The obvious struggles of this years team has made a few people take a closer look at the make up of this team. It is easy to point to the loss of all the talent on defense as well as the loss of Mark Sanchez last season but does that tell the whole story? There is a lot of talent on this team and many of those players are from the recruiting class of 2006. The overall expectations and production of the class of 2006 as we now know it has been less than what we have been used to from previous years. The class of 2006 may not be a bust but they haven't been lights out either.
This post is not meant to be inflammatory towards any player currently on the roster or any player who has departed the program for any reason or at any time, good or bad. This post is more a general observation.
So much has been made of Pete Carroll's recruiting prowess that it almost seems automatic that PC will haul in a top 5 class year in and year out. That isn't always the case, but I am more concerned about quality over quantity. Pete Carroll has not over recruited like some programs have but he isn't innocent either (I believe he over recruited by 3 or 4 players in 2003, I could be wrong on the year though).
There is no question that Pete Carroll has stockpiled a ton talent, almost to a fault, but he gets a lot out of his talent...but not always the most. That is what is frustrating many fans. Right or wrong, good or bad it is a perception that has taken root among many.
There have been some interesting discussions on the message boards about this subject and when you look a little closer you see some things that just jump out at you.
Here is one observation...
The 2009 USC Trojans is probably the least great of the CPC teams since 01 and will most likely lose 1-2 more games before its all said and done.
One over looked reason for this is this is the senior year for the disappointing class of 2006, which was CPC least accomplished in his tenure. The recruiting was excellent, its just the players either didn't live up to expectations or the coaching was too impressed with the * system and mythical recruiting championship as opposed to building the team around chemistry and functionality.
The 2 following classes 07 and 08 have already produced more dividends than the senior class this year.
Of the 06 class, only Taylor Mays is all conference. Stafon Johnson is a solid running back-but many of the other players failed out, transferred or just didn't pan out for whatever reason.
I have every reason to believe that this paradigm has lead to the dip in overall production and performance. The next few years with substantially better and now more mature skill players, we will be back on the top again.
The class of 2006 was a huge recruiting class for USC as they came off the loss to Texas in the BCS Title game. This class was dripping with talent...some real and some imagined. There were also some head-cases in this class as well. These guys were supposed to get us back to the tile game. They were supposed to fill the void left by the greatest offensive production ever seen in college football...Matt/Reggie/LenDale.
It just has never seemed that this class has ever reached its full potential and that is not something that many of us have been used to seeing from Pete Carroll during his tenure at USC...
And here they are.....(taken from Rivals)
|Kenny Ashley||RB||5-8||210||4.45||5.8||Venice, CA|
|Walker Ashley||DT||6-4||295||4.96||-||Eden Prairie, MN|
|David Ausberry||WR||6-4||213||4.64||6.0||Lemoore, CA|
|Allen Bradford||LB||5-11||219||4.54||6.1||Colton, CA|
|David Buehler||DB||6-2||217||4.5||-||Santa Ana, CA|
|C.J. Gable||ATH||5-11||180||4.6||6.1||Sylmar, CA|
|Garrett Green||QB||6-2||190||4.5||5.7||Sherman Oaks, CA|
|Stanley Havili||RB||6-0||208||4.5||5.8||Salt Lake, UT|
|Vidal Hazelton||WR||6-3||193||4.47||6.1||Chatham, VA|
|Zack Heberer||OL||6-4||269||5.2||5.8||San Pedro, CA|
|Jamere Holland||ATH||6-1||175||4.35||6.0||Woodland Hills, CA|
|Stafon Johnson||RB||5-11||200||4.4||6.1||Los Angeles, CA|
|Vincent Joseph||DB||5-8||165||4.57||5.7||Long Beach, CA|
|Butch Lewis||DT||6-6||280||4.85||6.0||Aurora, CO|
|Taylor Mays||ATH||6-3||218||4.59||6.1||Seattle, WA|
|Anthony McCoy||TE||6-4||240||4.6||5.8||Fresno, CA|
|Emmanuel Moody||RB||6-1||195||4.44||6.0||Coppell, TX|
|Michael Morgan||LB||6-2||200||4.5||6.0||Dallas, TX|
|Alex Parsons||DT||6-4||260||4.9||5.9||Irvine, CA|
|Travon Patterson||WR||5-8||160||4.4||5.7||Long Beach, CA|
|Antwine Perez||DB||6-1||199||4.53||6.0||Camden, NJ|
|Alfred Rowe||DB||6-0||187||4.5||5.6||Long Beach, CA|
|Derek Simmons||DE||6-4||268||5.12||6.0||Fairfield, CA|
|Joshua Tatum||LB||6-0||219||4.66||6.0||Oakland, CA|
|Gerald Washington||TE||6-6||253||4.6||-||Rancho Cucamonga, CA|
|Shareece Wright||DB||5-11||180||4.53||6.0||Colton, CA|
As you can see Pete Carroll was able to go after some incredible players...and if you buy into the recruiting rankings there are a lot of stars there!
We also know there was a fair amount of attrition from that class...
What is left on that original list has either not panned out at all or has not lived up to or come close to their potential.
Obviously, recruiting is a crapshoot...
You can't take what the recruiting services say completely seriously. They get it wrong almost as much as they get it right. The fact is regardless of the amount of stars a player has next to their name that has never shown how hard a player is going to dedicate themselves to improving their game. It doesn't show how hard they are willing to compete. It doesn't show how much of a team player they will be within the program.
Pete Carroll did a great job of selling the benefits of playing at USC to the class of 2006 but it is clear by looking at some on this list that they were either not as talented on the field as advertised or they simply were not prepared to dedicate themselves to the high standards of USC.
I don't have all the answers here. There are some that will say that the coaching staff can't coach players up. Others will say that the coaching staff turnover is to blame and then there are those that will say that Pete Carroll plays favorites or that he got greedy when he took all those running backs.
Others are a lot smarter than I am when it comes to studying and evaluating the individual talents and attributes of the players Pete Carroll recruits. I offer this up simply because it has been a topic of conversation elsewhere and I do think that it is an interesting topic. It is relevant...many continue to point to the loss of Norm Chow as the main reason that SC didn't hang a few more MNC pelts on their wall. Others will talk about the losses of Davis or Coach O. I think those are valid questions but other than Chow all of PC's former assistants went on to blaze their own trail, chase their own dreams of running their own show or trying their hand in the NFL. A successful program will have a lot of attrition of assistants and this has happened to SC.
There is no magic bullet when recruiting top talent. There are always some players who don't pan out or who don't live up to expectations.
Unfortunately the Class of 2006 has a higher than normal amount of disappointment. Real or imagined.
Every player has a different reason for picking the the program they choose. I certainly won't question it. And even though the class of 2006 was for the most part pretty much able to get along that has not necessarily meant success on the field.
Pete Carroll's methods and results are fair game...but I won't lie, while it hasn't always been pretty I am pretty happy with the overall result.
Think of the alternative...