USC finishes up sports and academic year in an upbeat way for for everybody

Special moments for the likes of returning grad Robert Woods and retiring AD Pat Haden this past graduation weekend at USC.

The year's not over yet but this past weekend gave us the opportunity to look back and smile about USC athletics in a number of ways.

Start with Robert Woods' return from the NFL to get the degree he'd promised his family he would and as another tribute to his beloved older sister Olivia, his mentor to whom he "was attached at the hip," who died of cancer when Robert was a Serra High freshman.

*** We'll let Robert tell his story the way he did as the speaker at the Athletes Graduation here . . . Just Sayin'.

*** Robert finished by explaining what he hoped would be his -- and his 143 fellow athlete graduates' -- "modeling" careers. Just the way his sister asked him to live out his life the day she died: "Every model does not look the same, every model is not the perfect model, every model does not have the spotlight . . . are you going to model?" No better way to say it -- or live it . . . Just Sayin'.

*** Robert thanked his tutors, coaches, teammates, friends, study partners and especially his parents, everyone who helped him get his degree at the school he wanted to play football for since he was a small child. But at the end, he said he realizes that it was the power of a USC education that came through for him . . . Just Sayin'.

*** "The best memory of all will be when I get my degree," Robert said, something we'd guess football alums Gerald Bowman and George Farmer, degree winners themselves, would agree on . . . Just Sayin'.

*** Also nice to see the cordial way Pres. Max Nikias helped send off AD Pat Haden to his retirement after the way it seems Max has gone his own way in making key athletic decisions on the head football coach and new athletics director this year . . . Just Sayin'.

*** But what most comes through in the seven-minute video sendoff from athletes to Pat here is how personal it is and how you can't help but like the way these USC athletes -- including footballers Juju Smith-Schuster, Robby Kolanz and Conner Sullivan -- express themselves about Pat here . . . Just Sayin'.

*** But while all the graduating and congratulating was going on, there's still plenty of competing for USC athletes . . . Just Sayin'.

*** Adoree' Jackson won his second straight Pac-12 long jump title, which was the good news for the football-track guy . . . Just Sayin'.

*** But his leap of 25-3.5 was the same as a year ago when he was doing both sports in the spring. He's faster and bigger but at more than a foot under the Olympic qualifyng mark, Adoree' may have hit the wall for his Olympics bid . . . Just Sayin''.

*** Great job by the 25-0 women's water polo team to get to Monday's NCAA finals but they'll face Stanford there, not UCLA, so no continuing the Crosstown Cup rivalry that USC won back this year. But they will get a shot at their fifth national championship . . . Just Sayin'.

*** And we were hoping for a baseball sweep to brighten up a lackluster season after Friday's 5-3 win at UCLA but that was not to be after the Trojans let a 3-2 lead slip away in the bottom of the eighth in Saturday's 4-3 loss that typified a tough season . . . Just Sayin'.

*** There will be plenty more action for USC's track and field, tennis, women's lacrosse and golf teams this coming week as all those Trojans teams ranked in the top four are within shooting distance of another national title or two to join the beach volleyball women who won the first-ever NCAA title in their sport last week . . . Just Sayin'.

*** Then there's this USC graduation news from the folks at UNLV where Trojan Ed Hervey, a wide receiver from Compton who last played for USC in 1994 before turning pro, is getting his degree after 21 years that has seen him play for the Cowboys, Raiders and Broncos before moving to the Canadian Football League as a star player for eight seasons and then a scout and now successful executive who as vice-president and general manager of the Grey Cup-winning Edmonton Eskimos . . . Just Sayin'.

*** Here's more from Hervey, 43, whose family "was living in the housing projects," he said, when he was at USC, pushing him to turn pro as soon as he could:  “I made a promise to my mom [when he was 12] that had to be kept. She was very much against me playing football in the first place but after I begged her to let me on the field, I had to promise that I would go to school and get my degree. I started on this path several years ago and this week it comes to fruition.”

You can follow me on Twitter at @dweber3440 or email me at

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