From the very start to USC’s season, doubt counted them out. After their fall to Alabama, negativity ran its course. They were deemed talented, but slightly incapable of keeping up to such caliber. Once the losses kept coming, they turned elsewhere and made remarks on the coaching. All of these factors can take a toll on a team. Knowing your capability and continuously being shot down with negativity can be frustrating. Knowing the history of your program and trying to bring it back from its unfortunate wounds along the way; can be challenging. Being thrown several different coaches year after year holds up your momentum. However, the beauty in all of those roadblocks, is ultimately what led the Trojans here.
Each year, each team and each player played a role. They set up modifications from trial and error. Each year, they worked out the kinks. Each year they got better. If something great is going to manifest, it has to manifest accordingly. Adversity, and all the blood, sweat and tears are what holds together a family. Something about seeing the Trojans this year around was satisfying and quite special. No matter what the media or anyone believed— they stay trued to their mission. They stuck behind Clay Helton, they trusted in his lead and they regained USC’s football credibility.
This time around, it was less about showboating and more about showing up.
From kickoff, the Trojans set the tone and gradually fell off for a bit. However, after losing badly in the third quarter, they came back focused and ready to take over the game in the fourth quarter. Even in moments when things started to look good in favor of Penn State, they didn’t fold. USC had a chip on their shoulder and a story to be told. This was the most exciting, nerve-racking and an adrenaline filled game we’ve seen from USC yet. In many ways, it seems like the team and the program needed all of these tests. They needed to be faced with a few disappointments to rebirth into the powerhouse we’ve all grown to know. Most importantly, they needed to know what it truly meant to fight on, again.
This wasn’t just the game of the year. History lies here. It’s been a long time coming and the old chains hindering change have been broken. Sam Darnold was the key to putting USC back into the national spotlight, but the whole team took control of their circumstances. The other night, we saw togetherness as one. There wasn't one player who out shined the next, and there wasn’t one player who played harder than the next guy. Every second of this game contained grit, passion, and heart.
An impact of a team begins with the quality of a coach and Clay Helton is the mirror of his production. Helton embodies class, persistence and all things positive for USC. The team that you saw play Monday night was a reflection of that. As it turns out, bringing Clay Helton on board was a wise choice. This season was the perfect example of that. Many thought he should be fired or that USC needed a “real” head coach. All awhile, the process was only building the characteristics of the team. Just like any coach he was learning and he worked out those kinks and were capable of getting into their groove— and the rest was history, literally. However, each of us can take something from the Trojans story. You simply can’t rush the results. So many were worried about how USC looked on the outside and immediately wanted gratifying results, while Clay was focused on what lied within, which ultimately made the most noise in the end.
Needless to say, USC had a great game to end the season and Penn State was a great opponent that had no problem challenging the Trojans. This will be remembered as one of the Rose Bowl’s greatest games played. With millions watching, it is safe to say that both teams deserved to be in a real college playoff. Hopefully, the result from Monday night's game will pave the way in considering an expansion of the playoffs past four teams. However, with this win, hope among the cardinal and gold was restored. Excitement for next season is anticipated and a rough start turned into sweet victory. As for Sam Darnold, he’ll only get better with time. Stay tuned for the next three years, if he stays that long. The dynasty has been reborn.
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