Uh, on what empirical evidence is such an observation based?
Beats me. As politicians like to say, let's look at the record and see how USC has fared in recruiting since Pete Carroll assumed command of the program in December of 2000.
2001: This class was basically assembled by Paul Hackett's recruiting coordinator, Ed Orgeron, before Carroll was hired. But Carroll made one of the biggest catches of the recruiting season when he persuaded defensive lineman Shaun Cody to sign with the Trojans instead of Notre Dame, a school Cody's father favored with a passion. The class included two first-round National Football League draft choices, Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Matt Leinart and defensive lineman Mike Patterson. And this was after the Trojans had gone 5-7 in Hackett's final season.
2002: Carroll and Orgeron thought they had blown the recruiting class when the Trojans lost to Utah in the Las Vegas Bowl, leaving them with a .500 season at 6-6. Carroll was on the move night and day, and day and night, prior to letter-of-intent day in February, 2002. Guess what? He wound up with a recruiting class ranked 13th in the nation by Rivals.com, vastly underrated, it turned out, when eight of those recruits eventually signed NFL contracts. Wide receiver Mike Williams was a first-round choice.
2003: Jackpot! Despite losses to Kansas State and Washington State during the 2002 season, Carroll eventually landed 11 players who would sign NFL contracts, including four (offensive lineman Sam Baker, Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush, defensive end Lawrence Jackson and defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis) who were first-round selections, and three (center Ryan Kalil, wide receiver Steve Smith and defensive back Terrell Thomas) who were second-round choices.
2004: The Trojans were stunned in three overtimes by Cal and didn't make it to the BCS championship game, but still signed NFL first-rounder Keith Rivers and second-rounders Dwayne Jarrett, Fred Davis, Chilo Richal and Taitusi Lutui. Jeff Byers, still playing college ball, will go high in the 2010 NFL draft.
2005: A 13-0 season and a 55-19 victory over Oklahoma in the BCS championship game yielded a recruiting class that included nine NFL draftees, including first-round choices Brian Cushing, Mark Sanchez and Clay Matthews. 2006: The Trojans lost a 41-38 heartbreaker to Texas in a national championship game, but still landed a No. 1-ranked recruiting class that included such luminaries as Taylor Mays, Stafon Johnson, Butch Lewis, Stanley Havili and Shareece Wright.
2008: Did surprise losses to Stanford and Oregon slow Carroll? Well, his 2008 class included T.J. Bryant, Blake Ayles, Armond Armstead, Brian Baucham (the steal of the year), Brice Butler, Jurrell Casey, Khaled Holmes, Nick Perry (wow!), Drew McAllister, D.J. Shoemate and Tyron Smith (may become one of the better offensive linemen in USC history).
2009: Another shocking loss to Oregon State, but that really sent Carroll on the recruiting warpath. National player of the year in high school, quarterback Matt Barkley, Devon Kennard, T.J. McDonald (son of former Trojan great Tim McDonald), Kevin Graf (his daddy was a star offensive lineman on the '72 national champs), Jarvis Jones, Kevin Greene, James Boyd, Jawanza Starling, Frankie Telfort and others too numerous to mention.
So do we know how the loss at Washington affected USC's 2010 and 2011 recruiting?
Well, let's hear what a couple of recruits had to say.
Running back Trajuan Briggs of Lake Balboa Birmingham, who has committed to USC for the class of 2010: ``If Matt Barkley had played, USC would have beaten Washington. It doesn't change the way I feel about USC.''
Defensive lineman Greg Townsend of Beverly Hills, who has said he'll be in the Trojans' 2011 recruiting class: ``USC seems to lose to an underdog every year. That doesn't change my mind. I like SC.''
Prediction: USC will have a top-five 2010 recruiting class, and perhaps a No. 1. The Trojans already have 14 verbal commits and expect them to get at least three more five-star prospects, and other top rated players.