Clear Eyes, Fullbacks, Can’t Lose

fullbacksThe fullback position is probably about as glamorous as the stand holding up your computer monitor. Or maybe the hinge connecting your laptop together, if you’re using one of those instead. And if you’ve got some stupid laptop that has a detachable screen, screw you—you’re proving my point.

Forget that when the general public thinks of iconic football positions, they probably start off at quarterback and slowly move their way down past kicker before listing a fullback. Hell, some places don’t even bother to differentiate them from running backs. Many modern offenses have moved away from having a fullback in their system. Some find it unnecessary or a “dinosaur” of the football world.

Well, I’m here to tell you that football history would probably tell you otherwise. Georgia Tech is still a thing and they’re running some wonky triple option hobo plays out of the flexbone “older than your dad’s dad’s dad” formation. Surely a position like fullback wouldn’t be phased out so easily.

Funny anecdote: former UCLA running back, Derrick Coleman, was recruited by Pete Carroll to play fullback at USC. Coleman opted to go to UCLA because he wanted to play running back. Years later, Coleman eventually found his way to Seattle where Carroll was now head coach. Carroll made Coleman switch to fullback.

Eat your vegetables. Look both ways before crossing the street. Play fullback.

You know what team might not be playing a fullback in the near future? Duh, USC.

The two fullbacks on the roster are redshirt senior Soma Vainuku and senior Jahleel Pinner. Barring some weird circumstances, they will both be gone after the 2015 football season. The strange part is that Steve Sarkisian has not signed a single fullback during his tenure as head coach. He has seemingly not recruited any either.

Evidence that he is trying to phase out the position doesn’t end there. He has been reducing the number of plays utilizing a fullback in favor of split back, pistol, or even empty formations. Furthermore, he lines up his “fullbacks” in running back or even receiver positions.

He has used fewer power runs with a fullback leading block. However, most of these plays worked well when he ran them. Perhaps that is because the offensive personnel is still greatly leaning towards a “pro-style” offense rather than a hurry-up, no huddle spread out of the pistol. If Sarkisian chooses to continue moving the offense in that direction, it’ll only take a recruiting cycle or two more to change the offense’s identity.

But I argue that he should not go that route. I’m even generous enough to explain my reasoning beyond ESPN user comments of “SARK IZ DUMB!1!!1ONE.”

With so many teams using more and more spread out formations, there is value in using less common tactics and plays. A team’s defensive staff only has a limited amount of time to install a defense and prepare for a particular opponent. For example, if eight of the Pac-12 teams are using an air raid offense, a defensive coordinator would probably drill in defensive plays designed to stop that. If USC decided to become the 9th team to install an air raid offense all of a sudden, that would only help opposing defenses to be less spread thin on preparation.

Ever wonder how some random team running a weird offense can upset some big teams? A large contributing factor is that the higher ranked team couldn’t spend as much time preparing for such a niche problem. They were probably hoping the talent differential would overcome any preparation deficiencies. Meanwhile, the lower ranked team was probably looking at it like the freaking Super Bowl and studying the crap out of their opponent.

USC is usually the team that everyone is gunning for, which is more reason not to play such a common offense. Don’t make defensive coordinators’ jobs easier. Most other teams aren’t even capable of running plays that utilize a fullback well. Teams with spread formations sought to take advantage of good athletes on the outside while having traditionally smaller and less capable blockers. They had to find a schematic advantage when they couldn’t recruit the same kind of huge linemen and players that college football blue bloods like Alabama, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, USC, etc. could (yeah, yeah, I know some of them have started switch to spread offenses).

Since USC can get these kinds of guys, they should play to their strengths and against everybody else’s. Using a fullback on more plays doesn’t mean that their offense would be devoid of versatility. The potential for trick plays and offensive wrinkles is still there. Instead of just running down the middle with the running back on 3rd and short or trying a QB sneak, throw a fullback dive in your arsenal. A fullback doesn’t just have to be a blocker on passing plays either. If they recruit a good athlete to the position, they can have him make key catches as well. The Trojan offense was bailed out many times on third down by surprise plays like former fullback, Stanley Havili catching out of the backfield.

Here’s another funny anecdote: who helped recruit Havili? None other than Sarkisian. Maybe I’m just being overly dramatic and Sark has plans. Plans like converting one of the twenty tight ends that he picked up during the offseason to fullback. It worked well when Kiffin converted Rhett Ellison to fullback preceding the 2011 season. Either way, the demise of the position is greatly exaggerated.

CommBro Breaker

Apparently none of the kids these days eat their vegetables or look both ways before crossing. And none of them play fullback. Maybe Sark just sees the writing on the wall—or lack of writing on his Facebook wall from fullback prospects. Just poke around a recruiting website to see how dismally few fullback recruits are around.

The Ghost of Trojan (Uniforms) Past

As I’ve referenced in a past post we’ve hit a sad stage in the offseason. But now, not only is football over, even the NBA season is finishing up. The dark days ahead can only be pacified by one thing: wild, wild debate. I’ve already talked about the possibility of a new jersey. Let’s take that a little further.

Gather here, one and all, to take part in this coarse ritual. The theme for this trifling affair is the iconic USC uniform—a source of constant debate.

“Stick with tradition and change nothing. Don’t follow the Oregon fad,” some will say.

Others might drop in with, “We need to change it up. Only wrinkly old people want to keep it the same. Let the kids get what they want.”

The whisperings from the west spoke of helmet changes once before. Hark! The harbringers of darkness—thy Trojan gladiators shall attack donning the garbs of twilight. Foretold were warriors with crowns black as the witching hour, exacting their fury upon the Pacific Dozen.

Thou hast been deceived! The overseer of sport, Patrick Haden taunted us in his prancing pagan dance von Harlem. ‘Twas but a ruse.

Seriously though. Should there be change? And if so, how much? (Sorry to phrase it like a question on an AP test). Remember the whole black sock fiasco? When Lane Kiffin first became head coach at USC, there was some controversy over Ronald Johnson’s black socks. That might’ve been a bit too particular and picky. Maybe if Ronald Johnson had left the locker room wearing Ronald McDonald cleats, it will have gone too far.

Only the stuff of bruin dreams

Only the stuff of bruin dreams

After Pete Carroll changed from stripes back to chevrons in the early 2000s, the uniforms did not budge for a decade. Come 2012, with all the preseason hype, USC saw the introduction of cardinal and gold gloves and cleats.

Chrome helmets followed about two years later, which seemed fairly well-received. I can’t say for sure though, since I didn’t even bother to conduct a straw poll. The good thing is that they weren’t used every game. In a case like that, it would seem everybody wins. The recruits, players and fans get something new; it doesn’t stray too far from what Trojan fans are accustomed to; and the number of jimmies rustled was low.

Back to the debate…since I can’t help but inject my opinion everywhere, I’ll tell you mine. They should be able to tweak a little bit here and there. Maybe trot out one alternate for a single game every few seasons. Nothing too crazy. Some 17-23 year old that will be around for 1-5 years shouldn’t get to drastically alter the tradition of a 126 year old program. That’s not to say they shouldn’t get input.

CommBro Breaker

This used to be a thing. The ’90s were a dark time…

WHY THE TODD MCNAIR – LLOYD LAKE PHOTO IS FAKE AND WHY IT DOESN’T EVEN MATTER

I have been given the privilege to guest-write on City of Angles and will hopefully not blow away any future chances of guest-writing again.

Without further ado…

WHY THE TODD MCNAIR – LLOYD LAKE PHOTO IS FAKE AND WHY IT DOESN’T EVEN MATTER

"Original"

“Original”

Apparently the NCAA has released a briefing (which is anything but brief) regarding why they know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Todd McNair is a boldfaced liar. And it all revolves around…a selfie. And no we are not talking about “The Chainsmokers” selfie, because if we were, then there would’ve at least been a half dozen more selfie retakes and thus more “photo evidence”. This leads me to my first piece of circumstantial evidence on why the photo is fake.

#1. One Photo—One Perfect Photo

Isn’t it curious why there was only one selfie taken? I’m no selfie expert, but I do know that getting the first elusive money selfie shot with a 2005 cell phone is probably as slim of a chance as Cal beating USC for the National Championship next year. How do I know there weren’t any more shots taken? Because that would’ve clearly helped NCAA’s case and they would’ve released it (or USCFootball.com would’ve). Bam! Onto point two.

#2. The Original Shot

If you are thinking, “what original shot?” that is precisely my point. There isn’t one. Or they aren’t willing to show it. Isn’t curious that these dimensions are not typical of any phone and that the photo was therefore cropped? Some of you may be saying, “But wait, you said that selfie shots are hard to take and maybe they had to crop it, right?” hate to say this (well not really 😛 ) but—you’re wrong—kinda. You see, that would’ve been slightly believable; however, they also changed the photo format from the traditional jpg (the type a cell phone generally takes) and converted it to a bmp. This makes it extremely difficult to conclusively determine whether the photo was fake or not. Where there’s smoke, there’s usually a chimney—burning and altering evidence. Anywho, there is still the issue of Lloyd being in the photo. If you believe that this photo still has the possibility of being genuine, then I will present you my final, more concrete piece of evidence.

#3. “The Phantom Phinger”

I’ve looked this up and unfortunately couldn’t find an explanation. Let’s take a quick gander at the finger resting on McNair’s shoulder on the photo above. Does something seem off? Actually, lets rewind a little first. The whole photo looks off. The awkward pose, the hand that doesn’t seem to belong to anybody, the two successful photo-bombers (and apparently wannabe agents). It was so awkward that, my good friends and I decided that we would try to remake this photo.

Very Awkward Pose...

Very Awkward Pose…pheaturing the phantom phinger

Yeah, this probably didn’t work due to our photo taking skills if anything but thought it would be fun to try…you know for perspective purposes.

Back to the “phantom phinger”. If the way his finger is cut doesn’t scream photoshopped, I don’t know what does. It looks completely cut as if he is digging his finger into his clavicle region. Even the reflection off his fingernail looks off (that may be my eyes want it too though).

Lastly, why it doesn’t matter…

Now I know there are some of you that still don’t believe (most likely USC-haters and NCAA-lovers); however, this doesn’t even matter…not in the slightest. By a show of hands, how many of you have ever taken a photo with someone you didn’t know? Yes this includes photobombings, parties, tailgates, concerts, etc. Now how many of your friends just assumed that because you have a photo with someone, you must’ve talked about: (insert subject here). Sounds a little ridiculous doesn’t it. Well that’s exactly what happened. The NCAA made assumptions that: (1) McNair must’ve known these people (2) McNair must’ve talked about giving Bush benefits. These assumptions were all “validated” through one major piece of evidence: the selfie.

Ultimately, I understand that I brought up a ton off the wall evidence and points of view that are all pretty circumstantial; however, here’s the kicker—so did the NCAA and yet they acted on it, in attempt to destroy a football program and a coaches career. And kids, this is why you don’t go to parties.

Thank you and until next time,

Johnny Foosball

 

CommBro Breaker

Your homie, commbro is back. People normally do forewards for this sort of thing, but screw it—afterword. I don’t get this whole Phantom Menace business or whatever, but that picture is about as bad as Jar Jar Binks. That means someone just created because they thought they were being clever (sorry George Lucas. Still Trojan bros, right?) Anyway, we hoped you enjoyed that little tirade. It saved me from doing a rant myself.

Norm’s No Joke

(Photo credits: Harry How/Getty Images North America)

(Photo credits: Harry How/Getty Images North America)

In my inagural blog post, I talked at length about why I think Sarkisian is not living up to his potential. A tad on the negative side (an understatement). During that tirade, I brought up Sark’s connection and fallout with Norm Chow. Why is this a big deal? Because Chow is a little too well-connected to alienate like that.

Maybe he actually eats children in life and just comes off as laid-back and a decent dude to the media. Oh well. What we can look at is his football career, so I’ll get back to doing what I used to do. It’s time for a history lesson.

Norm Chow’s body of work up until 2008 was nothing short of insane. His resume includes coaching two-time Super Bowl winner Jim McMahon (BYU), perennial Pro-Bowler and Hall of Famer Steve Young (BYU), current San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (NC State) as well as Heisman winners Ty Detmer (BYU), Carson Palmer (USC), and Matt Leinart (USC). This was followed by half a decade of unfortunate circumstances and inconsistency at the quarterback position.

His football career started at the University of Utah, where he played offensive guard. It was perhaps his first taste of quarterback instability. He would later return to the Utes an offensive coordinator much later in his career.

After a brief stint in the Canadian Football League, he found his way to coaching at a high school in Hawaii. The first career breakthrough he experienced was also his longest stop to date: Brigham Young University. By the end, his title looked like something out of a book of tongue twisters. Assistant head coach/offensive coordinator/quaterback/receivers coach after literally decades of work. However, the 27 years leading up to his departure did not start so prestigiously for him.

In 1973, he began as a lowly graduate coaching assistant, eventually working his way up. Under head coach LaVell Edwards, Chow and the BYU Cougars strung together some of BYU’s most legendary seasons, including an NCAA record 14-win season set in 1996 (which has since been tied). The quarterback during that season is one you’re probably familiar with—Steve Sarkisian. Chow and Sark would later reunite at USC.

At the turn of the millenium, Chow made a big move that led to a very brief stint at North Carolina State. After spending almost three decades at BYU, he worked for one at NC State—quite the contrast. Notably, he molded freshman Philip Rivers, capping off the season with ACC Rookie of the Year. Chow’s stay was cut short when a paticular former NFL coach came calling. This coach had just been hired at USC and wanted Chow to be their new offensive coordinator.

Pete Carroll brought Norm Chow onboard to improve the passing game. It was here that Chow was able to mentor consistent quarterbacks in Palmer and Leinart. Carroll also employed two relative unknowns: Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian. Kiffin and Sark tinkered with the offense that Chow brought from BYU, creating something even greater. The combination of the three offensive minds Chow, Sarkisian, and Kiffin took USC to untold heights. In the 2004 season, their USC team destroyed Chow’s former employer in LaVell Edwards Stadium. That 2004 run culminated in the greatest beatdown in a BCS National Championship game. That 55-19 win still stands as the largest margin of victory and most points scored by a single team in a BCS title game. After all the glory and fame, the trio would not last much longer.

A few weeks later, former USC defensive back Jeff Fisher took Norm Chow to the Tennessee Titans for the same position. As luck with have it, Norm Chow got Texas quarterback, Vince Young, as a top 10 draft pick instead of Matt Leinart. Both these quarterbacks from a supposed “Game of the Century” eventually washed out of the NFL. Chow was fired in 2008, just one season after helping Vince Young win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Luckily, Chow was a hot commodity at that point. His next landing spot was with USC’s crosstown rival, but he would find no solace there. Quarterbacks Richard Brehaut and Kevin Prince were constantly injured or playing inconsistently. Their attempt at installing the pistol offense probably did not help their instability either. His Bruin teams were 0-3 vs. USC, nearly completing a triumvirate of 28-7 losses—they were saved by USC’s infamous 2-minute defense in the 2010, allowing UCLA to score a touchdown in garbage time. Like his time with the Titans, he was fired after just three seasons.

Not too much time passed before he received an offer to work under Kyle Whittingham at Utah.

Back at his alma mater, Chow was poised to do well. Utah was making their Pac-12 debut. Their starting quarterback, junior Jordan Wynn, had helped lead Utah to consecutive 10-win seasons.

On September 10, 2011, Chow and Kiffin faced off against each other in the first ever Pac-12 conference game. The match was a struggle right down to the very end. USC quaterback, Matt Barkley, threw for 264 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception while Wynn managed 238 yards, 1 touchdown, 0 interceptions. The score was 17-14, in USC’s favor, with 11 seconds until the end. Utah opted for the field goal, taking the call out of Chow’s hands. The kick ended up being blocked and returned, making the final score 23-14.

USC blocks Utah’s field goal and returned it for a touchdown as time expired

Two weeks later, Wynn took a season-ending injury to his shoulder against Washington. Utah tripped their way to a 8-5 season, their worst since Whittingham’s first season in 2005. Chow departed to be the head coach of Hawaii shortly after, spending only that lone season at Utah.

In what seemed to be an inescapable loop, Chow would face his former coworker Kiffin twice more. The following season opened with rank #1 USC tearing apart an outmatched Hawaii from the very first play. The contest ended 49-10, without really being a contest. They played a few quarterbacks throughout the season. Chow and his Warriors scraped up a 3-9 record, with a point differential of -31 in their losses.

The results of the 2013 were even worse. Hawaii fought it out against #24 USC for their first game. The only thing he managed to beat was the betting spread. Kiffin used the game as a sounding board for his quarterbacks and still managed to cruise to a 30-13 victory. The Warriors would only win one game the entire year. For the second straight season, his team finished last in the Mountain West Conference. The patience at Hawaii may be wearing thin.

CommBro Breaker

Although Hawaii would be safe from USC on the field in the 2014 season, their storylines found a way to cross yet again. Max Wittek transferred in despite splitting quarterback duties to beat down the team a season ago. He spent the year on the bench because of the NCAA transfer rules.

During the offseason, the team respected Wittek enough to elect him as one of the captains. Now Chow and Wittek both have a chance to redeem their reputations. The expectations the two had failed to live up to can be realized in 2015. Wittek can be the consistent quarterback Chow has not had since his days at USC.

Hawaii has never really won on the strength of their defense. If they’re going to win, they’re gonna do it in a shootout. If Wittek can score against Mountain West defenses, they can win.

I, for one, hope these two Trojans succeed at their new stop. As they say: Trojan for life.

Pete Carroll Back for a Weekend

Pete Carroll made it a weekend trip to Los Angeles last week. The Seattle Seahawks head coach and former USC head coach returned to campus for a victory lap.

His first stop, strangely enough, had nothing to do with athletics. Bright and early on a Friday morning, he walked across the commencement stage and received an honorary doctorate from USC. That’s right, Coach Carroll is now Dr. Carroll. The guy that has won 7 Pac-10 championships, 2 college national championships, 2 NFC championships, and one Super Bowl title (narrowly missing 1 more college national championship and 1 more Super Bowl title) now has a higher degree than you do (or at least tied).

The following day he made an appearance for his induction to the USC Hall of Fame. Both Carroll and former USC linebacker, Jack Del Rio, were part of the 2015 class. During Carroll’s Q&A session with the media, he had some great things to say regarding USC, the sanctions, and his time in the NFL.

Pete Carroll at the Hall of Fame Induction

Pete Carroll at the Hall of Fame Induction

On Todd McNair: “The fact that Todd continues to fights the fight that he has to regain his reputation and opportunities, I think is really stellar. He’s taken a stand and he’s stuck to it and there’s a lot of information that comes to light because of that, so I’m proud of him.”

On how USC is handling the situation: “As far as what happens after, the university knows what they’re doing. They’re on it and they’ll do a great job of dealing with the issues when the judgment comes down.” and “What I do hope is that the university eventually gets what they rightfully deserve.”

On his time with the Seahawks how it relates to USC: “I’m proud to say that we’ve gone to the NFL and won in similar fashion to show that we knew what we were doing”

His entire presser can be found here.

CommBro Breaker

While he clearly remains popular with many Trojans, there are those outside the halls of USC that feel quite differently. There was still a noticable amount of backlash on social media sites (full of morons, I know). Despite all the news regarding the Todd McNair case and the injustice wrought by the NCAA, public perception still seems to be against USC. They believe that the acknowledment of what Pete Carroll has done for the university is an example of everything wrong with USC’s culture—how cheating is rewarded. It has almost been ten years, and people are still ignorant of the situation.

When will USC take charge of repairing their tarnished reputation? As a Comm professor (Durbin) once told me, bad news has to be taken care of immediately. With all the resources USC has and the importance of USC Football, it feels like they could’ve done more. USC Football does a lot in terms of funding other sports and bringing in other intangible benefits (not to be mistaken with impermissible benefits).

Granted, there’s no way to defeat ignorance on every corner of the world, but USC should do all that it can. For everything else, there’s the wise, wise words of Taylor Swift…

Come on, say it with me

Come on, say (or sing) it with me

Bryce Paid the Price

(Photo credit; Winslow Townson/Getty Images North America)

(Photo credit; Winslow Townson/Getty Images North America)

The university announced publicly on Thursday that Bryce Dixon has been removed from the USC Football team. I don’t really talk about rumors, so I won’t say anything, I’ll just show you.

Interpret how you want, but I think the implications of his tweets give enough to get a picture of what’s happening. This is the sort of thing that is just bad for every party involved.

A New Jersey?

Ah, the iconic USC jerseys. Barely changed through decades—a century even.

away jerseyBut barely means it still gets changed. You may have noticed the colors getting more and more pale. On TV, the jerseys look straight up like someone set the wash cycle a bit too long.

Sure a few shades of color may be hard to get right with different materials. If they want to stick with Nike’s cutting edge designs and materials, slight variation are expected. Where crap crosses the line is the back of the jersey. Starting from the 2013 season, they looked like this:

2013 (Original photo taken by John McGillen)

2013 (Original photo taken by John McGillen)

These jerseys didn’t get any better the following season. They added the chrome domes and still had terrible jersey backs.

2014 (Original photo taken by John McGillen)

2014 (Original photo taken by John McGillen)

You can even completely read the USC on the branded back plate. Considering how USC is literally the last FBS program that does not include names on jerseys, I could see how this is pretty low on the priority list for the folks at Nike, though. It’s mostly unnoticable for other schools, but the USC ones hurt to look at for extended periods of time.

Nonetheless, I am reservedly anticipating an improvement for the 2015 season. Why? While you were all busy trying to see what Town and Browne could do, I was staring at their jerseys. Something definitely looked different. Take a look for yourself:

Stark Contrast...Sark Contrast? Sorry, couldn't resist. (Original photos taken by John McGillen)

Stark Contrast…Sark Contrast? Sorry, couldn’t resist. (Original photos taken by John McGillen)

After seeing the difference, there is only one thing you can say:

Wow.

Wow.

Hopefully, Todd Hewitt and his equipment managers have a couple hundred of these in their stockroom for the upcoming season.

CommBro Breaker

None of this will undo this monstrosity:

USC Logo

USC in the NFL Draft (and other pointless musings)

The draft is over and the picks are in. For those who are too lazy or just didn’t have time to watch the draft (honestly, other than general managers and head coaches, who does?), here they are:

Leonard Williams (DE/DT)- 1st round, 6th overall to the New York Jets
Nelson Agholor (WR)- 1st round, 20th overall to the Philadelphia Eagles
Josh Shaw (S/CB)- 4th round, 120th overall to the Cincinnati Bengals
Javorius “Buck” Allen (RB)- 4th round, 125th overall to the Baltimore Ravens
Randall Telfer (TE)- 6th round, 198th overall to the Cleveland Browns
Hayes Pullard (LB)- 7th round, 219th overall to the Cleveland Browns

Gerald Bowman (S)- undrafted free agent to the Baltimore Ravens
George Farmer (WR)- undrated free agent to the Dallas Cowboys
J.R. Tavai (DE/OLB)- undrafted free agent to the Tennessee Titans
Aundrey Walker (OG/OT)- undrafted free agent to Miami Dolphins

(Photo credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images North America)

(Photo credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images North America)

Unfortunately, that leaves Andre Heidari as the lone scholarship senior without a shot in the NFL. Hopefully, he had other plans. Leonard Williams is the only one out of these juniors and seniors that will be the only Trojan on their team, but he joins an already scary defensive line.

With the addition of these ten players, there are now 52 Trojans in the NFL (including practice squads). However, by the time the 53-man roster cuts come around, there will probably be a lot of movement.

It’s interesting that if you took all of these players and added one more, it would be a complete NFL roster (in terms of numbers). The depth would be absolutely horrid and badly distributed, but you could definitely scrape a team together. It actually works out to 26 on defense and 26 on offense. With zero injuries, this mock team could possibly be competitive:mock defense 05-02-15mock offense 05-02-15

Go ahead and hate on my 10 minute fake depth chart. I haven’t followed some of these players in years, so I have no idea what their abilities are like at the moment. The point was just to get them all on the chart to see if fielding a full 22 was possible. To make them all fit in there, some people had to be moved out of their best position.

CommBro Breaker

Enough daydreaming—or maybe not. We’ve hit that point in the offseason. No more signing day, no more spring practice, free agency, Combine, spring games, Draft—everything is over. Maybe all that’s left is daydreaming. We must survive the drought which is, unfortunately, both literal and metaphorical. At least one of them ends in August…Sorry to crap on your hopes and dreams, dude. You can always come visit this sad place.

Welcome to LA

The christening of a new blog is a difficult endeavor. What topic should the inaugural post cover? Good or bad, the post will linger for eternity in the annals of the internet or plastered across social media. Somewhere, someplace, someone will dredge up things you would wish were forgotten, much like parents would at thanksgiving dinner.

Figure A

That’s why I am giving up before I even start. Why spend all my time stuck in analysis paralysis? I’m going to go down guns blazin’.

Sit back and get ready to get shot at. Oh, and I know you’re not supposed to end a sentence with a preposition. Consider it a first step down a dark road.

Let’s jump back for a moment to analysis paralysis. USC head coach Steve Sarkisian mentioned that he minimized the “paralysis by analysis on gameday” at the 4:04 mark of a radio interview with Colin Cowherd. Rather, it seems Sark is guilty of the opposite problem—analyzing too little. His playcalling and overall management of the team has been less than spectacular the past season.

How about analyzing the opponents’ gameplans and making halftime adjustments? Or not calling the same play ad nauseam after it works once.

That’s not the only time he tried fixing the wrong problem. Try listening to the ripe nugget at around the 3:45 mark of the interview. He claimed that he wanted to “maybe de-emphasize some of the play upfront.” Did he see what the UCLA defensive line did to his offensive line? Heading into the Crosstown Showdown, they gave up an average of 2.2 sacks per game. UCLA exposed some glaring weaknesses as they sat Kessler on his butt six times, including twice on third down.

No doubt the lack of physicality was further exacerbated by the lack of full contact practice—much like the 2015 spring game. Kiffin tried that too and it looked like his team couldn’t tackle at all the first season. Then Kiff wised up and had himself a good season—before regressing and falling into his old ways. Sark might want to analyze what worked and didn’t work for his predecessor and former colleague.

Also, consider this quote from Seattle Times article back when he was first hired:

“Sarkisian, who took over as offensive coordinator at USC in 2007, has inevitably been compared to Chow since. Some Trojans fans lament that the offense hasn’t looked quite as explosive the past few seasons.”

Change the year from 2007 to 2014 and you might think that line was freshly inked. Hmm…

Further in that passage it says that, “Sarkisian’s defenders pointing out Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart left around the same time.”

What’s the new age equivalent to that? Sanctions and short on bodies? A new year, a new excuse.

What’s the next excuse going to be? You can keep coming up with excuses just like Sarkisian. He talks a good game, just like Washington Huskie fans will tell you.

From the same Seattle Times article, Sark had this to say about former OC Norm Chow:

“’Obviously, the time when he was leaving USC and I was coming in, we grew apart,’ he said. ‘The less time you work together, the further you grow apart. And he ended up at our rival, and that didn’t help. It is what it is. He’s been a very good mentor to me, and we had some great moments together. I think someday it will grow itself back together again.’”

Sark (far left) and Norm Chow (far right) as coworkers (Photo from usctrojans.com/blog)

Sark (far left) and Norm Chow (far right) as coworkers (Photo from usctrojans.com/blog)

At a certain point, things don’t just happen. He has to make it happen—he has to deliver on those words. Call up Norm to patch things up. Find some solid counters to his rivals’ playcalls. And Sark seems unable to deliver. Like Kiffin, the problem is not about their football prowess or knowledge. The problem lies in their personalities. Kiffin would turtle up and stubbornly stick to it. Sark eschews comprehensive preparation in favor of letting things happen. Sometimes it works (@Stanford, @Arizona, Nebraska), sometimes it doesn’t (Arizona State, @Utah), and sometimes it massively fails (@Boston College, UCLA).

If it happens once or twice, sure maybe they were freak accidents. When it happens this often, it kind of makes a pattern. He’s not some first year head coach floundering around in the big time. He had five entire years at Washington to learn and adapt. The time for excuses is over.

Remember the last time someone tried to learn on the job at USC? At least Kiffin was a little more offensively inventive (at times) and took some risks. He also gave us a story worthy 10-2 season.

Whether I or anybody else likes it, Sark will have the next two seasons, at the very least (barring some huge…scandal). Can he outdo the previous visor-man in that time period?

By the way, I don’t irrationally hate Sark, but he has shown little reason for me to like him. I’ll be happy if he proves me wrong—IF. Too bad that’s a taller order than Venti mocha crapuccino.

CommBro BREAKER

But here’s another angle for you (in case you still thought I was a single-faceted hate machine): When Pete Carroll was speaking at USC back in February of 2014, he brought Sark onto the stage and publicly endorsed him as head coach. Without much regard to his other offensive coordinator protégé, Kiffin, Carroll claimed that he tried to make USC hire Sark as head coach on his way out to Seattle.

I ain’t some fortune teller (you can go to some horoscope blog for that crap), but I am not confident in what I saw from last season. The only thing that keeps me from becoming said single-faceted hate machine is the recommendation of someone who has “been there, done that.”

By the way, fight on and stuff, yo.