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Is USC Football at a Crossroads?

Man, one bad season (in the eyes of the press) and they are all ready to write us off.

Not really surprising though as this is all part of the narrative...

Again, rational fans can accept a down year or even two. There has been no team in the history of college football that has accomplished what USC has done under the leadership of Pete Carroll (FSU had a nice run but not as complete as this). But when those who watch the team closely see the team stumble as bad as they have of late I think it is fair to ask questions and criticize some of things we have seen.

Very few are calling for Pete Carroll to be fired but many of us do want to see some tweaks here or there or wholesale changes in some areas. Our opinion may not matter but when you see the rest of the conference catch up with what looks like USC standing still it will raise some eye brows.

But I also think its off base to say USC is at a crossroads as some have tried to push recently.

USC entered this season with a streak of seven consecutive conference championships, BCS bowl berths and 11-plus-victory seasons. The 2009 Trojans will achieve none of those milestones.

Many schools would be thrilled to have USC's 7-3 record – including 6-5 UCLA – but it isn't what anyone inside or outside Heritage Hall has become accustomed to. Nor is the manner in which the Trojans have lost two of their past three games.

The margin of defeat against Oregon (Oct. 31) and Stanford (Nov. 14) was an astonishing 61 points – seven fewer than in Carroll's other 16 losses combined. In those two games, USC surrendered almost a season's worth of rushing yards (716).

After the Oregon game, former UCLA coach Terry Donahue told Sporting News Radio that the USC program is in "disarray." Senior center Jeff Byers scoffed at that notion.

"Expectations here are high," Byers said. "That's why I came here. That's why a lot of people came here. We haven't lived up to them.

I would agree that margin of victory in our losses to Oregon and Stanford are shocking.

I can understand one blowout...sooner or later every team goes through one, but two in three weeks that is more concerning. But no team is perfect and sooner or later their flaws can be exploited by both good and bad teams.

The press like many fans have come to expect the high level of success that Pete Carroll has brought to USC. But it would appear that they have followed the Pied Piper in expecting that it would always be this way.

As for Terry Donahue's quote about USC being in disarray...Right. This is the same clown who is reviled by his own fan base (search BN's archives, there are some doozies there), so I am not going to take the word of a washed up old coach who has done nothing of note of late and who has absolutely no positive connection to USC. That would be like asking the Chinese to host a seminar and give the key note speech on human rights...


Expectations at USC have always been high...I mean come on, it is USC. They are one of the top 3-5 programs of all time.

Pete Carroll's incredible level of success has increased those expectaions...that might not be fair but it is what it is.

Ted Miller tried to draw the parallel of where USC is today and where FSU was after their incredible run...

Maybe this is just a blip. Maybe what's extraordinary is that it's taken this long for USC to be ordinary.

Would you be shocked if, a year from now, this space is filled with calibrations of various scenarios for USC to play for the national title? Of course you wouldn't.

"We'll bounce back in a positive direction," Carroll said.

We'll see.

But this column from SEC country recalls an interesting parallel that also occurred to me: In 2001, when Florida State's run of 14 consecutive 10-win seasons ended with an 8-4 finish, no one -- no one -- thought the Seminoles would disappear from the national title discussion.

They did.

So there's really one position to have here, Trojans fans.

There no reason to overreact to the sudden downturn. But it's also foolish to act like nothing is amiss.

Gotta love Miller and his cliche's.

No disagreement that Pete Carroll probably should tweak a few things. But lets see if USC drops off the face of the map first before proclaiming the program dead. USC is allowed a down year but I hardly think they are at a crossroads. There may be some issues going on behind the scenes but every program goes through them. The last guy I would worry about not righting the ship is Pete Carroll.

So, USC and Pete Carroll hit a big pot hole in the happens. But lets not be so quick to shovel dirt on the grave of USC........yet.