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A Damn Dirty Shame

Time to get back on track
Photo Credit: USC Website
I have stated in the past that I am not a big fan of the term "tradition". What may have happened many years ago does not necessarily have any impact on where a team is today. Prior success in a particular sport like USC Football or UCLA Basketball is not always an indicator of a team's future performance. SC had many dry years in football, as did UCLA in hoops and only a change in coaches brought about positive change in the performance of their respective teams. The recent success of both programs; USC 2 MNC's, played for 3rd and almost played for a 4th, UCLA played for a title and has played in 2 consecutive Final Fours. Clearly, coaching/recruiting has been the key to these programs recent success.

Success and failure are cyclical as fans live and die with a program's achievements. Expectations are always high and those expectations for success, weather or not they are realistic or attainable, a history of success always leaves fans wanting more and when they do not get it, they always end up asking why? We are all familiar with fair-weather fans and the die-hard purists always look down their nose at those who do not share their passion for a particular team/sport when the subject comes up. Regardless of what type of fan you are those who know enough about a particular team/sport are always disappointed at a lack of production or when their team is out hustled by a rival or such.

I bring this up because there was something I saw recently over on the Baseball Board.

It seems that our baseball team is getting beat out on the recruiting trail by our rivals from across town. This might not be a big deal because baseball has a very different set of rules when it comes to going to college or the pros. Players can commit to a particular school and if they are good enough, they could be drafted and go right to the pros. Sure, they will end up in minor league ball hoping to make it to the show but they usually get a fat signing bonus if they are considered top talent.

USC commit Mike Moustakas, who was drafted #2 overall, is a prime example of that. He will surely take the money and run, especially if he has Scott Boras as a "advisor" working with him. Consider him gone. Of course, with some of the current USC baseball players being drafted in the MLB draft earlier this week, the team makeup could look quite different that what we saw this past season.

That is why recruiting is so important. I am more than willing to be patient and give coach Kreuter a chance to get settled into the college game as a head coach. But by no means will I be charitable if he doesn't improve the teams recruiting standards and sign some top talent. Across town coach Savage has done a great job at putting a solid program together and a lot of that comes from being experienced in the college game, being a former USC pitching coach helps a lot too, but in the end he has been doing it a little bit longer so he has his plan in place.

I grew up with USC Baseball, as I have noted before my dad played on some of those top teams in the 60's. I have been careful not divulge who he is or his opinions on the current state of SC baseball because he still travels in some circles where criticism or opinions that are not favorable might not be appreciated especially if they are by his son who didn't play that level of baseball or attend SC. I feel that I have looked at USC Baseball objectively over the years and I have found that it is not performing at the level that is expected by those who not only follow it religiously but also just in passing. I am not foolish enough to expect Pac 10 titles or NCAA championships every other year but I do expect to be in a position of contention for one or the other or even both on a consistent basis. For USC those are reasonable expectations.

I was happy when Mike Gillespie moved on, I thought he did not live up to the expectations (tradition if you must) that some of us have come to expect after being on top of the college baseball mountain all those years ago. Kreuter's family connection to Gillespie, he is Gillespie's son-in-law, can help him with the nuances of the college game but Kreuter needs to stake his own claim and this years recruiting class has left a lot to be desired in his search for his own identity. UCLA is not a baseball powerhouse. Yes, they have had their fair share of players make it in the Big Leagues over the years and as I stated earlier coach Savage has done an excellent job with that program of late, but there is no reason why SC and Chad Kreuter cannot be right back in the thick of things. He needs to look no further than right down the hall of Heritage Hall if he is looking for advice as both Pete Carroll and Tim Floyd are getting top talent to come to USC. The history of USC baseball should be motivation enough, but the climate of success around Heritage Hall seems to be infectious so hopefully he will catch the bug.

Missing the baseball postseason for a second year in a row does not help the situation. I realize that SC had the toughest schedule in the country but getting swept by Cal, Stanford and ucla didn't help matters, winning just two of those series probably would have been enough to get on the road to Omaha. If Kreuter is unable to perform then he should go but I think we are a ways from that scenario. If he doesn't perform then the fan base will call for his dismissal and that includes us here at CC but we will do it in a respectful way that will hear all dissenting views regardless of fact or opinions and not light our hair on fire over it.

We have obviously been spoiled with all the attention that the football and basketball teams have received of late so its time that the baseball team gets back to a level of respectability. I'm not asking to return the Dedeaux years but contending for the post season is a must in order to win titles.