Over the past few seasons the same story line is always written when training camp starts...Will this be the year that USC is dethroned from atop the Pac-10?
And in the past few years the answer has pretty much been the same...a resounding NO!
But is THIS the year?
[U]SC's dominance, which has inspired dismissive references to the conference as the "Pac-1" and the "Lack-Nine" among fans from other regions.
"I think it's a horrible thing!" said Rick Neuheisel, clearly amused that the UCLA coach -- and a former Bruins quarterback -- is being asked about whether the Trojans' run of super-wonderfulness hurts the Pac-10's overall perception.
"But give credit where credit is due. They've gotten it done. Somebody has to get strong enough to knock them off the perch."
There is a defensiveness among the other nine programs. They sometimes seem to suggest they'd be open to the other BCS leagues' borrowing the Trojans for a season -- or two -- and, you know, seeing what happens.
I see where Miller is going and he does a solid write up but really...
What's the big debate about already?
The rest of the Pac-10 have had their chances year in and year out and they have not finished the job. Doc Saturday has written some pretty solid articles on this subject of late...
Here is one.
But presumably the Trojans have learned the same lesson, and the fact remains that even the occasional stumble when wading through the rabble hasn't been enough to force SC to cede the crown -- far from it, actually: Its current run of dominance (at least a share of seven straight conference championships, all by team that finished in the top five of the polls and, except for the dominant '05 team that lost to Texas in the final seconds, cruised to lopsided BCS wins) is unmatched over the same period and reminiscent of Florida State's iron grip on the ACC in the nineties. Just like FSU then, there's basically no realistic conception of UCS not winning the Pac-10.
Those gaps correspond directly with the Trojans' utter domination of West Coast (and, to some extent, national) recruiting, which continues essentially unchecked despite UCLA's best efforts last year. It also corresponds with the proliferation of the "Pac-1" stereotype, despite the fact that USC has lost seven Pac-10 games since its last regular season loss outside of the conference, to Kansas State in 2002.
I don't know if it is appropriate to call the rest of the Pac-10 the nine dwarfs but some of comments that I have read here and there the past couple of years have made me chuckle. Most of course, claim USC cheats.
Yeah, well...you got any proof?
Other comments have had of tinge of something similar I heard last fall, something about spreading the wealth around or some such nonsense. Others claim that USC has an unfair advantage by recruiting the talent laden southern California football scene. Well, ucla is not too far away and they had difficulty consistently recruiting top talent until Slick Rick showed up (as Doc notes above)...and there is still no guarantee that even with Slick Rick's better recruiting classes than his predecessor that it will turn into major success. Though, I am actually more inclined to give Neuheisel a pass but not after this season.
I still have no idea how or why USC's success affects the other nine schools so negatively. It is not USC's fault if the other schools can't keep up with USC. Every other coach in the Pac-10 has the same chance and regardless of resources things pretty much balance out. USC can't sign 'em all...It is what you do with your talent regardless what the talent is. Prime example is Oregon St. Stanford is going to be a sleeper too by the way.
Winning breeds success...the more you win the more players want to play for you, that is part of the reason why USC has been able to stockpile so much talent. That can have some backlash of course, because some top talent might not want to wait on the bench...that is fine, but SC will still get more than their fair share.
Regardless of the talent SC always finds a way to get the most out of their players. Pete Carroll has been pretty progressive of making the necessary changes to the offense that he feels will benefit the program and the talent it has.
Pete Carroll, Steve Sarkian, and yes, even Lane Kiffin, had been moving the offense from its BYU roots during Chow's tenure, and by the time offensive line coach Pat Ruel was hired in February 2005, much of this transition was complete.
This is particularly relevant this season because, for the first time in Carroll's tenure, he begins an offense without Chow, Kiffin, Sarkisian, and he does not return an experienced starting quarterback. The quarterback situation is still very much undecided, with Aaron Corp both injured and possibly opening up a slight edge on freshman phenom Matt Barkley as the latter struggles against the first-team defense in practice. New offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates (the titles are a bit jumbled -- Bates is officially the quarterbacks coach -- but he will call the plays and design the plans), is tasked with synthesizing the often divergent views of his predecessors into something that an inexperienced signal-caller can handle. And he has to keep his boss happy, something even the legendary Chow could not always do.
People can say what they but SC is constantly evolving.
I would agree in general that some of the crap that the Pac-10 as whole gets in the press is misinformed, but SC has done their part. In fact I would say that if SC's record was closer to the rest of the pack the Pac-10 as a whole would take even more criticism because the overall records would look pretty abysmal.
Cal's Jahvid Best makes a great point in Millers article...
USC, meanwhile, is breaking in a new quarterback and replacing eight starters from one of the best defenses in college football history.
Are the Trojans vulnerable?
"No," Best said.
"I've heard the same thing every year after they lose seven or eight guys to the NFL. Everybody says they're not going to be as good this year. But they come back [every year] and are just as good if not better than the year before. They've proven that no matter how many people leave, they are still going to be one of the best teams in the Pac-10. So we're not counting on them being vulnerable. We're counting on our execution on offense and defense to beat them."
Best pretty much echoes what Doc said above.
I don't know if this is the year or not, but Miller is correct...
If another team in the Pac-10 wants to unseat USC it is going to have to be all hands on deck!