It’s not you, it’s me.
All right, that’s not true — it is you. But breaking up is hard to do, and I’m new at this.
We’ve been inseparable for what seems like forever. Whenever somebody mentioned “Pac-10,” they couldn’t help but bring up “USC.” As a perennial champion, you gave meaning to me as a conference. We had a run that could only be paralleled by Florida State and the ACC in the ’90s.
But nothing gold can stay, and I think it’s time to call it quits.
Everyone said this would be the year it would end between us. They said you were different this year and that someone would finally knock you off your pedestal. But all your buddies on campus faithfully said Pete Carroll would find a way to repeat yet again.
But it’s become blatantly clear that you’ve changed this year. And Saturday proved that beyond a reasonable doubt.
Look, I was willing to stand by you after the loss to Washington. It seemed just like any other year of our rocky relationship. Everyone said it was a disappointment, but it was nothing we hadn’t all seen before. It seemed like it would be just like last year when Oregon State caught you off guard, but you bounced back to finish the season in style.
At worst, it appeared that we were destined for another memorable New Year’s Day date at the Rose Bowl. I know the students had grown tired of them, but I’m sure they all lust for those days now.
However, these last few weeks showed us something was still wrong. And after what happened with Oregon, well, I just don’t know where we stand.
What happened on Halloween in Eugene was surreal and still hard to compute. The 27-point margin of defeat from that loss was one point more than the combined margin of all of your losses since 2004. For all of your miscues, you could always say that you were never blown out and always had kept it close.
Even more mystifying were the 391 yards rushing you gave up to the Ducks. That’s not a very USC-like performance, and there are few comparable efforts. The last time your defense looked like this was in 2005 when everyone clamored to call you the best team ever. But we learned that year that you can only go as far as your defense takes you, and that hasn’t been very far based on its performance the last three weeks.
This doesn’t have to be all bad. Remember the good times?
There was 2004, when you did the West Coast proud by running the table and winning a national championship. And who could forget all of those memorable non-conference matchups in which you more than lived up to your reputation? You helped raise my profile as a conference when I needed it most, and for that I am in your debt.
When our run first started, I needed you. People said, “The Pac-10 is at its best when USC is strong,” and you helped give West Coast football some stability. Heck, when we first started our run, you shared the title with Washington State. Look at where the Cougars are now.
We can still be friends, right? In fact, I’m still going to need you. Depending on what happens, I’ll still need you to stick up for me in the Holiday Bowl — or maybe even a BCS game, if you get your act together. Maybe a change of scenery would do you good after all those repetitive Rose Bowls.
And there’s a possibility we could find our way back together at some point. People thought our run was over after your last loss in Eugene in 2007, but somehow we found a way back together.
But for now, I hope you don’t mind if I see how things go with the Ducks. They’ve really impressed us and will probably be our representative for the Rose Bowl this year, so it’s for the best if I get to know them a little bit better. If you cross paths again, give Oregon my number and tell the Ducks we should talk.
I know this is hard after seven years. But maybe we can just consider this a break and see what happens in 2010. Maybe you’ll come back rejuvenated and that old spark will be there again.
But hey, we’ll always have Pasadena.
“Tackling Dummy” runs Tuesdays. To comment on this article, visit dailytrojan.com or email Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org.