Trojan Fans Need To Be Re-Energized – And Fast
Here’s how bad things are at USC in relation to its football program.
Apathy has set in among the fans and alumni.
Ten years of too many mediocre coaches to want to count and unrealized expectations can wear down even the most loyal and vocal of fans. And that is what has happened at USC.
Here’s proof: Trojans fans used to get mad. They would get mad at coaches, at play calls and even threaten to pull back financial and other support if something were not done to improve the situation. You know, they did what fans of all SEC schools do each time a team loses a game.
Now, they pretty much are just shrugging their shoulders. Egad – they are becoming like UCLA fans!
They are also not turning out for the games. I’m willing to bet you can show up to the next game and get into the Los Angeles Coliseum for the price of a hot dog. And have an entire section to yourself – or move down behind the bench or better yet closer to the Song Girls – if you desire.
The problem, of course, is that USC is simply not getting the coaching a program of its heritage deserves, and that’s why it’s highly unlikely that Head Coach Clay Helton – whom PubClub’s Pigskin Prognosticator hilariously refers to as “Helton Skelter” – will survive the season.
Very simply, Helton is in over his head as a head coach. From reports I’ve heard, he prefers to be the players’ friend rather than being a disciplinarian-style coach. Therefore, the Trojans are not tough. They play without the proper discipline and intensity a team needs, resulting in too many penalties, missed assignments and other basic mistakes that separates good teams from average ones.
Helton also has not hired good assistants. Tee Martin may be the only quarterback to lead Tennessee to a National Championship in the modern era (it sure wasn’t Peyton) but he’s a failure as a play caller. He can’t seem to make up his mind what to do and he’s always two steps behind opposing defensive coordinators.
Speaking of defensive coordinators, USC’s Clancy Pendergast is an offensive coordinator’s dream. Plus, the Trojans are abysmal tacklers. They take the wrong angle, have poor technique and simply don’t have the desire to be good tacklers. That’s coaching.
USC’s Athletic Director is Lynn Swann. Yes that Lynn Swann. “I thought he was supposed to be really smart,” said one longtime USC fan, “but why did he give Helton a five-year contract extension a couple years ago? That was not a smart move.”
Helton did go 10-3 and win the Rose Bowl in 2016. But the season started with a 52-6 loss to Alabama and only the brilliance of Sam Darnold (whom Helton chose not to start that season) masked the coaching deficiencies of the staff. Darnold regressed in 2017 because he was not getting the coaching he needed, tho the team still went 11-3. That was a product more of the weak Pac-12 rather than any prowess on USC’s part.
Now to be clear, USC is not Auburn. It’s not in the school’s DNA to fire a coach mid-season. Or even to make a change when a change obviously needs to be made.
So Helton may not be the first coach to be fired this season – it could be Gus Malzahn down on the Plains despite just signing a $49 million contract extension – but it’s hard to see how Swann can continue with Helton when the program has lost the passion of its fan base.