USC fans were treated with a new look yesterday.
New guidelines as to who could attend practice were released on Monday and there was a definitely a different feel to practice as discipline was the word of the day. As we have read in a couple of different places things seemed to be getting out of hand during Pete Carroll's last season at USC. The team certainly didn't look focused and players started to do their own thing. Team chemistry definitely took a hit.
There is no question that the team benefits from having the fans attend practice...it keeps things lively and competitive but with the NCAA in the home stretch in regards to their upcoming ruling now was the perfect time to set new guidelines and improve oversight of just who was hanging around.
With USC awaiting word from the NCAA regarding possible sanctions for lack of institutional control, the policy is an attempt to keep athlete agents, marketing agents and financial advisors to athletes -- and those that work for or are affiliated with them -- from contacting players.
"We just have changed the way we monitor a little bit and tightened it up, and just have a little bit of process of making sure we're really on top of who's coming in and out of here, obviously for compliance reasons," Kiffin said.
Though Kiffin stressed that the move was a school initiative, it is coming from a head coach who already had tightened the screws on conditioning workouts as well as penalties for being tardy or missing classes.
Regardless of who initiated the move it was time to nail things down.
No ones job is safe, no one gets a free pass just because they have been hyped up in the past and players will be held accountable, both on and off the field, to higher degree than we have seen in the past.
And the players took note of it too...
But players did say they noticed an increased sense of regimen in Tuesday's opener.
"There is more discipline," Barkley said. "I don't know if it's tension. We're still having fun."
Kiffin has some issues to address on the field and on the depth chart but more importantly he has bring the team together as a whole.
The injury bug has hit the team pretty hard.
We all loved Pete Carroll's free-spirit but there were time when many of us wondered if that sort atmosphere was always the best for the team. There is no question that the team got up for games...the Rose Bowl win against Penn State comes to mind. We all loved how the team was loose on the sidelines but at times it did make me a bit uncomfortable in regards to sportsmanship. I rolled with it but in hind sight it did not always paint SC in a good light.
Competition is still going to be the key to winning your but you won't be able to compete if you miss a class or a study session or if you are late to a team meeting.
Stupid mistakes in practice will also be dealt with immediately...
What was different? The attitude, according to the players. Kiffin, defensive coordinator dad Monte, defensive line coach Ed Orgeron and the rest of the USC staff aped former coach Pete Carroll's intense practice style, but they added some twists. All lines had to be touched on sprints. All snaps had to be perfect. Fumbles were punished immediately.
"The attitude has changed," quarterback Matt Barkley said. "I've said it before. It's just a little more -- not dedication -- but being on task. It's more disciplined now. It starts with the coaching staff. The tempo starts with them."
It has to come from the top down...
A team does take on the persona and attitude of the coaching staff. We saw it with Pete Carroll you will see it with Lane Kiffin.
I don't think anyone was surprised by the quotes from Allen Bradford.
Tailback Allen Bradford went a step further. "I'm not saying we got out of hand with coach Carroll, but a lot of guys were doing their own individual thing," Bradford said. "Kiffin's trying to get us in the mindset that it's going to take a team to win."
Kiffin will change that right out of the gate.
Like I said earlier nobodies job is safe...
The first practice was also the initial skirmish between Devon Kennard and incumbent Chris Galippo to see who would start next season at middle linebacker.
"We're just experimenting with it," USC defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin said. "We don't know for sure. We want to see how (Kennard) does. We also like Michael Morgan at (strongside linebacker)."
Kennard started the end of last season at strongside linebacker. He said Tuesday the hardest part will be calling signals and telling players where to line up as the middle linebacker is the quarterback of the defense.
Everyone is going to to get a look.
Kiffin is laying low.
He is not worrying about any of the outside nonsense. That is part of the reason why they are locking some things down.
He is evaluating the team and players on their individual merits. He isn't concerned about stirring the pot, he doesn't need to. He is concerned about bringing this team together and putting his stamp on it. He is concerned about what he has to work with before fall ball.
SC will take some lumps this season but there is no reason why they won't be competitive.
Kiffin will ensure that.
The Pete Carroll era was great. It will be seen as one of the greatest in college football history, but that is now in the past. We have a lot of work to do for the future and that work starts now.