If there is anything to be learned from this season it's that SC is stacked to the gills with talent. At the end of last season SC had a number of draft-eligible juniors bolt for the NFL, the only one to go in the first round was Reggie Bush.
Mort would agree that those juniors who left for the NFL, outside of Bush and maybe White, could have used the extra year to season their game. Some of those players made the squads that drafted them others were relegated to practice squads and the rest were cut and looked for teams to catch on with. The success that SC has had over the last few years no doubt left players thinking that they had nothing else to prove and that after winning 2 National Championships and after playing for a third that they were ready for the next level.
Imagine how we would have faired if even a couple of those juniors had stayed!
The departure of Justice, Bing, White and Matua made it a little more difficult for SC in the early part of the season. But more importantly it hurt in helping to bring younger players along. Seasoned, mature players are the best remedy when a team is struggling or even more important when calming younger players down in order to keep game on an even flow. Having a Bing or Justice on the team would have settled the defense down and kept us from playing a little too aggressive missing the opportunity to make certain plays.
This season will be a lot different. You already have a number of juniors that are draft eligible who have elected to stay for their last season. Chalk it up to whatever you like but it would seem to me that the biggest reason you will hear is that there is "unfinished business" to take care of. These guys are competitors and will stop at nothing to succeed.
From the LA Times:
All-American tackle Sam Baker and running back Chauncey Washington said Saturday that they would return for their final seasons of eligibility.
"I've always said the whole season I want to come back," Baker said after the Trojans' first workout since their upset loss to UCLA. "My dad always talks about just gathering as much information as you can and just trying to figure everything out, but I can't see anything really happening that would change my mind."
Neither can offensive line coach Pat Ruel, who said he has discussed the situation with Baker.
"He's got a chance to be an Outland Trophy guy, which is only going to increase his value," Ruel said.
Lawrence Jackson...Stickin' around
Photo: The Daily Trojan
I think these players know that they had a chance at doing something special this season. Yes, a fifth consecutive BCS bowl game is special but we know these guys all had their eyes on a bigger prize. We can debate the reasons as to why they fell short for time on end and we will but that is for another time. This shows me that these guys are hungry and they know they can do better. The amazing thing is that this was supposed to be a rebuilding year and SC was in the thick of it right up until the end. There is not another program that has come close to achieving what SC has accomplished over the past 4 years and there is no reason n why they won't bee in the thick of it again next season.
Pete Carroll will turn the loss to UCLA into a positive result. I'm not talking about a Rose Bowl win, that's short term, but that loss as shocking as it was will turn out to fire this team up for next season. Our rivals won, that's great for them. It was a hard fought battle and they came out on top. But that's it; they will get no closer to a BCS title let alone a Pac-10 title because of this win. This was one game and I have said in the past one win does not a dynasty make. SC will keep rolling along next season, their play anyone at any place at anytime attitude shows what this program is made of and top players want to be a part of that tradition.