The Shoe Drops; USC Football Isn’t Looking Back

USC football moves forward despite uncertainty surrounding potential spring season…

Adam Grosbard (OC Register)  —  The writing on the wall had been legible to the USC football team for some time.

Yes, the Pac-12 had recently announced its new, conference-only schedule in an attempted adjustment in the middle of the ongoing pandemic, and training camps were allowed to begin on Aug. 17. But USC still didn’t have clearance from L.A. County to begin contact practices, and the likelihood of that happening on time was slim.

That, combined with the news about just-discovered health risks posed by COVID-19, had the Trojans pessimistic about the chances of a fall season. But that did little to shield them from disappointment when the announcement was made Tuesday that the Pac-12 was postponing all sports until the new calendar year.

“We all thought it was coming to a head at some point,” USC quarterback Kedon Slovis said Wednesday on a Zoom conference call, “but it was really sad to see that we knew we weren’t going to be able to play anymore.”

The news came at midday Tuesday. Some student-athletes, like Slovis, had to go to the weight room just an hour later. Then that evening, head coach Clay Helton addressed the team.

He told them of his disappointment for them, that they couldn’t play the season they had worked for. And he explained to them the medical information, specifically concerns that COVID-19 could lead to a heart condition called myocarditis, that led to the cancellation.

We’re all disappointed and sad,” Helton said Wednesday. “But when you look at it through a father’s eyes and you garner the information medically, not only do you have to respect that information but you have to support the decisions that are based behind it.”

The Pac-12 prepared for a potential fall season working under three assumptions: That weekly testing was adequate, that community spread would have decreased in the conference’s footprint by September, and that COVID-19 posed little threat to college-age athletes.

But those assumptions proved to not bear out, with the concerns about myocarditis bringing the whole operation to a halt.

Parents of student-athletes had a conference call with athletic director Mike Bohn on Wednesday night to address concerns. Helton said that the coaching and training staffs are working on setting up a new off-season plan to be prepared for the theoretical spring season.

Though Helton admits there are several questions that need to be answered about the viability of the spring option.

“The things that are going to come up are: Where are we in the world? Where are we with the infection rate? Where are we with testing?” Helton explained. “Where are we with the study of the heart and the damage this virus has done to it? How long is the season? And when does that season end? And is that enough time between not only that season and the fall?”

Safety Talanoa Hufanga likened playing two seasons in a calendar year to traditional spring practices, but acknowledged, “Two seasons in a year is definitely going to be tough on the body.”

And then there are questions about whether the entire team will be back for the spring.

Helton said he isn’t concerned (currently) about transfers. If a student-athlete transferred now to a conference like the SEC that is still planning on a fall season, he could be burned by a later cancellation by that league.

But there are Trojans who could be weighing NFL decisions. It was a topic that Helton addressed with the team Tuesday night, encouraging players to be patient in their process.

“Each person has their own decision to make. But if you take the time, don’t make an emotional decision,” Helton said. “Because as emotion goes up, sometimes intelligence goes down.”

Hufanga, who could be a top draft prospect in 2021, said he preferred to live in the moment than worry about the NFL at this time.

Then there are the existential questions that USC, and every other college program, faces. On Wednesday, Utah estimated that the postponement of the season would cost their athletic department between $50 million and $60 million in revenue.

Bohn said that estimate was likely accurate for USC, too.

“Obviously at USC, the football enterprise represents 80-85% of our revenue,” Bohn said. “But back to the Jan. 1 piece, if by then if what our doctors are telling us and what some of the projections are … who knows? We may be able to be in a different environment and be able to potentially have fans in the stands.”

So even with certainty about the fall, questions still loom. But despite that and the previous day’s disappointment, the USC football team was still up at 6:30 a.m. Wednesday for their workouts.

“I’m really proud of our guys on our team coming in to work and just trying to control what we can control,” Slovis said. “It does no good looking back and feeling sorry for ourselves. We got goals and aspirations for what we’re going to be as a team so we got to work to achieve those and do our best to be ready whenever the next opportunity to play football is.”

ocregister.com

__________

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Terrific Tommy
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Terrific Tommy(@terrific-tommy)
August 16, 2020 3:41 pm

The Alex Smith news today is incredible, at least it is IMHO After his horrendous leg injury 2 years ago — and 17 surgeries later (yes, 17) — he has been cleared by the Redskins’ medical staff to resume playing QB again. Wow, I’m unable to wrap my head around this feat/news. 👍

RialtoTrojan
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RialtoTrojan(@rialtotrojan)
August 16, 2020 3:15 pm

The plus, there might fans in the stands. The minus the players might get beat up. The problem I see first is the possibility of a season ending injury most of which wouldn’t heal before the start of the next season if they are bad enough. Also an article the day before this on e appeared speculated that the two conferences shut down to shut down negotiations, just to cool the jets of the would be union. Most of the demands such as half revenue and cutting coaches salaries were non starters anyway. The rest will probably be looked into… Read more »

gametv
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gametv(@gametv)
August 16, 2020 10:21 am

Very interesting article on Athalon, where they asked coaches to anonymously comment on other programs in the Pac-12. https://athlonsports.com/college-football/pac-12-coaches-talk-anonymously-about-conference-foes-2020 Alot more comments about the problems at USC than about any turnaround in the program. There are concerns about the line of scrimmage players and about Todd Orlando over-complicating the defense. But seems like the athletic talent of the players is still considered to be as good as anyone but Oregon. Seems like if there was really a turnaround in the coaching staff, you would see it reflected in what other coaches in the league are hearing about the program. I… Read more »

gametv
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gametv(@gametv)
August 17, 2020 8:36 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

While you rightly point out that Bohn is the one driving changes, it is still incredibly hard to make sure this turn-around is real when you have not replaced the core of the problem (helton). My best example of this is that the problem at o-line are still festering and probably getting worse if AVT leaves for the NFL. Helton has refused to do what is needed – replace Drevno and force Harrell to integrate an effective rushing attack with the parts of the air raid offense that work so well with our incredible receiver corp. I dont think Helton… Read more »

TrojanRJJ
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TrojanRJJ(@trojanrjj)
August 17, 2020 12:00 pm
Reply to  gametv

gametv, You NAILED it! I agree with you, without a competent HC, Bohn’s project is risky (I would say very risky), particularly since the team will not play in 2020 and will lose a ton of talent. But, to give Bohn a break, he was forced to keep Clay. And, given the team is not playing in 2020, that was the correct decision. Even though, Clay Helton is simply not competent. The correct solution on O would have been for Clay to tell GH that he had to be able to run the ball and then held him accountable. Please… Read more »

Jamaica
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Jamaica(@jamaica)
August 17, 2020 1:27 pm
Reply to  TrojanRJJ

It’s pretty sad….. the feeling that USC still has to best recruits in the conference but compared to the other Power 5 conferences, USC doesn’t get the better recruits, even from California. That sums it up loud & clear, along with the level of coaching/administrative support, the PAC-12 is cruising in last place. As for USC today, it has no running game and few believe the QB starter will go thru a season uninjured.I agree with gametv the team relies on a few good players and when they get injured then the Helton fallacy is out in the open exposed.… Read more »

gametv
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gametv(@gametv)
August 17, 2020 2:16 pm
Reply to  Jamaica

jamaica – i am actually on the bohn bandwagon 100%. i just think Bohn wasnt allowed to really do his job, which was to fire helton. Bohn is making the best out of a bad situation. My hope is that Bohn is earning enough respect from Folt and Caruso that he will be able to make the case to fire Clay within the next year. Fans of SC should support Bohn, in the hope he will have the power to fire Clay soon. It just makes no sense to keep Clay at the helm, when SC needs to rebuild the… Read more »

Jamaica
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Jamaica(@jamaica)
August 21, 2020 3:56 pm
Reply to  gametv

You are right that it makes no sense keeping Helton as HC when USC needs to rebuild its football program enough to again compete with the big boys (which it definitely cannot do today). But it is rather academic if Folt & the BOTs limit AD Bohn in what he can & cannot do in turning this program around, which includes proven assistant coaches that were fired before coming here. I don’t necessarily buy into “maybe it wasn’t the right environment or system he was in when he got fired” excuse. Come on, either you are a good position coach… Read more »

Terrific Tommy
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Terrific Tommy(@terrific-tommy)
August 17, 2020 2:47 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Allen, if I wake up on Tuesday morning and read that Tim Drevno was fired, I’d be doing cartwheels in my living-room.

We all seem to have reached a consensus that if the O-line improves, we will be greatly improved team. But with the ineffectiveness of this current line, I fear for QB’s life — and don’t even get me started on why our RBs can’t seem to shine. 😣

rleeholder1
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rleeholder1(@rleeholder1)
August 18, 2020 6:03 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Keeping Hugs Helton as the cheerleader until his contract runs out is what I’ve been advocating for some time. Clay is a likable person, but an ineffective and bumbling HC. Some traditional “Talback U” SC fans don’t like Harrell’s offense, but he needs to be given the opportunity to succeed. I’ve always believed a balanced offense is the way to go. Whether you run off the Air Raid or pass off the Wishbone, the other team’s Defense can’t focus on one MO if you have balance. JMHO.

gametv
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gametv(@gametv)
August 18, 2020 9:13 am
Reply to  rleeholder1

I dont think SC can afford to keep Helton until the contract runs out. The financial decay of athletics would cost alot more than paying off Helton. I think that Bohn just needed to establish himself before he would have the power to fire Helton. The professional way in which Bohn is conducting his organization in these difficult times is going to give him the power to finally fire Helton. I believe it comes sooner than many fans think – sometime this year. The decision to cancel the season actually makes this more likely in my mind. Helton had one… Read more »

gametv
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gametv(@gametv)
August 18, 2020 8:54 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

You misinterpreted what I said. I said that if we had a great head coach who could be a mentor to Harrell, he could make sure that they developed a more well-rounded program. I dont want Helton getting involved with the offense or defense, because he is not capable of doing anything to improve it. But a good and experienced head coach could really mentor Harrell. Tim Drevno was interviewed a number of times and he stated that they only have about 4 offensive line plays, so he has nothing to teach his players. He tried to make it sound… Read more »

TrojanRJJ
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TrojanRJJ(@trojanrjj)
August 18, 2020 9:11 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Allen, See gametv’s comment below. We were both conditioning our statements on the assumption GH had an elite HC. Not only is Clay not elite. He is incompetent. Given that Clay is still around, I totally agree with you; Clay can have NOTHING to do with any football aspect of this team. The core issue is can a quality football program not have a HC. I think the answer is “yes” IF the AD is willing to act as the HC (as Barry Alvarez does at WI) and the AD is an elite HC. But, Alvarez was an elite HC… Read more »

Jamaica
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Jamaica(@jamaica)
August 18, 2020 10:10 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Helton would have been just fine with last year’s coaching staff. Anyone who sides with him on the way he has managed the football program does not care about Trojan football. The BOTs, under Nikias & Caruso are not lifting a finger to support a program needing new leadership badly. Maybe the past BOTs were not big football supporters and only appeased the Toppings-Hubbards-Zumberges-Samples in wanting a top class football program to shine brightly for the University PR. Carol Folt has made moves, some good and some very bad and time will tell where she aims to lead the University,… Read more »

Golden Trojan
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Golden Trojan(@golden-trojan)
August 16, 2020 6:55 am

Some … doubted masks would help. Others said they would interfere with “the fresh air and sunshine” so crucial to a healthy lifestyle. They worried citizens would be harassed by overzealous police officers. the city’s health officer, who said the epidemic here … could be corralled if everyone covered their faces. … subsequent research, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association … , showed that U.S. cities that adopted a variety of public-health measures in the initial stages of the … pandemic, and kept them in place, had better outcomes. The report’s authors recommended that “non-pharmaceutical interventions” be… Read more »

Terrific Tommy
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Terrific Tommy(@terrific-tommy)
August 15, 2020 7:59 pm

Off topic but I’ll put it here anyway.

3 men were shot in Atlanta today during a home invasion robbery. One was Chip Banks, who’s in serious condition. 🙏

ATL D.D.S.
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ATL D.D.S.(@atl-d-d-s)
August 17, 2020 10:22 am
Reply to  Terrific Tommy

I have been trying to figure out if Banks was protecting the residence or was he one of the suspects. The local rag (The Atlanta Urinal-Constipation) is so poorly written that you cannot figure out this salient fact. If they don’t know, The AJC should say that they cannot say if Banks was a suspect or not.

Rock2112
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Rock2112(@rock2112)
August 18, 2020 9:56 am
Reply to  Terrific Tommy

Home invasion robberies are becoming far more common and this will increase even more when the economic impact of Covid truly settles in. My advice to my friends here: You CANNOT casually answer your door if you do not know who it is. Not for the FedEx guy. Not for flowers. Not for anything. Nearly all businesses that would legitimately ring the doorbell have shifted to contactless delivery anyway. If you have to take a chance for some reason (and you shouldn’t), it may be best to answer with the family firearm in your waste band and ready. Sorry to… Read more »

Terrific Tommy
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Terrific Tommy(@terrific-tommy)
August 18, 2020 9:58 am
Reply to  Rock2112

Good post/advice Rock.

gametv
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gametv(@gametv)
August 15, 2020 12:02 pm

Did a little reading and the scientific link between myocarditis and COVID is only a suspicion, with very few cases and no direct proof that it is even the causative factor. At best, this is only a couple percent of the infected COVID cases that will come down with this. So while it makes sense to be very careful, I believe that the other option would be simply to test every athlete that tests positive for COVID for myocarditis immediately. I believe that rapid treatment can really help any cases of myocarditis. At some point the lack of cases plus… Read more »

Jamaica
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Jamaica(@jamaica)
August 15, 2020 9:26 am

You read reports of player parents not happy with their son’s team cancelling its football season and griping why other conferences are still trying to play. Excuse me if I become a little suspicious as to their motives in their accusations. It’s about precautions in keeping your son safe, you would think….. or is it about seeing a nice future pay day coming your way being delayed? What is it mom & dad?

PN4SC
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PN4SC(@pn4sc)
August 15, 2020 11:47 am
Reply to  Jamaica

Maybe their upset because, statistically speaking, healthy people in the players age bracket are more likely to due from the flu or Pneumonia, than COVID.Isn’t that what the left always says, “follow the science”?
Of course, to many, destroying our economy and freedoms is not nearly important as winning an election.
If the conference had any real leadership, there is a chance we might be playing this fall.

TrojanRJJ
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TrojanRJJ(@trojanrjj)
August 15, 2020 3:26 pm
Reply to  Jamaica

Jamaica, Normally we agree. On this one, I must respectfully disagree. After my review of the evidence, I stand convinced that the cancellation had ZERO to do with health risk to the athletes. The data is overwhelming: for young healthy males with no risk factors (young men with risk factors should be self-quarantining as my wife and I are) the flu is a greater risk than Covid. In addition, what is the evidence that keeping the young men at home is not a greater risk? Or keeping them as school without playing (as Nick Saban contends and he is probably… Read more »

John Weld
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John Weld(@johnnynumbers)
August 14, 2020 8:09 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Good draft year for USC; 3 first round draft picks: Chip Banks, Marcus Allen and Roy Foster. Marcus Allen was taken 10th in that draft with two running backs taken before him. Darrin Nelson of Stanford was taken 7th by Minnesota and he gained 4,442 on the ground and 2,559 through the air in his NFL career. Gerald Riggs was taken 9th out of ASU and had a good career gaining 8,188 yards on the ground and 1,506 through the air. What did Marcus do; he gained 12,243 yards rushing and 5,411 through the air. Can you imagine what Marcus’… Read more »

rleeholder1
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rleeholder1(@rleeholder1)
August 17, 2020 6:35 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I’ve been in contact with one of Chip’s teammates who is a FB friend of mine-Todd Spencer. Chip is getting better and I’m praying for a speedy and complete recovery for him.

Golden Trojan
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Golden Trojan(@golden-trojan)
August 14, 2020 5:52 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Thank you AP, please either poke a stick in my eye or drop a brick on my foot! When do they put that big piece of gooey chocolate cake in front of a diabetic?😪

Terrific Tommy
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Terrific Tommy(@terrific-tommy)
August 15, 2020 7:46 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Is it just me Allen, or did some AP executive siting on mahogany row in headquarters need to keep busy in order to justify his hours. Talk about a who cares yawner — I think I’ll read those polls before bedtime — it will be faster than counting sheep.

I need to face reality and put on my big-boy pants — college football 2020 is toast for me. 😥

MarkZ
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MarkZ(@markz)
August 14, 2020 2:53 pm

I would expect nothing less ~ Slovis nailed it: “It does no good looking back and feeling sorry for ourselves. We got goals and aspirations for what we’re going to be as a team so we got to work to achieve those and do our best to be ready …” We are SC!! We FIGHT ON!!