USA Today Sports

Just Sayin' . . . end of spring edition

Has USC entered a year with as much anticipation as there is right now for its two major sports? Quick answer. Not in a good while, we're Just Sayin'.

So in our email Monday came a couple of those pre-season assessments for the two major sports for 2017 -- although the one for football is not all that pre- any more. And for even the most upbeat of Trojans fans, they have to be wondering how exactly this is happening here?

Are we in one of those seriously pump-the-brakes moments? You mean the NCAA didn't kill USC football and USC basketball is alive and well and competitive as hell?

Nope, no pumping the brakes. It's been a long time, we're Just Sayin'.

*** But as we look at the "Athlon Top 25" college football picks, we're not blown away with an analysis that has USC at No. 5 behind a No. 4 Washington team it whipped up on in Seattle because, the Athlon folks seem to be saying, the Huskies play the nation's worst non-conference schedule and USC plays the second-toughest. Dumb way to do it, guys . . . Just Sayin'.

*** Go with the better team on top here. That's USC, for anyone who saw that game last November . . . Just Sayin'.

*** However, we also have in our hands the Top 25 College Basketball assessment of CBSSports.com's Gary Parrish, who usually gets these things right. And while the really early hoops Top 25's hadn't given us a great deal of encouragement that people were paying all that much attention to what USC is bringing back, Parrish has. He has the Trojans pegged at No. 10, getting it exactly right -- as exactly right as these things can be right now . . . Just Sayin'.

*** And Parrish does so in as simple a fashion as possible -- listing the 11 top players, seven returnees and four newcomers -- who give the Trojans as much depth as anybody in the nation save for Arizona, Parrish's legitimate No. 1 team . . . Just Sayin'.

*** Last year we said they'd win 22, something lots of folks laughed at, but that they should win more. We weren't blowing smoke. And that's to the credit of Andy & Co. who proved us right but now find themselves in a whole different place . . . Just Sayin'.. 

*** Although as excited as USC fans might be right now -- if it's possible for USC fans to be excited about hoops -- Arizona will make USC's first legitimate Pac-12 championship run since 1985 a tough row to hoe. But doesn't that make it all the more fun? How about two Pac-12 teams in the Final Four . . . Just Sayin'.

*** But focusing on one sport or the other is not our point here. It's the 1-2 combo of both predictions taken together that kind of blows us away when you think about it . . . Just Sayin'.

*** Here's the shocking news: No other program in the nation is picked in the Top 10 in both football and basketball. None. Only USC . . . Just Sayin'.

*** Only four others -- Louisville, Florida, Notre Dame and Miami -- make the Top 25 in both. And only Louisville basketball, at No. 7, has either sport in the Top 10 . . . Just Sayin'.

*** So we decided to do a point-value ranking. USC (5th in football, 10th in basketball) is at 15 for the low score by far. Louisville (18 FB-7 BB) is next at 25. Florida (16-11) is No. 3 at 27. Notre Dame with a 32 (20-12) is No. 4 and Miami with 37 (23-14) comes in at No. 5. But no one is all that close to USC . . . Just Sayin'.

*** Kind of hard for us to evaluate this right now because there's almost nothing to compare it to. Back in 1985 when USC last won the Pac-12 in basketball, that team under Stan Morrison finished 13-5 in the league, 19-10 overall and lost its first game in the NCAA Tournament to Illinois State while the 9-3 Trojan football team that fall under Ted Tollner, despite starting out unranked, did manage to climb to No. 18 beating No. 6 Ohio State in the Rose Bowl . . . Just Sayin'.

*** Neither of which probably would be all that acceptable right now although with the College Football Playoff format opening with a semifinal game in the Rose Bowl this season, beating the Buckeyes there would be the most welcome finishing scenario we could imagine . . . Just Sayin'.

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*** And now as we continue our "What a good week to be a Trojan" tour, how about taking a look at the reported naming rights deal for the LA Memorial Coliseum. Love it or hate it, either the idea of a deal with United Airlines or the Coliseum itself, it blows the rest of similar college football stadium deals out of the water . . . Just Sayin'.

*** Sure, except for Washington, none of these are college football heavyweights. But at a reported $70 million for 15 years, USC will reap both the most total dollars and the most dollars per year ($4.7 million). Washington's $41 million deal with Alaska Airlines for Husky Stadium for 10 years ($4.1 million per year) is next . . . Just Sayin'.

*** What we like about the Husky Stadium deal is that the name stays. It's "Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium" keeping the history and tradition and taking the money. Good way for USC to go here. "United Airlines Field at the LA Memorial Coliseum." We like it. Rolls off our tongue . . . Just Sayin'.

*** It's possible to do this. Just ask the "Rose Bowl brought to you by Northwestern Mutual" folks, not to mention all the ESPN reporters who had to write that name every single time they referenced the "Rose Bowl" this past year. It can be done . . . Just Sayin'.   

*** But after those first two deals, it's not really all that close. Kentucky just signed a deal with Ralphs' parent Kroger for $22.1 million for 12 years ($1.85 million a year). Minnesota signed a 25-year, $35 million deal at $1.4 million per with TCF Bank. While Houston is getting $15 million for 10 years ($1.5 million per) from the Texas Dow Credit Union Employees. That's a good reason for USC to put that $70 million to use now to get the Coliseum renovation exactly right . . . Just Sayin'.

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


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