It is time for the start of another USC Trojan football season and there is a sense of cautious optimism around the program right now as we begin the Pete Carroll era. We have seen improved results so far in terms of attitude and enthusiasm since the coaching change but the expectations among the fans for this season are actually rather tempered at this point by Trojan standards because we have been fooled by off season promises a lot lately.
It is a wait and see attitude this fall but the ace up our sleeve is the possibilities of what could happen if things come together the right way. Most pre season magazines picked us anywhere from 30th to 40th in the country while the Sporting News had us 14th. Did all the others know what they were talking about or did the Sporting News actually do their homework and recognize that less than one year ago the Trojans were undefeated and ranked in the Top 10? Did they notice that USC was picked with Washington as the favorite in the conference heading into last season and the Huskies finished #2 in the country while we set new marks for futility. We didn't suddenly lose that type of talent and in fact we are arguably a more talented team this year but what we needed and received was a change in attitude, a change in leadership. The role of a coach involves many intangibles for a football team but one of the most important jobs is to find a way to fix things when they go wrong and, unfortunately, this is one area where Paul Hackett fell short. We know Carroll has competent managers in charge of football decisions but we don't know how he will react under the tense situations.
We have seen Trojan teams start the year well only to fade by repeating the same mistakes and it would be nice to see that pattern change. This schedule is as tough as they come but it also offers some interesting scenarios and we should know a lot about this team and this coach after the first three games. If the offense can click early against San Jose State and Kansas State then we could be a very confident team by the time we head up to Eugene. Recent history has shown us the need to be prepared for some bumps in the road and lately those bumps have always seem to go the other way so it would be nice to see a change this year, to see the breaks go our way. If they do, if we can find the right combinations then look out because this team and this program are capable of so much.