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The Trojans Hunker Down

Today's LA Times has a piece by Bill Plaschke about USC and their image. Outside from the loyal opposition and the general community of USC haters there has been little written by Trojan supporters that SC needs to protect its image. I've never thought that Pete Carroll didn't care about his team's image; it was that it was hard to see where he stood on the negative issues that reared their ugly head in the off-season.

His coaching philosophy has been questioned by many as being too lax and of being a little too lenient with players. Whatever, it is what it is. I would prefer to have the success that we have had over the past few seasons without the negative press that has befallen SC in the past few months, but that is not the case. I won't rehash it. We are all aware of the situation. Like it or not, if it keeps up, SC is coming close to being labeled the Miami of the west.

Plaschke's article does show a change in how Carroll and his staff will work to prevent a repeat of this year's off-season, at least publicly.  

From the article:

"Guys have to realize, with all the glory comes a lot of responsibility," center Ryan Kalil said.

And it is the responsibility of the program, from the parents to the coaches to the kids, to stop this silliness, and stop it now.

If they don't, it will soon seep into recruits' living rooms and stadium broadcast booths and the national buzz.

Once that happens, Tommy Trojan might as well show up wearing an eye patch, and poor Traveler will need blinkers.

It's good to hear a veteran player speak up and take charge. I can tell you from personal experience, in the military, that players are far better of policing themselves but only if the senior leadership sets a positive example.

Obviously, players and coaches can't prevent all the potential wrongs that can come up. Juicing up like Brandon Ting or the Bush rent situations are events that can easily be concealed. There are privacy issues and even if there weren't you can't hire enough people to watch every person in a players family. So there has to be some trust involved. Insisting on a buddy system, especially for freshman, easily rectifies the Sanchez situation.

Coach Carroll is also asking players parents to step up and take some personal responsibility.  By having them sign a document that they are aware of the NCAA's rules and regs. Of course, having a signed document doesn't guarantee that a parent won't try to skirt the rules. But if a parent does at least the school can say we tried. It won't make any sanctions by the NCAA easier to swallow but it's a start. Maybe other schools already do this but regardless it is good to know that USC is taking the whole situation seriously.

Coach Carroll's dealing with agents is also a good thing. I think he could do more, i.e. not inviting H.S. recruits to Proday or closing practice nto directly affiliated with the team or immediate family members. The NCAA needs to step up in a big way to stop agents and their lackeys from corrupting players as I discussed here. I understand Carroll's reasoning on both but, until the NCAA has more stringent rules in place with real penalties, Coach Carroll needs to take a more positive grip on the situation. Not doing so invites the type environment that only hurts the program.

It is unfortunate that SC's name has been tarnished by these unfortunate incidents. We have something special with this program and there is no reason that our success should not continue in the future, but we need to do it with character. I hope we can put it all behind us and focus on the 2006 season.