of those teams (not Arkansas or Auburn) instead of these bullshit games against Ohio State and Notre Dame.

    “Obviously, ‘SEC Fan’ sees the apparent advantage to attending USC as opposed to enrolling at an inferior SEC school to earn their degree.”

    Actually, I’m at USC for my masters, and love the school (other than the sports fans). And the sports fans, to me, is a minute detail in the grand scheme of things when you’re choosing a college. But I attended several schools to get my undergrad… guess what one of them was? Vanderbilt! That’s right, an SEC school that is, in fact, superior to USC. Whoops! But I digress…

    USC has proven time and time again that they cannot take advantage of the cushy schedules they are given. Give me a break–the only top 10 teams USC ever faces are Ohio State (who has been pummeled by SEC teams twice in the last three years) and California, and we all know that they never have a top 10 team. Ever. Bitch and moan all you want, but Les Miles, Nick Saban and Urban Meyer are laughing their asses off at all of you because you can’t capitalize on the silver platter than has been handed to you by the Lack-10.

  • Krishnamurti

    Stop with the self-loathing if not petulance. We had a chance to seize perfection for a few years now and failed. How many teams in any sport achieve perfection? The reality is football teams win and lose for a variety of reasons. Pete Caroll has accomplished much in such a short amount of time. He has restored the self-esteem to a program that was beleaguered for quite some time.

    Amid the caucophony of criticism, I believe this is a rebuilding year. However, it is apparent that Sanchez left a huge void. Frustrations and questions now rise because it appears neither Corp or Mustain seem capable or prepared to take the helm while Barkley develops. Further, the departure of Norm has left the offensive coordinator position lacking creativity and aggressiveness. Our newest personnel addition seems even a far cry from filling Sarkisian shoes. Lastly, the tail back rotation appears impotent at the worst times. What is so wrong with featuring just one bulldozing full-back and one explosive tail-back? Against Washington, a casual observer would think we didn’t know how to run student-body right or an I-formation.

    On a side note, it is rather funny how the SEC fans always find a way to post some blather about USC football in articles completely unrelated to them. Their attacks are overwhelmingly based out of fear and jealosy of a great and storied program. Obviously, “SEC Fan” sees the apparent advantage to attending USC as opposed to enrolling at an inferior SEC school to earn their degree.

    Finally, let’s remember the lean times USC faced. Just a decade ago, when a perfect season seemed an impossibility let alone winning the PAC-10 title. Things will change for the better. They may even get worse before they get better. Barkley may or may not be the future. But I have faith that Pete Caroll will not abandon the winning tradition he has brought back to the Coliseum.

  • SEC Fan at USC

    If the media would give USC the amount of credit it deserves, the Washington loss wouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. So why should it be called a letdown? I know I wasn’t surprised.

  • SEC Fan at USC

    I’ll tell you who was responsible for this “letdown.”

    It’s the media. Not Pete Carroll, and not Aaron Corp.

    The media overhypes USC year after year. Everyone is convinced that USC is God’s bloody gift to football. USC is what it is; an above average team, but far from a superior force in football. Their conference games are hardly a challenge for anyone–seriously, Cal? UCLA? Oregon State? Give me a break. And their non conference games are jokes… Ohio State? Notre Dame? Please. I would pay big money to see this team play in the SEC West, and even bigger money to listen to all the Trojan fans cry when they go 7-5.

  • The Grinch

    If you watched the game, you would know that AARON CORP was responsible for the latest letdown.

  • Dustin Halterman

    UNBELIEVABLE! Have any of these writers followed college football for the last 50 or more years. Teams lose and it is nothing new. USC has one loss to a team and they call for his resignation. I am a long time fan of USC and have been frustrated with the losses over the past few years, but they bounce back each year and end up in the Rose Bowl dominating their opponent. So take a break from whining and writing crap and see how USC responds and finishes out the season. FIGHT ON TROJANS!!!!

  • Barry Catlett

    Great article! Ignore the haters, you said what a heck of a lot of us are thinking. EVERYONE saw the upset coming but still the Blowjans couldn’t get it done. I don’t advocate Pete leaving, but he needs to get real again.
    He’s starting to believe all of that “greatest coach in college football” stuff and not getting it done. And PLEASE, people, stop talking about the NC game. It’s gone. Again. Two or three more losses and the Toilet Bowl is in this team’s future.

  • Mark Funk

    I hate SC. It is in my DNA to hate SC (and the band). My father hated SC, his father hated SC and had my father’s father’s immigrant father been in this country at SC’s founding, he would have hated the Trojans, too. That said, I wish the Seattle Times would hire Mr. Middlehurst-Schwartz. He would be a refreshing set of eyes on the Northwest sports scene.

  • KevWash

    What people forget to realize is that the Pac-10 is all about cycles. People are quick to forget that Washington won a national title in the last 20 years. Stanford was dominant about 10 years ago. Oregon St., Arizona, etc, have all had their day in the sun. You can pick any team, say UCLA for instance. Within the next 10 or 20 years, they will be the dominant team. Same goes for Arizona. USC has had an amazing run and will probably be great for quite a while longer. That being said, we’ve seen dominant teams come and go and come back again. It’s all about cycles.

  • Jonathan

    Wow, I don’t know what is more surprising: 1) that a Daily Trojan reporter wrote an honest article that shook and riled Trojans’ fans out of their daily reverie, or 2) that Trojans’ fans have much difficulty when it comes to properly writing and expressing their thoughts on this forum.

  • Scott in SB

    BS. The word “turnover” doesn’t even appear in this wanne-be-Plaschke’s article. It clearly wasn’t the coaching staff’s best game, but hold on to the damn football and we win going away. It ain’t rocket science.

  • Camille

    Wow! Considering the young guy that penned this disastrous article IS a Trojan, there’s no wonder we couldn’t pull through on Saturday. Lack of support! One loss people, against Sark and Holt. Let us not abandon ship. Carroll is a phenomenal coach, there is no other explanation for the lengthy list of accolades and accomplishments. If you’re mad or disappointed that’s fine but really, you want him gone? And some of you are suggesting Willingham? Come on! The seasons just begun, we have time to learn and adjust! The negativity is childish and the mark of a fair weather fan. If that’s what you are, we don’t need you. And as for the author…best of luck, you’re going to need it. I sure wouldn’t want to be you, walking around campus after poorly trashing Carroll. Maybe you’ll drop out or transfer. That’s what I’m hoping for. Either way, be a little more respectful when you pen to paper.

    Win or lose, we Fight on!

  • Bruce M.

    I was at that game, and am a long-time Washington fan. Let me assure you that USC was not “molasses-slow”. Their team speed was clearly superior to Washington’s, especially along the DL, but almost everywhere. McKnight said after the game that as a team USC has on average “clearly superior athletes”. I agree with that.

    USC lost because it turned the ball over, and its quarterback was not ready. How much of that “not readiness” is the coaching staff’s fault I can’t really say. But USC did not lose for lack of speed or intensity or athleticism. Maybe 3-4 Washington starters, max, could start for USC. It happens that one of them is Washington’s quarterback, and that position can be huge.

    I left that game thinking that if those teams play on a neutral field 10 times, USC wins 8-9 times. The Dawgs were fortunate to win, but almost as important as that win for the program was that they played with a ferocity that used to typify them, but that they hadn’t shown for many years.

  • Saltherring

    Keep salting your beer with tears, Prophylactic phans. A couple of national championships, yearly BCS bowls and an unprecedented seven straight PAC-10 championships have spoiled you like a school beached sardines. Yeah, and keep beating on Pete Carroll…run him out of town with pitchforks. Then what? I hear Ty Willingham is searching for a gig? Perhaps Dennis Erickson is peeking under the fence for greener pastures?…he has been at AZ St. for a whole two years, hasn’t he? Or take Rick the Dick up in Westwood?…..pleeeze! After all, I’m certain he’s probably run out of the card tricks and rabbit-filled hats he’s been using to entertain the fans of the Powder-Blue-Pretty-Boys. Just keep clubbing on Pete. You’ll eventually wear him down and get what you want.

    Oh, and next time you come up to visit us, bring a quarterback with you.

  • Trojan Realist

    “Scrappy mid-level Pac 10 team?” Please quit drinking the cardinal and gold kool aid! USC was favored by three touchdowns and Washington had lost 15 straight. If they are a midlevel team no wonder this conference has such a weak reputation.

  • Jimm

    It is amazing how many people know exactly what Pete Carroll should do. If Pete ever decides to leave there is 2 dozen future coaches here who know exactly how to turn it around. Wake up everyone it’s one thing to be a fan but some of these comments are outrageous.

  • Zoulou

    Great.

    Future sportswriters learn to be lazy hacks and parrot pre-conceived talking points in college.

    Somewhere Bill Plashcke beams with pride.

    And people who care about quality journalism shed a tear.

  • Hegemon

    Well youre totally not an english major

  • TrojanFan

    Oh, please. Pete Carroll is the best coach in college football; he’s not a god. Let’s remember that Coach Carroll is responsible for a whole lot of wins and not whip up a lynch mob because of a few losses.

    I believe that the Trojans would have beaten any other PAC10 team this past week; the Coach had found the answer to the “letdown” problem. But across the field was a guy named Sarkisian, and while he’s not yet the head coach that Pete Carroll is, he had a lot of advantages going into the game that no other conference coach would have, including the Cinderella storyline that his team’s winless record last year (under different management) gave him as a motivational tool. Did you see the Huskies bouncing up and down on their sideline during the game? That team was uniquely fired up, and their new coach has them playing well.

    You want to swap Carroll for Sarkisian, though? Not if you’ve really been watching the Trojans with Pete Carroll coaching them.

  • Steve H

    Man oh man….who is being fickled. One loss and the SC dominance of football in the PAC-10, let alone Southern California, is over. The UCLA ad about the football monopoly being over has come true. Pete simple needs to quit. I am certain Willingham is available.

    Reality is this is a rebuild year. Can you imagine a rebuild year with this much talent on it? At the end of the day dominance will be re-established and it won’t be in Berkley or even across town.

  • LeaveryLibraryBlogger

    Shouldn’t you be on holiday instead of writing this crap?

  • Jay

    Pete don’t listen to all of these Madden video game junkies who have never played football or coached in their lives. Everyone knows this is a rebuilding year. I can assure that the National championship game will not be played by two undefeated teams…it will be an Undefeated Florida vs. a one loss team. We can still do it.

    FIGHT ON!!!

    • Greg Katz

      Unfortunately, the folks who make up the BCS voting block doesn’t recognize a 1 loss PAC10 team, even USC, though they do recognize a 1 loss team from the other conferences. Could it be that those 1 loss teams won their conference championship, one which the PAc10 doesn’t have? Hmmmmm……

  • Donovan

    What stings the most is when the various talking heads, and national sports media outlets LOUDLY proclaimed that this game would be a “trap game” after the hard-fought and emotional victory in Ohio, and yet the team STILL LOST to the Huskies. This loss caught NO ONE by surprise.

    Trojan fans can only hope that Washington will go on to enjoy a winning season to validate that win or else USC can kiss any hope of appearing in the BCS title game goodbye.

    The departure of Mark Sanchez surely played a significant role in the sputtering offense Trojan fans witnessed on Saturday, but can we now ALSO address the elephant in the room? USC has LOST composure and continuity on OFFENSE gradually over the years…AFTER Norm Chow was basically forced out of his job.

    Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz references The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. To extrapolate further beyond this one game, this one loss, the LOSS of Norm Chow set in motion a series of events which reverberate to this day. Pete Carroll choosing to placate Kiffin and Sarkisian by choosing those two (rather than ‘risk’ losing them) over Coach Chow, has clearly HURT the offense. Would anyone care to argue this point?

    The Best Offensive Coordinator in college football is now employed over in Westwood. USC has NOT won another BCS Title after Norm Chow left. This has now become a sadly historic FACT.

    I, for one, miss Coach Chow’s innovative and brilliant play calling. He knew (and maximized) the strengths of his own players while constantly keeping the defense off-balance and uncomfortable. Compare and contrast this with the present state of the USC Trojans Offense. The Trojans NEED someone of Coach Chow’s caliber to run the offense. This is no place for pride or hubris. Think of The Team first and foremost.

    Everyone knows this is Coach Carroll’s team. It’s a shame that Pete Carroll may have felt threatened that some of the glory was given to Norm Chow when Coach Chow was running the offense. For the overall good, the Trojans need someone of Coach Chow’s talent and abilities to run the offense. At minimum, we need continuity and stability on the offensive side of the ball.

    Fight On!!!

    • Greg Katz

      Speaking of Chow and UCLA, the Bruins defense will completely stifle USC’s offense if Carroll and Bates don’t get their act in gear. Obviously not a Bruin fan, but they smoked Tennessee and TN gave FL a good run this past weekend. Heck, A beats B, B barely loses to C, therefore, A could’ve beaten C. OUCH!

  • Michael–this is a well written article. I was at ‘SC before Pete arrived and that was a forgettable era for alums/fans. The loss against the Huskies this past weekend reminded me of those days. This was not a black swan event, but given the difficult road games ahead, something really has to change. At the end of the day, it’s up to the coaching staff to make the necessary adjustments and inspire the team to aspire.

  • I’m totally agree and it’s incredible with all the resources and the experience that USC was outcoached by the Huskies … I’ve heard a lot of things after the latest collapse and lot to blame: turn-overs, concentration, QB play, etc.. etc… and it’s time to turn the page … again, but this time the future for the trojans looks more interesting and difficult if they not turn a notch in coaching and the offense … with road games at California, at Notre Dame, at Oregon and a home game with Oregon State the task is huge for this team … and I’m sure if they won those games, USC will be back on top with a big chance again for something special… the teams in front are very overrated, the SEC conference is overrated: Penn State. c’mon (Syracuse, Temple and other lousy team that I don’t remember): Texas: Wyoming, UTEP and Texas Tech: Boise State, mmm no, so figure out so the reality is that we have just a couple of contenders: Miami (the Hurricanes) and the Golden Bears of California. I start to follow USC when Pete Carroll started here, if I’m not mistaken it was 2001 and the record was 6-7 and a horrible lost in a bowl game against Utah … after that USC has been in top of everything, USC is recognized again, USC is hated back East (just see Lou Holtz on ESPN) but the bottom line is that every single day since 2002, USC is on the news and on the National media and that my friends is a huge accomplish by Pete Carroll. He is the best coach in College Football no doubt about that. So yes it has been a tough weekend, but again USC holds the future in his Coaches, Players and all the people involved in the program … to re-direct the ship. Good Luck Trojans and Fght On!!!!!

  • Greg Katz

    No guts, no glory folks!
    I’m mad as hell, and right now, if SC played Cal, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, Arizona or UCLA, they’ll be losers, as demonstrated by our horrific offense and play calling…… We cannot rely on “well, at least we’ll have the Rose Bowl this year”. Come on folks, enough of taking a backseat to the BCS tiltle game oppty. SC has enough Rose Bowl Championships to last a career. I’m not satisfied with a Rose Bowl oppty/win, AND neither should you!! Not when the SC Trojan football team has all that fantastic talent.

    A fire needs to be burned under their butts right now; the energy level needs a strong kick in the pants. Where was the famous SC jump on Saturday? Where was the leadership, walking up and down the bench firing up these kids throughout the game? It was nowhere to be seen, at least on TV, unless you saw Sarkisian doing it with his team. That was SC’s emotional “giddy-yup” in Purple and Gold..

    Everyone, alumni and students, must show up at the WSU game on Saturday evening and show our support for our team. Really, folks, they have the oppty to demonstrate to the college football fan base and sports writers across the country that they are the best college football team in the country by executing an outstanding set of wins over the remainder of the year.

    Now, what about throwing the long ball?

    Fight on, brothers and sisters.

  • tom parker

    wow, i know USC must never lose but alas even the mighty fall. i think Carroll should resign then USC could return to Ted Tollner or one of the other big winners.

  • Don Shennum

    Great writing. As a 1957 grad I have seen it all. I love USC and always will. I have lived in Omaha, NE since 1968. You want football fanatics try here. I am a Big Red season ticket holder and when both lose as they did Saturday the result is downright depression.

    Right the ship please Coach Carroll. It is the greatest ship in the college football fleet.

    • ethan

      So, USC’s ignorance has finally placed them in the 2009 Las Vegas Bowl. Congratulations!! I made my reservations after the LSU-Washington game. I tried to warn everyone about USC’s fall from glory after the loss to Stanford but all I got was an email from USC’s secretarial staff trying to get this concerned alum fired from his job.

      As with the 2008 season, USC’s no-offense offense rides high and mighty once again. Two touchdowns in two games – no shocker to this fan and alum. The San Jose State game should not count unless you want to claim victory over a junior high school team – walk tall and proud on that one. But let me tell you why USC will be 8-4 at best this season.

      1) The laid back, lack of focus, no intensity training of the USC football team. When other conferences and teams make adjustments and beef up their training and practice, why should USC do the same? The other teams have obviously adapted enough to beat USC’s conservative and redundant play calling. You see all the opponents hyped up before the game with the intensity of Nick Holt’s face. The USC football team looks like they are spending a day at the beach. Why even show up to the game???

      2) Why watch your opponents’ game footage and compare each team’s off the line speed??? After seeing Washington play against LSU, the money was on Washington. And after seeing USC at Ohio State, I took out a third mortgage and placed it all on Washington – money line. USC’s lack of speed is their downfall. If you compare side by side, the speed of each team, you will see the lightning speed of other teams versus the molasses quickness of USC’s runningbacks and overall team speed. If USC keeps this up, you might as well send all the upcoming seniors to the senior citizen’s home – they move just as fast.

      3) False sense of superiority. Please do not read or listen to the media about USC’s dominance because it just isn’t there. The hype is just that – all hype. In the 2008 season USC was lucky to win the games against Cal and Arizona. Cal won that game, but poor officiating called back a Cal touchdown giving USC the win. USC’s no-offense offense barely scored two touchdowns against those teams and squeaked by with a win. Some dominant team. It is one thing to give your players encouragement, but to give them a false sense of encouragement leads to disappointment and a losing season. Be realistic. Tell it like it is so they can work harder, faster and stronger. Without this, USC is looking at a 7 year Las Vegas Bowl run.

      Listen, I could go on and point out everything that has gone wrong with the program and team, but I decided to touch on a couple of things so that you may open your eyes. I come from a USC family – sister, brother in-law etc. I have even convinced 20+ year season ticketholders to sell their tickets based on my factual argument.

      You can take this critique and do with it as you wish. If USC is a school who can not take input from their alumni then USC should change their slogan to “At USC, where we get our alumni fired for criticizing our football team”.

      Commentators should announce in the pregame show “we are set for another exciting game with USC’s no-offense offense getting ready to take the field”.

      Here’s another eye opener. I see a win at home against Washington State, but losses at Cal – Oregon, if not more.

      • Not a front-runner

        Pete Carroll has led the most successful run in the modern era of college football. Given all the success it’s so easy to slip into the role of a front-runner and just complain every time things don’t go our way. Truth is that football is a bone breaking and bruising game, mentally and physically, hard for grown men and 18-21 year olds alike. Easy for us to sit in a chair, over-analyze and complain when things don’t go our way. When it’s clear (as it is) that by the end of every footbal season we have the best coaching and the best players in the country, our role is to support the team and to be prepared to bleed Trojan cardinal and gold once in awhile. This approach will help ensure Pete and company feel appreciated, remain at USC and continue to deliver at the top of their games. We won’t know how much we will miss him until he is gone.