USC fans have the right to be frustrated

first_imgNothing has been more emblematic of the current state of the Trojan football program than Saturday’s exercise in futility against the Oregon Ducks. In yet another game, the Trojans were thoroughly outcoached, yet by sheer force of raw talent still had a semblance of a chance going into the fourth quarter. That is the Trojan football program right now, incredibly mismanaged yet somehow still in contention.That is what makes being a fan of USC so frustrating right now. No matter how many things go wrong — awful coaching hires and terrible defensive schematics come to mind — there is always hope that things can be better. That was the Oregon game in a nutshell: Defensive players were getting burned left and right, the offense was shooting itself in the foot, and still at the start of the fourth quarter the Trojans were driving with a chance to cut the deficit to three points.It’s unfortunate that this is a reoccurring theme against quality opponents. Whether it has been Stanford, Notre Dame or Oregon this year, the Trojans have had the raw goods to make it happen but lack the requisite coaching and polish to come out victorious.There were issues in every facet of the game, but just take the defense, for example. I’m not sure what scheme defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox was running in the first half, but whatever it was it should be enshrined in the hall of fame of ineptitude. I have never seen opposing offensive players so wide open. It was as if Oregon would have had more trouble scoring if they were running an 11 on 0 practice drill.The worry all year has been what will happen when Wilcox faces a solid quarterback. That question was answered Saturday as Vernon Adams, who is good but no Marcus Mariota, looked like the second coming of John Elway out there. Though to be honest, I’m sure the local Oregon high school quarterback would have looked just as good against the absolutely abysmal coverages that Wilcox was throwing out there. How he still has a job, and one that compensates him so handsomely, is beyond me.Even with that catastrophic first half, the Trojans were able to put together three straight stops on Oregon in the third quarter when they started blitzing Adams. It’s not like pressuring the quarterback is reinventing the wheel, but it seems that Wilcox is scared of this concept. No one is going to stop the Oregon offense, but USC showed it could at least bottle it up by dialing up the pressure.That’s the USC football program in a nutshell. The simplest solutions, like blitzing the quarterback or hiring a coach with a history of winning and not mediocrity, are right there, yet the program continues to defy logic and make inane choices.The Trojans are like a Fortune 500 company that is past its heyday but continues to seek out management and practices from the past. The program has so many resources and so much raw potential, that all it takes is one good CEO or coach to right the ship. They need a coach who will out scheme opponents and take the time to develop the highly touted recruits who come to USC.Outside of the few players whose talent is so immense that they will be first round picks regardless of who is coaching, the majority of Trojan athletes have not developed to their full potential. The coaching staff has been a categorical failure in this regard. USC may have had higher rated recruits than Oregon, but the players who stepped on the field for the Ducks were superior because they have been coached and developed.For most players, there is very little progress and development in their time as Trojans. That is simply unacceptable. Players should not be face guarding, biting on play action and missing blocking assignments this late in the season. That should have been fixed in training camp or in non-conference play.The combination of this stagnant growth and major deficiencies in coaching are the reasons the Trojans often lose to quality opponents. A good coach fixes all of that. USC has stayed somewhat relevant and decently competitive in the face of sanctions. That is over, but the Trojans now face a more pernicious and pervasive threat: internal mismanagement. The program cannot afford another bad hire.With all of the turbulence and turmoil the last few years, USC has still managed to be decent and that is the root of frustration for most fans. We all see how great the program can be, if given the chance. The team is so close with poor coaching, it seems obvious that with a great leader they will be tremendous.It’s frustrating that the Athletics Department didn’t get this memo two years ago, and that has set the program back. Let’s hope they rectify that with a big name hire, or the exercise in frustration and aggravation will continue unabated. Fortune 500 companies who compound mistakes with even greater ones wither out and die. The program is far from such dire straits but one or two more terrible hires like Sark, and the Trojan program will be a downtrodden one, full of false hope and glory days that continue to get farther and farther away.It’s time for a clean break from the past to build the program up to what it could and should be. That means cutting all ties with the Carroll era and finding the next coach to not build on the old, but create an entirely new dynasty: one with more “we did,” rather than “we could have.”Jake Davidson is a junior majoring in accounting. His column, “Davidson’s Direction,” ran Mondays.last_img

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