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A Question Of Legacy; Why USC Must Dominate ASU Saturday

The Trojans fly to Tempe this weekend in what seems more and more like a legacy game for the entire USC Football program, especially at a time when national perception continues to swing in the balance by the hour.

Harry How

In college, a school's legacy is pretty much everything. Advertising what famous or groundbreaking person has this school as their alma mater, what the school academically particularly excels in, what the school is known for, and the school's athletic prowess all help to build the image for the college or university.

While we are an academically talented university, ranking 23 according to US News and World Report, ask anyone about USC and what is probably the first thing out of their mouth?

Trojan Football.

When my dad was eight he became a USC Trojan fan while living all the way in Cambridge, MA because they were the team who he would see dominate on TV. It wasn't BC, Harvard, or one of the other local schools in the area that he would cheer on; he would watch USC. Fast-forward a couple or so years, I'm not going to blow up his spot like that and give his age out, and his youngest son is enrolled in the university he would watch dominate in football every Saturday when he was growing up.

I'm not saying that this is the reason I am at USC because it is definitely not, but I will say thatwhen he and my mom came to see me at USC for the first time the best part of the trip for him wasgoing to a Trojan Football game. He was like the little kid all over again as he watched the Trojans march down the field with the marching band playing "Conquest" in the background, only this time he was sitting in the Coliseum instead of in front of an old tube T.V.

USC has created an image of their school, one that the Trojan football team has been integral in. I've walked through USC on game day and seen all the children donned in USC apparel, brainwashed by all things Trojan the same way my dad brainwashed me with the Red Sox. I have met people here who have only known USC all their life, their parents were Trojans, they went to Trojan football games, they already know the school like the back of their palm, and now they are Trojans.

USC has worked many years to make succeeding football a priority and focus, almost as equally as they have taken their academics. I was talking to a security guard a couple of weeks ago and I told him that at this point, I feel as though it is a success if the Trojans end the season ranked. Something I still believe, after all we couldn't pull it off last season, and it proves to the rest of the college sports nation that we still have a threatening program.

When I told him that, he looked at me dead in the eyes and said, "I would like to make an amendment to what you just said. The Trojans level of success is, and always will be, winning the Rose Bowl and going to National Championship Game."

And he was right. That is what it has always been; those have always been the expectations. But now as we recover from sanctions and are led by a coach who at times is more terrified than fearless, our expectations change.

We can't really expect them to win the championship, right? They barely squeaked by an unranked Utah State last week. How are they going to go against a juggernaut like Alabama?

As we prepare for Arizona State University this Saturday, our football legacy comes will once again be tested this season. USC has won 11 of the past 12 games against ASU, with the loss being two years ago on the road, the year USC went 10-2.

This year's USC team is certainly weaker than that team offensively, or at least they have failed to create an offensive output the way the 2011 team was able to. Not only that, but that ASU team went on to go 6-7 losing to Cal, UCLA, and Oregon, all of whom were teams that USC beat that year.

This year's ASU team is stronger and is even more capable of beating us. I'm not saying that it will happen, but our present shortcomings could impact our historical trend of dominance. A loss now could add as support for the negative output from Trojan football lately, in more ways than one, as not only will it be another loss, it will show they were unable to succeed against a traditionally weaker opponent.

And so we enter an era of Trojan football where the rules may be changed a little bit. We may not be expecting a national championship every season because it may not be a realistic option. But we must be careful because a dip in tradition and legacy can change the output for a team for years to come.

As less and less fans show up to the Coliseum every game day and more and more recruits choose to go elsewhere, thanks to a slew of negative factors, the legacy of Trojan football begins to lose its prestige just a tad. Instead, it is replaced with a team living in the shell of its past unable to truly progress in the present.

This is not to say that this has to be where the Trojans go. We know now that our defense is really on point at this moment in the season, leagues ahead of where we were last year, thank you, Clancy Pendegrast. We were able to paralyze a perceived offensive powerhouse in Utah State's quarterback Chuckie Keeton.

Our offensive game is where the questions begin to brew. We know that they have the talent,I mean look at the production we had during the BC game. Plus we have Marqise Lee; this shouldn't be so much of struggle. I think we can get to that point of success that we need to be at, it's just the worry is when? Not only that, but if we keep slipping and under-producing, what will that mean for our image and legacy for the future?

We know what Trojan faithful will think, there is a reason why we are called faithful, but what about high school stars coming up, looking to join a program that has the ability to become a historic team. Surely they will look for the team who is succeeding recently, and who they see as the team of the now, not of the past.

This last year, Pat Haden unveiled the John McKay Center, the new, state-of-the-art athletic facility on campus, which is lined in Trojan pride and history. The McKay Center certainly meets the demand for top-level universities to take care of their student athletes, but still if the only bright spot in Trojan Football is the past and not the present or future what can we really expect?

It is time for the Trojans to step up and find their groove. They can stomp ASU, it is only up to them and their offense. We need to start showing our dominance on that side of the ball if we really
want to be taken seriously.

There's a saying that defense fills the trophy cases; offense fills the stands. I would like to amend that by now saying defense fills the trophy cases; offense fills the stands with people ready to add to that school's legacy, on and off the field.