Shotgun Spratling | USCfootball.com

Just Sayin' . . . Weekend Edition

Not just football this weekend, but lots of Trojan talk here.

It's becoming a 12-months-a-year deal here, college football has, but don't forget basketball. There's a 21-4 team in town, right in town, that should be ranked and would be if anyone could see it play. But there's the rub if you're in the Pac-12.

*** Today is a good example. If I want to watch my old Xavier team, I've got no problem. My 18-6 Musketeers are playing without their best player, out for the season now, but my No. 24-ranked Xavier hosts No. 2 Villanova -- without its best big man -- on big Fox at 11:30 this morning and we won't miss it . . . Just Sayin'.

*** But for my family back in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area, can they watch these 21-4 Trojans against No. 5 Oregon tonight? Assuming, that is, they'd want to watch a game starting at 10:30 there? And even if they lived out here, they might not be able to watch the Trojans anyway when you realize that USC's final eight straight games -- even against the likes of three straight Top 10 teams -- Oregon, Arizona and UCLA -- are all on the Pac-12 Networks. Or as we say, basically blacked out. They've gone radio silent. Over to the Dark Side. Under the radar . . . Just Sayin'.

*** And as we sit here today, it's clear these 21-4 Trojans are better right now as the day begins than my 18-6 Muskies -- more competitive, more talented. And yet my Xavier team, from the Big East where it's basketball only and no one of the smaller private schools even has an FBS football team, is ranked at No. 24. And a Trojans team that has overcome losing its best player for 18 games sits outside the Top 25 at No. 27 . . . Just Sayin'.

*** So what, you say. No big deal. But it is. An SMU team USC beat is in the Top 25 this week right at No. 25. And this is when that starts to matter when NCAA invites and seedings are at stake. But as part of the American Athletic Conference (the what?), SMU has a better TV deal . . . Just Sayin'.

*** And at this moment, Joe Lunardi's ESPN Bracketology has Xavier a No. 6 NCAA seed while USC is a No. 7. That's wrong . . . Just Sayin'.

*** The good news is that whether seen or unseen, USC plays three straight Top 10 opponents, two of them on the road, and when you're the only team in the Pac-12 -- hmm, how does that happen? -- to have to play all three Top 10 Pac-12 teams twice, you will get noticed. Now it's time for the Bennie Boatwright Trojans to keep playing with the mental and physical toughness and focus we've seen them show on occasion all the way through . . . Just Sayin'.

*** But as we all know here, especially this year, football isn't going away. Now that a Top Five recruiting class has been secured, there are assistant coaches to hold on to -- or not . . . Just Sayin'.

*** And a certain underclass quarterback who we'll be saying the same things about in 11 months , , , hold on to him or not? . . . Just Sayin'.

*** As an example of how this is going to go, in an interview this week, new 49ers GM John Lynch said that the woeful Niners may pass on trying to get a franchise quarterback with their No. 2 pick this year and wait until next season. "It may not be this year," Lynch said although he might as well have said, "C'mon down, Sam Darnold," . . . Just Sayin'.

*** Lynch won't be the only one talking like that. And even though he didn't come right out and say it, as that New York Daily News columnist did last week when he hoped the Jets would "Suck for Sam" and lose to get the top pick, this is going to be a theme . . . Just Sayin'.

*** But not the only theme as we look to what the next year will bring. There's a whole lot more of that going on. And for a USC basketball team challenged by a Top 10 schedule now, there does seem to be a carryover to football . . . Just Sayin'.

*** ESPN this week has tabbed USC's non-conference schedule next year (13-win Western Michigan, Texas and Notre Dame) as No. 5 in the nation and by far No. 1 in the Pac-12 . . . Just Sayin'.

*** So how's the rest of the Pac-12 doing schedule-wise. Well, they're sorta. kinda' leading the way -- the other way, that is . . . Just Sayin'.

*** No longer can the Pac-12 throw rocks at the SEC for loading up on home games with directional schools. For the second year in a row, the Pac-12 champion Washington Huskies lead the way with the easiest non-conference schedule in the nation (pathetic Big Ten team Rutgers, FCS Montana, and 1-11 Fresno State) . . . Just Sayin'.

*** But here's where the Huskies aren't alone in the Pac-12 -- USC excepted. Colorado has dropped from one of ESPN's Top 10 Toughest Schedules a year ago against the likes of Michigan to the nation's second-easiest (Colorado State, Texas State -- not Texas, Texas State -- and Northern Colorado). Yikes. A race to the bottom at the top of the Pac-12 . . . Just Sayin'.

*** Speaking of rankings, however, USC is looking mighty fine there -- and not just for football. On Friday, the annual rankings for fund-raising were released by the Council for Aid to Education and USC, with $667 million in cash raised in 2016, finished third nationally behind only Harvard and Stanford and kept alive its streak of a Top-three finishes for the last four years as it closes out successfully the $6 billion Campaign For USC, the largest in American history when it was announced . . . Just Sayin'.

*** But here's what is so special about that. USC also finished No. 3 in football in 2016. Has any university ever done that -- matched its football finish with its fundraising finish? Stanford might have had a shot once. But that's it. Heck of a deal for the Trojan family . . . Just Sayin'.

*** Now if only some of that cash could come back to get USC football competitive at the very top end with the likes of Alabama, Michigan, Ohio State, Texas, Clemson and LSU. If somebody can do both, we think that somebody is USC . . . Just Sayin'.

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

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