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Just Sayin' . . . On to 2017

With the 2016 season behind us, it's on to 2017 for USC's Trojans and college football. And now we can say both of those together -- USC and college football -- as the Trojans have returned to real relevancy.

Thank you, Clemson. College football needed that. We all needed that.

Time to get going for a followup football season just as interesting and exciting.

We're Just Sayin' that's as good an example of how it's done since, oh maybe, the Rose Bowl last week.

*** Thanks for showing that a program with just the 39th largest athletic budget in the nation can still find a way to win it all . . . Just Sayin'.

*** Thanks for showing that you don't have to spend $43 million on your football program and have three full coaching staffs with roomfuls of "analysts" ready to step in to win it all . . . Just Sayin'.

*** Although you do have to spend at least $29 million . . . and you better recruit like crazy. No sparing spending there . . . Just Sayin'.

*** And just as it started for Clemson a year ago, it starts for USC today or more exactly let's say it did so Monday a week ago . . . Just Sayin'.

*** It also starts at quarterback, as it did with Deshaun Watson, and certainly finishes there. Good news for USC on that one . . . Just Sayin'.

*** If Monday night showed anything, it showed you do not need an all-star team of NFL first-rounders to win it all . . . Just Sayin'.

*** You probably don't need one or the other former USC head coach as your offensive coordinator to win or lose. Sark or Lane, it was pretty much all the same. It most often comes down to the players. And as much as you can do for them, you can't throw it for them. Your quarterback has to do that . . . Just Sayin'.

*** But you have to believe in what you're doing. USC has a chance there after finishing -- as improbable as it would seem after that 1-3 start -- No. 3 this morning in the final A.P. Poll . . . Just Sayin'.

*** And if a rematch of the 2016 title game opponents in 2017 says anything, you may want to be in the mix from the get-go which USC certainly is . . . Just Sayin'.

*** And will be. Already on Monday, ESPN, Campus Insiders and Las Vegas had the Trojans as the No. 3 pick to win it all a year from now. Pro Football Focus has USC No. 2 behind Alabama . . . Just Sayin;.

*** Sounds about right to us. USC has Sam Darnold. No one else has a weapon like that. If you're going to start somewhere, it has to be at quarterback . . . Just Sayin'.

*** As Monday night's championship game and the Rose Bowl showed, you'd better have someone who can take you the length of the field in the final two minutes. Clemson did and USC does . . . Just Sayin;.

*** But if there are a couple of issues college football better be prepared to deal with, after watching the best two games of this season and for many seasons, something has to be done about the officiating. As Zach Banner tweeted after watching the multiple targetings that went unflagged in the championship game, what Cameron Smith was ejected for and will sit out the first half of the first half of the Western Michigan game next September, did not even come close to . . . Just Sayin;.

*** And is it a "pick" play or not? Of course it is. That's what Clemson calls it. And they talked about waiting for their receivers "to get their blocks" -- on defensive backs -- before turning the ball loose. If that's a grey area, which it must be the way it's called, let's get it cleared up before next season. But don't act as if it's not an issue to wink at -- or not . . . Just Sayin;.

*** But there's another issue college football must face and it's not just football but since football is the driving force in so much of what happens in college sports, when you look at the way athletic departments' budgets have exploded and the amount of debt they're taking on and the dangers to their very existence that they face at places like Cal-Berkeley, the answer isn't an arms race. Programs willing to do anything and spend anything and find any loophole in NCAA staff limitations should not have a leg up on everyone else the way Alabama has almost run the rest of the SEC into national irrelevance . . . Just Sayin;.

*** And while USC fans can't wait for September to get here, what happens this winter, spring and summer will determine much of what happens next fall . . . Just Sayin;.

*** But some of those same encouraging projections for how good USC will be when September rolls around might give Trojans fans both a reason for pause, and fire them up as well, for what is to come in Weeks 2 and 3. They.have Texas rebounding under Tom Herman as high as No. 14 while Stanford is ranked as high as No. 13. And all opening opponent Western Michigan has done is win 13 of its last 14. So USC must figure out a way to take its October, November and January record this past season on to another challenging September next season . . Just Sayin;.   

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

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