USC NEWS NEVER TAKES A VACATION: JUST SAYIN'

Time to take a break, or not, after a big week of news, news, news. Let's talk about it.

First came National Signing Day with a finish in the Top 10 by most reckonings, then the beatdown of UCLA for a basketball sweep and finally came the official word that AD Pat Haden is beginning the final five months of his six-year Trojan tenure at his alma mater. And will be moving on to a new assignment overseeing the Coliseum renovation for a final year at USC.

Just another boring week with not much news ending in a Super Bowl without maybe such a super ending for a couple of Trojans -- Ryan Kalil and Wes Horton-- but a better outcome for Trojan George Uko and an ex-Trojan -- Malik Jackson.

*** And it did manage, we'd guess, to keep you engaged in what turned into a demolition derby for two QB icons of different generations but both ending up proving the same thing: Defense is the difference. . . . Just Sayin'.

*** And pressure destroys. Attacking all out is the way to go if you have the athletes. And while we're at it, it really helps if you can tackle, cover and shake a football -- or two or three -- loose no matter who's lining up at QB on the other side of the line. . . . Just Sayin'.

*** Makes you feel a bit better about having Clancy Pendergast as the new defensive coordinator, we'd guess. Probably shouldn't wait around for something good to happen when you're on "D." Denver didn't. . . . Just Sayin'.

*** Back to Friday. we've seen how Pat Haden and his legacy have become almost impossible to discuss constructively the way the factions have staked out their ground. There's the one side that wants to honor the lifelong Trojan with the golden resume who stepped in when needed in the wake of the NCAA sanctions and kept the ship afloat and didn't allow the Olympic sports to flounder as they just kept winning NCAA titles. . . . Just Sayin'.

*** But the other side can't get past Lane Kiffin's lingering, Steve Sarkisian's hiring and the good words on Pat's arrival for the NCAA and the unwillingness at any time thereafter, even after the revelations in the Todd McNair lawsuit, not to make the case and fight for USC's good name -- whether in the court of public opinion or with at least a threat, if not the reality, of involving a real court. . . . Just Sayin'.

*** Too bad. This does no one any good. Which really should be the point. There are lessons to be learned in all of this and the sheer vitriol and noise level now makes that pretty much impossible. . . . . Just Sayin'.

*** Because what's most important here is going forward and making the best of what's happened and what we know. Not sure that's possible with people lobbing grenades at one another. . . . Just Sayin'.

*** And what's most important is having a leader who can come in and say this is the direction we're going. And not be limited by relationships and history. . . . Just Sayin'.

*** That would seem to be the biggest issue for a holdover stepping in, as much as we respect Senior Associate AD Steve Lopes, who could assume the position without a hitch. But can he step back and disengage from any missteps in recent years without looking like he was throwing someone close to him under the bus? Would he want to? Or would he be locked in to the same old same old? . . . Just Sayin'.

*** The naming of the Brill Neumann academic search firm might give one some comfort that there will be a national search although echoes of Korn Ferry in the Sark "search" probably make that something that won't automatically be accepted.at face value. . . . Just Sayin'.

*** One other thing that won't inspire a great deal of initial confidence is the fact that the small Boston-based Brill Neumann outfit describes itself as a "boutique" firm with a history, as far as we can tell going back through nearly six years of appointments and dozens of current searches, that does not include a single one in athletics. . . . Just Sayin'.

*** You want a dean, a president, a CEO, a CFO, a CIO, a chair, a professor, a human resources boss, a provost, a chancellor, even an oceanographer as their latest press release notes, Brill Neumann might be the place to go, as USC has for a half-dozen recent searches in that time. But for an AD at a place like USC, where the challenges are as high as the salary offered PH, how can going with a newbie search firm be the way to go? Hasn't that been a part of the problem? . . . Just Sayin'.

*** Speaking of subjects to get the "gloom and doomers" going, it's nice that they have seven months to get down in the dumps over the Alabama game after a good month predicting that the NSD results would mark the end of times for a USC staff that clearly had no idea what to do. . . . Just Sayin'.

*** Now that USC staff has plenty of time to prove them wrong again. . . . Just Sayin'.

*** And sure, Clay Helton comes in both mostly unproven and with mixed results as a head coach not unlike Pete Carroll's 6-6 first season or John McKay's 8-11-1 his first two seasons. . . . Just Sayin'.

*** But the staff Helton has put together combines what seems to be a nice blend of experience and enthusiasm, USC history and outside success in a way that just could work and has a much better feel about it than the staff Sark put together did. . . . Just Sayin'.

*** It comes a week later than it should have, USC basketball's return to the Top 25 at No. 23 in both polls, but it's not about polls or rankings for the 18-5 Trojans, it's about going on the road to the Arizona schools and staying competitive for a Pac-12 title. . . . Just Sayin'

*** And when we say competitive, we mean staying mentally and physically tough in order to force the game into a full-court, full-speed athletic contest where the team that can run and jump and get it to the glass and find the open three and overplay and scramble and transition on defense wins. That team would be the athletic Trojans. . . . Just Sayin'.

You can follow me on Twitter at @dweber3440 or email me at weber@uscfootball.com.


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