USC Football has not played a game for over two weeks and did not make one of the more prestigious bowl games. Somehow, it still manages to find some headlines like…
1. Lane Kiffin going to Alabama to evaluate their offense. If this report is true, it shows that he still has respect in the industry despite what happened at USC the past couple of years. The perception of the general public does not change it.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban probably brings over coaches often without much fanfare or scrutiny, but just because it is the Kiffin name that shows up this time, it becomes news. It almost is not news. Saban probably brings in coaches that are out of a job to avoid a conflict of interest.
2. Looking back to the current team and staff, Leonard Williams was named ESPN All-American and All-Sophomore Team by CollegeFootballNews.com at defensive end. Su’a Cravens made the All-Freshmen Team for CollegeFootballNews.com as well.
The two still have a couple of years left before the draft and should make a huge impact for years to come. Unfortunately, others may no longer be able to make an impact on the field directly for the Trojans.
3. Silas Redd was announced as “highly unlikely” to play for the Las Vegas Bowl, meaning his college career is likely over. Morgan Breslin has it even worse. His college career ended with Notre Dame.
Tre Madden was last listed as questionable for the bowl because of his ankle. Somehow, he has remained USC’s leading rusher despite playing limited or not at all since Kiffin was fired. Javorius Allen will likely surpass him in the bowl game, though, as Madden has 703 yards and Allen has 699.
While the current coaching staff deals with the current players and practice, Steve Sarkisian and the new staff are occupied with recruiting.
4. USC got some more commitments, bringing the class up to rank #35 in the nation on the Rivals chart. Curiously enough, UCLA sits below USC now at #39. The Bruins have one less commitment overall and four less four star recruits. It is still a long way until signing day so the situation could change, but is this what “owning LA” looks like?
Back on topic— one of the commits actually signed their letter of intent and will enroll at USC in the spring. He is Claudeson Pelon and he has been all over the country in the past couple years. He started out playing at Agape Christian Academy in Florida and then moved onto community college in Coffeyville, Kansas. He then moved over to Eastern Arizona Junior College and again to Mesa Community College (also in Arizona). The defensive lineman had 52 tackles, 9.5 tackles for a loss, 2 forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery during his time at Mesa.
Early entrants like Pelon are a boon to a USC program afflicted with sanctions. By signing them early, the scholarship counts as the previous year’s numbers, allowing USC to get more than 15 players over the offseason. USC will need more of them until the roster is fully replenished.
USC has signed a whole host of players this way in the past couple of years. Every current scholarship quarterback had come in the spring. Matt Barkley did the same thing back in 2009. Other players on the current roster like Soma Vainuku, Andre Heidari, Su’a Cravens, and Leon McQuay III were also mid-year enrollees. These players got the added benefit of extra spring practices over the fall enrollees.
5. And perhaps the biggest news of all, Sarkisian’s former assistant at Washington, Tosh Lupoi, is now under investigation for possible NCAA violations. While the investigation is ongoing, it’s hard to declare him “guilty” but, like the LA Times article that broke the news said, USC probably will not hire him. The baggage of negative publicity he would bring would be an absolute for USC at this time. It’s just interesting that the news of this breaks around the time the whole assistant coach search is happening.
It may not seem like a big deal if USC will not hire the Lupoi, but that simply is not true. These violations could follow Sarkisian and affect USC. Back in 2011, Kiffin was accused of not promoting an atmosphere of compliance back at Tennessee when he had already left for USC. The NCAA ultimately ruled that the violation was not major and did not punish him or his assistants. Lupoi’s alleged violation has the potential to lead to a show cause penalty for Sarkisian at USC. You just never know with the NCAA…