Fall, spring at USC filled with highs, lows

As the 2012-13 school year comes to a close, it is only natural for students to reflect on their time at USC. For seniors about to embark on the next phase of their lives, the most common thought is most likely along the lines of “where did the time go?” For underclassmen, time might not seem to be moving quite as quickly.

In any case, the school year has just about reached its end, and though there are still some USC athletic teams playing out the ends of their seasons, the year in sports has mostly reached its end, too.

And the results of the past year have been mixed, to put it mildly.

We all remember the year’s promising start. With each stride of Marqise Lee’s 75-yard season-opening touchdown catch-and-run, we were all sure this football season was going to be one to remember. I won’t devote too much time on this subject, but let’s just say the outcome was a tad underwhelming.

But though the Trojan football team stole most of the headlines, other USC teams were quietly thriving.

What the USC men’s water polo team has accomplished during the past five years is nothing short of amazing. It was the antithesis of the school’s football team. Entering the season as four-time national champions, the bar could not have been set higher. Yet head coach Jovan Vavic led his team to a perfect 29-0 record and unprecedented fifth consecutive national title.

This success in the pool has become the norm at USC, and Vavic is currently in the pursuit of another national championship — this time with the school’s women’s water polo squad, which is ranked No. 1 in the country.

But Vavic’s team wasn’t the only one taking care of business in the fall. The women’s volleyball team went 30-6 in 2012, advancing all the way to the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament before falling to Texas, a school that went on to win the national championship. Both the men’s and women’s tennis teams had successful fall seasons, and they are each ranked No. 5 in the current Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings.

That success has carried into the spring, a time when many other USC teams are also prospering. The women’s sand volleyball team, in just its second year of varsity competition, is ranked No. 4 in the nation and is still in the midst of postseason play. Keeping with the spirit of new beginnings, the Women of Troy lacrosse team exceeded all expectations this season with a fourth-place finish in its conference and a postseason berth in its very first year of varsity play. These are just some of the many success stories that USC has enjoyed.

The year was not without more disappointment, though. The once-proud baseball program began the year with an abrupt coaching change and continues to struggle, currently toiling in ninth place in the Pac-12, continuing the year’s up-and-down theme.

But perhaps no USC athletic team embodied the 2012-13 year like the men’s basketball team. Coming off of a historically unsuccessful 2011-12 season, the team showed signs of life during this past season. Victories over UCLA and Arizona provided fans with excitement and promise that the team would turn the corner.

But a disastrous end to the season, in which two players were suspended from the team, ultimately killed any momentum the team had. USC’s final record was 14-18 after a first-round exit in the Pac-12 tournament.

In the aftermath of the underwhelming season, however, the program received a shot in the arm in the form of a new coaching hire. In tabbing Andy Enfield as head coach, Athletic Director Pat Haden provides fans with hope — hope that the future is bright, and that past struggles will ultimately pay dividends.

And hope is what the rest of the Trojan teams will hang their hats on as well. The USC athletic program is a proud one, and the 2012-13 school year is one that, ultimately, deserves to be celebrated. The high-profile teams might have fallen short of expectations, but collectively, the year has been one that the whole Trojan family should be proud of.

And for those few teams unhappy with how they performed this past year, they have reason to smile, too.

Because there’s always next year.


“Inside the 20s” ran Thursdays. To comment on this story, email Nick 

at nselbe@usc.edu or visit