This is getting ridiculous.
I haven’t felt a need to directly address (a portion of) our fanbase since the sanctions came down and students were literally flooding social media with depressing messages about “there’s always the Lakers” and other related sanctions-depression minutia.
I haven’t felt the need because since we formalized Arrogant Nation, we started embracing a culture of taking hits and laughing at them. Tyler Durden taking a beating in Fight Club and spitting blood on his assailant to make his point. That’s been us since sanctions. That’s why we embraced Kiffin (and we were right to do so). That’s why we punk GameDay whenever it’s in town. That’s why we are at our best when we are defying the odds. It’s this behavior that separates us from all of the Pac 12. The way we go about it is what separates us from the SEC, where old men who couldn’t even get into Auburn (as unbelievable as that sounds) will spend the rest of their lives caring less about their grandchildren being born than that one magical day they won the Iron Bowl on a missed FG and ended up… In the Sugar Bowl? Losing to Missouri the next week? Who cares.
We branded our arrogance in a really, really fun way that is organic to us. Win or lose, beer pong strokes, the best looking cheerleaders in the world, playing in an Olympic stadium. This is a proud tradition. This is a psychosis, but one we’re medicated for. It’s a focused freak out. Ask anyone who spotted me on Trousdale and poured bourbon.
People are starting campaigns on twitter to send Coach O thank you cards. Seriously a hashtag (#cardsforcoachO) that sounds more like a charity event than sending a former coach a card. All the talk of players crying about him leaving. And all of our fans actually retweeting things like this so the whole world can see.
Let’s separate the business from the pleasure here, folks. Every player on this team, every single one since Paul Dee pointed his fat, now-dead finger at us deserves thank you cards. They could have left, they could have phoned it in. Cody Kessler deserves your love, but I remember when he was being turned on in a rotation with turning on Wittek in the beginning of the season.
The players deserve unconditional love because they are playing for the glory of the school. Coaches are a different story and if you don’t get that, I am sorry to tell you it was your parents that put a dollar under your pillow when you lost a tooth.
Who is Coach O?
Coach O is a great line coach, recruiter and motivator. He is an iconic presence at USC for his roles in two periods of USC football history. He speaks like a chubby, drunk James Carville and that is endearing. He is a player’s coach that players love. He is someone I will always remember fondly.
He is also 16-30 as a head coach including this year. Any other human being with that record would be laughed out of the building as a HC candidate at USC. He lost to both of our rivals. He was a 4th and holy-shit-he-caught-it from a 5-3 record and there being zero conversation about his coaching potential at all.
Coach O left his highly paid assistant role less than a decade ago when a personal business decision lead him to take over at Ole Miss, where he failed. If Kiffin failed, Coach O wasn’t even on the sidelines. Yeah, Coach O has the love, yells “fight on” in interviews and isn’t a total dickhead like Kiffin. But Kiffin has a winning record as a college coach. He was 7-6 in his first year at Tennessee.
So anyone thinking Coach O was a reasonable choice, he wasn’t. Anyone who thinks he learned enough to be a “USC caliber” hire didn’t want the second half against UCLA where Mora kept doing the same thing because we made zero adjustments. The “motivation” factor didn’t matter much in that game, did it? I mean, this is a lot of positive sentiment around a Coach leading a team capable of beating Stanford, but allowing UCLA to flat out beat us up in an anomaly of football history.
And about Stanford. Stanford and USC decided they were going to stand in the middle of the ring and punch each other. There’s no creativity to their offense and I’ll take our horses over theirs any day. That was a great win, I’ll remember Coach O fondly for it, but Stanford does one thing and does it well. The rest of the Pac 12 powers and big teams nationally do more. UCLA did more all over the field at the Coliseum.
Check yourself, guys. Coach O is the best assistant coach, recruiter, spit-when-you-talker ever and I really was hoping he honored his word about staying on (and being made the highest paid assistant in CFB) if the right coach was hired. But he didn’t.
And Sark was the right hire.
We need to get 4 recruits in by 12/15. Sark is already recruiting them and the only quality candidate that could get this job done in this amount of time, because USC fans do not tolerate losing seasons. This was the right hire. It wasn’t sexy. But it was right. And if it doesn’t work, it can be corrected and if it does, I can’t wait to see everyone pretending they said I told you so.
We need a “THE KING IS DEAD, LONG LIVE THE KING” moment here. Sark is the new caesar. Form a phalanx, Praetorians.
I want to address everything so bear with me.
Many have said that the players crying when Coach O left means we owe him something. He was a player’s coach. Of course they are sad. They just went through a traumatic time. But did any of you see Speed with 17 time Academy Award winner Keanu Reeves? Relationships built under pressure situations don’t work. Kiffin. And eventually, O. They were crying because they’ve been through a lot, not because they made half time adjustments and beat UCLA.
Coach O himself said he knew he lost the job when he lost to UCLA. He is leaving because he wants to be a head coach. He currently doesn’t have a job. Anyone feel like the best way to interview for an HC job would have been to tell the players I’m gonna stick around and coach you in the bowl and show the nation I can keep them motivated? I mean, I get the sense there are some colleges that might respect that. Especially the ones that would hire Coach O, ones that aren’t our rivals. Or in our class.
Instead, he peaced out and is going to spend that time interviewing in the board room, not on the field. Neuheisel coached out UCLA while Mora hit the recruiting trail. O could have done the same while Sark locked up the mid year recruits.
But he didn’t, because this is a business and he knows it. I want Trojan fans to know that too. This is the second time he’s left USC to pursue an HC job. I believe he loves USC. But stop kidding yourself that he loved us so much he’d do anything. He didn’t. Money wasn’t enough. He wanted to be the man. I respect that. But other than “thanks for helping salvage a season”, we’re good.
We’re not here to reward people for salvaging seasons. We need to prepare to be off sanctions and compete at the highest level with the best possible staff and a full deck of players. Sark is ready to do this and while he isn’t sexy as a pick, I really do think it was a wise one. And as Coach O showed, nothing is forever. We can course correct again, but we were inches away from Coach O being a lame duck. I think he is leaving because he has delusions of grandeur and I think some (getting quieter daily) of Trojan Nation have the same affectation via their affection for Coach O.
I just want to make sure Arrogant Nation isn’t in that group. It’s the Sark era now. I’m going to be on board from day one because come September, he’ll be on the field with the headset.
He was pretty much Carroll’s heir apparent until everyone’s favorite Mike Garrett told him no. He was offered the job before Kiffin. He had the smarts not to take the Raider’s HC job. He’s developed some of SC’s best quarterbacks, in fact, most of them. You don’t have to be thrilled yet, he has to prove himself. But you should be intrigued. Don’t let anyone tell you he had the weapons at UW that he will have here.
Pay your fond farewells to Coach O. Now let’s get back to business. This is football and it’s a business for everyone but the players. And if it’s the players you love, do them a solid and get behind their new head coach. We don’t need to be fighting our fans and the NCAA at the same time. The two front war doesn’t work.