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Separating USC past from USC present

One thing that has been interesting to watch in the past week or so has been all those who were previously in awe of USC that have either jumped off the bandwagon and run or jumped off and then started throwing dirt onto USC as if they were dead and buried. Ratings and readership is what it’s all about…taking the contrarian point of view AFTER you have seen the results, for those of us on the outside, is always a sight to behold. Earlier in the week it was Tom Dienhart and last Friday it was SI.com's Austin Murphy.

As I mentioned last weekend the one pundit that stood out was of course Kirk Herbstreit, he bashed USC mercilessly on College GameDay last Saturday suddenly jumping on the Florida Bandwagon only to then see the Gators go down in flames. I like Herbstreit, I don’t always agree with him, but for the most part he has been pretty even handed in most of his analysis but this was just unreal. For all of his “knowledge” Herbie couldn’t get off SC bandwagon fast enough and made rats jumping off a sinking ship look slow.

Doc Saturday is the latest to say good-bye. And while I have no problem with his judgment of this years team there is a fundamental flaw in some of his reasoning...

One more note on the fallout from USC's sky-opening loss at Oregon State. There's a fine line between a good team and a legendary one, and the L.A. Daily News' Scott Wolf was reminded just how often Reggie Bush singlehandedly erased that line in the Trojans' championship seasons:

Instead of fretting a loss to Oregon State, perhaps USC fans should instead look back at the number of times the Trojans could have lost but didn't simply because of Reggie Bush.

The Stanford game in the 2004 unbeaten season is a prime example, with Bush's 33-yard zig-zagging punt return setting up the winning touchdown in a 31-28 victory. He also scored a touchdown on a 17-yard run in the first half.

That same year, USC held off UCLA 29-24 with Bush gaining 204 yards and touchdown runs of 65-and-81 yards.

USC coach Pete Carroll did not deny Bush erased a lot of shortcomings on Sunday night.

"We were so dynamic offensively it made up for problems,'' Carroll said. "A lot of it was Reggie.''

You can expand this "great man" argument beyond Bush -- does USC have anyone now who could haul in a 60-yard audible on 4th-and-9 with the game on the line, on the road? -- but it gets right to the core of USC's persistent upset issues over the last three years: the recruiting stars have completely failed to yield not only another Bush, but any truly reliable playmaker on offense.

I see where Doc Saturday is trying to go and I realize that that those are Pete Carroll's words, but to me that is a big exception not a rule. As I said the other day, regardless of talent there is no way this 2008 team is as good as the 2004 team if for no other reason than the loss to OSU last Thursday. The problem is that most of the pundits and analysts have spent the past two and a half seasons comparing the talent we have now to the talent of 2004/05.

That would be a mistake.

Talent is one thing, results are something else entirely.

To me Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart are untouchable from a pure football stand point, they more than proved themselves on the field and I will defend their performance like you have never seen. On the other hand as great as Jarrett was in 2004/05 his decline in 2006 really left a bitter taste in some peoples mouth.

There are no Reggie Bush's or Dwayne Jarrett's on this team...not yet and probably not ever. The fact is I don’t think we will see another collection of offensive talent like we saw in 04/05. While the 2004 team, on offense, was essentially the same as 2005. The defense of 2004 when compared to 2005 or even 2008 may not have been as deep or as feared but their accomplishments were incredible. Personally, I think that 2004 team was so under the radar that no one really knew just how good they were…and we all know that Oklahoma never saw them coming.

But where some miss the boat is that Reggie Bush could not have been as successful as he was without LenDale White. The power running game that White provided was the perfect compliment to Reggie's flash-and-dash highlight reel type of play. Jarrett had the benefit of having Steve Smith and Dominque Byrd on the field to help stretch out opposing defenses that enabled him to make some great plays. Go back and watch the tape of that 2005 Orange Bowl...that was a team firing on all cylinders it wasn't just one guy. Sure Reggie made some dynamite plays but it couldn't have been done without other effective weapons making plays on the field.

See for yourself...

I WILL NEVER GET BORED WATCHING THOSE HIGHLIGHTS!!...NEVER

But, there has to be a disconnect, I can see comparing 2006 to 2005 but not to 2007 or 2008 this a totally different crew. It's time to put the 2004/05 teams in the past, they gave us great memories. The 2006/07 teams had some incredible talent but they didn't live up to the expectations. The jury is still out on the 2008 team though the loss to OSU doesn't help their cause but again there is some tremendous talent.

USC in 2006/07/08 has been, voluntarily or involuntarily, riding the coattails of USC 04/05 and that has to stop. This current team has their own identity, good or bad, and they need to be separated from the past and judged on their own results.