A 2013 Season Retrospective

Stephen Dunn

Paragon's look back on the 2013 season

In my time away from Conquest Chronicles I got to watch the season unfold through a new set of lenses. I didn’t follow every detail that was required to run this site like in the past but I didn’t miss what was going on....I just saw it differently.

There were a lot of question marks coming into the 2013 season.

With the mess that was the 2012 season culminating in the embarrassing loss to Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl, the rumors of a brawl in the locker room, the regression of Matt Barkley and the numerous coaching shuffles, there wasn’t a lot to be optimistic about when the 2013 season started.

The win over Hawaii to start the season to some was lackluster. USC should have and did win over a Norm Chow program dealing with its own issues.

Then there was the loss to Washington State.

Sure, we all knew Mike Leach would start to make the Cougs respectable but jeez how do you lose 10-7? At least we saw the defense improving after the debacle that was Monte Kiffin.

But the knives were starting to be sharpened, many were vocal that Kiffin should have been fired in the offseason.

The convincing win over Boston College was a bit of a salve, but USC barely beating Utah State started more rumblings.

Then, the massacre in Tempe happened.

The move that should have been made after the Sun Bowl finally happened in a secluded room just off the tarmac at LAX.

Many of us sang ding dong the witch is dead.

I will not forget sitting in my den watching ESPN early on that Sunday morning when the news popped up on Twitter. Many were happy at the news and the Coach O era started.

We know the rest.

Losses to USC’s two oldest rivals and a win against a new rival that led to a once in a lifetime rush-the-field moment really painted an accurate picture on the season. The players never wavered. Many didn’t like Kiffin, but they loved Coach O…only to be left at the alter when Coach O left in a huff because he didn’t get the head coach job.

So much for one heartbeat, one family….blah, blah, blah. I never thought Orgeron should get the job and was glad he didn’t get it…but he should not have left in the fashion he did.

He owed the players he supposedly loved so much more than that!

I was and still am disappointed in an uninspiring hire of Steve Sarkisian.

Still the players soldiered on.

With both their third (Helton) and fourth (Sarkisian) coaches looking on, USC rolled Fresno State for an unexpected but well-earned and well-deserved 10-win season.

What could have been if not for the losses to Notre Dame and Washington State.

The players reminded us of why we support this program. They don’t care about the outside noise. They are loyal to USC…not a coach. They have that fighting spirit that has always followed "FIGHT ON!".

There were many disappointing moments on the 2013 season but there were also many satisfying moments as well…The emergence of Buck Allen, Nelson Agholor and Su’a Cravens come to mind. The maturation of Cody Kessler and how he led his team is another bright spot.

I have been vocal in my disappointment in Pat Haden and the moves (or lack of) he has made. Haden only cares about the big donors and not the everyday fan. There is no way he put a big effort in getting the best coach available. He took the easy route when he hired Sarkisian instead of getting a Chris Petersen…all because Haden didn’t want to lose a recruiting class or some early enrollees.

Haden got rolled.

It was like watching a hostage tape.

Haden allowed some recruits and a certain level of comfort to make his decision for him….just like Mike Garrett did with Lane Kiffin, Haden got played by old traditions instead of forging ahead to try and make some new traditions.

You can in fact have both.

I know it's harsh, but there are a lot of fans that feel the same way.

The season ended up just like many thought it would…some great wins, some horrible losses and a new coach.

I will love this team no matter what. I don’t care who the coach is, I don’t care who the AD is and I could care less about all the politics involved.

If Sarkisian wins, I will cheer the team and tip my cap to him for a job well done. But if he doesn’t, I won’t be surprised.

All the above aside, I really respect the players for their effort in the face of a mountain of drama and distractions. All these players stayed when they could have left and those that came abroad did so willingly knowing what the program is/was facing. USC has one more year of sanctions to go and the kids still flock to the program.

It says a lot about the USC brand.

USC still owns LA.

I am not worried about UCLA winning a few games against us. Winning and losing streaks happen. Most USC fans could care less about UCLA and their whiny fans.

The chapter is closed on the Kiffin (and Orgeron) era. A new one starts with Sarkisian, and even though he wasn’t my choice, I won’t stop rooting for the players over an uninspiring coaching hire.

I am proud to be part of the sidewalk alumni of USC and the program has and always will have my support.

So, a hearty well done to the players and (most of) the staff of the 2013 season!

FIGHT ON!

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