USC will not have a No. 55 this season. That is a good thing.
It shows the standard is high and really no longer solely in the hands of the coaches. It is determined by the past No. 55’s like Willie McGinest and Chris Claiborne.
Two years ago, Clay Helton gave No. 55 to Cameron Smith then withdrew after criticism from McGinest and Claiborne. McGinest also had to step in when Steve Sarkisian initially gave No. 55 to center Toa Lobendahn. That was as egregious as Lane Kiffin giving No. 55 to Lamar Dawson.
The standard is being kept by former players, not coaches.
For the past 18 months, I’ve heard within the program that incoming freshman Palaie Gaoteote was expected to wear No. 55. Instead he will wear No. 1.
Now maybe he wanted to wear his high school number. But it would not surprise me if McGinest and Claiborne had a say in the matter.