Soapbox: Trojan football is mediocre at best.
Last month, given an early deadline, I made the prediction that USC's football team might have a shot at national respectability. For years, I have deluded myself into hoping/praying that the Cardinal and Gold has a chance to regain past glories. I must face the fact that my team is a pedestrian college football program--Yesterday U.--what Jim Murray used to call "an opponent." Paul Hackett is dedicated, but SC's failures simply must be attributed to him. Is he a smart assistant who does not have the right stuff for the head job? He is responsible for the discipline, planning and practice repetition that is necessary to iron out the penalties, mental errors and missed assignments that plague this team. They always have good players, and are consistently well represented in the pros. The greatest collection of high school talent in America surrounds the school for 50 miles east, west, north and south. Schools in smaller communities like Lincoln, Nebraska; Tallahassee, Florida; and Knoxville, Tennessee must recruit players over vast territories, yet they have developed powerhouses that are so far and above where Troy is that it boggles the mind. The entire Pacific 10 Conference is a joke. Once the mightiest collection of programs, the Pac possesses the advantages of population and weather, but when it comes to alumni support, student spirit, attendance and fan participation, the schools on the Left Coast are mired in apathy and Political Correctness. Our laid-back attitude was a badge of honor when our teams dominated. Now it is left to dinosaurs like me to reminisce about the good ol' days. What a shame.
Ugly losses to Oregon, Arizona followed by debacle in South Bend
Carson Palmer is injured, but the Oregon, Arizona and Notre Dames losses were not Mike Van Raaphorst's fault. Zeke Moreno has upheld the U.S.C. linebacker tradition, and R. Jay Soward has had moments of brilliance. The Trojan running game went from Student Body Right to -20 Negative Yardage vs. the last-in-the-conference Arizona defense. S.C. showed that they have great athletes vs. Notre Dame.
"We're just a first-half team," said linebacker Marcus Steele. Hackett is consistently outcoached at the intermission. The program was mediocre when he got there, but under his stewardship the snatch-defeat-from-from-the-jaws-of-victory Trojans are a joke. Their performance in South Bend was inexcusable. Bad play calling and a failure to have his team disciplined and mentally prepared to play 60 minutes led to the most excruciating disappointment any Trojan can suffer.
"To have the three losses we've had this year, it's just criminal," Hackett said. The real crime is to see one of the greatest traditions in the country reduced to also-ran status. The damage was done long before Hackett showed up, but he has done zero to restore any luster. Am I calling for Hackett's job? No, there is a cancer at University Park that I have not detected, and right now I do not who could turn things around.
"I've got to look at the tape and figure it out because if you try to figure out from the sideline you're not going to have much luck," said the shell-shocked Hackett.<p>
Gillespie bags number one recruiting class
The Trojan football program may be a dismal skeleton of its old self, but coach Mike Gillespie has led Troy's baseball team to a National Championship in 1998, and Collegiate Baseball recently announced that SC captured the best recruiting class of 1999. Gillespie attracted right-handed pitcher Mark Prior, a transfer from Vanderbilt, who turned down $1.7 of George Steinbrenner's money. Other top recruits include Aaron Fauscett (.356 at Vanderbilt last year); El Segundo's stud catcher, Alberto Concepcion (second round, San Diego); pitcher Chad Clark of Glendora (twenty-second round, Milwaukee); and Riverside Arlington infielder Anthony Lunetta (drafted by the Indians).
"It is certainly a quality incoming class, equal to any we've ever had and perhaps even the best," remarked Coach Gillespie. A good example of how healthy Gillespie's program is can be found by looking at the large contingent of Trojans in the Majors (Milwaukee has so many Trojans it almost seems S.C. is their farm club).
Causes Steven Travers Supports
Conservative, Christian, USC, American patriotism