I don't often respond to message board complainers. I'll usually let them whine and nit-pick about every single little thing and I thought that I'd reached a place where I could just let it all wash over me, just like Frank Constanza. Serenity now.
But after three games of people moaning and griping about this Trojan team, I've had enough.
These are things that should have been said before the season began, and things that I thought would have been patently obvious, but apparently I was wrong. So, to anyone who has had a single complaint about the Trojans in 2006, listen up.
Lane Kiffin is the offensive coordinator. For everyone complaining about the offensive playcalling and calling for Kiffin to be relieved of his duties, just realize that it's not going to happen. Not only will Lane Kiffin be the offensive coordinator for the remainder of this season, he'll probably stay at that position for a while.
During the season, Kiffin has been scolded by fans both for not enabling the team to execute big plays, as well as attempting trick plays in less-than-desirable situations. My question is this: If most trick plays are called in an attempt to spring big plays, how can he call trick plays and limit the team's big play ability at the same time?
Also, realize that against Arizona, the Trojans were a usually catchable ball to Fred Davis, several drops from Dwayne Jarrett and a couple of Steve Smith's toes away from at least three more plays of 20+ yards and probably two or three more touchdowns. I'd like to speak with the person who blames all of that on Kiffin.
The offense might not score more than 20 points in a game this season. I don't exactly believe this one 100%, but the chance is there (far more than last season) that the Trojans could be held under 20 points. True, the Trojans have enough talent that this probably shouldn't happen, but guess what, things happen. A team loses its third fullback in the season's first three games. A team's best wide receiver leaves in the third quarter with an injured shoulder. A team's quarterback is starting his first road conference game. It's ridiculous to criticize a team after a 17-point victory over a jacked up home team under all of those circumstances.
It's not fair to anyone. It's not fair to the coaches, who have to put up with the constant second guessing. It's not fair to the players, who give their best effort every single time they step on the field, only to be greeted by "you stink" and "put in the backup" comments. And it's not fair to me, who has to sit here and wade through all that garbage to get to a real fan's take on the game.
Another quick question for those demanding more offensive production: How many teams in the AP poll top 25 are starting a first-year starting quarterback and true freshman running back combination?
That's right. One. The Trojans.
Trojan fans have been so blessed for the past three seasons, watching some of the best talent college football has ever seen.
Carson Palmer, Mike Williams, Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush, LenDale White.
Those aren't names that only USC fans will remember forever. Those are names that college football will place at such ridiculous heights, it will be nearly impossible to duplicate their feats, whether it's statistics or importance. Come the year 2100, their names will still be in the discussion for college football's All-Century team. What they were able to do as offensive players may never be duplicated and watching them as Trojan fans, we were taken so far away from the normalcy of college football, it's like we completely forgot how to watch the game.
When John David Booty and stares down a receiver or doesn't check off quickly enough, it's not because he's a bad quarterback or because you, overly critical spectator, believe he's doing it just to infuriate you. It's because we've become accustomed to such greatness at the quarterback position over the last four years, simple mistakes, made by every quarterback around the country, now seem completely out of place and unfamiliar.
When Emmanuel Moody throws in one too many spins or doesn't routinely pop outside and dash for 50-yard gains, it's not because he isn't a great player or because the offensive line isn't solid. It's because, as a true freshman, he isn't as good as two of the greatest running backs who ever played college football. Nobody asked you to take over your father's business at five years old. Don't ask Moody to do it.
The Trojans aren't going to win the National Championship in September. In fact, no team will win the National Championship in September.
Every proponent of a playoff system has been refuted with the argument that the entire college football season works like a giant playoff bracket. And as much as I'd like to see a playoff, there's no denying the truth to the season-long playoff theory.
So if you're going to view each game as a round in college football's ultimate playoff, there's really only one important thing: Winning.
There's absolutely no reason to be thinking about style points or end-of-the-season scenarios at this point in time. Going through the regular season with an undefeated record isn't exactly a common occurrence in college football. Last season, just two teams were able to accomplish that feat and those may have been two of the best teams in the history of the game.
This season, there could be no teams that make it through their schedules unscathed, or there could be nine teams that finish with zero losses. The only thing that's certain is that if the Trojans worry about how they look in winning the game instead of just winning the game, chances are slim that they'll be among the undefeated at the end of the season.
And as a fan, if you're watching the Trojans storm out of the tunnel and worrying about how many points they need to win by - or you're watching the offensive line and running back scratch and claw their way for a two yard gain and you're worried about the fact that it wasn't broken for a touchdown - or you see the Trojans, 17 point victors and still undefeated on the season, and you're concentrating on all the things that they could have done better, you need to rethink why you watch college football and why you became a USC fan.
As far as I'm concerned, the Trojan fan base has absolutely no reason to be concerned with this USC team. The only thing that we, as fans, can ask for from our team is that they put 100% of their effort into each and every play. This team has enough talent that if they do that, and that alone, they won't lose to a single team in the country.
I'm embarrassed as part of the USC community when I see the Trojans display their full effort on each play and come away with a hard-fought win, only to see their performance berated by a bunch of people who have absolutely no reason to demand more of them.
So now go ahead and shake your head. Tell me that everything isn't all right and that this team still has a ton of things to work on, that the offensive line isn't dominant, that the quarterback position must be more dynamic. But before you go demanding more of a team that has put together three straight victories, maybe you should start demanding more of yourself as a fan.
So if you continue choosing to watch each game, hoping to point out faults during each and every play about each and every player, I can't really stop you.
But just so you know, I'll be watching the same group of players pouring their heart out on every play, just so you have to start all your sentences with, "I know we won the game, but…"