Category Archives: USC Football

Sark Makes USC Look Like Vols Post Kiffin

Guys, I don’t expect you to like this because it’s a super emo time for everyone with our interim coach not getting the chance to follow in a long line of interim coaches that failed as head coaches.

But it’s my job to play devil’s advocate, even against my own fans and fanbase.  This may not apply to you all, but read it anyway.

Today, USC hired Sark away from Washington to replace Coach O who was replacing Coach Kiffin.  This was the USC reaction on Twitter:

Relax, Trojans. This is making you look like SEC fans. I get that this rock was painted for different reasons, but people who flip out about reasonable coaching hires usually think the Gulf of Mexico is the ocean.

Sark is not the big, sexy hire everyone wanted. Short of Pete Round Two or Harbaugh coming to Troy, who was that hire? There wasn’t one.

Which brings us to the second reason everyone is flipping out. People wanted to give Coach O the job. This is because after Kiffin’s 3-2 start had everyone acting like SEC fans (myself a little too), Coach O brought the fan base back, he inspired the players and made USC football feel good again.

That’s cool.

But let’s break this down a little. Sark has taken an 0-12 program to a respectable one in a part of the world (one I live in now) where you don’t get players from LA, Texas or Florida without paying for them (COUGH COUGH CHIP KELLY). Sark had to recruit mid stadium renovations and his best connections are in Southern California.

USC is one of the few schools out there that can get big AND fast players. Oregon has fast players and you see what happens when they play NFL size/speed lines like Stanford.

Sark’s head coaching record is slightly above .500, pretty much what Pete was coming into the USC job (albeit from the NFL). No one dug him either as a hire and all of those people probably named their kids after him.

Coach O was a monster failure at Ole Miss, who won plenty when they had Eli Manning. He had some recruiting, but if Kiffin’s 7-5 and 11-2 wasn’t good enough, Coach O’s previous legacy should scare us more than Sark’s.

When Coach O was at USC, he was a fourth and nine “holy shit” pass to the best receiver USC may have ever put on the field from being 5-3 with losses to both rivals and a team that had been owning us of late. No one is clamoring for a 5-3 interim coach to take over.

I love Coach O. He’s a staple of our family and we should give him so much money to talk him out of having another bad head coaching run somewhere else. We should give him a harrier jet filled with naked girls and stacks of 100s. He’s a Barkley-like figure and I will ALWAYS appreciate what he did for the positivity of the program.

But Sark is a better Xs and Os coach and he’s going to recruit well. It’s already starting.

Sark will run a pro set here because he won’t need gimmicks because USC will remain fast and big.

Another thing is that it’s a little ridiculous to kill Pat Haden over this hire when you don’t know the interview process. Armchair QBing is fine, hell, I have over a million readers a year that like seeing me be one, but keep it real. Sumlin has probably never been to Dorsey high school. Franklin doesn’t know the home address of the Mater Dei booster club heads. Pederson’s Boise State charm already missed it’s window of relevance to recruits he can’t get a phone call with already.

Sark knows all of these people and when he was recruiting for USC, they said yes. When he was recruiting for Washington, they said no. To assume Sark can’t get it done at USC is to assume USC itself cannot be a kingmaker.  King Carroll disagrees.

Am I saying Sark is going to win Rose Bowls and National Championships like crazy? No. Definitely not right away with year 238 of sanctions.

Do I think he could? Sure.

What I am certain of as the Bearfighter, a person that only has a following because I told everyone to stop overreacting when the sanctions first happened, is to stop overreacting now.

Outside of Nick Saban, rarely do coaches do the same thing two jobs in a row. It’s an unpredictable world.

I do know Sark was there, just like Kiffin, just like Coach O, during our greatest tenure in decades and he deserves some respect just like Coach O does.

This is a Trojan who left, took a lot of our staff and frankly would have been a much better hire than Kiffin, but he was probably smart enough to stay away then. Whatever he told Haden, it had to be enough.

Let’s just wait and see. We’ll never know if Coach O would have won next year and if you really loved him, wish him well at the bowl game and be glad you won’t have to find out. He’ll go out a hero.

Please. Enjoy the holidays. Root responsibly. We’ll know a lot more in September after the Dodgers win the NL West.

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Stanford’s Deranged Tree Finally Falls.

The day started out the way I wrote it up.  Arrogant Nation showed up and made not only a great collection of my signs for College GameDay, but a great collection in general.

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But let’s just set the stage.

The sanctions cup has boiled over. After the Miami non-ruling, after the lack of responses from the NCAA on how Paul Dee was allowed to oversee our committee on infractions and after our team has been playing with basically half a deck for this injured season, even the most Trojan faithful had to be wondering when we’d stop being the punching bag for a broken system.

I mean, the Paterno family threatens to sue the NCAA and despite all the, you know, child rape,  they get their penalty reduced. Because The U has a former Clinton staffer for a president who called the NCAA out for botching their investigation and threatening suit, the NCAA tried to convince us that their “self sanctioning” made it work.  It’s been bullshit case after bullshit case and because we didn’t kiss the ring, the one thing the army we were named after refused to do, we got called “arrogant” and pushed without the evidence to support anything more than the wristslap failure to monitor that Oregon got.  But we got the hammer.

And here we were coming into this game on a 4-1 run after our coach gets fired on the freaking tarmac at LAX after a road loss. Here we are with ESPN coming to the Coliseum like they do every year no matter what, hosting a Stanford team that despite the “what’s your deal” game, has been beating us in CLOSE, CLOSE games to the point that you wondered if it was a curse.

I gave an interview to the Stanford Daily about all of this. There’s this illusion that there is parity in the Pac 12 right now because USC is not winning the conference every year. There’s parity because the “1” in the Pac 1 is literally playing with half a team. And for all of that, no losing seasons. What is Cal’s excuse? What will UCLA’s excuse be when their brand positioning as a basketball school comes back and they fade into mid-conference mediocrity. Not this year, but deep in Bruin hearts they kind of know it’s coming. Even when they deny it.

I work in strategy. Positioning. In the country’s mind, USC is the only west coast football power and right now, they are clawing their way out of a dungeon.

Positioning. USC has a lifetime over .700 winning percentage.  32-16 record in bowls.  It hit me that in the decade INCLUDING OUR BOWL BAN we went to 7 BCS bowls, won 6 of them and 2 national titles.

The issue with there being a second power in the Pac 1 is that no one else has broken the glass ceiling.  Stanford has won a couple BCS games.  Oregon has won a couple, but lost the big one that would have made a point.  They are schools with losing bowl records.  It’s easy to see them falling into the middle again.  Or maybe not. There’s been nothing to prove either way.

Look.  It was really contested with Cal for a while and then it turned into 9 years or whatever of us beating them.  Stanford had us for a little bit.  So did WSU for a while.  They won this year.  Anyone think that’s going to be sustainable?

It’s always only ever been us and unlike every team in the conference who has made a run, or had a great era or even couple years of being the bad boys, we’ve done it in every decade to every team.  If any of these teams made a run against us, they have to go undefeated for a long, long time to even the gap.

Here’s our record against the rest of the Pac 1.

59-29-3 against Stanford.
38-19-2 against Oregon.
46-29-7 against UCLA.
66-30-5 against Cal.
51-28-4 against Washington.
57-8-4 against WSU.
59-11-4 against OSU.
29-8 against Arizona.
19-11 against ASU.

Hell, ASU is actually the closest thing to an on-field rival we have.  They could win 9 in a row and tie the series. That’s crazy.

And since there are likely USC haters reading this who will point out eras they perceived we were awful in, let me bring up one stat I’d love for you to compare to your own school:  USC has won a Rose Bowl in the 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s.  We just recently became eligible to play for them again, but it’s worth mentioning we would have played Oregon in the 2011 Pac 12 Championship for a spot in a year where we had already beaten them on the road.

The point is, you wouldn’t bet your pink slip or even 100 dollars that USC is done winning Rose Bowls, National Titles, putting more players in the NFL than anyone else.  You wouldn’t just like I wouldn’t bet 100 dollars USC is making the Final Four any time soon (as much fun as that’d be with Dunk City).

Oregon has won 2 Rose Bowls.  We have won 4 in the last 10 years and we were banned from playing in them two of those years.  USC has had several 5-7 year runs across the history of the sport in which they have equalled the entire trophy cases of many of their “rivals.”

We’re the Yankees, coming with all that victory, baggage and hatred from the rest of the world and in this case, the NCAA itself.

And that brings us to Saturday.

Underdogs, a rare thing in a conference game, even during sanctions.  Playing shorthanded.  Getting calls like THIS made against you:

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Literally, referees unable to read the chains.

And they take their punches in front of a full house of recruits and beat back another Pac 12 team’s chance at a National Title. There is really only one team in this conference that has consistently been able to win the big one and they came into the game unranked.

It made me think of how often USC gets called out for losing the big game. The OSU games. The awful Booty UCLA loss. It happens a lot because we are constantly in the big game. The gravity of USC potentially winning 11 games this season, with this few scholarship players, is so insane they should cue up the 30 for 30 crew. Alabama didn’t survive these sanctions. They had to rebuild.

No losing seasons.

We were named for an army that fought to the death and died. The idea of this school was remaining dangerous even when being beheaded. That’s what Saturday was. It was a reminder that even starved, caged and beaten to death, we can still land a kill shot.

I am so against us rushed the field. I shook my head as we did, but I was smiling because if there was ever a time to do it, it was then. Not because we beat Stanford. It wasn’t because of that. It wasn’t because we beat a highly ranked team.

It was a celebration because it guaranteed that we beat the NCAA. Make no mistake about it. They tried to kill us. Nothing would shown we were hurting like inviting ESPN to the game and having our asses handed to us by a deeper, bigger team that is laying claim to a conference they have no claim on. Wouldn’t have mattered that we never had a losing record during sanctions (what was WSU’s excuse?).  All that would have mattered was a triumphant 66-7 Stanford drubbing in front of the whole country.

But it was Hector’s day. Not Achilles. It was a hero maker day, not because beating Stanford meant so much, but because we told the country “wait til we’re at full strength.”

Everyone knows it now. It was a psychological victory for us, which is rare because we’re always psychologically winning. Hell, we’re myopic fundamentalists about winning. You can never shut a Trojan up with a loss because the Trojan mind (and history) will tell you your win, your five wins, were anomalies. We will win the lifetime series. When future generations get interested in football and Google the Pac 12, they will realize it’s the Pac 1 until someone strings together a couple epic decades and says otherwise.

I am against rushing the field, but to scream FUCK YOU to the NCAA on national television, the Bearfighter will allow it.

a-toast

Here’s to a monday that feels the way it should.

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Seven Signs You Need for USC GameDay

As the Bearfighter has mentioned for years now, College GameDay would come to USC once a year if we were 0-12. We’re the story when we’re good. We’re the story when we’re bad. We’re the story when we’re in trouble. We’re the story when we are compliant (see Teague Egan’s Johnny Drama go-kart). We’re the story when we’re not the story.

And because mighty Stanford is playing lil ole USC this weekend, even though we are not the story, we’re the story again. And that means Arrogant Nation and the rest of all you Trojan fans new to this game have an amazing platform to let America and the NCAA know how you feel. We’ve done it before and it helped me immensely:

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This year, they know that they can’t sanction the endzone. Not even switching coaches midseason and having a team that’s half injured (thxNCAA!) and half walk-ons (thxNCAA!) could stop us from getting into a bowl. We don’t have losing seasons, even if you drop a nuke on us and lightly urinate on the feet of worse offenders and then pretend it was for more than just curing their athletes’ foot.

Well, now you are setting up your TV show in our hometown, on our wet campus where I once flipped a triple burner BBQ I was trying to ride like a long board from 28th Street to campus. Sorry for anyone I inconveniced when trying to lift it back up totally sober at the intersection of Jefferson and Hoover. It was worth it. Sparks flew.

So, my goal for all of you is to ditch the traditional Stanford sucks signs and definitely ignore anything Nerd related because they are owning it:

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Don’t give them the pleasure of acting like they matter. They AGAIN rushed the field at home for beating Oregon, even though they are both top ten teams. Stanford, to their credit, does not give two shits about how bad they are as fans, in fact, they may even embrace it and since most of us use electronics, pharmaceuticals or legal counsel that came from the minds at this school, why don’t we do what Arrogant Nation would do and make this day about us, our problems and our message.

Basically, let’s be that annoying girl who calls her friend to a hungover brunch to talk for the 20th time about a relationship that’s never going to work. Let’s be that girl. Only better looking.

So, here are seven signs I want to see this weekend at the Coliseum:

CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO READ FULL MESSAGE

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And if all else fails, just print this QR code (so 2008 of me) and send them right to me. I’ll let them know.

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I want you to SEND ME EVERY SIGN YOU MAKE and I’ll put them up after the game. Regardless of the sanctions, which we’ve already basically endured, there’s on thing I want and I am dedicating the rest of the season to getting it.

I want the NCAA to finally give us a statement as to how Paul Dee leading our investigation was in any way ethical.

That’s it. I just want to hear the scumbags say it. Or not say it. I just want an answer and I will take it from there.

You job as Arrogant Nation is two-fold. The first is our original goal, which is to use the platform to say the things that USC won’t say. It’s clear by now that Pat Haden thinks it’s best to keep politely asking instead of suing. Fine, but you don’t have to act that way. You can demand some answers. I don’t even want the scholarships back. I just want an answer. Clearly, the sanctions most pundits and reasonable fans know were totally inflated to the point of a Ponzi are bullshit haven’t even given us a losing season. They are just delaying another Rose Bowl or fake-ass NCAA “natty.”

So what. Let them know this weekend.

The other job you all have? HAVE SOME FUCKING FUN AND BRING HOME A WIN.

Your Bearfighter continues to train on the wild bears of the great Pacific Northwest. You’re welcome for the OSU win. I won’t explain.

Share this post with everyone you know at USC and let’s have some fun with the platform. College sports are supposed to be fun. Coach O knows that. We should remember that to. Even it it’s at the NCAA’s expense.

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Miami Ruling Ended My Love Affair With College Football.

I have to say I’ve seen this coming. I’ve seen it coming, but it’s just hard to believe it could actually happen. It’s like the feeling you get growing up and moving into the “adult world” and realizing there’s no set of oracles to consult. Adults, companies, doctors and lawyers make idiotic decisions, just like they did when they were still kids.

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I was the loudest voice when USC was sanctioned by the NCAA. It was too harsh, but at the time, public sentiment was in favor of it because, frankly, most people hate USC. I get why. We historically win a lot of bowls and we do it with a lot of bravado. We have beautiful Song Girls and they look a lot like the rest of the beautiful girls on campus. We’re by the mountains, we’re by the beach and as students, when people claim it’s in the hood, you laugh. You can spend $3000 buying a bottle at Hakkasan in Las Vegas and you won’t meet a better looking girl than you will on 2-for-1 night at the 9-0. To make it worse, we ended up becoming a top 25 school, which really pissed off every Big Ten and SEC school that hated us because with the exception of Michigan and Notre Dame, it’s hard to get consistently good football at a top tier school.

Basically, I get the schadenfreude that went on when we got pinched. Fuck that guy in the Beemer with a hot girl in the front seat eating Wagyu Ribeye with his steak and eggs. Fuck that guy because most of us won’t be that guy. I’m that guy. You are that guy. But most aren’t.

And I blame no one for that.

I blame the NCAA for pinning a baseless case on USC that’s lead to everything from injuries to coaching changes, just not to a losing record. We took our lumps and then we waited.

The more the NCAA was questioned for having less policy than a middle school slumber party attended by girls that hate each other, for having less ethics than, say, Nevin Shapiro and his billion dollar Ponzi scheme and the only less impartial stance than your own mother, the more I realized that until they are eradicated as an organization, there is zero hope for College Football.

Zero.

We watched them get bought, extorted, strong-armed by every school that got caught for something, anything. Nothing would happen.

Cam Newton shopping his services? Play in that bowl. Students can’t be blamed for their parents unless they are Reggie Bush’s parents.

Buckeyes selling team memorabilia? Play in that bowl. It’d totally ruin our ratings to neuter a team of that stature so close to a game. Suspend them early next year when they play cash cow games at home against Ohio and Youngstown State. When you do give them scholarship reductions, make it a player a year. Let Urban Meyer talk about how hard it is.

When Oregon pays a recruiting service that’s only service is influence over athletes from a small area of Texas and then cannot provide any of the recruiting documents that never existed in the first place, the NCAA tells them the Ducks’ proposed self-sanctions aren’t enough. Then they wait a year and slap their wrists barely.

The NCAA decided to harshly penalize Penn State for covering up a decades long sex scandal performed by one of their coaches in their own player locker rooms because it was covered up to protect football. Once the school started to fight back, the NCAA caved. Rape is better than a player’s parents taking money from an agent unrelated to USC operating out of a city some 120 miles south of campus.

All of this, and I still waited for Miami.

For those living under a rock, Miami had dozens and dozens of documented counts of improper benefits coming from Nevin Shapiro, a man now in jail for running a billion dollar ponzi scheme. These benefits weren’t the famous Ohio State hundred dollar handshakes. He was taking players out on yachts, feeding them booze and cocaine, buying them prostitutes and if necessary, paying for their abortions. How close was this man’s booster ties to the school? Well, not many of us get to do this:

I mean, I do, but I never paid players. I was a booster by actually BOOSTING MORALE.

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This case took four years to investigate. It took for years to investigate this man’s connection to the program and the events in question. It took me 30 seconds to Google Image search:

It goes on forever.  And what did Shapiro say when he laid this case on a table for the NCAA?

“I became a booster in late 2001, and by early 2002, I was giving kids gifts. From the start, I wasn’t really challenged. And once I got going, it just got bigger and bigger. I just did what I wanted and didn’t pay much mind toward the potential repercussions.”

…and later…

“I did it because I could,” he said. “And because nobody stepped in to stop me.”

That is lack of institutional control. Yet, it was the Athletic Director who oversaw Miami during the Nevin Shapiro years who was chosen to literally lead the committee on infractions against USC. Through a vendetta of USC becoming the premier power in college football, he dropped the hammer without concrete evidence. A lack of evidence that has Todd McNair’s suit against the NCAA looking like a slam dunk, currently in appeal in an effort to delay the inevitable unsealing of emails that state clearly the NCAA had “malicious intent” to pin something on USC. That already happened, the cadence just isn’t working out fast enough to protect our players who have to play with a team half the size as their opponents because the NCAA doesn’t have the guts to admit they overstepped. Overleaped. They killed a fly with a flamethrower, only the fly didn’t die. It hasn’t had a losing record yet.

Miami got off with no bowl ban, some random probations and the loss of 9 total scholarships over three years because of their “unprecedented” self sanctioning.

So there’s your answer, America. No matter how badly you fuck up, no matter how much an agent of the football team provides sex, drugs and diamonds to players, as long as you admit you were wrong and sit out a bowl game or two, you are good.

USC’s crime was telling the NCAA to fuck off. Now their crime is not suing.

The NCAA has never offered a statement on how Paul Dee, may he fester in peace, was allowed to influence, lead and ultimately coordinate the assault on USC as head of a committee the NCAA put together. There’s never been an inquiry into it. There’s been no look at their decision because the case is closed.

We can’t play with a full team. We have no built in process to force them to answer questions about Paul Dee and about how now a decade later, USC’s case is the extreme outlier thanks to the NCAA’s tail-between-the-legs approach to peeling back their sanctions on Penn State.

The NCAA is on the run. They can’t sell their “student athletes” jerseys on their site anymore. They aren’t licensing their name out. They are boarding up the doors, but for me it might be too late. Until they are gone, I can’t go beyond hoping my college beats the other college on a particular Saturday (or Thursday or Friday so they can make more money in media sales).

I can’t tell anyone in good faith that being an NCAA champion means a damn thing. Not at all. That’s because it doesn’t. It’s like being employee of the month at a bank that played the sub-prime mortgage game and almost tanked our economic system. It’s like being executive chef at a D rated restaurant.

I love USC far, far too much to root for that. So let me be clear. I’m done with college football, but not with watching USC play it. I’ll get excited to see them play their opponent and hope they win, so our team beats their team. That’s pure. Even purer when we actually can field a full team.

But I am done even caring about Rose Bowls. If we play in a Rose Bowl, great. I’ll be excited about playing whoever they trot out against us. But until the NCAA apologizes, gives a real answer about Paul Dee or is nailed for everything they are, I just don’t care what awards we win.

Not a huge deviation from what I’ve always said, but I am furious. It’s confirmation of your worst fears. There’s no one running the ship. And we need to sue for something. I don’t even know what, but if you can sue someone for handing you hot coffee and you spill it on yourself, we can sue the NCAA for what they’ve spilled on us without a hint of wanting to toss us a towel to dry off. O’Bannon is going to win and be the coolest Bruin ever, what Prefontaine is to Oregon, and we’ll get a victory. Somehow. But I want a fucking answer from them about Paul Dee. I want an answer about their process. And since I likely won’t get it, I’m watching the bare minimum of football on television. My Trojans.  Stop telling me this is an amateur sport. The only amateurs are the NCAA.

I am interested in football.

I am interested in USC football.

I am not interested in NCAA football.

And that’s because if there was ever a chance for them to make sense, it was with Miami. Game, set, don’t-give-a-fuck.

Fight on.

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PENN STATE SANCTION REDUCTIONS AND WHY THEY ARE ACTUALLY GOOD FOR THE WORLD.

The NCAA is a house of cards.  If you ever, ever questioned that, stop doing so and stop doing so yesterday. We’re finding out the NCAA is going to start returning scholarships back to Penn State, the school that covered up mass child raping that went on in their own locker rooms.

There’s been plenty of discussion of whether this should have been a sanctionable offense and if all the bourbon left me some memory cells, I recall my opinion is that when the severe “crimes” cited by the NCAA in most sanctions-worthy cases are “failure to monitor” and “lack of institutional control”, they apply in some way to Penn State.

I mean, they failed to monitor a horrific amount of child rape going on in their own locker room by their own coaches and pretty much covered it up for the sake of playing football, which for me, is lack of institutional control.

Since this case, and more appropriately the swinging death axe that is the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit (Go Bruins! just this once) and with the APU (all players unite) movement starting, the NCAA has largely been a paper tiger.  The Johnny Manziel suspension of “one-half” was ridiculous, both in that a player can’t sell his own autograph, but also in that it totally violates the NCAA’s bullshit rules, yet it barely was prosecuted.

How did the Cam Newton case go away in the time it took to prep for the bowl game. Same with the Terrelle Pryor situation.  Wrapped up fast, just in time for everyone to cash in on the bowl.

The NCAA is the dude from Office Space who gets fired and makes a Jump to Conclusions mat.  They are claiming they are “a people person” protecting amateurs, but in reality they only protect themselves.

With the noose tightening, with EA going at their college football game alone now, free to make deals with each school, you have to wonder about the NCAA and how fucking terrified they are.

They’ve pulled out of their big video game.  They’ve stopped selling players’ jerseys on their website (which is amazing that an organization built in the support of amateurism sells amateurs memorabilia while making it illegal for amateurs to sell their own memorabilia).  Basically, these guys are pulling out of ANYTHING that makes them look like what they are:  people persons that are hated by most people.

I don’t care if USC gets any scholarships back.  Really, at this point, we’re the heroes.  When you look at this, when you look at how it is shaking out, you realize that whenever it is we win our next national title, the stories will be ready.  “USC, who got the worst deal, the deal that first called into question at a massive level if the NCAA had any due process of sanctioning schools, has won a national title despite the best efforts of their governing body to murder them”.

Fuck their charity, refuse their shitty offer assuming one ever came, which it won’t.

To admit the obvious, that USC’s potential wrist slap ended up being a drone strike while we were asleep, would be to admit that the NCAA acted out of malice.  It would be to admit they put the now-deceased Paul Dee in charge of our witch hunt even though he was the AD of a Miami school that is still waiting for rulings on a decade’s worth of cocaine yachts, booster sponsored abortions and gifts, all caught on photo and sponsored by a man who got to run out of the tunnel with the team.

It’s about money, guys.  Shame on you reporters who claim the USC sanctions and Penn State sanctions are apples and oranges.  They are rotten fruit distributed by the same supermarket.

USC “should have known” that Reggie Bush was taking money from someone not based in Los Angeles or affiliated with USC in any way and despite total lack of evidence (see the Todd McNair anti-defamation lawsuit that he won in appellate court and now the NCAA has appealed to delay the inevitable).  The judge found the pursuit of McNair to be “malicious” and basically confirm why the process took so long to sanction us.  They had nothing, they acted maliciously to create proof they did and then when they felt like they’d get away with it, they punished us for being arrogant about calling their bluff.

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We got the worst sanctions of the era and I made money creating Arrogant Nation.  Thanks for my BMW, NCAA!

Meanwhile, Oregon pays for a “recruiting service” that has no service beyond influence with Texas players like Lache Seastrunk and LaMichael James.  The NCAA rejects Oregon’s “settlement” basically saying you did way worse than what you are proposing self-sanctions for…  Then…  A year later…

A wrist slap and a “failure to monitor” charge, even though it seems impossible to fail to monitor someone you actively pay to help with recruiting.  Failure to monitor sounds like what USC should have gotten. We failed to monitor the actions between an ex-con in San Diego with no USC ties and a player’s family.  Fine.

You can’t go apples to apples on any of this because it’s all rotten fruit and the NCAA couldn’t define what an apple was if you dropped it in Washington State with a map and a drawing of a Red Delicious.

They are trying to take the heat off and I am certainly not trying to turn the heat up.  I think they are a braindead ponzi scheme and they are incapable of saving themselves.  All we have to do is wait.  It was unfortunate that our success as a football program delayed the time it took for the world to embrace the reality that we were over-penalized.  I live in fucking Oregon.  Most of the fans I meet here agree.  They now know that USC got a raw deal, even if they were glad we did.

The NCAA lost the war, but there are still battles going on and hypocrite zombies to behead.  Instead of the Bearfighter suggesting outrage over Penn State getting reduced sanctions, I humbly suggest you enjoy the show.

What you are seeing is an organization so afraid of another lawsuit that they are reducing their penalties on a school that literally harbored a decade of child rape by a coach and then former coach in their own player locker room, in the showers the team still showers in.

When you apologize to a school that got in trouble for that, you get a clear picture of where the NCAA is at.  They can’t be sued again and it’s not just about the money.  It’s about unsealing documents.  It’s about the world pulling back the curtain and seeing that these people have no process.  They have no continuity.  There aren’t standards despite what they may tell you.

I am happy for Penn State today because they have joined the battle with USC.  Any time the NCAA overextends itself, it leaves itself exposed and they are not smart enough or just enough to protect themselves from a vicious counter.

Light a cigar, pour a bourbon and revel in the sounds of the breaking wood as the tree begins to fall.

If you agree, share this post.  I don’t care what they do.  I’m just enjoying watching them struggle and expose themselves further.  They spilled the gasoline on themselves trying to protect their assets.  They are about to light their asses on fire.

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RANTING ON USC, NCAA, KIFFIN, THIS SEASON AND THE FUTURE OF THE UNIVERSE.

As you can see, this year I am bucking my normal format and spending more time live tweeting during games, the response has been insane.  Those of you that are tweeting with me, it’s been a blast.

For those asking why the new format?  Mainly, I feel like I’ve said as much as I want to say about Tempe, Arizona and Seattle after all the years covering the game.

Now, I am more interested in what is going on with the team, where is the program going and any games that are coming up where we have something to say.

Truthfully, the strangest part of this season is figuring out what goal we’re looking to achieve.  We’re the Kings of the Sanction Era officially.  The NCAA is bracing for the O’Bannon floodgate to open and has decided that all penalties will be wristslaps.  The NFL just quietly handed out 3/4 of a BILLION dollars to about 4500 former players and future law suits so they wouldn’t put the concussion issue on display any more.  EA is not doing NCAA Football anymore.  Well, they are.  But they won’t use the NCAA name.  And the SEC is out too.

Why?  Well, because they are guilty.  Anything they put their name on is just creating more people that are going to sue.  I kind of have a hard time celebrating the game in general.  I am still happy to see USC play.

Fact is, I think we fought the battle and we’ve launched the final missile.  We’re just waiting for it to explode.

We’re the martyr.  Congrats, America.  With two free hands, USC is the best boxer in the land.  With one free hand, we’re still managed to have a winning record.  Every other school has pretty much, at worse, gotten a couple fingers taped together.

I’ve had a hard time with the media story about Texas and USC falling so far.  Texas aside, because, well, let’s not talk about barbecue land because they haven’t been sanctioned.

They listed our post 2006 falling off.  A falling off that includes 3 Rose Bowl wins…  Let me stop you there.  Every school in the Pac 12 except maybe Oregon would have killed to have 3 Rose Bowl wins since 2006.

Then they go into post 2009, but no mention of the most unjust, crippling sanctions of all time.  And I know it’s all about fuck Kiffin right now, but even during these sanctioned seasons, we still won the Pac 12 South once, beat Oregon that year and probably were going to a 4th post 2006 Rose Bowl.  WSU would chop down their apple trees for that resume.  Oregon State would skin all their beavers for that resume.  Arizona State would give up all the breast implants in Tempe for that.

I’m sorry, America, but USC won the National Title for not going down after getting shot in the stomach with a howitzer.  There’s been no losing seasons.  Just disappointment at sanctions, at not being excellent every time.

I’ve taken a step back and I’m saying that even though Kiffin is probably not the guy to take us forward, he deserves a lot of love for taking a job none of our more illustrious NFL alumni would take because of sanctions (Fisher, Del Rio) and he’s kept us from falling that far, gave us some great years with Matt Barkley and Robert Woods and Marqise Lee, and basically taught the world how to dress in all white after Labor Day.

Sorry if the medicine tastes bad, but when Kiffin leaves, and likely soon, you should tip your hat.  Our team dropped off for OUR standard, not college football in general’s.  You’ve seen all the sanctions and no one, not anyone, has had anything near us despite the fact it’s hard to discern how Oregon’s “crime” was less severe than ours.  They’d agree, the rational ones that I live amongst in Oregon.  Once they realize that I wasn’t rooting for their sanctions, they realize that it’s all absurd.  All of it.

All that said, Kiffin is on the thinnest of ice with the Bearfighter.  It comes down to one thing.  It comes down to not picking a quarterback.  Kessler will probably be fine now that he’s the quarterback.  You need the growing pains.  Leinart looked like garbage in his first game, we were just so damn good we beat Auburn on the road.  His numbers were fine, but it’s easy to forget when he grew into a legend that he wasn’t 4th and 9 at Notre Dame from day one.

Not picking a quarterback is losing control of your offense.  I don’t want Jack Del Rio.  I don’t want to pretend Chris Peterson is coming.  Fuck all that noise.  The Bearfighter endorses Clancy Pendergast and his defense which will win us some big games.  This is the steely glance of you’re not ever getting in my fucking endzone.

It worked with Pete.  Defense first and then bring in some offensive coordinator who can manage to draw up valuable plays that lead to touchdowns with superior talent.  We won a lot of Rose Bowls under a lot of OCs. The reason we scored so much back then was we ALWAYS HAD THE BALL.

So chill out Arrogant Nation.  Let’s win as much as we can and stay behind the team.  It’s fun to commiserate on Twitter when our offensive game plan is bubble screening like this girl:

That said, it’s more fun to enjoy the ride because we’re going to win more Rose Bowls.  That’s a fact.  It’s history.  It’s future and not one team on earth would question it and if they did, they wouldn’t bet pink slips on it.  And they shouldn’t.  We haven’t fallen, we’ve slipped and landed on a hot girl and now we’re going to grab drinks.

Who is Utah State?  I DON’T KNOW AND I DON’T CARE.  I just want to see how our defense plays against their offense and I want Clancy to prove he’s as good as I know he is.  You can’t sanction the endzone, but we can sanction yours again.

I’ll see you on twitter RIGHT HERE tomorrow and we’ll get down.  Embrace the new format.  Embrace our new defensive set up.  Embrace Kessler and enjoy the fucking ride Trojans.  Don’t trip out.  That’s what they’d want you to do, whoever they are.  I don’t know, I don’t pay attention.

Our greatest strength is always that rooting for an 0-12 USC team is better than rooting for anyone else ever under any circumstances.  I feel like a winner every time I hear the fight song and that goes with me to work everyday.

FOR MY ON CAMPUS READERS:  My best friends, the dudes that were in my band when I was at USC are blowing up right now and they are playing at Tommy’s Place on Tuesday.  See them now before they are charging you 80 dollars to see them open for Mumford.    Here’s a video:

Here’s the details:

Relevant Details:
Date: Tuesday, 9/24
At: Tommy’s Place
Cost: FREE
Time: Show starts at 8pm – we’re on around 10pm.
Other Stuff: ALL AGES, OPEN TO PUBLIC
Address for student who are too drunk to remember where Traddy’s is: USC Ronald Tutor Campus Center, 3607 Trousdale Pkwy, TCC 330, Los Angeles, CA, 90089-3102
Just go to the thing, I may delay my return travel to Portland to come that’s how much I enjoy it.  So go, tweet/instagram me that you did.  I’ll post it here next time I decide to tear the system an new one and celebrate Clancy.

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THE ONE WHERE I TALK ABOUT WASHINGTON STATE

Thursday is the new Friday again, Arrogant Nation.  That’s a big win for the agency because we’re going to talk last week and this week today.  As in right now.

Tonight is the Fall Sports Rally at Galen and for the first time in 3 years I am not hosting it.  I want to believe this is because I am in Portland, but maybe it’s my documentary or my newfound “keeping it realositiy” that went on during the game on Twitter.

I decided that live tweeting is more fun that a traditional recap (although if there’s an epic game, you know I’ll weigh in like the Bearfighter I am).  I mean, having fun at Kiffin’s expense was so fruitful, I was trending in Los Angeles.  From Portland.  Because two quarterbacks.  Arrogant.

Truth is, we all evolve.  I don’t want to stay the same.  I want to talk football and continue to bleed so much Trojan blood that I use it for bitters in my Old Fashioneds.  That said, you can expect me to be LIVE TWEETING every game I can, so if you don’t follow me yet, maybe FOLLOW ME.  To the death.

THE PART WHERE I SUM UP THE HAWAII GAME…

I dunno.  I’m torn.

Let’s start with some positives.  Kiffin came out in all white like some ghostly necromancer committed to not committing on anything.  Larry Scott already ruined our college football opening day by scheduling us on Thursday so “more people would watch it” which I am sure they didn’t.  At least Kiffin’s white knight visor costume was there to remind us of days passed.

NCAA Football: Southern California at Hawaii

Let’s talk about Clancy’s Ghost Recon 5-2.  I loved it.  As much as Hawaii sucks at everything but vacation, they commit hard to testing DBs.  We took the ball four times from a team that often drops 24 points on their opponent even when getting blown out.

It was all about swarming the QB and beating his ass as much as possible.  This year, the way to slow down the up-tempo spread is going to be to hit the QB in the backfield when he playfakes or does anything deceptive.  When the Oregons of the world have a running back and a wide out converge in the backfield, the game plan is “kill the QB” because he “might” have the ball.  I think this team is suited to execute that.

Defense will keep us in some games.  I’m hopeful.

Also, Tre Madden and Justin Davis showed a lot of moxie, burst, wheels, [insert word] in that second half when our O Line started to get it together.

Albarado’s pink punting boot and George Uko’s belly also are candidates for player of the game.

On the bad side, our O Line didn’t block in that first half (which largely fucked Kessler) and Marqise Lee forgot how to catch the ball and turned a 300 yard game into a 100 yard game (which fucked Wittek).

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These factors led us to have NO STARTING FUCKING QB AND NOW IT IS WEEK TWO.  At least we are 1-0…

THE PART WHERE I TALK ABOUT THE COUGARS.

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We get to play Washington State again, which is amazing because they have the worst logo on the planet. It’s like a 4th grade design contest to redesign their logo actually yielded their official logo.  What the hell is going on here?  I’ll show you in a new feature I call YOUR LOGO SHOULD DIE ALONE.

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Refute that.  I dare you, Palloose-folk.  Look, I’ve been out into the deep woods on Washington now that I live in the northwest and I still can’t find a human that knows where the hell you are hiding your school. I feel like you just give the opposing teams coordinates instead of street directions.

It wasn’t even at this awesome lake I went in to cool my stomach down from bourbon and campfires…

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It’s also a team named after the least original cat ever.  In fact, it’s a name more associated with mothers that have sex with younger men than cats.  I mean, you name your team the Cougars because you just don’t give a shit what you name your team.

How will WSU deal with us not having a quarterback?  They’ll have to prepare hard for one QB who throws the ball into the line and one that throws it a mile past everyone.  GOOD LUCK GAMEPLANNING THAT.

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If there’s one thing to fear this week, it’s the WSU fans who may make the trek.  They have an INCREDIBLE booze-drinking reputation.  They hit bars and empty kegs.  They fucking drank an airplane dry (not sure if that means they drank the blue toilet water and the jet fuel too).

I mean, hide your kegs, hide your wines.

Mike Leach gets his first shot against USC in a series the Trojans own to the tune of 57-8-4.  USC are 15 point favorites and assuming Leach doesn’t lock Marqise Lee in a shed before the game (too soon?), we ought to win this one at home.

Ought thought presumes we kick field goals when they are presented, we catch passes and we block people trying to tackle our people.

Kiffin hopefully spent the week flexing, doing uppers and imparting the philosophy that losing the Pac 12 South is one thing, but losing it because you lose at home to the Cougars is another.

QB Connor Halliday went off against Auburn last week, but threw 3 picks.  The 5-2 will have to hit him a lot, but when you look like Napoleon Dynamite, there’s no telling how he’ll react.

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In fairness, this guy slings the ball, our secondary is a little banged up and if we leave them in the game, the reality that the kid who played banjo in Deliverance might beat us will add unnecessary pressure to the situation.

Need to get it right and get it tight.

THE PART WHERE I PREDICT THE SCORE…

KESSLER USC – 14
WITTEK USC – 17
STIFFLERS MOMS – 17

THE PART WHERE I PLUG SOMETHING COOL…

There’s a dude at my office who loves CFB and he also is hell on a piano.  He wanted to commemorate the beginning of football season.  Well, read this:

Ansel Wallenfang, a writer, director, classical pianist, and football fanatic currently in Wieden+Kennedy’s W+K 12, made a short film and composition called Fantasy Football and Fugue. As a tribute to the upcoming NFL season, Ansel mashes-up the NFL theme songs of CBS, ESPN, FOX, and NBC through classical counterpoint, stunning photography,  and a great sense of humor.

If you don’t want to watch a video like this made by a man named Ansel Wallenfang, you have learned NOTHING FROM ME.

Also, one of his cheerleaders (Shea) was a Song Girl, so click because you are a Trojan and stay for the talent.  I got a kick out of it.

CLICK HERE and watch.

FTFO until you PTFO.

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THE ONE WHERE I TALK ABOUT HAWAII RAINBOWS

It’s a new year.  I’m in a new city surrounded by ducks and beavers.  The grey flannel blanket has yet to be pulled over Portland, so it’s hard to picture football returning, not now, not so far from home and in the middle of a historic Dodgers playoff push.

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But my legion of readers have been tweeting and messaging and emailing me en masse.  From up in the woods, the Bearfighter must answer the call.  There is football tomorrow.  And that is good.

While I have no idea how I will see any of the games up here, I will find ways.  Missing a game has never really stopped me in the past.  That said, I want you to know I plan to experiment with posting this year.  I don’t know if I’ll keep with the AGP/AGR model.  I might, I just don’t know.  It’s my kitchen, you eating what I’m cooking?

We’ll see.  Since Hawaii is not a real game and we’re all bored of Norm Chow jokes, this AGP will be more of a season preview as I’ve had a long offseason to ponder what the hell it all means.

This is about as bad as it’s ever going to get.  Sanctions are over(ish), but our cabinet is as bare as it will be.

We’ve overhauled a coaching staff.  We’ve got a new 5-2 defense being installed.  We haven’t picked a quarterback, which is pretty arrogant, except that it usually helps in winning to pick players to play specific positions.  In interpretive dance, fuck it, you go over there, you spin around in a circle over there.

In football, someone has to put his hands under the center’s junk and lead the offense.

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Kiffin is at his final stand.  I was not invited to host the pep rally this year, like the Lakers, I couldn’t three-peat.  There’s just a ton of uncertainty about what to expect from this season.  Frankly, it reminds me of when I first started writing about football.

What are we to expect from this season?  Well, let’s get into some of that.

The perennial powerhouse gets to be an underdog.  Not an underdog for a national championship (which who fucking wants anyway, the BCS dies with a death gurgle this year).  We’re being called underdogs to win the Pac 12 South.

I’m sorry, there’s never a time on earth USC is not the favorite to win the South.  The South was designed to give USC an opportunity every year to play in the Rose Bowl and make everyone lots of money.

But meanwhile, people are picking UCLA and sometimes Arizona State to win the South.  I understand the ALL UNIVERSE TROJANS last year underachieved, and the UPSTART CAGEY BRUINS won some games.  I understand the blue moon happened and they even beat us.  I am sure they will make a fucking t-shirt to commemorate it.  That’s what Bruins do.

I made shirts to commemorate sanctions.

On that note…  Way to go NCAA.  While they are finally handing out the penalties that make sense for the crimes, they still haven’t apologized to me personally or Pat Haden or Pete Carroll.  Johnny Manziel is sitting out ONE HALF OF FOOTBALL for what Terrelle Pryor sat out a few games (of his choosing) for.  Oregon got a phantom back rub as a punishment for using a recruiting service whose only service was being friends with athletes that they wanted to sing (or buying influence as the rest of the world would say).

We’re still eating shit tacos, but hey.  The BCS is dead.  NCAA Football is no longer a video game and the O’Bannon class action lawsuit is coming.  They are right to limit the people they piss off right now.  Too bad they pissed me off first…  COUGH COUGH

This is just a weird year for college football.  It’s hard to know what to make of any of it at all.  I do know this, I hated seeing all the tweets of people flying to Hawaii today.  I mean, I am glad their going but seeing people flying to Hawaii to watch football and stare at Song Girls while you are walking to the office with your gym bag is like your boss telling you about the vacation he took with your wife.

Anyway, we might as well talk football because Kiffin won’t.

THE PART WHERE WE TALK ABOUT THE GAME

Hawaii returns (insert number of players) from a team that will 100% compete with Arizona for most haka dances done before losing football games.  The only time I really appreciate a haka dance is when I am in the serenity pool at the Four Seasons Wailea waiting for them to come light the torches as I decide if I should drink more or go eat a tuna cone from Spago.  It was also pretty good when Riggins (older, drunker one) had the team do it in Friday Night Lights.

Hawaii-Haka-Dance

Norm Chow will unleash his throw short to the wide receiver offense which only worked at USC, because Mike Williams.

Let’s all just stay super honest that this is a practice game for USC.  It always has been.  Not even when Colt Brennen was throwing the ball five hundred times a game did they beat us.  They never will.  If they do, I won’t believe it.  I’ll think I’m dead, like it’s the Sixth Sense and it’s all made up.  Basically, even if it happens, it didn’t.

This is a vacation day.  The NCAA won’t let you pay players?  Well, you get a trip to Hawaii if you play on our team.  But really, go to LSU and enjoy the sights on campus playing Northeastern Louisiana Tech Polyphonic Spree University.

WE’LL TAKE YOU TO HAWAII.  Your parents who love you didn’t even do that for you.  Play football for us, get on a plane with our drunken band and our nails hot Song Girls and play a practice game in Hawaii and you will even see the same haka dance you would see back at the Four Seasons.

Sign on the line, son.

This game is so practice game we’re not even naming starters.  Kiffin said he spent five minutes thinking about the depth chart.  Everyone check your inboxes tomorrow.  You might be starting.  Kiffin doesn’t know or care.  You know why he doesn’t think he’s on the hot seat?  When it’s always 300 degrees on your ass, eventually you feel nothing.

In my mind, Kessler probably won the job and we don’t want to piss off our Mater Dei pipeline by sitting Wittek, who also seems more likely to transfer.  But either way, they will both be pissed off when Max Browne is starting next year so let’s rip the damn band-aid off already.

I don’t see us as National Championship contenders this year and I don’t care because it’s still the BCS and it doesn’t mean much anyway.  I do, however, want us to play in a bowl that I have heard of.  The Rose Bowl, specifically.  That can happen a multitude of ways and us having an easy schedule is one of them.

While the prognosticators are picking UCLA to win the South, Bovada still keeps it real.  USC is favored to win at 9/4.  While UCLA is a close second, let’s keep it extra real.  If after their previous season you were so convinced they are fixed that even switching Oregon and Washington in for OSU and WSU still has you stoked on their win total, you watch a lot less football than I do.

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Based on schedule (home v away) alone, USC and it’s two quarterbacks, it’s cupcake schedule, it’s hot seated coach and it’s new defense are still the favorites.  Our two QB slug line still leads on the ESPN ticker.  WE ARE ALWAYS THE FUCKING STORY END OF STORY.

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Even our sanctions were the biggest and best.  We had the noisiest mediocre year of all time.  Even when Matt Barkley slipped in the draft, our enemy’s coach moved up to pick him.

And that has been my thesis all along.  It doesn’t matter.  The sun never sets on the Trojan Empire.  Even when we underperform, we over perform in underperformance.

And that’s what makes the world go round.

For this game in the absence of caring about special teams since Kyle Negrete left, here is my score prediction:

HAWAII – 17

KESSLER’S TROJANS – 24

WITTEK’S TROJANS – 17

MARQISE LEE – Looks good in aviators, loves Mai Tais.

New season, new look Bearfighter.  Roll with the punches, stay hydrated with bourbon. If you come to the OSU game, get at me.  I’ll see you at the Coliseum at Game To Be Named Later.

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I’m Producing A Documentary About the NCAA

I’ve struggled a long time with what to do with this blog.  I get approached about projects all the time.  Come speak at this, can you promote this, can you do that?  It never gets old because I’m honored that just pouring my guts (or having a bourbon and slamming on the keyboard) has made me someone others look to for help, advice or a friendly push.

In the past, I’ve only done things that were a good fit.  I’ve spoken at USC and to Trojan student groups because I care deeply about my alma mater.  I’ve done some limited partnerships if it was on brand.  Mainly, I am here to keep this blog, my writing, about just that, my writing.

That said, I’ve always wanted to write a novel.  I’ve always wanted to make a documentary.  I want to do more with my filmwriting degree beyond be super handsome, hit internet home runs and rarely pay for bourbon.  Well, I want to keep doing that, but I wanted to push myself.

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That’s when an old friend and former USC Trojan defensive lineman Bobby DeMars hit me up about a project he was putting together.  On the coldest day I can remember in Tucson over holiday break, we talked for a long time about wanting to tell a story about the NCAA that would change things.  Years later, it’s time.

I am producing The Business of Amateurs with Bobby and we’re going to try to use our networks, insights and passion to make a change.

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The more I followed USC from a blogging perspective, the more I rubbed up against how truly sick and twisted the NCAA is as an organization.  It was never intended to be, but it is a microcosm for everything that is wrong with the country today.  The point of the organization has been warped so that it makes money, creates a monopoly and does little to pay it forward.

The argument has long been made that college football players get an education in exchange for their bodies.  We’ve heard arguments from men’s tennis players and women’s soccer players that it’s a sweet deal and football players should not complain.

Only it is not only the most dangerous sport, it is the most lucrative.  It pays for these other programs nine times over.  It makes celebrities that can lose it all if they try to gain anything from it before the mandated 3 years between high school and pro ball that must be served.

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As a film student, had I sold a major motion picture and quit school, I’d be celebrated and expected to give money.  Josh Schwartz sold “The OC” from my program and he left to pursue a dream with no one stopping him.  For top college football players, the only option besides give your body to a university is to wait 3 years, but how would you even be known?  The platform of national tv and the NFL rules that keep college football strong give those who want to major in football only one way into their career.

What about those who really are there just for an education, those “going pro in something other than sports?”  Well, if they can’t be healed, their scholarships can be revoked.  If a head injury (something our doc will explore) makes work harder, there’s no opt in for medical care.

Matt Grootegoed

Matt Grootegoed

Being a college football fan is about falling in love with not just the stars, but also the role players.  I remember the Kareem Kellys, the Sunny Byrds and Sultan McCulloughs.  I remember the Matt Grootegoeds.  Matt was a warrior for the team, he took injury after injury.  He got a few brief shots in the NFL.  He’s now coaching.

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These are warriors that didn’t become NFL stars, like most, that put their lives on the line for our entertainment and our sense of school pride.  Whatever lifelong pains they have, they accept it and it was for love of the game and love of the school.  I’d argue it’s not for the scholarship.  It’s for a dream that is often not realized.  Sometimes for good reasons and opportunities to go into business or coaching.  Sometimes it’s because so much focus was put on football, not much was learned at the school.  Sometimes, injuries make normal work impossible.

That should not be a consideration for someone willing to go to bat for their school.    The moment the school decides you can help them by playing the most dangerous sport of earth to earn them money is the moment they should make an academic commitment to them for life.  If we need you for sport, we need to always offer you the education we’re trying to compensate you with.

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Football is more than a sport.  It’s the lifeblood of a school.  This isn’t about paying players.  This is about making sure if they can’t take advantage of their degrees they are gaining in exchange for their health, there’s a way for them to take care of themselves.

We all can understand why a player cannot sell his jersey, that’s the team’s image.  But why can’t a player sell his own image?  This is something other undergrads do not need to worry about, but most of them do not have the chance to be in advertisements.  Terrelle Pryor could have done a local television commercial in street clothes and it would have paid for all the transportation his parents needed to attend games.  You’d never need to hear about an athlete taking a car under the table if they were allowed to get one for endorsing a dealership.  If they can put you up in Times Square selling your sport and your school, don’t you have some right to sell your own likeness?

True story I am happy to tell now that Barkley is gone to the pros.  I was going to make him a Heisman campaign shirt that showed the Heisman trophy with a trojan helmet on making the Victory V.  Barkley had no problem with me using his name, he himself would not see a dollar (just like when USC sold his jersey).  I made almost no profit on the shirts because we custom printed them when they were ordered.  It was a service, not a business.

I got a cease and desist letter from USC telling me that the NCAA owned Barkley’s name and I could be putting his eligibility in question.  First off, never tell me USC fails to monitor anything.  That letter had Haden, Kiffin and the lot on it.  I took down the image of the shirt (it was not even in production yet) and apologized to my friend Matt that I could not promote his Heisman campaign.

I never publicly spoke of it because I love my school, Matt is a friend and all I wanted to do was give students a shirt to support a great guy.  I am not planning on doing shirts this year.  I plan to just cover the games for the entertainment of fans.  I don’t want to thread the needle.  I want to put on trial the fact that I even have to.

There is no “spirit of the law” with the NCAA.  There is no glue holding an investigation to their rulebook.  It may take years to cast enough stones to topple their monopoly, but in the least we can start protecting our heroes medically and maybe even financially by giving them the right to sell their own image as long as they are eligible, at practice on time and in good standing.

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Here’s my personal plea for you to get involved.  I’ve seen angles about the money or about sanctions, we’ll touch on those subjects, but this is about worker’s rights and examining what the hell a “student-athlete” even is.

I’ve long been a champion against the tyranny of the NCAA.  Please arm me in my fight and arm Bobby DeMars, one of those great Trojans who gave up his knees for a chance to be a Trojan for life.  He doesn’t regret his time spent.  He loves it more than anyone I know.  The thing is, shouldn’t we be honest about how the NCAA repays that love?

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Good Luck Matt.

This won’t be a long post.  It doesn’t need to be.  Over the past four years, Matty Trojan taught us about loyalty.  In a sports culture that’s about top dollars, holding out for demands, engineering super teams and endorsements, Matt Barkley reminded us about the joy of spending time with family.

In past few days, people have wondered if he crushed Kiffin too much or where he’ll go in the draft.  None of that matters.  Not even a bit.  Matt Barkley should have his number retired in the Coliseum not because he won a Heisman (which he should have 2 years ago), but because no one wanted to be in the Coliseum more than he did.

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After having a lot of dreams put on hold, he stuck around to enjoy an experience that all the millions in the NFL couldn’t buy: another senior year.  Matt graduated and despite the season not being picture perfect, despite him never playing in a Rose Bowl and his shoulder injury, he will go down as the symbol of why this school can’t be sanctioned, why our love is so much deeper than others give it credit for.

Even when sanctioned and our attendance dropped, we were still filling the Coliseum up 60%, enough that Autzen would look full.  And now that I live in Oregon and can speak without bias about the Ducks, they’d still show up to games with a bowl ban, but your entertainment options in Eugene are far less than in Los Angeles where there are more trendy nightspots than, well, houses in Duck Town.

Tonight, he may end up a top ten pick (I’m thinking Bills) or he may not.  But if you think of USC, if you think of the deep love of our university and it’s proud football tradition, no one stands out more than Matt.  When the empire Uncle Pete created felt like it was in retreat, Matt was Hector fighting to save Troy.  He fought until he couldn’t anymore.  We should never forget that.

On a personal note, Matt is one of the nicest, best guys I’ve ever met through the football program.  I can’t imagine how many people feel this way about him or feel like they are friends, but count me one of them.  If I had a medical problem, he’d show support, if I saw him in the tunnel when I was hosting the Pep Rally, he’d run up with Kyle Negrete and beat me up a little bit.  He came to see me talk on campus.

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Matt’s a real guy and no matter what the final stat sheet says in the NFL, whatever team gets him can genuinely root for him.  Today, let’s remember his greatness, which was not limited to the field.

Here’s my favorite memory of Matt, before I met him, before you were even really reading this blog, back when just winning a big game was enough.  Matt shouldn’t be defined by the way this last season ended (watch Marino in the last 30 for 30).  He should be defined by his character and how many times he treated us to this:

FTFO, Matty.  Buy a North Face, it’s cold in Buffalo.

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