The Death of USC Football

“The Death of USC Football.” An Opinion Piece by Rock2112

It has happened. And no, not last night. It happened at an identifiable point of time, though, recently in modern memory. USC Football, as we have known it our entire lives, died. Quietly in the night.

Sometimes you think you know what you’re seeing when it happens, but you realize later that you didn’t truly understand what you were seeing without the perspective of time. People often overreact or underreact, and time reveals all.

There are many who do not want to hear or believe that USC Football has died, and I take no pleasure in announcing that, but hey, we all need therapy to keep us sane and happy, right? I understand that some of you here will disagree with me, saying Clay Helton is just a nightmare that we will eventually wake up from — maybe even sooner than we think. Maybe even this week (though I doubt it — there are still “championships” ahead of us to win, right?). These same folks are likely to point out how quickly USC football recovered from the nightmare 90s, once we got the right coach in Pete Carroll. They will say we are just one great hire away from restoring the glory of Trojan football. I wish that were true, but it’s not.

No, I have never been more certain about the moment the patient died on the table. It wasn’t very long ago. When? It was the moment that USC decided to stick with Clay Helton, rather than going all in, soup to nuts, on an effort to bring in an available Urban Meyer. It was Bohn’s tweet, announcing that Helton would be retained after the 2019 season.

Why was that our death? I mean, we’ve been making bad football decisions at USC for decades. And to appreciate that, at least in terms of performance, there is an argument to make that USC Football in fact died at the end of 1990. We all have explanations for our bad periods: Larry Smith was just bad. Ted Tollner was just bad. Paul Hackett was criminally bad. Pete Carroll proved how bad they all were, and how great we ARE, by just doing USC Football the way it should be done. Just like that.

Then we explain the period after Pete Carroll with another set of lenses: The NCAA fucked us. Kiffin should have been better. Sark was a drunk (who knew? Heh, everybody but us). We failed to see promise in Eddie O. Repenting for that meant elevating an inexperienced goofy Helton, just because he seemed like the only adult in the room.

But here’s the hard reality folks: Pete Carroll didn’t reveal the truth of what USC Football is — he DEFIED it. He defied what it started becoming at the end of the 1980s. His era is now the aberration in over three decades of mediocrity (and worse) for the Trojans. He showed what it could be, if everyone connected with USC Football buys in to the ethos of USC football (the HISTORICAL ethos of USC Football). And he demanded it, by forcing true effort, competition, and preparation. Every player was on notice — they had better give everything they have in every moment on the field, or they will be taken off of it. Plain and simple.

We USC fans can blame the NCAA, or Reggie Bush, or his family for where we are now, and it feels easy because they are probably the principal reason why we had to say goodbye to the Carroll era (though the football luster was fading in Carroll’s last year anyway and he knew it). We can blame a defined set of poor decisions after the NCAA hammer for one bad coach after another, and a lack of true greatness in our program. It gives us defined targets, and those are satisfying to have. But excuses are for the weak. They are for losers.

USC Football historically was bigger than any one coach, or even a series of them. It was, to steal someone’s slogan, all about a tremendous commitment to excellence. We were going to doing everything the best and with the most effort we could: getting the best players, TRYING to get the best coaches, working harder than everyone else, and demonstrating that excellence in a stadium of which we were immensely proud and protective. Losing in the Coliseum was not just losing, it was shameful. It hurt bad.

It is those values of excellence, effort, and the dominance that follows that gave rise to a loyal national fanbase and the vaunted historical image of the program. That’s what made the program attractive to the folks on this board, who I sense are in general also hard-working, committed, serious individuals who have the concept of excellence seared in our bellies. That’s my sense of all of you, and congratulations for that!

Well, Bohn’s 2019 tweet flew in the face of all of it. I said at the time, and it continues to resonate, that tone-deaf tweet was a sad moment in USC history. It was the first time, in my lifetime, that USC stopped TRYING to win for financial reasons. It was inexcusable. A poorly planned surrender (something we’ve seen a lot of lately, not to get too political and all). It was more shameful than any single loss this program has experienced, in the Coliseum or elsewhere. It was a breach of trust for the USC faithful that never happened before, even in all the bad years since 1990.

We betrayed our soul. We destroyed the magic. With Bohn’s white-flag, we knew it was time to hold a funeral but we forgot to hold it. Since then, we’ve just been propping up Clay Helton each weekend like living Weekend At Bernie’s on eternal loop. But hear me clearly: there was a funeral to be had there. In all our outrage, we missed it. We forgot to say goodbye, and to mourn.

Well, for me, NOW is that time. Now I am going to allow myself to mourn. For the second straight non-Covid affected season, last night I made an early season commitment not to watch another USC football game until Clay Helton is gone. But, this morning, I realized even THAT was misguided. Because it is not about Clay Helton, he’s just our Bernie. It is about the death of the ethos. The death of excellence at all costs. I have no confidence that this administration will hire the right person to replace Clay Helton, or will allow the person they do hire to impose the values of excellence that need to be imposed.

In part, that is because the world is changing, in a way that mirrors USC Football (and vice versa). We know what greatness looks like. It is the hardest working guys in the room, leading by example, and giving everything they have, to win. It’s Tom Brady. It’s Nick Saban. It was Kobe. These days, though, the world at large is gradually coming to the view that the “good life” is balance, cruising, being in touch with our casual humanity. A singularly focused ambition on winning is unhealthy, and is to be discouraged. And everyone gets a trophy. It was happening long before Covid, but Covid accelerated it. Now we live in a world where huge segments of the American population, members of a nation that once lead the world in effort, work ethic, accomplishment, and output, are more content to sit on their couches in their small crumbling apartments and collect some stipend or handout from the government to string them along further. All while businesses fail for lack of workers. For USC Football to maintain its historical identity, it has to RESIST these societal trends, but it has instead surrendered to them.

By the way, none of what I am saying is an indictment or disapproval of Clay Helton’s moral and caring character, or an invitation winning through cheating or cold-hearted ambition. It is not. Excellence in winning can and should have the concept of moral excellence baked into it. The problem is that Clay Helton is the quintessential Bible thumping snake-oil salesman. He says he cares about his players, and yet he has killed more budding football players’ careers, and the careers of more assistant coaches, young and old, than anyone has been allowed to kill in all of football history — at least without being fired themselves a few times. Clay Helton KNOWS he is wrong for everyone around him. Instead of resigning to preserve his integrity like a number of other coaches have, he has masterfully played politics to keep his own job and maximize his own income, while watching everyone else around him suffer humiliation, defeat, and a failure to reach their potential. And while watching the income around USC Football diminish in inverse proportion to his (a trend that will now substantially accelerate after last night).

So why is USC Football dead? Why can’t we just fire Helton and start doing things the right way? Because to recover from a breach of trust and a humiliating surrender as Bohn’s tweet was, there has to be a conscious reinvention. You have to start over. You have to look at yourself honestly. You have to prove you are willing to repent, and be accountable, from the top to the bottom. We know perfectly well that this current USC administration, looming like a dark cloud and evil empire over USC Football, is not going to do that. It isn’t interested in bucking the trends of modern society that repel excellence and accomplishment — it is part of the very machinery of that society. And, looking even further, the administrators of the future will be hired and retained by these folks. To put it simply and grimly — Clay Helton is a leach sucking the last blood to be had out of a rotting corpse, but he is NOT the corpse. He is insignificant in the face of the mountain before us.

So this year, I intend to keep my commitment not to watch USC Football. It’s not fun for me. It is self-punishment. I watch it as if I am watching something that is part of my identity, and something that may still have a noble direction, only to be made to feel bad when everything that is done is done in defiance of my identity — to predictable results. I don’t even raise my voice any more at the TV when we suck (even as bad as we did last night). I just lower my head and sulk. Why on God’s Earth should I keep doing something that makes me feel this way? It’s dragging me down. The reality is that my identity and the identity of USC Football have diverged. I remain about excellence, hard work, and the reward that comes from it. USC Football remains about image, marketing, dumb luck, and a general belief that winning isn’t everything — a winning image is enough.

That’s not me. It never has been. It never will be. RIP USC Football. Light a candle with me.

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Golden Trojan
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Golden Trojan (@golden-trojan)
September 12, 2021 7:18 pm

I so identify with Rock’s passionate love for USC and its football tradition. But I feel Rock and others are taking a myopic view. USC football is a tertiary problem of a secondary condition of a bigger disease. Much like the uncontrolled Diabetic has a diabetic foot with a gangrenous toe. Rock points to 2019 as the death of USC football. By 2019 The University of Southern California was nearly mortally diseased. The result of over a decade of arrogant, snobbish inbred alumni, donors and administration. USC was the uncontrolled diabetes, the Athletic Department/Football program the diabetic foot and its head football coach the gangrenous toe. I… Read more »

Rushmore
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Rushmore (@rushmore)
September 13, 2021 7:06 am
Reply to  Golden Trojan

Excellent analysis. There may be light at the end of the Coliseum tunnel.

Allen Wallace
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Allen Wallace (@super2719)
September 13, 2021 8:47 am
Reply to  Golden Trojan

Interesting that diabetes was the disease that took down John McKay.

One other thing: Just what was Nikias good at besides raising money? You say “his greatest skill among many others…” What are the others? I’m dying to know since it seems to me like he was overall USC’s worst president ever, and thoroughly negligent and weak across the board, leading to massively expensive legal and brutal image problems at USC.

Golden Trojan
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Golden Trojan (@golden-trojan)
September 13, 2021 9:20 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I read his initial education and work was in electrical engineering/electronics. Steven Sample was also an electrical engineer and president at Buffalo when Nikias was there. Both engineers, Sample was a great university president, Nikias was terrible.

Allen Wallace
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Allen Wallace (@super2719)
September 13, 2021 9:28 am
Reply to  Golden Trojan

I really liked Sample, a true leader, as well as an amazing fundraiser himself. He seemed to strike an admirable balance at USC. Gifted, smart, much better all-around than Nikias. I guess he just had “the touch.”

Wiki — “Sample is the author of numerous journal articles and published papers in science and engineering and in higher education. His patents for digital appliance controls, particularly touch pads on microwave ovens, have been licensed to practically every major manufacturer of appliances in the world. Over 300 million home appliances have been built using his inventions.

TrojanRJJ
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TrojanRJJ (@trojanrjj)
September 13, 2021 10:44 am
Reply to  Golden Trojan

Golden, excellent piece. You, I and Allen see it a bit differently than Rock. But, Rock could be right. We will know this season. If Helton is kept after the 6-6 season I am predicting, Rock is correct. If Helton is removed and replaced by a SWJ hire, then Rock is correct. If Helton is removed and replaced with a competent coach, then you, I and Allen are correct. We are going to know this season what will happen to SC football. If Clay stays, my guess is I simply dissociate myself from SC football, despite my attachment to it.… Read more »

ATL D.D.S.
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ATL D.D.S. (@atl-d-d-s)
September 13, 2021 12:20 pm
Reply to  Golden Trojan

Folt is not part of the solution—she is the metastasis.

Golden Trojan
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Golden Trojan (@golden-trojan)
September 13, 2021 1:03 pm
Reply to  ATL D.D.S.

My theory is Folt and Bohn needed time to right the ship, the epidemic and settling the lawsuits, delayed by a year the naming of a new head coach. The optimists among us are hoping for that, the pessimists think it is over for SC football. As TrojanRJJ says, we will know by end of the season if not sooner.

Golden Trojan
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Golden Trojan (@golden-trojan)
September 13, 2021 2:36 pm
Reply to  Golden Trojan

Our long wait is over!

Golden Trojan
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Golden Trojan (@golden-trojan)
September 13, 2021 2:35 pm
Reply to  ATL D.D.S.

Folt and Bohn ARE the solution, Gomer is gone!

Rock2112
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Rock2112 (@rock2112)
September 13, 2021 2:40 pm

“Our long national nightmare is over.”

Rock2112
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Rock2112 (@rock2112)
September 13, 2021 2:41 pm
Reply to  Rock2112

Been waiting years to say that.

Allen Wallace
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Allen Wallace (@super2719)
September 13, 2021 2:42 pm
Reply to  Rock2112

You can start watching again Rock!!!

Rock2112
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Rock2112 (@rock2112)
September 13, 2021 3:22 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I guess, yeah. But a strict reading of my article says I can’t. But I’m weak, so I guess now I will. 🙂

Allen Wallace
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Allen Wallace (@super2719)
September 13, 2021 3:25 pm
Reply to  Rock2112

You subconsciously included a loophole somewhere in that article that lets you off the hook. That’s what good lawyers do, eh?

Rock2112
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Rock2112 (@rock2112)
September 13, 2021 3:26 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Ha! Right!

Golden Trojan
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Golden Trojan (@golden-trojan)
September 13, 2021 4:48 pm
Reply to  Rock2112

Like Lazarus, USC Football has risen from the grave Rock. Your passionate post yesterday turned the tide. Come back. Saturday in Pullman will be magical!

Rock2112
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Rock2112 (@rock2112)
September 13, 2021 7:22 pm
Reply to  Golden Trojan

Ha! Admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery!

BUS83
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BUS83 (@bus83)
September 13, 2021 2:31 pm

ESPN announced that Helton is gone!

Allen Wallace
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Allen Wallace (@super2719)
September 13, 2021 2:24 pm

Donte Williams is the new USC interim HC!

TrojanMPA90
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TrojanMPA90 (@trojanmpa90)
September 13, 2021 2:29 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Wow! It finally happened! Will have to pinch myself to believe it is real.

Golden Trojan
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Golden Trojan (@golden-trojan)
September 13, 2021 2:30 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

USC football IS NOT DEAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Steveg
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Steveg (@steveg)
September 13, 2021 2:51 pm
Reply to  Golden Trojan

Still life in USC football yet!!

Allen Wallace
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Allen Wallace (@super2719)
September 13, 2021 3:26 pm
Reply to  Golden Trojan

Not now! But it was. What a great day. It should be declared a Trojan Holiday, 9/13/21. The world became a better place.

Allen Wallace
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Allen Wallace (@super2719)
September 13, 2021 2:22 pm

BOOM! USC HAS OFFICIALLY FIRED CLAY HELTON.

TrojanMPA90
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TrojanMPA90 (@trojanmpa90)
September 13, 2021 3:00 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

The moment I heard Clay’s comments last night about being shell shocked after the 1st Stanford TD I knew he had to go. That showed he didn’t have his team prepared at all and that was not acceptable.

Allen Wallace
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Allen Wallace (@super2719)
September 13, 2021 2:21 pm

BOOM! USC HAS OFFICIALLY FIRED CLAY HELTON. DETAILS TO FOLLOW.

ATL D.D.S.
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ATL D.D.S. (@atl-d-d-s)
September 13, 2021 2:29 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I take a nap and Shit Happens! WOW!

Thank you Sweet Jesus!

ATL D.D.S.
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ATL D.D.S. (@atl-d-d-s)
September 13, 2021 12:17 pm

Brilliant! Copy should be sent to every member of the Board of Trustees.

Allen Wallace
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Allen Wallace (@super2719)
September 13, 2021 11:43 am

The look of..., love?

42-13!

Rock2112
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Rock2112 (@rock2112)
September 13, 2021 8:56 am

By the way, if anyone doubts that great programs can die, look at Nebraska and Tennessee. Now I realize, neither of those programs are in blue blood territory like USC was (and should be). But I remember when USC played Nebraska in 2007, early in the season. I had a work colleague who was in tight with the inner workings of Carroll’s coaching staff. The media was pitching that this game was going to be a serious threat to USC’s dominance under Carroll, and Nebraska was hyping itself up with the slogan “Restore the Order.” The day before the games,… Read more »

Allen Wallace
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Allen Wallace (@super2719)
September 13, 2021 9:14 am
Reply to  Rock2112

I’m 69 and somehow still have high hopes that USC will return to power in my lifetime. The road is long, winding, and hard, I know. But USC was obliterating people back in the days of the Thundering Herd and The Great Gatsby in the ’20s. I refuse to think the Trojans are done and all this amazing public sturm and drang over Clay The Cat Helton actually has me thinking USC will have absolutely no choice but to fix its football program. That seems like a significantly easier task for the school than trying to Fight On as a… Read more »

TrojanRJJ
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TrojanRJJ (@trojanrjj)
September 13, 2021 10:46 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

You are I see it the same way. But, Rock could be right. We will know this season. It is amazing to me just how quickly this is unfolding. If I am Bohn, I would now be looking for new employment as a back up. If Folt forces him to keep Clay (and that might happen), then I resign and move on.

Steveg
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Steveg (@steveg)
September 13, 2021 11:29 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

What bothers me a lot is the change in society towards football in general. We see kids not coming out in high school now, instead playing other sports. Yes there are us old school people that love the Saturday experience as a part of their life but now we see stadiums less than full where they used to be standing room only. Sure OSU, Alabama, and Clemson will fill the stadium, but overall it seems interest is waning these day. It mostly has to do with the woke lifestyle and the sjw contingent where social issues are much more important.… Read more »

Allen Wallace
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Allen Wallace (@super2719)
September 13, 2021 11:34 am
Reply to  Steveg

Do you believe this even if USC actually wins a CFB NC, and is a lot more than just competitive, like in the Carroll days?

I bet UCLA starts filling up the Rose Bowl.

Steveg
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Steveg (@steveg)
September 13, 2021 11:57 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Even if USC wins a championship it won’t stop the world from changing. But yes, I would be going crazy if they did, but between viruses and politics the world is upside down and what we used to see as normal won’t ever come back like it was. In the 20’s through 2000’s the status quo didn’t change a whole lot. Perhaps in the 60’s it did but I don’t remember them to well. LOL It seems these days we are spiraling out of control and priorities are changing. Not that I like it, for sure.

Allen Wallace
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Allen Wallace (@super2719)
September 13, 2021 12:07 pm
Reply to  Steveg

Gosh, the ’60s were great for USC: the McKeevers, Pete Beathard and Bill Nelson, Hal Bedsole, Damon Bame, Willie Brown, Mike Garrett, Bill Fisk, Ron Yary, Craig Fertig, Mike Battle, Rod Sherman, O.J. Simpson, Al Cowlings, Sid Smith, Tim Rossovich, Adrian Young, Nate Shaw, Jimmy Gunn, Bobby Chandler, Clarence Davis, et al. What a list!

But the ’70s may have been even better.

Steveg
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Steveg (@steveg)
September 13, 2021 2:52 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Yes now the 70’s I do remember.

ATL D.D.S.
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ATL D.D.S. (@atl-d-d-s)
September 13, 2021 12:30 pm
Reply to  Steveg

There has been impact about the popularity of football—but I am sure that the problem is intensified out in California, but that is because socialist utopias have a hard time with the idea of a striving for excellence, results-oriented sport like football. The trend of diminishing football popularity is not apparent except in really lefty school boards here in the big cities of GA.

TrojanMPA90
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TrojanMPA90 (@trojanmpa90)
September 12, 2021 10:44 pm

I remember feeling the same way about USC football during the Paul Hackett era. Disconnected myself because I wanted the administration to higher a young coach committed to building us into a national power. This ended when Pete came on board and turn us around. Love your thoughts and hope we can turn it around again soon once Bohn decides to let Helton go.

Golden Trojan
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Golden Trojan (@golden-trojan)
September 12, 2021 7:19 pm

Message to Mike Bohn: If the players and fans are done with Helton, let him go, name an interim coach, start the search, and we can get back to rooting for these kids, and not put them between us and Gomer.

Allen Wallace
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Allen Wallace (@super2719)
September 12, 2021 9:39 pm
Reply to  Golden Trojan

The players all love Helton. He’s their daddy, plus he’s a wimp for good measure! The fans were fully done with The Cat years ago. You see the problem. Nobody’s on the same page here. At least the media is finally starting to come around to the fans’ vantage.

We need an interim coach to bridge the gap until Bohn is forced to pick anyone who isn’t like Helton. That’s not even debatable for a good measure of us, but when dealing with USC, who has any confidence the school can make the right moves anymore?

PN4SC
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PN4SC (@pn4sc)
September 12, 2021 6:57 pm

Wilner knows the conference really well, so I am encouraged he thinks it’s the beginning of the end for Gomer. .Don’t really put much stock in Keyshawn, as his judgement seems pretty flawed. I am with Rock on this- if Helton last the whole season, we don’t win more than 4 games. He has lost( or will lose) the locker room.
I

Golden Trojan
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Golden Trojan (@golden-trojan)
September 12, 2021 6:42 pm

Plaschke seems to indicate Helton is losing the locker room. If that happens he has to go immediately just like when Kiffen lost it. Especially now with transfer portal and NIL you can’t wait if players want to bolt. I would be okay with Donte or Todd as interim and start the search. This season is now 6-6 at best.

Last edited 6 days ago by Golden Trojan
Allen Wallace
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Allen Wallace (@super2719)
September 12, 2021 6:06 pm

Keyshawn Johnson gets negative about Mike Bohn — “That’s what we get for hiring a dude that doesn’t understand what being a Trojan is all about.”

Trojan5
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Trojan5 (@trojan5)
September 12, 2021 9:08 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Haden & Swann were Trojans. So I don’t think this insult of Bohn is as stinging as Keyshawn thinks it is.

Allen Wallace
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Allen Wallace (@super2719)
September 12, 2021 9:44 pm
Reply to  Trojan5

Maybe not, but at least Keyshawn truly cares. He’s not just in it for the paycheck and the title, like Don’t-Rock-the-Boat Bohn probably is. Bohn is looking more and more like a waste of time. I sure wish he would DO something besides twiddle his thumbs and push paper.

UtahTrojan
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UtahTrojan (@utahtrojan)
September 12, 2021 10:13 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Hard to twiddle them when one is up his a__.

Trojan5
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Trojan5 (@trojan5)
September 13, 2021 9:24 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I agree about Keyshawn. His anger is real & coming from a good place. Namely he wants SC to be SC again. I am not as down on Bohn as you & others are. I am not yet ready to throw in the towel on him yet. The timing of Clays dismissal and the hiring of the right HC is going to be tricky. I hope he doesn’t disappoint me. I hope you are wrong. If you are I will sadly offer my apology.

Allen Wallace
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Allen Wallace (@super2719)
September 13, 2021 9:36 am
Reply to  Trojan5

I’m not really as down on Bohn as I may have sounded since STAN wiped us out. Just very frustrated now and becoming impatient. And I agree. We shouldn’t throw in the towel on Bohn yet! No way. He still has the opportunity to rectify what he has allowed to go on. What he has tried with football so far just hasn’t worked. Hopefully, he sees that and has plans in place to end this torturous period of Trojan football. Plus, with our new Pac-12 commish, George Kliavkoff, whom I like a lot (wish he were our AD!), there seems… Read more »

TrojanRJJ
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TrojanRJJ (@trojanrjj)
September 13, 2021 10:37 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Allen, I may be wrong, but IF Bohn is going to remove Clay during the season, he needs to do it this week. If he does not, then it makes little sense to make the move until after the UCLA game. You asked me how the new Commissioner could force Folt’s hand. Simple, get the national press to savage SC. That way, if Folt stands pat, he has successfully destroyed SC’s value as a brand (and done so quickly for negotiating purposes). If she relents, then SC will be of value to him.

Allen Wallace
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Allen Wallace (@super2719)
September 13, 2021 11:13 am
Reply to  TrojanRJJ

Totally agree. Bohn needs to move now, but he probably won’t, at least until USC suffers another humiliating defeat. Personally, I don’t know if Folt would even listen to Kliavkoff. But I don’t agree that Folt or Helton will ever be allowed to destroy USC’s brand, and neither will Bohn. You and I have always disagreed on this vehemently. As I wrote, USC has been a total football power since the Roaring ’20s. Neither Helton nor Bohn will ever be powerful enough to remove the legions from demanding excellence from USC. (see reaction to STAN loss!). It’s been said by… Read more »

ATL D.D.S.
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ATL D.D.S. (@atl-d-d-s)
September 13, 2021 12:36 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Bohn is just as much on the hot seat as helton is. I have always assumed he was under orders to keep JarJar the Cat around because of the swannie’s stupid contract and the lawsuits facing the school (thanks Nikias you f’ing jackalope). If he doesn’t make a move within several weeks, then he is the “errand boy” many people think he is….

Allen Wallace
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Allen Wallace (@super2719)
September 12, 2021 4:41 pm

Hot Seat of the Week: USC’s Clay Helton

Jon Wilner (OC Register) — The 42-28 loss to Stanford wasn’t the worst of his era, because there have been so many bad ones, but it’s on the short list. The way it unfolded, with the Trojans getting out-played, out-coached, and blown out, made it far more damaging to Helton’s standing internally.

Rock2112
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Rock2112 (@rock2112)
September 12, 2021 5:36 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Allen, can we honestly say that last night looked much different than the Iowa Holiday Bowl loss two years ago? The only difference is nobody but us was watching last night!

TrojanRJJ
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TrojanRJJ (@trojanrjj)
September 12, 2021 5:43 pm
Reply to  Rock2112

Rock, Others were watching. Plaschke just called for Helton’s immediate removal. The fact that SC was nationally ranked and got embarassed on national TV by a mediocre team has sparked a firestorm. And, there a no more assistants to fire. Clay has no clue how to fix this and all of us know that. That is now obvious. There is an outside chance that Donte gets the team for the remainder of the year. If they are going to do it, NOW is the time. We play an awful WSU team next week.

Rock2112
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Rock2112 (@rock2112)
September 12, 2021 5:49 pm
Reply to  TrojanRJJ

I started the season with a 7-5 prediction. Based on what I saw in games 1 and 2, I am now going to 4-8. 3-9 is not out of the question, but 4-8 feels right.

Allen Wallace
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Allen Wallace (@super2719)
September 12, 2021 4:30 pm

Sam Darnold beat the Jets 19-14 today.

Jamaica
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Jamaica (@jamaica)
September 12, 2021 3:45 pm

I agree with John’s post and have been for years, ever sense I caught onto the phoniness of Clay Helton in preventing this football program from growing-developing-regaining the National respect it once held. But we should all understand he wasn’t hired to win championships initially. But still yet, extending his stay with a multiple year contract is the dagger that is killing this program. Like this article says, there’s a lot going against it’s reemergence from layers of indifferent authority not losing any sleep where this program is today and we are kidding ourselves thinking this agenda is going to… Read more »

LawyerJohn
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LawyerJohn (@lawyerjohn)
September 12, 2021 3:23 pm

SC football began its descent in the late 1980s, and except for the brief appearance of Carroll, has continued its regression into the 2020s?– Well, Coach Larry Smith had some pretty fair teams in the late 1980s with 3 consecutive Rose Bowls, and a chance in 1988 to win the National Title. 1995 was a good Rose Bowl winner with Keyshawn. And of course Carroll’s run from 2001 to 2009. Since then Kiffin did have a 10-2 season, and the Sam Darnold 2016 squad was No. 3. So it seems Trojan football is not dead. Southern California is a hotbed… Read more »

TrojanRJJ
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Mt Rushmore
TrojanRJJ (@trojanrjj)
September 12, 2021 3:31 pm
Reply to  LawyerJohn

John, Rock has a point. But, bear in mind, we are seeing a lot of emotion of having SC humbled by a mediocre team. We do not know if SC will rise or sunset. As I write below, it will depend on how Folt/Caruso choose to handle Helton and/or a replacement.

Rock2112
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Rock2112 (@rock2112)
September 12, 2021 3:40 pm
Reply to  LawyerJohn

To be clear, I am not saying we have not had good years here and there since 1990 outside of the Carroll era. But lots of mediocre programs occasionally pop for a year or two — it often happens when a team becomes junior and senior heavy, or has a rare talent surface at the right time (think Darnold). Our 2017 Rose Bowl is a perfect example. That season was on track to be another Clay Helton special until Darnold emerged and turned Helton’s bad classical music into singing jazz. Indeed, three quarters of that Rose Bowl game were a… Read more »

Jamaica
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Jamaica (@jamaica)
September 12, 2021 9:10 pm
Reply to  Rock2112

That 2017 Rose Bowl team probably was made up mostly of Kiffin & Sarkisian recruits. As they left, Helton replaced them with recruits below USC’s standard and with poor discipline and little coaching development, we saw how the Helton teams have struggled to execute winning ugly and embarrassed playing better teams. In short, Helton’s leadership continuously limits any measurable team growth. So should we really be surprised at what we have seen these past two games?

Rock2112
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Rock2112 (@rock2112)
September 13, 2021 8:40 am
Reply to  Jamaica

I don’t think any of us are remotely surprised, Jamaica. Just kinda sad, really.

Allen Wallace
Mt Rushmore
Allen Wallace (@super2719)
September 13, 2021 8:57 am
Reply to  Rock2112

I must admit. I never saw STAN beating USC under any circumstances on Saturday night. When that STAN RB (Go Nathaniel Peat!) quickly ripped off that 87 yarder untouched until he hit paydirt, I suddenly understood I had no idea just how bad this Trojan team might be.

Some would call that an epiphany. Others would say I simply should forever stop thinking hiring a new S/C coach could fix the Trojans. 😂

TrojanRJJ
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Mt Rushmore
TrojanRJJ (@trojanrjj)
September 12, 2021 3:16 pm

Rock, Excellent piece of work. The issue is SC football about to sunset (as you argue) or not. I guess I am somewhat amazed at the reaction to seeing what we have seen for the last three years – Clay is incompetent and really incapable of doing his job. I stopped buying the Kool Aid sometime in 2019, not certain when. I was not at all surprised or candidly angry at what I saw last night. I kinda of expected it. I saw significant talent offensively last night – we have very good RBs and some sensational WRs. We have… Read more »

Rock2112
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Rock2112 (@rock2112)
September 12, 2021 3:41 pm
Reply to  TrojanRJJ

Thanks RJJ!

Jalenbuck1
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Jalenbuck1 (@jalenbuck1)
September 12, 2021 3:10 pm

Unfortunately true! several years of putting band aids on wounds that required surgery have finally manifested into severe damage of USC football and the administration could care less, (their emphasis is on basketball).

San Diego Trojan
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San Diego Trojan (@san-diego-trojan)
September 12, 2021 3:00 pm

This article is so well written, so right to the point of everything I feel about USC and the current state of the country, and how we have “settled” on lowering expectations, that it’s as if he reached into my brain while I was sleeping! Ha! Two years ago, arriving on the job in the middle of a sub-par season, and a recruiting class in the 40’s, Bohn had a free pass to clean house. We know Urban Myer would have been more than interested, but was blacklisted by Folt and probably Caruso. After that, it was revealed that Bohn… Read more »

Allen Wallace
Mt Rushmore
Allen Wallace (@super2719)
September 12, 2021 3:17 pm

While I have generally liked Bohn and gone along with his decisions, he sat on his hands (for whatever reason) about Helton, and blew it big-time.

Now he faces a lost 2021 season with students screaming “Fire Helton” (to be nice about it all) and the most unpopular CFB HC in the country coaching the Trojans.

We tried to tell you to do your job Bohn. But you refused to listen and tried to piecemeal it on the cheap. And now look at what you have on your plate: a big pile of crap.

TrojanRJJ
Member
Mt Rushmore
TrojanRJJ (@trojanrjj)
September 12, 2021 3:24 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

It is about to get much worse for Bohn as I expect, unless he replaces Clay, the talent is about to head for the transfer portal to NIL riches. Why would Jaxson Dart stay? He looks at other QBs of his stature making millions, while Kedon makes nothing and he makes nothing. In fact, the back up QB for tOSU is making over a million. Why would Foreman stay? If he transfers to OR to replace the DE going pro, he stands to make millions. At SC, if Helton stays, it will cost him millions. This is a different world… Read more »

Allen Wallace
Mt Rushmore
Allen Wallace (@super2719)
September 12, 2021 4:10 pm
Reply to  TrojanRJJ

You’ve been saying Folt would turn USC into VANDY football for years RJJ. Well, now we’re going to find out if you’re right or not! 😂

TrojanRJJ
Member
Mt Rushmore
TrojanRJJ (@trojanrjj)
September 12, 2021 5:39 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I hope and think that you are correct – SC Football is too big for Folt to kill without her getting fired from her second presidency in four years. I am really amazed at the firestorm SC getting routed by Stanford has caused. But, it is a firestorm. Bill Plaschke just called for Helton’s immediate removal. As Donte is the co-head coach, Folt might actually go for it. Give Donte the team for the rest of the year and see what he does with it. There is a chance that the rest of the national media might also take it… Read more »

Allen Wallace
Mt Rushmore
Allen Wallace (@super2719)
September 12, 2021 5:47 pm
Reply to  TrojanRJJ

Here’s the Plaschke column for those interested:

Column: In the wake of the Saturday Night Massacre, USC needs to remove Clay Helton immediately

Plaschke
— “It was a night when USC football became the most awful adjective one could call a sports team in this town. Amid a Los Angeles market buzzing with championships and superstars, amid the Dodgers and Lakers and a surging UCLA athletic department under energetic new leadership, the Trojans became worse than just pitiful, they became irrelevant…”

latimes.com

Rock2112
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Rock2112 (@rock2112)
September 12, 2021 6:01 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Thanks. I am always amused when Plaschke writes his “fire Helton” columns. He’s done it several times now (which he hints at in his latest article). I’m amused because Plashke was the biggest advocate for HIRING Helton before the interim tag was removed, and when Helton won the Rose Bowl (or, more pointedly, Sam Darnold won it for him), Plashke “spiked the football” taking credit for the brilliant hire!

Allen Wallace
Mt Rushmore
Allen Wallace (@super2719)
September 12, 2021 6:08 pm
Reply to  Rock2112

People have a right to change their minds. For instance, I used to like Graham Harrell. I was mistakenly supportive and naive.

Plaschke is absolutely correct now, regardless of what he ever said before.

illinoisusc
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illinoisusc (@illinoisusc)
September 12, 2021 5:14 pm
Reply to  TrojanRJJ

Yep!

illinoisusc
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illinoisusc (@illinoisusc)
September 12, 2021 2:53 pm

Excellent article. One of the schools I attended was Illinois 50 years ago.. Believe it or not they won the equivalent of 5 national championships in football in the distant past. If you go onto the huge campus there are statues of Red Grange and Dick Butkus prominently displayed. It is all history…..no chance they ever get near a playoff slot. Time moves on and attitudes change. I suspect USC has seen its last NC much like Illinois. As Rock describes, CPC was a comet that came and went. Nobody in admin cares. Which really means none of the big… Read more »

Allen Wallace
Mt Rushmore
Allen Wallace (@super2719)
September 12, 2021 2:15 pm

‘I can no longer fight on’: Keyshawn Johnson joins USC fans blasting Clay Helton

latimes.com

Steveg
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Mt Rushmore
Steveg (@steveg)
September 12, 2021 2:14 pm

The pain and grief we bear is so similar to losing a loved one. The end has finally come, USC football is dead, it has hit rock bottom, it cannot get any worse. So now we look toward moving on, hopefully, with a new loved one that will be a reborn USC football. Until that happens we continue in mourning with memories of what it was, and the hope of what it will be sometime in the future. Bohn, please listen, we are shouting out at the top of our lungs to be heard and have action taken.

Rock2112
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Rock2112 (@rock2112)
September 12, 2021 2:42 pm
Reply to  Steveg

It took me a minute to realize the Jim Thompson cartoon was a play on that popular meme, and then I was rolling in laughter. I love that guy’s work!

TrojanRJJ
Member
Mt Rushmore
TrojanRJJ (@trojanrjj)
September 12, 2021 2:57 pm
Reply to  Steveg

Steveg, We have not yet hit rock bottom. If this Administration keeps Clay in 2022, then we are maybe a year out. The talent will leave and SC will become AZ or Vanderbilt or Rice. Allen and I think it will not happen, but we have no guarantees. Who knows the mind of Folt and Caruso. I have always thought Folt idolized the Ivys and was simply seeking to recreate an Ivy at SC. That means throwing out the ethos of the traditional SC, which includes elite football. Let’s see what happens.

Steveg
Member
Mt Rushmore
Steveg (@steveg)
September 12, 2021 3:50 pm
Reply to  TrojanRJJ

RJJ, to me the program is dead. It has been dying for a few years. It is not anything that it should be. Nor will it be at the present state of leadership. I do mourn the loss. What I did express was that there was still hope when and if they make the change. Question is, like will they. Let’s see what happens. I like most others want him gone now, and let this season be whatever it turns out to be.

Allen Wallace
Mt Rushmore
Allen Wallace (@super2719)
September 12, 2021 4:26 pm
Reply to  Steveg

I’ve read many other places that some people consider USC football to be dead under Helton. Maybe that’s just too strong a word in today’s society, since most any huge tradition is usually hard to kill, and many don’t like that terminology. But Trojan football is definitely on life support, unless you call getting mauled by mediocre STAN in L.A. just a bump in the road (like Helton does). USC continues to establish lower and lower bottoms. That much is indisputable. Eventually, someone will come to the rescue because that’s how life works. There’s a coach out there who knows… Read more »

Steveg
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Mt Rushmore
Steveg (@steveg)
September 12, 2021 5:20 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Perhaps life support is a better word, but the life if failing very fast. Our only hope is Bohn makes a move quickly. It is just sad to see it happen and I know many of us feel a sense of grief over the program that has been building for way to long. I am getting a sense that Bohn has folded to Folts determination to diminish football, which is sad he can’t take a stand and either do something or get out of the way. But then she would just hire an SJW to replace him.

ATL D.D.S.
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Diamond Member
ATL D.D.S. (@atl-d-d-s)
September 13, 2021 12:47 pm
Reply to  Steveg

Folt/Caruso have done irreparable harm to the USC of Trojan Family and Questing for excellence. They have turned it into every other big university on the West Coast—and that is a BAD thing.