Covering USC has been a wild journey

As it becomes time for many — fans, analysts, coaches and players — to reflect on the past football season, it also becomes time for me to reflect on not only the past football season but also the last year, as my tenure as the sports editor of the Daily Trojan has come to an end.

It’s been a wild ride fraught with some of the craziest and most unbelievable events I could have imagined prior to taking this job, but as I have come to find out, even the most crazy and unbelievable become just another day on the job at USC.

There have been success stories unlike any other, national championships and undefeated seasons. These are what, hopefully, I’ll be able to remember as I look back years from now on what I covered while at USC. The football team is always going to be the most impressive beat to put on a resume, and though in the future they may have national championship hopes, there are other teams who have been significantly more successful this season, namely men’s and women’s water polo, beach volleyball, lacrosse and soccer.

I have also gotten to be a part of a turning point in USC sports culture, a time when students are (relatively) excited about basketball. In addition to boasting a nearly perfect record at home, the basketball team also made their first NCAA tournament in five years and plays one of the most exciting styles in the country.

I came in at a good time in USC sports culture — lots of teams were up-and-coming — despite the drama that happened nearly every week on the football field. There have been some dramatic — and not in a good way — situations at practice, at games and even at fundraisers, and this year looked to be no different until the team had an about-face and made their season one all my friends are jealous that I get to cover.

Working with USC athletics has taught me a lot about the business of sport. I’ve come to realize through my classes and my time working that sports is just that — a business. It’s a wonderfully dizzying business that keeps you on your toes and keeps you engaged with your work; and just when you think you’re getting the hang of it, it manages to throw you a curveball you never saw coming.

I’m very thankful for the work. It’s not only allowed me to grow as a journalist and a person, but has also allowed me to experience some of the coolest sporting events this school has participated in, including this year’s football game in Arlington against Alabama and the games in Utah and Seattle.

As exciting as it is to be a fan right now (my dad spends far too much time every day keeping up with potential recruits and practice recaps), it is even more special to be able to go to school at this time and be a part of what appears to be beginning of a historic ride for USC football.

As this football season winds to a close, I hope that everyone who wants to has been able to experience a thoroughly entertaining and uplifting season that has left everyone in the Trojan Family with a hopeful outlook on the future. Being a student while the team “struggled” through average seasons — by USC’s standards — makes it so much more worthwhile when things finally start looking up. Hopefully with most of that drama behind the program, I will be able to enjoy one more blissfully successful USC season next year — a year when all the talks of Rose Bowl games, College Football Playoffs and Heisman hopefuls seem to be very valid.

The culture around USC sports is getting back to being a national powerhouse and that makes slogging through the previous years as a student feeling a little bit slighted about the lack of positive publicity worth it.

Regardless of where the team finishes this year, the season will be considered a success because of the rough beginning to the year; and next year, though expectations will be high, there finally seems to be the proper infrastructure in place to follow through on those high goals. There isn’t a better time to get to not only cover USC, but also be a fan of the Trojans. And isn’t that what sports is all about? Well, no, in college sports it’s pretty much all about winning, but at least for me, I’ve enjoyed this turbulent yet exciting ride.

Hailey Tucker is a junior majoring in broadcast and digital journalism. She is also the sports editor of the Daily Trojan. Her column, “Tucker Talks,” ran Thursdays.