It is the natural order of college football that you are going to lose graduating seniors each year so we knew that this spring ball period would begin without such Trojan stalwarts as Keary Colbert, Jacob Rogers, Norm Katnik, Lenny Vandermade, Omar Nazel, Melvin Simmons, Marcell Allmond and Will Poole. Their contributions meant so much to the SC program but we were prepared for their departure following the Rose Bowl.
What has been unexpected are the losses that have piled up since that point and brought about a period of transition in the program. We've seen one key player from each side of the ball declare their intentions for the NFL draft while two assistant coaches also blazed a path for the NFL and another assistant headed to Idaho for his first head coaching job.
It's easy to look at all the moves in a positive manner as they relate to the state of USC football since they are all perceived to be a step in the right direction for the advancement of the individuals involved. It's one of the trappings that come with success as others see the talent and execution of the Trojan team and want to bring a little bit of that to their own program. It's perfectly understandable and will likely continue in future years as long as the Trojans are able to maintain their spot among the college football elite.
It's not like the cupboard is bare at USC so the changes shouldn't have a dramatic effect on the performance of the team. It would be ideal to have Mike Williams and Kenechi Udeze lining up in spring ball for the Trojans but guys like Lewis, Davis, Barrett and Jackson will be licking their chops in anticipation of the opportunity now being presented to them. The young depth at these positions is unlike anything we've seen in many years and if any team is prepared to withstand the early losses of two All-Americans it is the 2004 Trojans.
As far as the coaching staff, one of the more impressive things Pete Carroll has done in his short tenure is put together a staff that was as talented as any in college football. It is a testament to the coaches to see so many of them get offers, those who left were not the only ones approached with opportunities, and so far Carroll has shown an NFL slant when hiring their replacements. Carroll had tried to hire Carl Smith once before so he obviously thinks a lot of his new tight end coach (Smith coached the QB's for the past three years with the Cleveland Browns) while new RB coach Todd McNair also comes from the Browns. With so many recruits keeping an eye on future NFL possibilities it doesn't hurt to have coaches with experience at that level. We wish good luck to Kennedy Pola (Cleveland Browns), Steve Sarkisian (Oakland Raiders) and Nick Holt (Idaho Vandals) but as long as Pete Carroll and Norm Chow are running the defense and offense we should be fine.
The common thought among most Trojan fans is that the program is strong enough right now to withstand these changes, no matter how many talented people we lost, and we will get our first look at the resulting position battles when spring ball sessions get started in less than a week. By the time spring ball is done the changes we have seen will likely seem like a distant memory as the Trojan machine simply inserts a few new parts and continues rolling along.