Spring 2019 will be telling for USC Athletics

Tucker Judkins/Daily Trojan

USC Athletics is in a tailspin. It’s plain and simple. What was once an athletic powerhouse for the nation’s best football players, basketballers and ball players has turned into a disappointment this past year.

The fall semester is in the books, and with it, all of the despair that came with the 2018 football season. Though the burn of the Kliff Kingsbury fiasco is still a fresh wound on the body of USC Athletics, the department has to put it behind them and focus on bringing itself out of the downward spiral.

At this point, what’s done is done. There is no changing the 5-7 football record, the heart-crushing losses to UCLA and Cal — and Clay Helton is still here to stay. Right now, fans need hope, and Athletic Director Lynn Swann can provide that by landing a big-name coach as the offensive coordinator.

The football team isn’t the only team that fans have lost hope in — the men’s basketball team is midway through the 2018-19 basketball season, and USC fans are starting to sense a bit of déjà vu. The hype leading up to this season was high with the addition of freshman shooting guard Kevin Porter Jr., but fans have been left with much to desire, as the Trojans are sitting at 9-8 overall with a 2-2 conference record. Moreover, the standout freshman is currently suspended indefinitely.

Head coach Andy Enfield and co. have the opportunity to ignite faith in fans if they can pull out a win against UCLA Saturday. Last season, the Trojans fell in both matchups to the Bruins.

The 2018 spring season was not kind to many USC teams. The baseball team finished below .500 with a 26-28 record that had every chance in the world to be better. The men’s volleyball team did even worse, with an abysmal 8-20 record. Even the lacrosse team, which was touted as a national championship contender at the onset of the 2018 season, didn’t live up to the hype, posting a 10-8 record.

While there were a lot of teams that failed to live up to expectations last year, another bad season for USC baseball has the potential to cement itself as the next installment of the ongoing tailspin for USC.

A majority of the world’s best up-and-coming ball players live right in USC’s backyard, and with the baseball team’s status, USC should have no problem recruiting the cream of the crop.

Historically, the USC baseball team is one of the most prestigious collegiate ball clubs. With 12 national championships and in 21 College World Series appearances starting in 1948, it’s hard to imagine this team as not competitive.

Watch one conference game from the 2018 season — it just looks sloppy. Going into the 2019 season, things need to tighten up. A group of 14 newcomers should help breathe some new life into a now-deflated team, especially considering that the 2019 class is ranked 14th in the nation by Baseball America.

To the Trojans’ credit, the 2018 season was a building block on the atrocious 21-34 record posted in 2017, but there is still a lot of room for improvement. If head coach Dan Hubbs and co. can emphasize the importance of eliminating mental mistakes, especially on the basepaths, and sort out the pitching situation, the Trojans should be headed for their first winning season since 2015.

USC Athletics has become something of a meme on campus. These students, fans and alumni don’t identify with a losing team, and having so many disappointing teams at USC is incomprehensible. They can’t handle much more. If the water polo teams didn’t exist, oh boy — USC would be in deep trouble.

Sam Arslanian is a sophomore writing about sports. His column, “Extra Innings,” runs Fridays.