Cream of the crop in USC’s athletic program


The other day, my buddy and I got into a pretty intense argument. It started out with him saying he was glad spring football had started, because “now there’s something worth talking about in USC athletics.”

I shot back that, although it was okay for him to be excited about spring ball, he had no right to crown football the best USC sport.

So then I got to thinking. What is the best sport at USC?

A lot of people, myself included, would argue that for a while in the mid-2000s, football was far and away the best sport.

The team won 34 straight games at one point, which is sixth all-time in Division I. If it wasn’t for a certain Texas quarterback, USC would also have won three straight national titles.

It was the country’s most dominant program in the country’s most popular collegiate sport.

But the times have changed quicker than the Chicago Bears’ quarterbacks.

During the last two years, the football program, amid NCAA sanctions and other circumstances, has fallen back to the pack. Although still a top-tier program, it is no longer top dog at USC.

With football out of the picture, I began to consider other sports. The women’s soccer team won the NCAA title in 2007 and had a future U.S. national team player in Amy Rodriguez. Inconsistent play, however, has marred the Women of Troy as of late. They’ve made it to the NCAA tournament the last three years, but haven’t advanced past the third round.

Not much good can be said about the baseball team, which has been stuck in a perpetual state of mediocrity, despite once being a prominent program.

The USC men’s tennis team, meanwhile, is like a blackjack dealer in Vegas. There are times when they would be showing a six, turn over a king and deal a five while the rest of the table had 20. This could go on for years if you were sitting at the table. Then there are times when they are just giving away money.

Thankfully for the house, the tennis team is on a crazy streak.

After winning the 2009 NCAA championship as a No. 8 seed, the Trojans came back last year to beat No. 1 Virginia for the second consecutive year before knocking No. 2 Tennessee out of the finals.

Currently ranked No. 2 in the country, there is nothing to suggest these kings of the court won’t continue to defy the odds and get the three-peat.

But I’m not ready to crown the tennis team yet.

The men’s water polo team has already won three NCAA championships in a row, thanks to Tommy Award-winning Coach of the Year Jovan Vavic. Despite high turnover of graduating seniors, the team stuck together and overcame the adversity of having such a young team to stay at the top of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation standings.

Even with the football team’s streak seven years ago and the current tennis team’s run, I would argue no program has more resembled a dynasty than the men’s water polo program.

But what about the reigning NCAA champion women’s water polo team, or the 2008 NCAA champion women’s golf team that finished tantalizingly short of a repeat in 2009? Or the women’s tennis team, which currently boasts the No. 1 player in the country, Maria Sanchez?

Lastly, there’s arguably the hottest team at the school right now: the men’s volleyball team.

These giants of the Galen Center have only lost one match all year, and with most players returning from a squad that lost to UC Irvine in the NCAA championships two years ago, there doesn’t seem to be anything that can stop these hungry men.

All of these teams are worthy of consideration and have valid arguments as the best sport.

The point here is that, like the iPhone commercial, if you don’t play sports at USC, well, you don’t play sports at USC.

But who is the best team at this school? I’ll leave that up for you to decide.

 

“Spittin’ Sports” runs Fridays. To comment on this article email Kenny at klegan@usc.edu or visit dailytrojan.com.