Tuesday, February 13, 2007

USC Football: Better Than It's Ever Been Done?

A funny thing occurred to me last night as I posted a take (on Conquest Chronicles) about the latest in a string of “controversies” to threaten the reputation of USC Football …

I’m getting tired of this crap.

Certainly, I understand it all comes with the territory. I know that unprecedented success on the field and on the recruiting trail, in a major metropolitan market with no NFL team, has created a “perfect storm” of heightened media attention and acute scrutiny of USC.

No doubt, I understand the fact that high-profile athletes and successful college sports programs are primary targets for muckraking journalists, jealous rivals and other gold-digging elements.

But this supposed residue of USC’s college football greatness is starting to wear the Teflon of success a little too thin for my taste.

I know that Hershel Dennis and Mark Sanchez were exonerated of sexual assault. I know Rey Maualuga has taken anger management courses and did community service to pay for his outbursts during a tough time in his life. I know Dwayne Jarrett catching a break on rent from Matt Leinart’s father was really a small issue in the overall scheme of things.

But after a while, this crap starts to become a burden.

Really, I understand that the NCAA won’t come close to proving that USC knew or should have known anything about Reggie Bush and his idiotic family’s dealings with crooked sports agents. I know that phone records will prove that Pete Carroll never set up a conference call between Bush and No. 1 recruit Joe McKnight.

But I have to ask … when is this crap going to stop? However alleged, non-factual, inaccurate, unwarranted, and flat-out-stupid it might be … is all of this completely out of our control?

Even if we can explain it all away with common sense scenarios, absence of fact, and third-party validation, we still have to acknowledge this crap and deal with it.

No doubt, I know that USC Football will emerge unscathed from all of this, and our national championship trophies are safe in Heritage Hall. I know there is every reason to believe that we will be adding more hardware to our historic collection.

But how many measured statements out of Tim Tessalone’s crisis communications handbook do we have to hear on our way to another BCS bowl game? How much fuel do we have to give the “nation” of hate and the inferiority-complexed south, while we defend another No. 1 ranking?

Don’t get me wrong. I believe in our man Carroll. I believe in his unique approach and his player's-coach style and the evolved philosophy that has brought unprecedented success to USC Football. I believe in the Magic Tennis Book!

But, I also know that Carroll's stated mission is to "do things better than it's ever been done before." I know it’s difficult, maybe even unrealistic. As Caroll has also said, “That stuff, it is kind of nasty. You just don't know where it's coming from and people are out to get you. It can get kind of hard.”

But if USC Football is to get there, if we really do believe as true Trojans that we will do this better than it’s ever been done before, we should acknowledge that perhaps we are falling short of that mission today.

It’s a noble thing for Carroll to aim higher than mere mortals. And we embrace the opportunity and added responsibility to transcend the common pattern of other highly successful programs like Miami … or Notre Dame … or U.C.L.A. Really, no disrespect to other college programs -- again, it’s tough -- but we think we can do better.

After all … We Are SC! Now, more than ever, this should mean something to us.

So, rather than explain away these minor issues with our common sense and the reassurances of non-haters, perhaps it’s time to ask our man Carroll -- however unfair it may be -- when will we stop having to deal with all this stuff in the first place?

Maybe it’s time to tell him we’re getting tired of this crap.

Fight On!

NOTE: There is a very slightly "cleaner," guest-blogger version of this post on CC.
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1 comment:

SoCal Oski said...

Hey, man - Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride.

By that I mean success breeds scrutiny. If you think for a moment programs like Texas or Ohio State or Florida aren't under a microscope, you certainly are deluding yourself.

The problem (as I see it) can be split into two camps: Dirty programs or Dirty players.

So far I don't believe SC is a dirty program, though some of the players may need a shower or two. And the sad truth is, dirty players can infect a clean program. Even if that infection is just the leftover aroma of the dirty player hanging around the program.

Jeez - talk about mixing metaphors.

For my part, I really and truly hope the SC program is clean, just as I hope all programs are. Even Fucla, the Trees, and the Domers. But if you buy a ticket with a guy like Reggie Bush (who really does seem more and more questionable), you got to be ready to take the ride with allegations and investigations.

Go Bears