A Trojan parent’s guide to this weekend


So, parents, you’re in town to see your kids, right? You’ve missed them so much since the last time you saw them two months ago, you had to come visit them again in Los Angeles and take in the sights at USC.

Are you sure you didn’t have ulterior motives in mind? Ulterior motives such as a long-festering, burning desire to see Saturday’s high-profile football game between USC and Washington?

We’ll see about that. While you’re here and reading, though, here’s a few tidbits of information to keep you in the know for that event at the Coliseum. You know, the one you’ve been telling all your friends about. Let’s get to it.

This USC football team isn’t your elder child’s USC football team.

This one is sort of like your youngest child — one who has really, really big shoes to fill and is probably still too inexperienced to fill them. This child is also facing some remarkable circumstances that are outside of his control.

What kind of circumstances, you ask? Well, the Trojans are not eligible for postseason play for the next two years — making the 2010 and 2011 seasons essentially worthless. But they’re still undefeated this year — 4-0, in fact — and with that status comes big dreams.

Each week, USC coach Lane Kiffin posts a motivational piece of paper on the windows at Heritage Hall, USC’s athletic headquarters.

So far, it’s featured various pictures from the Rocky films, along with a list of USC’s wins this year and the remaining scheduled games. At the bottom of the page, the countdown of undefeated teams continues to dwindle.

“As of today, only 21 teams in the nation are 4-0,” this week’s flier said.

About Heritage Hall — if you haven’t seen it yet, check it out. That’s where all the news happens with USC sports and also where the school stores its many trophies.

You’ll notice the Trojans’ most recent Heisman Trophy — the one Reggie Bush won — is nowhere to be seen. The NCAA ordered the school to disassociate itself from everything Bush-related, and so new Athletic Director Pat Haden had the trophy removed.

I mentioned that Haden is new. You might remember the old athletic director, Mike Garrett — otherwise known as “Mr. Personality.” Garrett was unceremoniously removed from his post in July after 17 up-and-down years on the job, and Haden has very much impressed in his short time at the helm of the athletic department.

For the moms out there: He’s a former college and NFL quarterback and a Rhodes Scholar and has got quite a bit of charisma. Try not to get swept away.

Of course, Kiffin’s also new himself. At 35, he’s a lot younger than former coach Pete Carroll is — in fact, he’s young enough to be his son.

But Kiffin’s no-fun attitude is in sharp contrast to Carroll’s famously easygoing persona. I’ve been at just about every practice, game and media session since Kiffin got here in January, and I can count the times I’ve seen him smile on one hand.

So, about the football team: USC’s not that bad. Of course, we haven’t seen the Trojans play a legitimate squad yet this year — and I’m not entirely sure Washington qualifies as one either — but it appears as if this team does have certain cheerable attributes.

Sophomore quarterback Matt Barkley has a great arm and an ability to make every throw. Running backs Dillon Baxter (freshman), Allen Bradford (senior) and Marc Tyler (redshirt junior) each offer a different look out of the backfield and receivers Ronald Johnson (senior) and Robert Woods (freshman) are both well-rounded student-athletes with a commendable will to succeed — and great athleticism and hands to boot.

Defensively, the team is inexperienced but filled with potential. The entire defensive line could very easily go on to pursure fruitful NFL careers, and all three linebackers — sophomore Devon Kennard and seniors Malcolm Smith and Michael Morgan — are smart and make calculated decisions on the field. Safety T.J. McDonald is already developing into a star as a sophomore — and his dad went to USC too, so he’s one of those legacy kids the school loves.

That’s about it, really. The game kicks off at 5 p.m. Saturday.

So enjoy … the weekend with your kids.

“Looking Past the X’s and O’s” runs every other Friday. To comment on this article, visit dailytrojan.com or e-mail Pedro at pmoura@usc.edu.