Game Day: Here We Go Again

As much as things change, the more they stay the same. A year, a coach and a big fat reprimand later, the USC Trojans haven't changed a bit.

Some say to the victor go the spoils, but apparently with the victory come the spoiled. I know it's a bit of a stereotype, but if it looks entitled, acts entitled and speaks rhetoric of entitlement it's probably a player or coach associated with Southern Cal. I know, every team and fan base has its rotten apples, but the Trojan barrel seems fraught with rot. Over the last 7 days their quarterback has run his mouth, one of their defensive lineman has run his mouth, and their coach – who's notorious for running his mouth – has repeatedly mocked and belittled the top-ranked team in the country.

"Lesnar is to Oregon as Velasquez is to SC. Lezgo." – USC Quarterback Matt Barkley

"They have a good running back and a good quarterback. Other than that, they're really not that good." – USC Defensive End Jurrell Casey

"I really wish that I had good enough players and we were good enough coaches that we could spend enough time counting how many four- and five-star players we have on each others' rosters…I don't have time for that, unfortunately." – USC Head Coach Lane Kiffin

Harsh words for a team who's lost -- twice, a coach who's never really won -- anywhere, and a program whose hide is still stinging from the swat of the NCAA's paddle. I understand it must be difficult; for the better part of the last decade the Cardinal and Gold have ruled the roost. They've won Heisman's, BCS Championships and notoriety via every conceivable media outlet. They were once the Dallas Cowboys, New York Yankees and Los Angeles Lakers of college football. And they had can't miss QB's, first round running backs and receivers destined for the Hall of Fame, but since the aforementioned "golden age," their luster's been lost. They're losing their Heisman's, their quarterbacks have been cut and their receivers are harder to find than Waldo in an adult-sized children's book.

So where's the humility?

Is it not possible that Oregon has earned its number one ranking? Is it not possible that there's a legitimate reason their offense is so highly regarded? And isn't it a real possibility that Chip Kelly's 17-3 record as a head coach is a reflection of his ability to lead opposed to a fluke, luck or a mere aberration?

Of course not, because that would mean that maybe the Trojans weren't "it" anymore, maybe the Pac-10 wasn't any longer a "conference of one," and perhaps the Men of Troy would have to get up from First Class and ride Coach with the bulk of college football's also-rans. You see, somewhere between Pete Carroll's arrival and Lane Kiffin's dubious return, the Trojans lost touch with reality. They forgot about their 35-28-1 conference record with the two preceding coaches to Pete, and have limited their memories to the 97-19 overall record, 7 consecutive Pac-10 titles and 7 straight BCS Bowl appearances following his arrival. Some will say, "Most of these players were in Elementary School during those years and would have no recollection of that," and they'd be right, but it's a coach's job to mentor and motivate his players, and what better way to do it than through history. Remind them that they – the Trojans – weren't always world-beaters, that success isn't a right assured a USC player, and that respect for your opponent is not a show of weakness, but rather a virtue often accompanying sportsmen and mature adults.

Something there seems to be a shortage of between the lines at USC.

I'm not asking for much. I understand that kids will be kids, and that kids have a tendency to shoot from the hip, act without thinking things through, and lack perspective in regards to the big picture, but the majority of kids playing football at the FBS level seem to suffer less from most or all of the aforementioned deficiencies than those "fighting on." Is it too much to ask for a little humility? Is mutual respect extinct in the West Adams District of South Central Los Angeles? And is perspective lost on those operating inside the bubble that is the University of Southern California?

Apparently so.

One would think that 2 losses in your first 4 games, the embarrassment of the Reggie Bush fiasco, and serious sanctions levied by College Football's ruling body would offer a coach, team and fan base a tad bit of levity? I guess not. They're still acting, talking and carrying themselves like those for whom the rules don't apply.

Some things never change.


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