Some people get confused when they try to analyze USC and its relationship with football. They think if the Board of Trustees keeps its distance from athletics, it wants football to fail.
It’s not that USC does not care about football. It’s that it currently doesn’t care if grossly inept people run football.
USC is spending more than $300 million to renovate the Coliseum. It spent $70 million for the McKay Center. It spent around $25 million to renovate Heritage Hall, which included expanded football facilities. That shows the university cares.
But as the academic reputation increases, some think Rick Caruso or whoever is in charge wants to de-emphasize football.
Even some alums just don’t realize USC has never really had strong centralized leadership, for better or worse. Each dept. is able to rise or sink on its own. That’s one reason these scandals develop because of a weak overall leadership system.
Here’s a good test: Fire Lynn Swann. Fire Clay Helton. Hire good people.
All of a sudden, no one will say USC’s administration wants to see football wither.
When I was a student at USC, the Board of Trustees approved a resolution in favor of an on-campus arena. It was a toothless statement and angered those of us who cared about basketball. But it was typical of the Board of Trustees. They didn’t hate basketball. They just wanted the athletic dept. to raise all the money for an arena and deal with it on their own.
This is no defense of the administration. Are the Board of Trustees incompetent? Yes. Does it need a massive overhaul? Yes.
The Board of Trustees, with its current lineup, can’t handle any problems. Just like Swann and Helton. But it doesn’t mean the trustees want football to die. They are not equipped to deal with athletics and keep their distance. That is why the new president must hire a good athletic director and not a former football star.
Good leadership solves all problems and USC is a long way from it in a variety of positions at the moment.
- USC had more than 67,000 applicants last fall and only 11 percent were accepted. Last year, 13 percent were accepted. This is why people search for officials to bribe to get their kids into school.
- Someone who reads this blog regularly saw my frequent mentions of how Swann does not sign autographs. So he relayed this to me: “I never mentioned this before, but I traveled to a USC game (in the 1980’s as a media member while I was in college).
“Because of a screw up, they didn’t have a press box seat for me, but they said I could serve as the spotter for the TV crew. Swann was the color analyst. I asked him for an autograph when we were done and he looked at me like I had asked for his Social Security number.”
It’s not a unique experience, unfortunately.
Perhaps someone should tell new USC president Carol Folt her athletic director will be signing autographs at a show in Virginia on March 30.
- Until I see it, I will find it hard to believe Clay Helton allows anyone but JT Daniels to start at quarterback.
- USC defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast said Thursday his defense is “95 percent the same” as last season. That is either worrisome or maybe just the stubborn side of Pendergast, who does not like to admit things that go wrong.
- Three former Pac-12 football officials wrote a letter to the conference that illustrate how awful it is when it comes to Larry Scott, David Coleman and Woodie Dixon‘s management. Read Jon Wilner‘s story in the San Jose Mercury News.
- Now for a Tom Seaver story. One night after he became famous, Seaver went to dinner in Los Angeles. A fan approached him with a baseball and said, “Tom, can you put your John Hancock on this baseball?”
Seaver took the baseball and signed it. The signature read “John Hancock.”
- And finally, look below at how much it cost to attend USC in 1950. It was $16 a unit. That works out to $240 for 15 units in the fee bill that is pictured. No need to bribe anyone in those days to attend USC.