USC Morning Buzz

This is the time of year when spin takes over to explain USC’s 7-6 record. During a Friday interview with Colin Cowherd, Matt Barkley attributed the Trojans’ struggles to scholarship reductions.

“Given the circumstances with less scholarships, it really affected the way we were able to practice. It really stunk,” Barkley said. “You can’t risk players getting hurt with tackling drills and you don’t have that depth that other teams do, and I think that really affected us.”

USC had 75 scholarships. Pete Carroll often used about 80 scholarships when he coached. LSU had about 75 this year. Does this really explain a 7-6 record? No. But it does eliminate the need to look at things that really ruined the season, like leadership issues and playcalling.

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    I agree with the offensive coordinator with the Denny’s menu. It’s all Lane Kiffin’s fault.

  • BearBryant3

    No its crap and a excuse. That’s why matt barkley will not make it in the nfl. John wooden won his first national championships before pauley was built, playing in a crap gym and playing home games at city colleges and high school gyms make the best of your situation. A good coach would have used more bag and fit drills for tackling along with angle and lateral to get good positions for tackling and understanding that you use your body to tackle not arms. Remember nfl only carries 45 players.

    • That’s BS! All NFL teams have the same amount of players, it was harder on the visiting teams vs. UCLA at these “crap gyms”, and there is no comparison to hitting bags vs. live blocking/tackling.

      • BearBryant3

        Valid point with nfl. But your still wrong with bags and fit you incorporate does drills with live tackling. You can live tackle all you want but if your forms is crap and all you use is arms then it won’t matter how much your live tackling. Best tackling drils anyway are shed and tackle and open field tackling. The point of wooden is he could have said we don’t have are own gym that why we can’t be successful but he didn’t he made the best of the situation and realized it made his team a much stronger road team because even his home games they still had to travel.

    • Remember, filhy Wooden didn’t win anything for 15+ years. Barkley will not make it. Too plastic. Nice guy, turned out to be a turd.

      • BearBryant3

        Exactly he didn’t but he always felt he did the best he could we what he had. Maximize the talent and get better as a coach. Do you think lane kiffin is doing that? Bill obrain at penn state is doing the best he can with what he has. You don’t judge yourself by winning or losing but by maximize your coaching ability and your players talent. The same with life.

      • gotroy22

        When Wooden took over at fucla, SC was a basketball power and made the Final Four with Bill Sharman in 1954. We were the big dog in LA and it took Wooden a long time just to be able to beat us. So there’s no excuse for our program being so awful the last 4 decades.

        • Respectfully disagree. Any blue chip in the last 40 years would rather play at Fucla than SC in BB. Opposite for FB. We are second class when it comes to basketball. They are when it comes to FB, Doesn’t matter if there’s a streak or not. Bottomlineis that almost nobody at SC cares about BB. It’s an awful HC job. Just compare the list of head coaches in both sports for the last 40 years. It says it all.

          • gotroy22

            We went 24-2 in 1971 so it’s possible. We won the Pac 10 in 1985 but then we fired the coach. Then we seemed to be going well recently and almost made the NCAA Elite 8 but ended up blowing the program to bits and going on probation. It’s possible especially with our brand new Galen Center.

          • Agree, but only with a big name coach.

          • gotroy22

            We could have had Mike Montogomery, remember when he was hanging around our practices? We need a good young mid major coach who can teach and recruit if we aren’t going to stick with Cantu. I think we should give him a chance to audition with this years team

        • Guest

          Wooden got Gilbert. Tainted Dynasty

          • gotroy22

            Wooden built up the gutties program and won his first championships before Gilbert. No excuse for SC stinking in mens basketball. NONE. Long after Wooden left we had a great chance to dominate the Pac 10 in the 1980s when Larry Brown left fucla and they went on probation. Arizona had just hit bottom and brought in Lute Olson to rebuild so the conference was ours for the taking. Things looked great when we won the Pac 10 in 1985 with Stan Morrison and then, inexplicably, we ran him off. We lost his two blue chip recruits Gathers and Kimble, who went to Loyola Marymount. That resulted in 25 more years of underachieving, false progress and frustration. SC fans have to quit making excuses, blaming a coach at Westwood High that hasn’t been there for 27 years and settling for mediocrity.

  • TrojanFan

    Let it go wolfman, you keep beating a dead horse, the focus is now on the future…..please post some news that’s relevant to the future of the team

    • Ben Factor

      How does one engineer a future different from the past? Certainly not by papering over the larger issues of past errors.

      Whose decision was it not to tackle? Who didn’t foresee the folly of it and experiment with alternatives to mitigate? Who didn’t change direction mid-season? Who couldn’t see that the play-calling had predictable, apparently because he doesn’t self-scout? Who asks for no more than down and distance from the press box?

      Our Existential Anti-Leader, that’s who. Does he have a plan for next year beyond “we’ve got to coach better?” He has not announced a plan yet, or ticked off the key issues that he is contemplating?

      If the Anti-Leader ever spoke with intelligence about what he is up to, Scott would get off his case.

      Barkley knows the facts, and they have slipped out in unguarded moments. He would have done better to intervene during his last season. HE had earned the right to complain loudly behind closed doors. But he’s young, and I understand that he let LK continue along his ineffectual, yet oblivious path. If he wants to position himself favorably for the draft, I think he would do best to say less, not complain about the sanctions. To be sure, even the Anti-Leader foresaw that the sanctions would very likely upend the shot at the NC. I knew it, and many other fans did. But the sanctions hardly explain why USC couldn’t have a decent season. What crap!

      • dtksr1

        Well said Ben. Kiffin, so far, is just buying time with his “I promise you I will correct my mistakes” remarks, that when you look at him saying it, you don’t believe he believes it. Right now he is suffering the consequences of his poor decisions & actions, in an area he is considered good at, recruiting. He is an open book on what not to do in building a football program.

        • TrojanFan

          You need to jump from the wagon while the wheels are barely turning

          • betomas

            Ha!! Now that’s the first funny comment you’ve ever written, BandwagonFan! You are asking dtksr1 to jump off the bandwagon? YOU?? Now that’s hilarious! You are the epitome of a bandwagonner.

            So how is Cal Poly SLO’s Mustang’s football team doing in terms of recruiting 5* players?

            That’s what I thought, loser. No one likes u here (correction: except for Joe Blow).

          • TrojanFan

            Betomas calls ALL Trojan fans that did not attend USC BANDWAGON FANS, the funny part is his only relationship with the school is that of a janitor, that specializes in the maintenance of the restrooms, and I’m sure he takes great pride in the work he does, We can all appreciate a clean shiter…..All his so-called inside info has dried up, which leads me to believe he’s now unemployed

          • betomas

            “Shiter.” Good word, bro. LOL!!

        • marvgoux1

          I understand why Lane is so inflexible- look how far it has gotten him. He has a hot wife, the premier coaching job in America and a $5 million home so he can’t be wrong. I get that. He doesn’t seem to realize his success is because of his father. Sooner or later the good ole boys network that has promoted him to jobs he doesn’t deserve is going to realize he should be coaching at the high school or JC level and work his way up like most people his age do.

          • dtksr1

            He learned about the QB position from his college coach, Jeff Tedford. Then his father got him in PC’s front door. He observed Norm Chow, sitting next to him in the press box as the master called plays from PC’s gameplans. He gained confidence being in that environment rubbing shoulders with Sarkisian. And he benefited from it in getting a call from Al Davis who always had a fondness for USC football. Tennessee got enamored by Kiffin with a brief but fresh NFL resume and MG, panicking in trying to keep a winning football program together, drank more of the kiffin koolaid and bought him into USC. All this time, Kiffin’s reputation got him from one dance to another until it finally struck12 midnight and cinderfella is now an exposed underachieving misplacement and all his mentors are probably laughing their heads off!

          • marvgoux1

            It would make a great movie, “How To Succeed In Football Without Really Trying”…

      • TrojanFan

        Dude, put some koolaid in your glass it’s half empty!

    • dtksr1

      You learn from a dead horse… on how not to beat to death another one. Would you say Kiffin is a slow learner? I would.

      • marvgoux1

        More like a no-learner. He has his way and that’s it.

  • dtksr1

    What you see on the outside is not what the messenger entirely believes. So when Barkley (or Kiffin or Haden) says something full of baloney in the way of an excuse, then Scott will usually make a remark about it. Barkley is a good soldier, saying the right things. What he says here though is 50% correct. When you do not practice consistently a high level of tackling & blocking, you are going to lose games, by itself. Kiffin decided not to put the team in the type of physical practices that PC or McKay would have no matter the depth, because they undestood its importance. Scott Wolf points out there were enough players to still put an emphasis on tackling/blocking. Just another case of Kiffin making poor decisions affecting team play. How many of those 6 losses would have been wins if the team tackled & blocked better?

    • Spot on. If you’re going to lose because of a schollie shortage, you lose by leaving it all out on the field, not by being conservative. They lost by being conservative this year.

    • gotroy22

      dtksr1, why would Matt blame the sanctions for the 7-6 season when the scholarship limitations didn’t begin until Signing Day 2012? The effect on the team in September 2012 should have been minor. The effect in the next few years will be much more significant as we lose depth in talent peaking in 2015 and 2016 before we can reload, redshirt and season talent.

      • Minor? They could only have 75 players on scholarship.

        • gotroy22

          BFD, pro teams only have 53 on their roster. Do you think even 75 players participate in a close college game? Pete never used that many.

    • Cheap seats

      Who was the other player that promptly went down last spring in addition to Tre Madden? I remember another busted knee and they both happened during tackling. Then Kennard tore his pec on the bench and I forget what happened to Wiley.

      After Kiffin stopped practicing in pads, I remember last years’s spring game looking ultra cautious and very sloppy. A sharp contrast to the UCLA spring game where even with a brand new offense, they looked sharp and Mora was even on the field critiquing pad level.

      It was bad luck and it happens. Sometimes you just have to roll the dice.

      • marvgoux1

        We went from a glut of 9 RBs to 3 including Madden, that was a mistake in recruiting before we were limited in scholarships.

        • Cheap seats

          Agreed. I guess it just shows where Kiffin’s priorities lie.

    • TrojanFan

      No need to over analyze it, it’s only going to get you all spun out

      Wolfman is not the coach, so who gives a crap what he thinks

  • troya_ruse

    What’s funny is that kiffin tried this approach his first year (not tackling in practice) and then “learned” that it didn’t work when the defense was heavily criticized after that season. The team went to more physical practices the next year, and the results showed on the field. Then for whatever reason they decided to revert back to what they had done previously, and act surprised at the results. But hey, I’m glad we’re paying $3m/year so that kiffin can learn on the job, because he’s bound to use these lessons in his next job as Offensive Coordinator at Mt Sac Community College.

  • I agree with Wolf on this. The biggest thing the lost scholarships has done is strengthen other Pac12 schools. The 10 players a year who would have gone to SC are now going to predominately Pac12 schools.

    • troya_ruse

      Additionally, those 10 players are typically the lower rated guys coming out of HS that could develop into real contributors over time… unheralded guys that every team needs like a Rhett Ellison or Ross Cummings (see how the team suffered this year without them blocking out of the backfield).

      With only 15 scholies, we’ve chosen to go for the highly rated guys with bigger risk/reward profiles who wouldn’t be satisfied in those roles… and if/when they transfer (because they feel they’re not getting the opportunity they deserve), it leaves us with even less depth.

  • The sanctions are definitely working. USC played some Saturdays with 1AA limit scholarship players. They had 5 SP out for the entire season, 2 more out for 3/4’s of the season, and several players out week to week, resulting in 65-67 SP available each game. Hardest hit being RB, and there is no way they could be putting good, live hits on what healthy RB’s they had in practice. This also means they had mediocre scout team WO running against the defense. I’m not a fan of Kiffen right now, but seeing as Wolf is not Inside USC football, I’ll go with what Barkley said. Not as a excuse, but a fact. There were many reasons the season went bad, but to me this was a major factor.

    • Cheap seats

      Agreed on how weak the depth was at RB. Before the Penn State sanctions we only had unproven Morgan and an already know injury-prone, undersized McNeil. Tre Madden was supposed to fill Tyler’s void. I was hoping they’d at least pick up a JC kid nearby!

      Can you imagine how bad it would’ve been if we never landed Silas Redd?

      We we just as bad at DT and CB, but those areas are usually hidden a bit better through scheme.

      • marvgoux1

        We went from a glut of 9 RBs to 3 including Madden, that was a mistake in recruiting before we were limited in scholarships.

    • Ben Factor

      I think you have to use your own eyes.

      I never thought USC would win the NC, because of the 75-man limit, and because the defense was never very good in 2011.

      I respected Kiffin’s public comment about the former (just prior to voting USC #1, oddly).

      However, was there experimentation and change when problems showed themselves?

      That is the essence of what I blame Kiffin for.

      If lots of reasonable ideas had been tried, if there were adjustments during games, if the clock was well managed, and then the results had been identical to what happened, I would blame the sanctions, and lay off of Kiffin. That is not what I saw.

      Did the play calling put opponents off-balance? Did it seem to
      change when weaknesses were exposed? Was the penalty issue dealt with rapidly? Were the fumbles or interceptions dealt with effectively?

      Now, I could certainly be wrong. But I haven’t read anything to convince me that I am wrong. I love a good debate–based on FACTS, STATISTICS, etc.

      No running backs to hit in practice? Use the lower ranked tights ends, WRs, DBs, LBs etc. There are TEs and WRs who played 2-5 downs in the entire season.

      Lots of fumbling? How was the ball being carried? Did it change? What kinds of drills might help? Can’t hit the RBs? How about stripping drills?

      Lots of interceptions? MB was a senior. What exactly was the deal? Poor line? Why not more roll-outs, draws, screens? Why not use Lee as a decoy more? Could nothing be done except for MB and LK to agree to zero interceptions?

      I blame the sanctions for the first 40% of the decline, I blame the coaching for the next 60%.

      • My point with RB was that THEY were deprived of live, game-like scrimmaging, because of RB depth and injuries all season. AGAIN, “there were many reasons the season went bad”. Don’t know who you are debating with, unless you think that sanctions and RB depth were not “a major factor”. Sounds like Barkley answered the question diplomatically, and didn’t throw anyone under the bus. My “own eyes” saw a outstanding Trojan QB, and young man the past four years. @Wolf…don’t know how many scholarship players LSU had, but they had 130 players on their roster for the 2012 season (per Rivals).

        • Ben Factor

          Tom, I like Matt Barkley, and was disappointed for him regarding all the interceptions, as well as the team performance.

          I simply do not believe that the roster size adequately explains most of the six losses, and in that sense, I agree with Scott.

          What is being debated is the role of coaching, vs. that of the sanctions. That is the debate, and so far, I’m unconvinced that coaching wasn’t a major factor in so many losses, and in fact, the major factor. You apparently think otherwise, and you may be right, and I may be wrong. But all we have is what we think.

          • I stated,”I’m not a fan of Kiffen right now”. I will be pleasantly surprised if that opinion changes. You have spun this into a coaching vs. sanctions debate. WHO has said bad coaching was not a major factor for 7-6? My original post was about sanctions combined with INJURIES.

  • steveg

    Scott, can see how tired we are of your repeating the same thing over and over. Yes you have an opinion, and you have an asshole, so what. We have heard all about one and nothing about the other. Change it up will ya?

  • Spedjones

    So we hear ogre is gone shortly after feb 6. Lie to recruits ON!

    • Swoll Francis

      Is he defecting to the Tri-Lambs?

    • TrojanFan

      WRONG BLOG!….turn the light on

      • marvgoux1

        Ed is getting canned by the new DC?

  • The Monopoly Is Over Here 2.0

    Can anybody really explain slopebean’s poor excuse at trolling for the past year? I mean the girl has been using played out terms like “fit on” and “torgan” for over two years now. Step your smack game up girl!

    • TrojanFan

      That’s to be expected when you have a brain the size of a pea and a man crush on the wolfman

      • betomas

        Ever heard of a rhetorical question, “idjiot”? Lol. You’re the only fool wh tried to answer Monopoly’s non-question. What a loser.

  • EncinitasBruin

    Right. And UCLA just lost to SC in basketball because three guys were recovering from flu….Ok, right there – that eye-roll you just gave me on that excuse? That’s my reaction to the “reduced schollie” argument. Matt knows better, but he’s too classy to speak out against his inept coach.

  • History says that sanctions like these devastate programs. I think SC has held up pretty well.

  • Not valid with NFL as players are more proven commodities and the players only stay four years-at most- in college. BTW nfl teams have little mostly non contact practices as well. Terrible argument.


    the PIous Passer fails to EVER LEAD A 4th QTR COMEBACK FOR FOUR FULL SEASONS, and he is blaming the coach, the NCAA, probably even the wolfman!!

    what a HUGE surprise, the Pious Passer is a backstabbing rat!!!

    isn’t that the way it always is with these PIOUS ones??

    it’s always the holier than thou folk you have to keep an eye on, isn’t it??

    and who do the Dummies get mad at?? the wolfman. wow.

    • Again, the obsession with blond USC quarterbacks.

  • betomas

    Some people are muddying up this convo. Just go back and read Wolf’s post.I HAVE TO admit , Wolf is right on point on everything he wrote. No excuses…it was the leadership and playcalling that cost SC a good season.

    • TrojanFan

      ….and the defense had nothing to do with it….. If the players are not making the plays is that a Kiffin problem?…your opinion is lame, go back and review some game film

      The only thing muddy is your game day glasses….LOL!