Do unto others, or so the saying goes...
The journey of life is a circle. All things come back to the place of their beginning. This is kharma. Normally, a naturally beautiful experience. BYU, however, has chosen to interrupt the flow of one very important "thing" to the USC Trojans and there could be hell to pay.
Just a few short years ago, BYU football was given a golden opportunity; something that could have taken their program far beyond the lofty heights already achieved by legendary coach LaVell Edwards. They could have, or perhaps should have, made Norm Chow, Edward's then offensive coordinator, their new head coach. Instead, they turned a blind eye and let him go from the flock. In so doing, they set kharma in motion. For as far as Norm might travel, there would come a day when he would return to face BYU, the place of his beginnings. Kharma, on its darker side, has a way of rearing its ugly head and for BYU it has done just that, for Norm's day has come. The Cougars are in Los Angeles and Norm Chow, Broyles recipient as the nation's top assistant, is their opponent's offensive coordinator. Norm's not a tit-for-tat, hold a grudge, sort of person. He took what he accomplished at BYU, put it on a resume and went in search of greener pastures. Luckily for the Trojans, Pete Carroll knew that Chow was one of the best offensive coordinators in college football history and to put together a winning program, he had to have him. So Chow went from building Heisman type quarterbacks at BYU to delivering a Heisman winner, in Carson Palmer, at USC. A circuitous route there is no doubt, but scripting his magic at USC is where he landed. Now, out of respect for Coach Chow and to help him complete his karmic circle, the USC Trojans are prepared to make BYU's latest road game truly... a mission impossible.
For its 2003 opener, USC pulled off a fantastic magic trick - they made eighty-six thousand people disappear. They did this by doing the previously thought impossible, they gave Auburn their worst opening loss in the program's history by shutting them out in their own stadium, 23-0. This was USC's first shut out in an opener since 1973, its first shutout of a Top Ten team since 1962, its first shutout ever at a Top Ten team's home and its biggest margin of victory over a team ranked as high as sixth since 1974. Now the Trojans get to come home. In the Coliseum, USC is on a nine game winning streak and have served shut-outs to two opponents, prior to Auburn. BYU suffered its first losing season since the early ‘70's but hasn't been shutout in 351 games. Something's got to give and if the Trojan's vaunted defensive line, now known as "Wild Bunch II" has anything to do with it, it won't be anyone in Cardinal and Gold.
BYU is 1-0 for 2003. In the same kickoff week that the USC Trojans dismantled sixth-ranked Auburn, the Cougars were in the middle of a second-half rally against Georgia Tech. By the end of that effort they scored 17 points to the Yellow Jacket's 0, earning themselves one for the win column. They also found themselves a quarterback, the nation's top tight end and a shut down defense. Much like the Trojans had done to the Auburn Tigers, the Cougars pitched their own shut-out...at least through the second half of their game. In so doing, they held Georgia Tech to 234 total yards. First year defensive coordinator, Bronco Mendenhall made outstanding second-half adjustments and put his players in the right place for nearly every play the Yellow Jacket's fielded, holding them to 60 total yards in the last thirty minutes of the game. He is equally excited to see what his boys can do against the Trojans. Crowton, his head coach, doesn't quite share Mendehall's zeal.
Shortly after taking over for LaVell Edwards in December 2000, Crowton
tried to get out of the contract with USC.
Seeking to downgrade the schedule, he also wanted to drop a game against
Louisiana State. LSU agreed to let
BYU out of its contract and the Cougars quickly substituted Boise State for this
season. The Trojans, however,
balked and the two game agreement remains.
USC will play in Provo next year to complete the deal. Referencing his teams' 351 game streak
and its potential end against USC, Crowton said... "It's going to end one of
these days. They keep scheduling
teams like this and it's going to happen..." Crowton received little sympathy from
his Athletic Director, Val Hale.
Hale wanted the SC matchup.
He wants the Cougars to play at least two
1975 - that was the last time BYU was shut-out in a college football game. And despite a solid outing from sophomore quarterback Matt Berry and a stellar performance from Daniel Coats, oddsmakers are leaning more toward a bagel for the Mormons than any sort of score. This, of course, doesn't sit well with the eleven players on BYU's squad who hale in and around Los Angeles. One young man is bringing up to thirty family members. And no, those aren't his wives, although thirty-eight players for the Cougar's are already married. Thirty-eight players for thirty-eight wives. Sounds like a musical. Donny Osmond, doing a very different version of Joseph and the Techno-colored Dream Coat" could play the lead. Nah... USC has just one player who has tied the knot - Matt Heyward. When last asked, he's happy with just the one wife. Then again, so are the BYU players.
So, with wives, family members and the distractions of the big city, how can the BYU team possibly hang with the Trojans of Southern California? Maybe swap that Y for a K and make the whole school Big Kenechi University, cause he's the only one who could show them how to get past SC's two top-rated tackles. The Cougars could try to go to the air again, much like the 47 passes their young gun put up last week. But being that one-dimensional has yet to serve an SC opponent well - at least not in ‘02 and thus far in ‘03. They could tighten down their defense and hope for a low scoring defensive affair. Then again, County USC may not have that many available beds. No, simply put, the Cougars are in trouble. They are a young team, led by a very young quarter back, with a new defensive coordinator and a third year coach who delivered the school's first losing season since Happy Days first aired. For all the good they did against the Yellow Jackets, they also committed a lot of errors, both in penalties and special teams' gaffs. Their top defensive back and senior leader Brandon Heaney suffered another shoulder injury and is out for the season. The starter on the other side, Jernaro Gilford, is playing with a broken hand. It also appears the Cougars will be without offensive star, running back Marcus Whalen, who suffered a foot injury in the pre-game warmups for the Georgia Tech game. I mean, it is bleak for the boys in blue.
It has been a very long time since Trojan fans felt this confident about a USC team. Of course the last time they probably did, the Oregon Ducks came into the Coliseum with an unknown quarterback named Graziani and ended USC's home dominance over their traditional Pacific Northwest doormat. So, one just never really knows. SC could come into this matchup with their heads in the clouds and their eyes on a rose-colored prize... Who's kidding who, here? There is no way Kennedy Pola, Ed Orgeron, Nick Holt and Tim Davis (anyone who's ever met these coaches knows they are SC's real Wild Bunch) would ever let a Trojan team go into a contest unprepared. No, the best chance BYU has of slapping a big L on the back of the Trojans is... NONE.
No, if any team in the country is on a "mission," it is the USC Trojans. They were the hottest team at the end of the ‘02 season and looked like they hadn't missed a beat when they kicked off their ‘03 campaign. As it went in that opening game against Auburn, the Trojan defense will swarm like sharks in a feeding frenzy, shattering the nerves of BYU's young quarterback, leaving him craving a cigarette and a coke. "Set-hut," will no longer be words he dare utter - at least not in Los Angeles. And just like he did against Auburn, Coach Chow will keep his game plan close to the vest, building his play calls not just for one game but an entire season. He's a strategist and only reveals what he has to when he has to. He takes what other teams give him, in that perfect way. He doesn't need to prove anything because he already has, for twenty years at BYU and hopefully for just as long at USC. Wherever Norm Chow ends up, he always seems to be on the winning side and for USC it looks to be all they'll need to, once again, deliver them to the promised land.
Kharma comes full-circle this Saturday night in Memorial Coliseum. Norm Chow gets to set the record straight without hardly trying. He also gets to introduce his new offense to the home crowd and show the boys across the field what could have been had they just cashed in on that golden opportunity a few short years ago.
...Kharma's a bitch, ain't it.
Basically, it's a coming-out party for the SC offense. They put up six scores, three touchdowns and three fieldgoals. BYU does hold on to their scoring streak but it's in mop-up, against SC's third unit. Final score SC 30 BYU 7