Been a while since we could talk some straight-up football. But it's almost here as the Trojans get back to the practice field Tuesday afternoon.
Just not quite yet. We're still talking coaches and postseason awards and matchups and all those "do-they-go or do-they-stay" scenarios.
Most of it is USC-related right now, some of it by way of history here, we're Just Sayin'.
*** One thing is clear, our long national college football coaching nightmare is over. Lane Kiffin has finally gotten a job and Nick Saban no longer has to do double duty as a baby-sitter although for $8 million a year, I guess Saban was willing to do it for a while . . . Just Sayin'.
*** Not sure if a career trajectory from the Raiders to Tennessee to USC to FAU [Florida Atlantic U. to those not familiar with Boca Raton) is what Lane had in mind but the guy who got the best of this deal has to be LSU's Ed Orgeron, who will not have to deal with watching over the single luckiest human being ever to coach college football, a person who was born on third base and has now been caught stealing home on his own three times . . . Just Sayin'.
*** Just one more Lane thought. Reading today's ESPN profile on him as the offensive genius of all offensive geniuses, who the players all love, and we're having trouble erasing that 10-7 Washington State loss in the Coliseum or that Sun Bowl disaster of the week leading up to a 21-7 loss to Georgia Tech from our memory banks. And then there's that national-championship-depriving 13-9 moment and we won't say who that one was to. But for those of you who were there, bet you are too . . . Just Sayin'.
*** But it's not all about Lane today. Trojan alum Jeff Fisher has reached the end of the line with the Rams. Who could have seen that coming? OK, we kid. Pretty much what Rams backup returner Michael Thomas said when he got hit in the facemask with the football on the opening kickoff in a perfect microcosm of this 16th losing season in 21 years for Fisher as the now-tied-for-losingest-coach in NFL history? . . . Just Sayin'.
*** And then there's the "life's not fair" scenario that has the former St. Louis Rams, just months removed from a spectacularly undistinguished run in the Midwest where the folks there are happy they're gone, getting to move from the Coliseum in a couple of years into a more than $2 billion stadium, the most spectacular venue in all of sports, we're told, for a franchise that is anything but. Hope they make a better call on the stadium than they did on the overall No. 1 draft pick . . . Just Sayin'.
*** Speaking of draft picks, the almost complete lack of USC players on the most recent All-America teams, even down to the fourth team, ought to be a real caution for this year's Trojans hoping to move on to the next level although there's obviously not a direct relationship between the two. But if you check all the teams that came out Monday -- AP, Football Writers and Phil Steele -- only Adoree' Jackson is getting a sniff -- and then mostly as a return or all-purpose player . . . Just Sayin'.
*** What this seems to be saying is that the seniors may want to go out with a strong effort against Penn State that will stay in folks' minds -- and on film -- and for the underclassmen, maybe they take a step back as to their immediate prospects and think about things . . . Just Sayin'.
*** Before we get back on the field, we can also hope that some attention has been turned to an issue facing USC football right now -- the organization and staffing up of the Trojans' recruiting efforts. And in the time off, with the momentum and clout Clay Helton has been able to build up, this would seem to be the time to make some moves to get in the game with the likes of Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson and Michigan where no competitive edge is missed when it comes to recruiting . . . Just Sayin'.
*** Part of the reason we say that is how hard that can be on a coach like Tee Martin, doubling as a first-time offensive coordinator and USC's prime time recruiter. What we're thinking here is that with a number of USC's coaches not exactly all-out recruiters, it's time to give them some help. And we're thinking Lynn Swann, who has said that the lifeblood of USC football is "recruiting," would be on board here . . . Just Sayin'.
*** As to bowl prep and what we'll be looking for and asking about Tuesday, the backup quarterback spot will be first on the list of things to see how that goes. It's the news peg, for sure . . . Just Sayin'.
*** But if USC wants to put in some serious secret prep work, this year's Rose Bowl/College Football Playoff media rules will help that. For the next two weeks, things remain on the same schedule -- with full media practice access and the regular rotation of offensive players, defensive/special teams players and Clay's post-practice press availabilty. But that's just until the Christmas break. After Christmas, although there are pressers every day for teams and/or players or both, the first two practices [Wednesday and Thursday, Dec. 28-29] will allow media viewing for just 15 minutes and no post-practice pressers. Then the next three practices are completely closed to the media. So now we get to see what it's like at almost every other major program in the nation with far less access than at USC . . . Just Sayin'.
*** And finally, can't forget USC basketball. For the past couple of weeks, we felt like an unbeaten USC team was getting overlooked in the rankings. But then this week, when the 9-0 Trojans cracked the Top 25 for the first time this season at No. 24, we checked closely the teams in the bottom group of the Top 25. They're all pretty good. Notre Dame (9-1) is No. 21, Oregon (8-2) is No. 22. Florida State (10-1) is No. 23 and 7-2 Cincinnati is No. 25. Pretty good company there for the Trojans. We'll go with it and not worry about the rankings for now . . . Just Sayin'.
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