USC-Oregon The Good The Bad And The Ugly

USC’s loss to Oregon makes me hurt just like so many other USC fans. The magnitude of the loss was an unexpected blow to the gut that sucks the wind out of you. It’s awful. There aren’t words to describe the feeling or ease the pain. From what I’ve seen online and in the media it sounds like we need a reality check and a little perspective. Especially for the USC fans who got on board during the Pete Carroll era and don’t know anything else.

Let’s look back. Not one year or seven years. Let’s look back ten years.

If you’re a recent Trojan talk to someone who isn’t. They’ll tell you about a time when we regularly had losing records. A time when USC didn’t go to any bowl games. A time when we were fortunate to be invited to second rate bowl games and then lost to teams from inferior conferences. A time when USC was lucky to have the coliseum half-full and you had to beg your friends to go to a game with you.

The worst season in the history of USC football wasn’t all that long ago. 2000 was the only time USC ever finished last in the Pac-10. And like other struggling programs we had lots of campaigns calling for the firing of one head coach after another. But it was a special time too. You didn’t go to football games for the glory. You didn’t wear a USC shirt to be cool. You did these things because you loved USC and you loved it no matter what. And when you saw someone wearing a USC hat at the mall you knew they weren’t wearing it because it was cool or trendy, they were wearing it because they loved USC too.  

So yeah, we’ve enjoyed a nice long return to glory but there could be a return to the doldrums too. So look back and decide now, are you a Trojan or not? If you are a Trojan you will be a Trojan even if we go 0-12. If that’s unacceptable to you then pack all your USC gear up and take it to Goodwill.

The good news is that 0-12 is not going to happen any time soon. The sky is not falling. Remember, most people thought this was going to be a rebuilding year. But we still beat three ranked teams on the road this season, that’s three times more than any other team. A fourth was probably too much to expect from a rebuilding team with a true freshman quarterback, key injuries and an inexperienced defense. But we are still a top ranked team with a chance of playing in a BCS game and finishing ranked in the top ten. IN A REBUILDING YEAR! A lot of teams would like to have our “problems” even as they revel in our loss. 

On that note if you are a Trojan you should bask in the hate other people have for us. I never realized how much people hated USC until after we lost to Oregon. These people probably don’t realize it but hate is one of the ultimate signs of respect in sports. When that many people hate you it means you’re damn good and have been for far too long. All that hate is just repressed jealousy. Embrace the hate my friends because indifference means you’re a Sun Devil. ASU fans will tell you how much fun it is when nobody cares whether you win or lose. 

So here’s the most important thing I want to say. Please don’t get down on our players, coaches or program. Whatever you feel they feel ten times worse. The defense has one job — stop the opponent from scoring. How do you think it feels for the defense to be completely unable to do that? Oregon scored on every possession except for one. I’m sure our proud defensive unit feels demoralized. They sure looked like it by the end of the game. What the football team needs from the fans right now is unwavering support.  

After USC lost to Washington early in the season Pete Carroll asked fans to keep supporting the team and not resort to negativity among each other or online. The team doesn’t live in a vacuum, when Trojan Nation goes negative Carroll said it can seep through the entire program and that makes it harder to bounce back. So stay positive! Let the team know you are behind them no matter what! The team needs our support now, in defeat, more than ever!  

As for our beloved coach… If this turns out to be an off year I think he’s earned it. Even if rebuilding takes a couple of years he’s earned that right. Especially since Carroll didn’t require a rebuilding period when he started; it only took him one year to go from near-worst to first which is unheard of. As is sustaining the level of success we’ve enjoyed for so long. In the last seven years Carroll hasn’t had a single off year unless you consider winning the Pac 10, going to BCS bowls and finishing ranked in the top four an off year. Plus the national championships and Heisman trophies. We’ve enjoyed the greatest seven year run in college football history.  

It’s not realistic to expect our dominance to go on forever without interruption. When anything but an undefeated season feels like a disappointment you know you’ve been spoiled. Everyone has down years, just ask Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, Mack Brown, Les Miles, etc. They’ve all had lots of success in recent years but none of them has been as consistently good as USC for as long as USC has been. Success in sports is cyclical, someday when USC’s been struggling for so long that it once again feels like we’ll never return to glory you’ll tell your kids about this incredible run and how great things used to be. Enjoy it while you can!  

So enough doom and gloom. I just wanted to put things into perspective. I don’t think the future of USC football is bleak at all! USC’s coffers are stacked high with talent. Next year we have one of the best quarterbacks in the country coming back. The defense will be loaded with experienced players. And we’ll have one of the most favorable schedules we’ve had in years. Also important is that the coaching staff will have another year in Carroll’s system under their belt. There’s been a lot of turnover on the staff and coaches need time to adapt and adjust just like players do.

I am confident USC will be right back in the mix of things among the elite teams in 2010. We’ll be favorites to win the Pac-10 and we’ll be competing for a national championship. Are eight Pac-10 titles in nine years so bad? And if we get into a BCS game in 2009 – which I think we will if we win out – can you really call this a down year? No, not unless your expectations are ridiculously unrealistic.  

Even though the point of my blog is not to analyze games I usually do a little analysis each week along with sharing my gameday experience. I’ll keep it brief this time.  

I got to ESPN Gameday nice and early in the morning but a little later than I usually do and it was crazy. I heard people started showing up at midnight. There were easily 2,000-3,000 people in the crowd when I got there which is really impressive. I think the only time I saw a bigger crowd at Gameday was in Nebraska.  

ESPN Gameday Crowd

As far as I can remember this is the first time Lee Corso hasn’t picked USC to win. I used to think Corso was superhuman but I discovered at Oregon that he’s actually human.

Corso Using the Honey Bucket

As I said in a previous blog I believe Oregon Ducks fans are the worst in America. Fortunately, I didn’t have many pregame problems but some of my friends did. My little (I mean tiny) friend Jaymie said guys were taunting her and threatening to urinate on her before the game. My seats at the game were right at the division between the USC section and Oregon fans. I had the unfortunate privilege of sitting next to some really, really obnoxious Duck fans and that made an unpleasant experience intolerable.  

Crack Duck

This is what I’d like to do to the Oregon fans.    

Kill Ducks

The pregame atmosphere in Autzen was electric and I’ve rarely been so fired up before a game. There was even a rainbow over the stadium before the game started. It’s a shame more USC fans couldn’t be there to feel the energy. Unfortunately, things quickly got ugly.   

Rainbow Over Stadium

I was very optimistic after the first drives of the game. USC drove the length of the field and seemed to be moving the ball with ease. On defense the Ducks started their first drive with a very short field and USC held them to a field goal. I thought if the rest of the game played out this way it would be a good day for USC. Unfortunately, it didn’t, and it wasn’t.   

Oregon Fans Rush The Field

Losing games like this sucks. You guys know the feeling of having an entire season slip away before your eyes. At one point during the game I caught myself thinking that it’s just a game and I shouldn’t get that upset about losing. Then I got philosophical right there in the stands. Is it just a game when we’re winning? No, when we’re winning it’s not just a game, it’s euphoric and makes every part of your week better. So if I get so much joy from winning is it fair, or even possible, to deny the agony of defeat? No, and I shouldn’t even try since the occasional loss makes you appreciate the victories that much more. It’s a lot better than the alternative which is losing so regularly that it makes you appreciate the occasional victory.  

The football team and staff are going to do everything they can to finish the season strong. I hope they can count on you to support them and cheer harder than you ever have. When the football team takes the field for the next game against Stanford, which is USC’s homecoming game, I hope you will stand up and let them know how much you appreciate them and still love them. And if you don’t I’m happy to come over to your house pick up all your USC gear.

Fight On!

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One Response to “USC-Oregon The Good The Bad And The Ugly”

  1. Woolseal Says:

    Dude, you are everywhere!!! As a naval officer I don’t get many opportunities to go to the games…so I have to watch on TV. I think they have shown you on TV every game this season…even at Autzen! It was just awesome to see a die-hard Trojan fan in that sea of nasty duck-sh*t green. Thanks for your support and continue to Fight ON!!
    LT Aaron Woolsey
    USC class of 2003

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