I’ve heard some USC media twist themselves into pretzels trying to defend the UNLV performance.
Luckily, some former players have contacted me since the game to express their frustations. They were disappointed in the defense, especially the front 7. Some where disappointed in the offensive line.
But again, they are more perplexed by the leadership of the program.
I want to point to something I see before a game even starts. In the past 10 years, there have been only two pre-game warm-ups that stood out to me: When USC played Alabama in 2016, I saw Nick Saban screaming at his players during a drill. Saban looked like so angry you would think it was Game 10 instead of the season opener.
But when I tell former USC players about this, they understand. They say Saban was setting a standard and making sure Alabama kept it. Without such high standards, Alabama does not win national championships.
The other warm-up I noticed was Ohio State before the Cotton Bowl. Also very business-like. With a common purpose.
That same game, I saw some USC players wearing their helmets only halfway down their head. Some players were dancing between plays. In other words, focus was not the No. 1 image conveyed.
That’s just the way it is for USC. And every player I spoke mentioned one thing. USC is not currently equipped to win a national championship.