A recurring theme with USC is a lack of accountability.
Lynn Swann has operated without oversight for three years. Clay Helton has been allowed to let the football program become a loose ship with little or no discipline in that same period.
I won’t even get into Max Nikias or some of the other problems.
But this ties back to Monday’s news about USC possibly scheduling FBS opponents. The attitude is “we might get criticized but it’s not a big deal.” I remember when USC opened the 2015 season against Arkansas State and Idaho, an administrator told me, “We’ll take the hit.”
Nothing matters to these people, some of whom have worked for decades at USC. They think you are the problem when you question season-ticket policies or voice displeasure about a coach.
But through it all, USC has some traditions few others match:
- It doesn’t put names on the back of jerseys
- It wears black cleats (except when Lane Kiffin briefly screwed that up)
- It does not wear alternate uniforms
- It does not play FBS opponents
These might be little things to some people but they help define USC.
A few years ago, Kiffin and Pat Haden wanted USC to wear alternate uniforms. I wrote many stories about it and fans bombarded Heritage Hall with phone calls and emails. USC eventually backed off the idea.
I do not anticipate a similar reaction if USC wants to play an FCS opponent. But all of this revolves around the integrity of the program. Without its values, USC might as well be some of other non-descript Pac-12 team that lacks a strong identity.