If It’s Friday, It’s Time For A USC Notes Column

You want a scary stat to start off the day?

Six of the top eight-ranked players USC signed in the Class of 2016 are no longer part of the football team.

The departed players are defensive end Oluwole Betiku, cornerback Jack Jones, offensive tackle E.J. Price, safety Jamel Cook, wide receiver Trevon Sidney and wide receiver Josh Imatorbhebhe.

The only remaining players from the top eight are wide receivers Michael Pittman and Tyler Vaughns. Now you can argue some of the players were overrated or created their own downfalls but it’s also the coaches’ jobs to develop them.

Price is starting at left tackle for a Kentucky team that won 10 games and finished the season ranked No. 12 in the nation. Cook, who is a safety that USC tried to make a cornerback, redshirted at South Carolina. Who knows what Betiku, Sidney and Imatorbhebhe can do because they were never really given a chance.

Jones was a disappointment, no question. I would argue some of his problems stemmed from the program’s lack of discipline. Remember how he got unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in two straight games for trash talking and nothing really happened?

If you want to say his on-field antics were no big deal, USC lost the Cal game in 2018 because Iman Marshall was trash talking the Cal sideline in the final minutes.

I wonder if Lynn Swann even cares or wonders if a  program can withstand losses like this? Helton better make sure verbally committed receivers Kyle Ford and Puka Nucua sign next week or Graham Harrell might start getting frustrated.

  • Among the recruits visiting USC this weekend are safety Jayden Williams of Corona Centennial and safety Dorian Hewett of Houston, Texas.

They are among a large pool of safeties, including many committed to other schools, that USC is scrambling to sign next week.

  • One recruiting analyst told me if Clay Helton had hired Arizona secondary coach Demetrice Martin, who previously coached at USC in the Pete Carroll era, the Trojans would have landed five-star cornerback Chris Steele (Florida), safety Cameron Williams (Washington) and cornerback Chris Roland (Arizona).
  • I mentioned last week that back in the 1960’s, there was a coaches’ locker room in the basement of the P.E. Building that housed the coaches for football, basketball, baseball and track.

One day, basketball assistant coach Jim Hefner decided to do an impersonation of John McKay for the other coaches. During the impersonation, McKay snuck into the room and hid behind the door. He eventually emerged and shocked Hefner, who screamed when he saw the sometimes-feared coach.

  • Imagine, going to Julie’s restaurant on week nights and seeing McKay at his famed booth with USC president Norman Topping.

“No one would just go and join them,” a USC coach said. “You would get summoned. Then you would leave and another coach would get summoned.”


18 thoughts on “If It’s Friday, It’s Time For A USC Notes Column

  1. Some of my buddies who attended SC (now considered “old farts from the old school”) use to talk about Julie’s back in the day. Some of the memorable times mentioned reflected Heisman Trophy winners Marcus Allen and Charles White (both tailbacks) that use to frequent the icon for SC. They said it wasn’t easy trying to interface and/or have a dialog with the accomplished athletes because there was always a preponderance of sports media types present trying to get some feedback from the talented tailbacks.
    It will be refreshing one day (hopefully in the near future) to have the talent at running back that SC once had and enjoy hearing that wonderful label “Tailback U” being iterated by the student body, alumni, community, and media, and going to Julies for a couple and feel the endorphins go through your system.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jones and Marshall, clearly supremely talented CB’s, but lacked even a trace amount of discipline. Particularly Jones. If there are early signs of players getting away with that type of trash talk crap without consequence we can kiss 2019 goodbye. I honestly thought Biggie was going to be a two time consensus AA when he walked through the door. He had his shining moments, but just as many head scratchers. The all-time best football game I’ve ever attended (103rd Rose Bowl) I was dialed into the great battle between Godwin and Marshall. Them boys went AT IT all night.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Trojan83 – great post. I remember seeing Marshall for the first time at his freshman year during the spring game. He was matched up against JuJu for much of the game, and was all over him. That performance led me to think that Marshall would also be an AA. He did not develop very much, if any. As you say, lots of head scratchers when you looked at his performances.


    2. Remember reading a story on Marshall- who will probably do well as a pro- during a camp he atended while in high school. Not surprisingly, he had been locking up the country’s best WRs at the camp leaving many of them asking, “Who is # __ from Long Beach Poly?” Turns out, they had never heard of him because he was only entering his Junior season while they were all Seniors. The door hasn’t closed on Biggie, but he could’ve been better at SC.


      1. Yeah….just waiting for another shaker to hit the ‘Loma Prieta’ and collapse Cal’s stadium….then what? The ‘hazmat – soylent green’ site off Hegenberger?


      2. MG, you guys can jump me on Nov 17.

        Imho, we have the best LB group & D backfield in the PAC. We’ll do alright.



    1. This sounds a little like the old Steve Martin joke, Rick —“Here’s how you can make one million dollars grow into ten million dollars. First, get a million dollars…”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Or —in the alternative —-do you really think Meyer is going to consider a university with all USC’s baggage?

        Liked by 1 person

  3. The USC brand is temporarily down, and is just an average program under Clay Helton. And I’m sure local high school coaches are starting to take notice, and will steer their star athletes to programs where they can develop. Herm Edwards, Justin Wilcox, and Mario Christobal were hired two years after Helton, and all three of their programs have surpassed USC . Steve Sarkisian left Helton with the most talent in the PAC 12, and somehow he’s taken the program backwards


    1. Like

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