USC Trojans

USC ready to open its doors to the NFL

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An old joke claimed the city of Los Angeles didn’t need a professional football team, because it already had one in the USC Trojans.

As the NFL inches closer to returning to the nation’s second-largest media market, USC will welcome the league with open arms.

St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke fully expects to help build a stadium in Inglewood, which sets up a possible return to the West Coast for the franchise. The city of St. Louis won’t go down without a fight, though. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon intends to facilitate the building of a new stadium to retain the Rams.

The Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers are also considering a potential joint move to Los Angeles

The University of Southern California could ease the transition by opening the doors of the Coliseum to a team as its awaits the finalization of a new stadium.

“They’re going to have to play somewhere temporarily,” USC athletic director Pat Haden told the Los Angeles Times Gary Klein.

Haden specifically stated the facility could only accommodate one team, which doesn’t help the plight of the Chargers and Raiders.

USC wouldn’t simply hand over they keys to its stadium, though. A deal would need to be reached with whatever franchise emerges as the winner in the race to Los Angeles. According to Klein, Haden said last summer that he “would ‘love’ to have an NFL team play in the Coliseum for a few years and that ‘it wouldn’t be free.'”

Pat Haden unsure of his future as USC’s AD

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USC athletic director Pat Haden is in a better place now than he was during last year’s football season. Even so, Haden’s future with the program beyond this year is still up in the air.

Is Haden planning to step down any time soon?

“I don’t know, Haden told the Orange County Register‘s Michael Lev. “I know I’m coming back next year. Other than that, I don’t have a lot of clarity on that.”

The athletic director’s health was a concern.

“I am happy, and I am healthy,” Haden continued. “I went through some issues (last year), but I’m fine and doing better. … Ninety percent of this job is fantastic. We have the world’s best athletes, and that’s indisputable, and we have some of USC’s best students. I get to work on a college campus; it happens to be my alma mater. It’s a vibrant, intellectually interesting place. All those things make the job really interesting. There’s a grind to it, too.”

Not only does Haden serve as USC’s athletic director, he is also a member of the College Football Playoff committee. Plus, he continued to deal with sanctions handed down by the the NCAA.

“We had two formal shots with the NCAA and three informal ones [to get restitution],” Haden said. “I’ve been back [to Indianapolis] three times. I was back there the day after the Penn State sanctions were reduced the first time. I was back there the next day. The idea was, if they’re getting credit for being good soldiers, we’ve been more than good soldiers. What’s the rationale? And of course we get the apples-and-oranges discussion. … I understand people’s frustration. Nobody’s more frustrated than I am. I’ve had to live through this more than anybody really. I’ve had to live through the fan base being upset. I appreciate the concern about it. But it’s not like we’re sitting on our hands here.”

The athletic director obviously had plenty on his plate this past year. He could have easily burnt out with all of the extra work he was doing. Instead, he persevered as he enters his fifth year as his alma mater’s athletic director.

Haden’s time is coming — maybe sooner rather than later — but he has yet to reach that point.

Leonard Williams’ disappointment in All-American status exposes flaw in roster

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There is an inherent flaw in the naming of Walter Camp’s All-American teams at a particular position

The reaction from USC Leonard Williams after being named a Second-Team All-American perfectly illustrates the issue.

Williams wasn’t happy when the announcement was made Thursday:

Williams should be disappointed. There appears to be a built-in bias against interior defenders along the defensive line.

All four of the First-Team All-Americans named this year are defensive ends. Only one defensive tackle was included last year. The last time a pair of defensive tackles were named to the First-Team Walter Camp All-American team was in 2011.

Flashy stats seem to outweigh quality play by those that do more of the dirty work. It’s not hard to figure out the reasoning behind the four defensive linemen named to the first team this year. All four were among the college football’s top seven in sacks.

Whereas Williams finished the season with six sacks. But that’s certainly not a reflection in his level of play.

There are major differences in styles of play between each of these players. Williams was dominant this season, but he’s starts as a 3-4 defense end. Williams isn’t an edge rusher whose primary job is getting to the quarterback. He plays all along USC’s defensive line, and his play was as good as anyone that was named to the first team.

Washington’s Danny Shelton was also named to the second team. As a pure nose tackle, Shelton’s production was unbelievably impressive. The mammoth defensive tackle was second on Washington’s roster with 89 total tackles. He finished with 16.5 tackles for loss and nine sacks. Those are numbers that nose tackles simply don’t post all that often. Yet it wasn’t good enough to be named to the first team.

A differentiation between positions along the defensive line should be prioritized by the Walter Camp Football Foundation. Not all positions and systems are created equally, but the players in them can be as dominant as those posting better overall numbers.

Cody Kessler’s historic performance propels USC past Notre Dame

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No quarterback has ever had a better day against a Notre Dame defense than USC’s Cody Kessler did Saturday in Los Angeles.

The junior quarterback was almost as perfect as the west coast weather the two teams played in at the Coliseum.

Kessler was 32-of-40 passing for 372 yards and six touchdowns during the Trojans’ 49-14 victory.

It’s the first time any quarterback threw six touchdowns against the Fighting Irish in the program’s history.

USC’s 49 points are also the second-most points the Trojans have scored against Notre Dame during the storied rivalry.

Trojans head coach Steve Sarkisian decided not to run up the score in the fourth quarter. Sarkisian pulled Kessler and placed redshirt freshman Max Browne into the lineup. USC didn’t score another point or a second record could have fallen.

Kessler was aided in his record-breaking performance by the play of his talented wide receivers, George Farmer and Nelson Agholor. Agholor led all receivers with 12 receptions and 120 yards. Farmer, meanwhile, averaged 21.5 yards per catch and scored a pair of long touchdowns.

With the win the Trojans improve to 8-4 in Sarksian’s first season at the helm of the program. However, there are multiple areas where the Trojans can improve during Sarkisian’s second year, particularly among the team’s coaching staff:

While USC’s future looks bright, Notre Dame lost four-straight contests to end the season and five of its last six games.

Changes could be on their way in South Bend.

The first change came during Saturday’s contest when sophomore quarterback Malik Zaire replaced senior Everett Golson. Golson was benched for his poor play, while Zaire finished the contest 9-of-20 passing for 170 yards.

As Notre Dame prepares for its bowl game, other changes in the lineup and possibly the coaching staff could be coming. Nine losses over the past two seasons isn’t good enough for a program that dreams of national championships each and every year.

Everett Golson benched, USC dominates Notre Dame 35-7 at halftime

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It’s safe to say the season hasn’t gone quite as expected for either the Notre Dame Fighting Irish or the USC Trojans. However, a win against their rival would be a sweet ending to a sub-par regular season.

The Trojans are on the verge of ending their season on a positive note after dominating Notre Dame 35-7 through two quarters of play.

Notre Dame’s defense simply didn’t have an answer for USC’s talented offense.

USC quarterback Cody Kessler absolutely shredded Notre Dame’s secondary. The junior quarterback threw more touchdowns (five) than he did incompletions (four).

USC’s pair of starting wide receivers, George Farmer and Nelson Agholor, each gained 82 yards in the first half. Farmer proved to be the deep threat with two long touchdown catches, while Agholor led the team with eight receptions.

Notre Dame, meanwhile, decided a spark was needed once the team trailed 35-0.

Amazingly, Everett Golson completed only 7-of-18 passes for 75 yards and an interception. Malik Zaire, a sophomore, only attempted six passes. He completed three of them for 94 yards.

USC is expected to pour it on during the second half, but the next two quarters of play become very important for the future of Notre Dame football. Zaire’s play could help sway head coach Brian Kelly to make a change at quarterback for the bowl game and build momentum for next season.