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

Isn’t it interesting Max Nikias felt more comfortable going to a USC game at Pauley Pavilion than the Galen Center?

In the picture above, he is speaking to USC athletic director Lynn Swann at the game. He also was outside the USC locker room after the game. What does it say about USC that Nikias, who remains president emeritus and a life member of the Board of Trustees, has to go to UCLA to watch his favorite team play? That is what happens when you are a disgraced public figure.

Come to think of it, so is Swann.

  • One reason Andy Enfield drives me crazy is the way he cannot get his teams to be poised and organized for final shots.

The most famous ending was letting Providence score a layup on an inbounds pass in the NCAA Tournament.

But the poor display at the end of regulation against UCLA on Thursday night with Bennie Boatwright putting up a poor shot was just the latest example. Boatwright did make a shot to beat Arizona State earlier this season but Stanford and then UCLA were totally prepared for him and USC lost those games.

USC is 1-6 in games this season decided by five points or less and 0-3 in overtime. Thanks, Enfield!

  • Clay Helton cannot fool the readers of this blog because they are too savvy. But he can fool the put-out-to-pasture pundits who still fall for the Gomer Pyle persona.

They thought Helton had a well-thought-out, deliberate plan for hiring a good strength coach from outside USC. Instead, Helton simply hired the only other head strength coach he ever knew, Aaron Ausmus, who was Lane Kiffin’s strength coach at USC from 2010-13.

This is a retread hire and Ausmus’ third stint at USC. I have nothing against him but did you think USC was blazing a path in strength and conditioning during the Kiffin era?

I sure remember a lot of people complaining about sprained ankles and pulled hamstrings,

“I’m really disappointed with the hamstrings taking so long for a bunch of guys that we’d really like to be looking at,” Kiffin said in March, 2012.

One player said he believed a reason was not spending enough time warming up before practice began.

  • Helton did not realize it would take so long to hire a strength coach, sources tell me. But the reason was clear: No one wanted a one-year job.
  • Did you hear Bill Walton’s comment during the USC-UCLA game about Lynn Swann? He is a “phenomenal athletic director at USC. (There has) never been a great program without a great leader.” Amazing!
  • It sounded like in the same breath, Walton said “Ron” Dedeaux when describing legendary USC baseball coach Rod Dedeaux.
  • Perhaps it is fitting that Washington could lose to awful California on Thursday night and still clinch the Pac-12 basketball title because Arizona State and Oregon State lost.
  • Former USC tight end Brad Banta has joined the Michigan staff as an analyst. He was previously the New Orleans Saints’ special teams coordinator.
  • Nobody cares about USC men’s volleyball but the Trojans needed five sets to defeat Concordia in Irvine on Thursday night. Concordia?!?!? Concordia is 5-13 this season. The Trojans are 8-7 overall and were swept by UCLA, 3-0, Sunday night.
  • Was it really seven years ago that USC played UC Irvine before 9,612 at the Galen Center in the NCAA men’s volleyball championship game? Like I said, nobody cares.

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

  1. What? Come again? Lynn Swann, a “phenomenal” athletic director according to Bill Walton? Yeah, of course. Those who are slipping can appear to be that way to another one slipping because they’re all slipping together. Nice goin’!!! lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. R.T. —-Walton’s comment only makes earthly sense if we find out later that UCLA’s A. D. offered Walton a check in the six figure range to say it….

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Max Nikias’s arrogance, and poor decisions will probably cost USC close to half a billion dollars , but he’s still affiliated with the University, and living in their mansion? Really?!! Something tells me that Lynn Swann isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and if Clay Helton is replaced, Swann will be allowed to pick the new coach … What a joke

    Liked by 3 people

  3. USC AD Lynn Swann’s words ringing hollow in tough times 

    FEB 20, 2019. Los Angeles Times

    An address to the most devoted supporters of the USC football program transformed into … well, what exactly was this? 
    Lynn Swann, the school’s athletic director, was breaking into song. 
    “The sun will come out tomorrow …” 
    The show-tune jingle was the punchline of a story about a breakup Swann experienced while in college. The audience members in this Costa Mesa banquet room, many of them USC donors, presented him with an opportunity to offer them something other than a nonanswer about how the Trojans would return to the national prominence and Swann was making the most of it. 
    Which was entirely expected. 
    Instead of hiring administrators to run its athletic department, USC turns to its former football heroes. 
    Mike Garrett. Pat Haden. And, now, Swann. There’s probably a parallel universe in which O.J. Simpson holds the position. 
    All of this is fine and dandy when the football program is winning. Smile, take pictures and shake some loose change from the pockets of alumni. 
    But in times like these, when the fans look to the athletic director for leadership and words of comfort, jokes from football legends suddenly feel inadequate. 
    Swann’s speaking engagement Wednesday night at the Water Grill started with some words from the event’s organizer, Andrea Casaw, the president of the Trojan Athletic Fund Club of Orange County. 
    “There’s a crisis of confidence at SC,” Casaw said. “That’s why we’re here tonight. We’re all worried.” 
    Worried enough to pay $85 or more per ticket to hear what Swann had to say. 
    Swann was warm, even charming, but he did almost nothing to alleviate the concerns of USC fans who watched in horror as Clay Helton finished last season with a 5-7 record and was retained as coach. The program’s most promising addition of the offseason, offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury, bolted for the NFL before calling a single play for the Trojans. 
    “As long as our program stays compliant, as long as our coaches are doing it to the best of their ability, working hard, as long as we recruit and treat our players with respect and help them grow and graduate and have a great college experience and we have a good culture at USC, then I’m going to give them an opportunity to do the things they need to do,” Swann said. 
    Translation: The football’s primary objectives are to stay out of trouble and graduate its players. 
    Swann has kept a low profile in the wake of his decision to retain Helton. A fan who said he traveled from the Los Angeles Westside to listen to Swann told him the program’s supporters wanted to hear more from the athletic director. 
    “Nobody really wants to hear from the athletic director,” Swann replied politely. “No, you don’t. You only want to hear from the athletic director when things are going bad. OK? Then you want the athletic director to come out and say, ‘It’s your fault,’ or what you’re going to do about this. If the football team was winning, you’d be sitting here going like, ‘Where’s the coach? I want to talk to the coach again.’” 
    Only the Trojans aren’t winning. Who knows what point Swann was trying to make. The same was true of most of what he said in the hour or so that he spoke, the majority of which was spent answering questions from a discouraged audience. 
    Swann promised more physicality on the team’s offensive and defensive lines, neglecting to mention how the Trojans don’t have a strength and conditioning coach at the moment. He did point to the Seattle Seahawks’ hiring of Ivan Lewis in a more convenient time, when he was asked about the school’s lack of investment in areas such as strength and conditioning, nutrition, recruiting support staff and analysts. 
    “If we were doing such a bad job in our strength and conditioning, then we wouldn’t be looking for another strength and conditioning coach at the moment because the Seattle Seahawks came in and hired away Ivan, who was the head of our program,” Swann said. 
    “Let’s cross that one off the list.” 
    Swann went on to reiterate his faith in Helton. 
    Swann raised examples of championship football teams, including the New England Patriots, as well as the USC and Pittsburgh Steelers teams on which he played. 
    One audience member pointed to how each of those dynasties had a top-shelf coach and asked Swann what made him believe Helton could be such a coach. 
    “I think he’s got the football sense and IQ,” Swann said. “He understands what he wants to get done and how he wants to get it done. Now he’s got to communicate that to everybody across the board.” 
    Swann said he was calling on Helton to delegate more responsibilities to his assistants. 
    Ignoring how USC’s latest recruiting class was ranked 20th in the country and third in the Pac-12 by 247 Sports, Swann added, “He recruits extraordinarily well and he recruits the right way.” 
    Said the same audience member: “Everything indicates he’s a great human being, a great man …” 
    “I know where you’re going,” Swann said. “You may not think he’s a great football coach …” 
    “I don’t,” the fan said. 
    “… but I think he can get the job done,” Swann said. 
    How long would Helton have to do that? 
    “I’m not going to get into how long,” Swann said. 
    Swann continued, “All I know is whatever’s going to happen is going to happen. And hopefully he’s extraordinarily successful because I want him to win, he wants to win, and everybody wants him to win.” 

    The crowd looked unconvinced.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. tebow —Swann is, by all accounts, an intelligent man. But there are lots of kinds of intelligence. Here’s what makes Swann’s kind SO special: whereas most men use what intelligence they have to solve problems, Swann has a long history of using every ounce of his smarts to shield himself from trouble, to stay safe and to protect Number 1. Everything Swann says or does is designed to help get him through the day without his actually having to do anything that matters.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I am starting to question if Clay Helton mental state. His lack of sense of urgency delayed actions to secure top assistants, and his inability to articulate a coherent strategy of USC to return to prominence have me anchoring in that this job is WAY over his head. His Mr. Nice Guy routine can’t mask the fact that he does not have the mental capacity or capability to be the head coach at USC. I would have to say he seems to be the dumbest coach at USC in recent history. He can’t recognize deficiencies in his staff and make changes that are value added in nature, Everyone is a retread or comes from programs that don’t measure up to become a USC assistant coach.

    Clancy has been figured out by the league and Graham Harrell has too many questions. With every hire, we are left with more questions than answers. Lynn Swann is like Nero but his fiddle is a golf club. The fanbase is ready to storm the Bastille. The likelihood of Helton winning 10+ games is highly unlikely. This dumper fire that was started by the dumbest AD in USC history, Pat Haden, has only been given fresh fuel by Swann. The best outcome is that a new President fires Swann and hires a REAL AD who in turn fires Clay Helton, who will not find a Power 5 job anywhere. Why does a guy that no one would hire in the Power 5, the head coach of USC? Kirk Herbstreit tried to defend Swann retaining Helton. I asked him if he is so great why don’t you recommend Ohio State hiring him. He knows the answer because Ohio State has a real AD and Clay Helton couldn’t even be the OC at Ohio State. What is Clay Helton’s talent that differentiates him from other coaches? He can’t lead. His is not an offensive guru. He can’t hire the right people only the ones he knows. I would like to ask Lynn Swann, What do you see in Clay Helton others don’t see? I see the luckiest SOB in the world that stubbled, tripped and fell into the job of a lifetime that NO CLUE how to build a championship tradition and culture at USC. But he is such a nice guy. I have no FAITH that he will get it done, the team operates like a FAMILY business and the FOOTBALL team has looked like it was run by Water Boy.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Old School —Great piece [but you left out the part about how a truly “nice guy” would see that he’s burning the program down and would walk away, forfeiting the remaining unearned years of his contract—rather than say, “I’m gonna stick around for another 20 years”]…….

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes he is, and that is a tragedy, but it’s also a farce and the school I once loved and supported without reservation is happy to see Swann and Helton burn all of our great traditions to the ground. I can no longer close my eyes and not acknowledge that USC’s issues go all the way to the very top. The university has lost its soul, IMO, and its greed, which has progressively grown for decades, culminated in an ultra corrupt culture led my Max that allowed unconscionable crimes and actions by top administrators, doctors, and staff to take place, all with USC’s logo emblazoned front and center on over their figurative chest.


  5. Wolf 🐺, you are one brutal son of a gun, but you tell it like it is, Wolf…you just tell it like you see it and I cannot hate you for that.
    Nikias is the worst thing that ever happened to USC, although the more I’ve learned about Sample, the more I realize he paved the way for this huge mess.
    Swann is an even bigger joke than Haden, in my opinion, and he will end up going down as the worst AD in our history once it’s all over and once he has burned the McKay Ctr/HH to the ground.
    Helton…oh, CCH…what more can be said about him? A complete buffoon and a total incompetent.
    I never thought that I’d be so disappointed in my alma mater and, with the hits coming nonstop, I never thought I’d say that I’m a bit ashamed to be associated with a university that exhibits so much ineptitude and such low class behavior…but I’m saying it. Yes, I’m admitting it…it’s so very sad.


    1. Disagree about your opinion in Sample. Facts on how he “paved the way.” He was a good man, genuinely interested and involved in athletics, and the school made huge progress academically during his tenure and he raised boatloads of $.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Read my reply to russoviet below. It explains why.

        So if someone brings “boatloads of money” to USC they get a pass and they are above reproach?
        Using that logic, Nikias is the best thing that ever happened to USC and he also had USC making huge academic progress (although he sold his greedy soul to the devil to get there).


    2. Are you serious? “Nikias is the worst thing that ever happened to USC, although the more I’ve learned about Sample, the more I realize he paved the way for this huge mess.” Are you serious?

      Do you have any idea how far Sample moved USC academically in a mere 5 years with him at the helm out of SUNY-Buffalo? Sample was truly remarkable once in a generation individual – he single-handedly did more in his stint than any university provost-president-chancellor in the past 50 years. USC rose into the Top 25 national university academic rankings.

      Nikias – no one raised more money for any school in his stint than Nikias – we all hate what Tyndall did to USC but the university had a ‘in situ’ ‘federated’ system with barely any oversight over depts. and schools. Doesn’t exonerate what a monster Tyndall was/is nor the refusal by Nikias to accept written requests sent to him after the scandal broke – Nikias hung himself.

      I never heard a single word with real crediblity about Stephen Sample and it is a shame he could not carry on but his life ended way too soon.

      Was very pleased to see the LACC deny Rick Caruso a membership because he put that freak in as ‘temporary president’ and refused to overrule her horrific with hunt decision to force the Marshall Business School head out from USC.

      Nothing changes until there is a real ‘president’ in place – then get rid of that grinning golf playing ass Swann


      1. I’m absolutely serious. Sample is primarily responsible for buying out all the globalist, elitist professors from schools like Columbia and Princeton and bringing them and their agenda to USC.
        Why did he do that? Because he looked at the metrics and rubric that the US News &World Reports sought to give a college a higher ranking.
        What’s worse is that USC ONLY rose in the USNWR but not in other major rankings, including no significant rise in well respected world rankings. That still gets me to this day.
        Sample also slashed admissions rates because he knew that selectivity based on admission percentages was another factor that USNWR took into account in their college rankings. Again, USNWR is the only ranking that USC rose in significantly, but savvy high school students, their parents, and graduate students could see right past this, especially since USC STILL doesn’t fare well in several other respected national rankings, nor in well respected world rankings.
        Sample was clever in helping my beloved alma mater in the USNWR, but he was severely shortsighted in not seeing that it would look like an artificial rise vis a vis other well respected rankings, where USC has stagnated.

        I hate to say this, but the more I learn about Sample, the more I see the saying about the road to hell being paved with good intentions applies to him.
        He is the one who brought all these globalist, liberal, dirtbags to our campus and he is the one originally responsible for this downward spiral that we are in.

        Screw Sample and Nikias! They can go to hell and take Swann with them!


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