Back in February, I posted an article that rubbed many Duck fans the wrong way. I made the “sin” of “defending” USC. I essentially said that with the hiring of Lincoln Riley, along with recently bringing aboard a competent athletic director and a renewed commitment to football, USC would be back on top of the Pac-12 along with the Ducks.
Well, I reluctantly find myself “defending” USC again.
To be sure, I do not consider my opinion as a “defense” of the Trojans — I wish them to stink just as much as any other Oregon fan does — as it is divorcing myself from emotions and personal bias and sticking to facts, logic, and reason. Stepping out of my own skin and moving from a state of subjectivity to objectivity is often a big ask in the world of college football. Even Mr. FishDuck, who was having fun practicing some golf on his new skytrak, had enough interest in this topic to take some time for feedback on my observations.
With the move to the B1G Conference, many Trojan haters believe that USC will stink or at the very least be a second-tier program in their new conference — that they will inevitably (minus monetary considerations) be wishing they had never left the Pac-12 as they have condemned themselves to a lifetime of posting annual records ranging from 6-6 to 8-4, or even worse.
I do not see this being the case as I believe that the B1G, much like the SEC with Alabama and Georgia, will evolve into a league with two super-elite programs in Ohio State and USC.
Here Is Why
Clay Helton is Gone: For the past six years, Helton has been the main reason USC has been painfully mediocre. Helton getting fired brings a new meaning to the term “addition by subtraction” as he simply did not have the chops to coach at college football’s highest level. Anyone but Helton instantly makes the Trojans better. He chased away a lot of good recruits from the Pac-12 footprint.
Hiring Lincoln Riley: Riley is arguably the best young coach in the country. His offensive acumen is beyond question. Understandably, many will cite Oklahoma’s mediocre defense. But, it seems reasonable to assume that USC’s recruiting will improve with the enthusiasm of the Riley hiring and now the move to the B1G. Many of those top southern California recruits who headed east will now stay home, and many of the recruits out east will be giving USC more consideration as they are now in one of the “big two” conferences.
Recruiting: See previous answer.
Who is Second Best in the B1G?: The answer is nobody. After Ohio State, blue-blood royalty Michigan and Penn State come to mind, but they have failed to be consistently top-tier in recent history. You also have Michigan State, Iowa, and Wisconsin who seem to always have a puncher’s chance but always also have a limited ceiling. There is a void in the B1G for a “second best” program, for reasons already mentioned, USC seems better situated than the others to take that spot.
What burns me is the thought that Riley has most likely known ever since he took the USC job that the Trojans were heading to the B1G. It wouldn’t be shocking if we eventually learn that moving to the B1G was a major selling point for Riley. Many of us thought part of his reasoning for leaving Norman was so he would not have to compete against the SEC and would have easier access to the College Football Playoff by joining the not-as-good Pac-12. But, as they join the B1G, Riley was not dodging top competition.
The “I know something you don’t know” air of smugness that this situation is emitting makes my stomach churn.
All of the turmoil occurring in college football should provide the Ducks plenty of motivation to succeed and become the west coast version of Clemson. Could anything be more satisfying than facing the Trojans in a playoff game as a member of a “second class” conference and sticking it to the University of Spoiled Children? While the Ducks can’t control the state of college football, they do have a say in wins and losses, and wins against arrogant members of the “big two” conference have gotten even bigger.
Especially against former backstabbing members of your own conference.
Top photo credit: Twitter
Darren Perkins is a sales professional and 1997 Oregon graduate. After finishing school, he escaped the rain and moved to sunny Southern California where he studied screenwriting for two years at UCLA. Darren grew up in Eugene and in 1980, at the tender age of five, he attended his first Oregon football game. His lasting memory from that experience was an enthusiastic Don Essig announcing to the crowd: “Reggie Ogburn, completes a pass to… Reggie Ogburn.” Captivated by such a thrilling play, Darren’s been hooked on Oregon football ever since. Currently living in Spokane, Darren enjoys flaunting his yellow and green superiority complex over friends and family in Cougar country.
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