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

The Lincoln Riley Era is officially underway.

I’ve always written a mannequin could do a better job than some USC coaches (like Paul Hackett and Clay Helton) because the mannequin won’t do any damage.

Riley is obviously a good coach so it should be fairly easy for USC to once again become the top program in the Pac-12.

I like that he brought a new strength coach and director of operations as two of his first hires: Those were desperately needed at USC. He needs to shake up the recruiting staff too.

With USC returning to the top of the Pac-12, it should mean trips to the Rose Bowl or College Football Playoff.

With that said, I worry fans will put unrealistic expectations on Riley. A national championship is really what fans want and those were delivered by Howard Jones, John McKay, John Robinson and Pete Carrot, uh, Carroll.

Riley did not want win one at Oklahoma or even get to the national title game despite three CFP appearances. He clearly wanted out of any scenario where he had to compete against the SEC.

So is it realistic to expect a national title at USC? Coach Bohn and his mini-me might claim it is because Riley is their hire. But I’m taking a wait-and-see approach.

Once again, I believe USC will dominate the Pac-12. I’m repeating it for the fanboys who will interpret this as a critique of Riley.

By the end of this week, I heard a criticism of Riley from a former Oklahoma player, who said the Sooners coaching staff were not great talent evaluators but often went after five-star recruits and then ran them out of the program if they didn’t pan out.

  • Riley and defensive coordinator Alex Grinch were in Georgia on Thursday night visiting five-star defensive lineman Mykel Williams, who was committed to USC but switched to the University of Georgia.
  • One criticism of Grinch is the number of points allowed by Oklahoma defenses. But a Pac-12 coach told me that can be a misleading stat.

“The Big 12 offenses are actually tougher than the Pac-12 with all the spread stuff they are running so I wouldn’t hold that against him,” the coach said.

  • One USC coach said this week regarding Riley: “Wait till he gets to work with the nation’s largest compliance office. He’s going to see this is not Oklahoma and everything he does will be scrutinized.”
  • I’m thinking of having a “Lincoln Riley Suck Up Award.” This week’s winners are Rick Caruso, Carol Folt and Mike Bohn.
  • Honorable mention goes to Colin Cowherd, who went from disowning USC to begging Riley to take him on recruiting visits.
  • I hear UCLA didn’t even know defensive line coach Johnny Nansen took the defensive coordinator’s job at Arizona until it broke on twitter. Some coaches believe Nansen, who was at USC from 2014-2019, was recruiting for Arizona before he got the job.

The Bruins still have former Clay Helton assistants Clancy Pendergast, Greg Burns and Tim Drevno as analysts.

  • The UCLA bookstore is selling T-shirts with the score of the Crosstown Rivalry. It’s almost become a tradition in Westwood to make shirts when UCLA wins the game. How often does USC do that, if ever?
  • Daniel Garrett, the son of former USC athletic director Mike Garrett, is the athletic director at Presentation College in Aberdeen, South Dakota.
  • Former USC sprinter Billy Mullins will be inducted in the USC Track and Field Hall of Fame this weekend.
  • Darlene Hard, a fixture in the production office at USC student publications from 1983-2019, died Thursday. She was 85. Students who worked at the Daily Trojan or El Rodeo during that period remember her.

But she was best remembered for being a professional tennis player who won the U.S. Open in 1960-61 and French Open in 1957. She was runner-up at Wimbledon in 1957 and 1959. She won 13 doubles titles in Grand Slam tournaments.

Darlene Hard (left) congratulates Althea Gibson upon Gibson winning the singles title at Wimbledon 1957. The pair won the doubles title at Wimbledon in 1957.

And now for our new feature, Freezing Cold Takes. This week there are two examples:


And I’m not closing this column without the Foster Brooks moment of the week:


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

  1. Riley needs OL, DL and LB’s, all the skill players are fine but you win with big men in the trenches. At least he’s out trying to get them, it would help if his OL coach would get to USC ASAP.

    As for running off 5 star players who don’t pan out, that’s the way it is these days.

    An OU OL hit the transfer portal today, we’ll see if he comes to SC.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Exaclty budda you don’t pan out there’s the door time to fix that problem at SC. Too many pre-madona me players pumping their chest on every play. USC needs to get with the times on that one. What’s the name of the linemen, out of OU that decommited.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. “By the end of this week, I heard a criticism of Riley from a former Oklahoma player, who said the Sooners coaching staff were not great talent evaluators but often went after five-star recruits and then ran them out of the program if they didn’t pan out.”

      This statement right here… RECRUITS BEWARE!

      Most of you so called fans claim to not even remember me but I was a 5 STAR recruit! I was wined and dined when I was 17. USC introduced me to a 20 year old blonde co-ed during my recruiting. She let me touch her bare breast. As a 17 year old touching woman’s breast for the first time I thought was the greatest. But once I got on campus, they treated me like a piece of meat! When I got hurt and couldn’t play to my potential, they turned on me including the blonde woman! She didn’t even say hello to me. She and USC was onto the next recruit.

      USC does not care for young men they are recruiting. They will use and abuse you!

      Stay away from USC at all cost! Don’t let their dirty immoral recruiting tactics entice you!


      1. A bunch of whiners on this board. One player bitches and it is truth?

        The stuff that happened to Damien was not under Riley so it has no bearing on the current situation

        Life isn’t fair. Shit happens. Riley as a coach develops talent. Maybe he needs more focus on the o and d lines. But he is a top coach.

        The USC football program is just starting to get great.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Dude, if you’re going to pretend to be a USC player, then at least spell his name right, loser. It is DAMIEN MAMA, not DAMIAN.


  2. Riley took over a program at the top and you could see it slowly cracking.

    SC prints score t-shirts about as often as UCLA hangs Elite 8 banners.

    Rattler to UCLA will be epic next year.


  3. Just a little insight into how USC’s OL recruiting got to where they were before Riley showed up

    ” Seven months prior on national signing day 2017, USC had reeled in a decorated offensive line class headlined by Jackson and Vera-Tucker. It’s hard to argue against a recruiting class that ultimately produced two first-round picks, but it was equally hard to ignore the fate of the No. 1 offensive lineman in California that year, St. John Bosco’s Wyatt Davis, who went on to become an All-American at Ohio State.

    Davis, a five-star prospect on 247Sports and Rivals, was the first high-profile offensive lineman from Southern California to leave the Pac-12 footprint since the dawn of the recruiting rankings era at the turn of the century. It’s not unusual to see Southern California’s top players choose Ohio State these days — four-star prospects Kourt Williams and C.J. Stroud did so in the 2020 recruiting cycle — but Davis’ decision at the time was extremely rare, and it proved to be the first blow to USC’s reputation.

    The second one came a year later, when USC was a finalist for Penei Sewell, who chose to sign with Oregon over the Trojans, Alabama and Utah.

    Even though USC has had high draft picks on its offensive line the past two years, the group’s performance has been underwhelming. Sewell was taken seventh by the Detroit Lions in last month’s draft; Davis went in the third round to the Minnesota Vikings with the No. 86 pick. Signing at least one of them would have meant dramatic improvement for the Trojans.

    So why didn’t Sewell or Davis pick USC? It didn’t help that the Trojans’ offensive line coach at the time, Neil Callaway, wasn’t particularly high on them.

    “I’ll tell you right now, Penei and Wyatt were not guys Callaway liked at all,” the former staffer said. “The only reason Penei and Wyatt wanted to come to USC was because of Eric (Ziskin), Gavin (Morris) and Clay. And (Johnny) Nansen wanted them too. … They didn’t have that connection to that offensive line coach at all. You’re never going to get anywhere when the coach that’s going to be with you the most is not even involved or is involved but is doing the bare minimum, just saving face. … It was completely a coach decision. Did Clay try hard for those guys? Absolutely. I really don’t doubt that, but at the end of the day, Callaway did not want that. Callaway wanted Austin Jackson and recruited the shit out of him, and recruited Vera-Tucker, but he did not especially want those guys.”

    When a program loses out on linemen like Sewell and Davis, they miss out on great players. But those misses also happened to loom large as symbols of the changing recruiting times. Ohio State plucking Davis out of St. John Bosco has given the Buckeyes a foot in the door with one of the best high school programs in the country, which happens to be in USC’s backyard.

    The Buckeyes signed Kourt Williams out of St. John Bosco in 2020 and are now major threats for two high-profile Bosco prospects who have not yet made their decision: 2022 blue-chip offensive lineman Earnest Greene II and 2023 blue-chip defensive end/tight end Matayo Uiagalelei.

    The signing of Sewell opened the door for Oregon to sign his ultra-talented younger brother, five-star 2020 linebacker Noah Sewell, and his Orem (Utah) High School teammate, Kingsley Suamataia, who was the top-rated offensive lineman in the 2021 recruiting cycle.

    “Because you just lose that one person, it could cost you years down the line,” one source with an active role in the West Coast recruiting scene said. “Earnest Greene could leave because now he’s seen Wyatt leave. Same thing with Penei. … There’s so many connections years down the line. When you lose one recruit, it establishes a pipeline for that school. Just one recruit.”

    Callaway coached with Helton’s father Kim at Houston and UAB; Clay Helton described him “as like family.” But with four games remaining in the 2018 season, USC’s offensive line play was untenable. And after signing five offensive linemen in the 2017 recruiting cycle, USC’s recruiting at the position had taken a dramatic turn for the worse in the following two classes.

    When Helton fired Callaway midseason in 2018, he described it as “probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.”

    Thanks Gomer !

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Just for fun try to picture the conversations Clay had with Callaway after we got smoked by Notre Dame and Ohio State…
      # “StupidScoreboard!”
      —-Homer Simpson in “Marge’s Tennis Lesson”

      Liked by 1 person

    2. St. John Bosco’s Wyatt Davis, who went on to become an All-American at Ohio State because I told him about the terrible experience I had at USC. I had to look out for my St. John Bosco Brave.

      He thanks me to this day for steering him away from USC and it’s rotten fan base!

      No player, especially an OL should consider USC! I was a top five lineman in the country. They quickly turned on me when injuries happened. Besides fans and the school is all about flash and not substance!



      1. I feel truly sad for the great USC recruits from 2009 to 2019 who were not coached up by Kiff, Sark, Helton, and the assistants. Thankfully, all coaches are gone. I’m truly

        However, there are 100,000 trojan alums who love their school, their FB team and the players–past and present.

        The #19 ranked (out of 780) university in America. And we still fight on.


  4. Far be it from me to offer advice….but…. as a dean of a law school I had to deal with a large and fucked up California Bar Compliance Department (to be clear, it wasn’t the California Bar that was fucked up —it was our university compliance department —they were forever bending over backwards to make sure we didn’t come within 100 miles of bending any rule). I’ll be happy if Lincoln tells the compliance department their job is to figure out how to help the team climb outta the current mess, not invent ways of keeping it there.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. I ended up liking Jello better than my supervisors at the City Attorney’s Office [btw –you can hear me pathetically try to defend myself on NPR’s “This American Life” just by Googling Michael Guarino Los Angeles City Attorney]……


      2. He responded by playing Biafra albums real loud in his bedroom ….

        Liked by 2 people

      3. That was the OLD me, karma —the one who believed in progressive ideas & progressive candidates….


    1. I was wondering if the Jello Biafra history would ever come up in these comments; it seemed like you had to be same MG, after you said something once before about having been a law school dean. I was surprised by how conciliatory your tone was, in the interview.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. LR just needs to keep it simple with the compliance dept, MG. You guys do your job and I will do mine. Got it! We all don’t need any problems or need to go looking for problems.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. trojanboogs,
        So you don’t think it’s a good idea for Lincoln to walk into the compliance department like Zero Mostel in The Producers— handing out $100 bills and saying “there’s more where that came from” ??


  5. Was the athletic director, Daniel Garrett at presentation college adopted by Mike Garrett, because he’s a white guy ? 🤔


  6. This story is a bit like listening to a fisherman talking about “the ones that got away.” Granted – Helton’s crew was recruiting Kryptonite, but at least the glass is half full now.I can remember how bad I wanted SC to get Manti Te’o, who went on to Notre Dame. Looking back, things worked out OK.He got steamrolled against Alabama.So while you can’t get ’em all, at least you’ve got a better fisherman holding the rod and reel.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I will fix it for you MG it’s called testical fortitude, (which the clueless one never had), or sould I say rephrase it for you.
        It’s like in full metal jacket when the drill sergeant tells private snowball sound off like you got a pair. Let me see your war face and hear your war cry. Clay could or would never do that to fire his team’s up. It just was oh shucks! I need to review film of the game and we will fix it. not.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. I’d go for a Throwback Shirt with a picture of Beban on the Front and OJ on the back. Or maybe in honor of Oklahoma Transplants, Aikman & Riley.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Neil Callaway was a joke at USC as an offensive line coach. Another example of Helton taking care of his buddies, and told all those guys from Texas – “You can make easy/big money at USC, and you don’t have to go out and recruit nor win more than 6 or 7 games a year to keep your job.

    Clancy Pendergast, and Neil Callaway are perfect fits for Clay’s coaching staff at Georgia Southern.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. And how ‘them Trojan BBallers! Hot Rod Lincoln will close strong on signing day, 2 solid OL and DL players to boot(maybe through the portal), and D-Jack as the top rated player of the class. Fight On!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Scottie

    Nice column again.

    I believe Coach Riley has been told he is in charge and the University will support him in an honest and transparent manner. I also hope coach will have the ability to get his own Title IX staff and get rid of the current clowns.

    Wonder if Riley has met with Bru or Kedon Christon yet.

    FTFO and Thanks Enfield.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Mannequin. A word not heard very often and yet it was written on the blog twice today. Wolfie used the word to make an acute joke, and MG earlier discussed how he is a recovering mannequin.

    Mr. Wolf was on a roll today with the jokes. Did he really call Mr. Pete Carroll “Pete Carrot.” — Perhaps that is why when Carroll was apprised of Wolf’s “Carrot,” Pete is known to have exclaimed, “Wolf. You mean the cub-reporter– doesn’t matter what he titles me, nobody reads him anyway.”

    And Wolf’s reference to President Carol Folt, Bohn’s first-hand partner in crime, as “mini-me” seems to fit unless ‘Mighty Mouse’ was taken.

    Finally, a word on Wiley Riley, and how he craftily managed to extort
    $40 or $50 million from the USC coffers. I wish I was smart enough to get those kind of bucks to coach some kid how to throw around a football. And all that money– that money was ear-marked to pay the coeds retirement-type money for having been mishandled.


  11. Should be interesting whether Donte, the rest of the coaching staff, and the players take the day off tomorrow in Berkeley. I would not bet on USC is this game as Cal will be very motivated, and Head Coach Justin Wilcox is trying to save his job.


  12. Anyone has a pick for tonight’s Pac 12 Championship game: Utah vs. Oregon game. This is going to be a good game, and I am hoping Utah wins, and earns their first trip ever to the Rose Bowl.

    Utah 31
    Oregon 24


  13. Presentation College!? Never heard of it but might have if they had a 5* prospect who was considering going there.



  14. How could USC OL be considered so in need of replacement when they landed 3 OL on the 1st ream all-Pac 12 team for 2021?

    LG Andrew Vorhees, USC sr
    C Brett Neilon, USC sr
    RG Liam Jimmons, USC sr

    Honorable mention
    LG Justin Dedich, USC jr

    I understand senior can return for another year of eligibility. Will this help USC if these OL return?


    1. Nice info, Wayne.
      I have not caught up with the end of season awards.

      To my eye, the O-line was quite improved in 2021 vs the last 6 or so years. They let the guys run block and they got the job done.If USC had WR who could get open we would have had a better Offense.


    1. The news of Riley’s hiring was SO good that it took USC’s official enemies a couple of days to get over the shock and go to work…

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Interesting note about the compliance office. If Riley is smart, he will leverage his contract right away to force Bohn and Holt to get the the Title IX and compliance apparatus squared away. Helton never once backed a played caught up in that outrageous hellsystem. The apparatchiks must be put in their place, and the admin put to work on doing right, not just appearing to do right.


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