UCLA is 2-8. USC is 5-5. Neither is having a good season but that is a difference of three games.
But are UCLA fans happier right now about their future with Chip Kelly than USC fans would be if Clay Helton returned next season?
We all know UCLA will consider their season a success if the Bruins beat USC on Saturday.
This is the difference in the rivalry. USC fans don’t live and die on the result of the UCLA game. UCLA fans do.
“Beating ‘SC is not a matter of life or death, It’s more important than that,” legendary UCLA coach Red Sanders said.
USC’s own legend, John McKay, put it this way: “There is nothing worse than losing to UCLA and nothing better than beating Notre Dame.”
Whatever USC fans think of the Crosstown Rivalry, they do not tolerate a mediocre coach. And a win over a two-win UCLA team followed by a loss to Notre Dame will not cut it.
USC can hide behind its spin like this from Helton on Tuesday: “Lynn has given me nothing but, ‘Coach, we’re in this for the long haul.’ I know that in my heart I’m going to be here (next season).”
The problem is USC was desperate to sell football tickets going into this season even after back-to-back 10-win seasons. How empty will the Coliseum be next season coming off a 6-7 or 7-6 record?
Some optimists will try to say the team will be better. How? Who will develop the players? USC will still have a 6-1 QB who is not mobile.
USC has little to gain but a lot to lose Saturday. If the Trojans win, they merely beat a two-win team. If they lose, all hell breaks loose. Again.
That is the point, though. A complete meltdown forces action.
Here is a quote from author Brandon Sanderson: “Sometimes, you have to destroy something in order to build something better.”