Jeremy Werner

JUST ASKIN' . . . the Coliseum, 2017, Clay and Andy

It's that time of year when questions outnumber answers which is why we're JUST ASKIN' here. Like whether the LA Memorial Coliseum could be the next Soldier Field, above, and a candidate for the worst idea ever in a stadium makeover?

The bad thing about these little lulls in college football's offseason -- although there aren't many any more -- is the way they give us time for the mind to focus on off-the-field football issues. Of which there are plenty at a USC program close to settling so many of its on-the-field concerns.

So all we can do is while away a week or two as we wonder about stuff.

*** Like whether the re-designed Coliseum will join Soldier Field, above, in the stadium renovation Hall of Infamy in a cruel irony that will see the two brand new stadiums from the 1920s who paired to make college football a truly national game after the first four intersectional USC-Notre Dame matchups -- here and in Chicago from 1926 to 1929 -- drew 379,922 fans including 232,912 -- an average 116,456 at Soldier Field . . . Just Askin'.

*** Do you think anyone at USC today is wondering whether it might have been a better plan to make the proposed 10,000 phone calls to Trojan ticket holders and donors BEFORE they came up with a plan requiring a downsizing of 16,000 and the necessary re-seating of every single one of them and found out what they thought first? . . . Just Askin'.

 *** Don't you think that USC football and basketball should go ahead and just throw caution to the winds this season and proclaim that anything short of a Final Four berth in both the College Football Playoffs and NCAA March Madness this season is a major missed opportunity? . . . Just Askin'.

*** Is there even one other program in the nation situated as well as USC to even consider doing the double Final Four dance? . . . Just Askin'.

*** Don't you think that for a USC athletic program that pretty much failed to answer the bell when it came to battling the NCAA when it should have, that this would be the one perfect answer: That no matter how hard you try, you can't keep a USC program down as long as somewhere deep down they just keep "Fighting On" and stop shooting themselves in the foot? . . . Just Askin'.

*** Should that scenario play out, and USC finds itself moving on from the Final Four at the beginning of April to the start of the Todd McNair Trial April 18, could we get the USC band and Song Girls downtown at the Courthouse for a Day 1 pep rally? . . . Just Askin.

*** OK, maybe put that on hold. Just thinking here. Maybe move the pep rally to City Hall. Would that work? . . . Just Askin'.

*** And for those afraid to declare that USC is back, is it because you can't forget that 2012 first-to-worst season? . . . Just Askin'.

*** But isn't Lane Kiffin long gone? And wouldn't these kinds of expectations signal what could be there for those teams -- players and coaches -- if they use them as a road map the way Pete Carroll did during the golden years for how hard and smart you have to work -- nothing more? . . . Just Askin'.

*** Isn't the good news here that this football team is far enough removed from all that so that it realizes -- as it learned from its turnaround last season -- that nothing comes to you unless you work for it, that showing up and saying you're USC is not nearly enough? . . . Just Askin'.

*** Now getting that figured out in basketball may be the far harder part of this equation -- and even harder for USC fans who also have no idea or understanding of what it takes? . . . Just Askin.

*** So as tough a job as Clay Helton has here, doesn't Andy Enfield have the tougher challenge because not only does he have to bring his team along, a team that hasn't really been there before much the same for its coaches, but he has to bring a fan base as well? . . . Just Askin'.

*** Which is the place we'd think USC should start here. For USC, get past the Coliseum talk for now and start selling out the Coliseum for a schedule made for just that in 2017 and push basketball hard with fans who haven't put the two together. Final Four: football and basketball, we say, is the way to talk here. Does that make sense? . . . Just Askin'.

*** As to coaching, we're pretty much on the Helton bandwagon for in-season and in-game coaching here after he didn't lose the team under the toughest pressure a USC coach has been under in decades after that 1-3 start right through the final-quarter comeback finish in the Rose Bowl. Wouldn't you agree? . . . Just Askin'.

*** As to Andy and basketball, for what it's worth, with a deep, athletic, experienced team of guys who can run the floor, shoot the three, get the deflections and steals to let it score in transition if they only play for 40 minutes with the energy and enthusiasm they so often showed in those double-digit second-half comeback wins, wouldn't that be the way to go for everybody -- players and fans? . . . Just Askin'.

*** Both programs have their recruiting rolling on although here's where the challenge is greater for a football program with a relatively lean support staff at a time when college football has moved up the signing date to December and won't that be an issue for USC and Clay to figure out ASAP? . . . Just Askin'. 

*** That's in the face of two come-from-behind recruiting classes that solidify Clay's place although apparently no one has told the folks who rank coaches over at CBSsports.com who still have Clay the No. 10 -- out of the 12 -- best Pac-12 coach, a move up of just six spots nationally from No. 51 a year ago to No. 45. Say what? . . . Just Askin'.

*** To the CBS crew of Dennis Dodd, Ben Kercheval, Chip Patterson, Barton Simmons and Tom Fornelli, we say this: If you take a vote and it comes out like this, shouldn't you just act like you didn't vote and file the rankings where no one will ever see them? Or did none of you watch the USC-Penn State game or stay up to the end of USC-Washington? . . . Just Askin'.

*** Or this. If CBS drops Jim Mora 20 places after last season to No. 49, were you way wrong then -- or now? . . . Just Askin'.

*** And if the only thing you can find to say about Clay is this: "I don't know if Helton is a great coach at this point. I don't think anybody does. What I do know is that he has a quarterback that could help make sure he continues to climb in these rankings." So were the CBS guys voting for Clay -- or Sam Darnold? And not Mora but Josh Rosen? . . . Just Askin'.

*** And for those who wonder whether Pac-12 newcomer Willie Taggart (No. 31) at Oregon or Tom Herman (No. 28) at Texas, unrated last season because they were not Power Five coaches, should be elevated that far ahead of Clay here, only one will get a head-to-head matchup this fall and it's not the Pac-12 guy. Will that matter? . . . Just Sayin'.

*** But to put two of our questions together to finish here, how about USC fans filling the Coliseum this fall in what could be their last chance to get 93,000 into that historic building as a sendoff and maybe you could send a message to the folks -- if they exist -- who could step up and stop the downsizing in its tracks -- if only they would? . . . Just Askin'.

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


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