Victory over UCLA Edition – 11/29/09

Who would have ever thought that an armageddon season at USC meant beating both of your rivals (Notre Dame in their stadium, and UCLA by 21 points), and beating the Big-10 champion, Ohio State, in their stadium, and blowing out Cal by 30 points (also in their stadium).  Oh yeah – with a true freshman quarterback, and 6 underclassmen filling out the defensive line and linebacker spots (replacing eight departing defensive seniors who are mostly starting in the NFL right now, some of them at an All-Pro level).  Yes, those Oregon and Stanford losses were just nasty.  But you will forgive me if I am mildly amused at the notion that this is as bad as it gets.

– I thought that Texas A&M/Texas game was quite entertaining. My guess is that Texas and Florida will be squaring off in the fake and fictitious national championship game, but Alabama is not doomed to fail against Florida (though Florida ought to win it). The system is so bad, so stupid, and so ineffective, I will not be paying any attention whatsoever.
– I am being 100% honest when I say that I feel bad for Charlie Weis.  I have given him a very hard time over the years, and I do not believe he is meant to be a head coach, but I think he has given this his best shot, and it sounds to me like he and his family have taken far more abuse than is warranted by an athletic contest.  When do Athletic Directors become culpable for hiring a guy who had no head coaching experience whatsoever, and then giving them contract extensions after having decent – not great – seasons with other people’s recruits.  The contract extension is the issue here, and Charlie can hardly be blamed for negotating himself the best deal Notre Dame would give him at the time.  He will surely be gone soon, and for the sake of Notre Dame, I hope to see a quality coach come in.  They are smoking funny cigarettes if they think Bob Stoops or Urban Meyer are going there.  Kelly at Cincinnati is filling a lot of ESPN time, but if I am Notre Dame, I look hard at Harbaugh, and give a real feeler to Jon Gruden as well.
– I will say it right off the bat.  There was absolutely nothing controversial about what Carroll did, period.  Neuheisel’s timeout resulted in him taking a shot to the face with a closed fist that I doubt he will ever forget.  When your opponent does the classy thing and takes a knee, accept it and be done.  His classless and idiotic timeout forced Carroll’s hand, and by hand, I mean a shot across Ricky’s jaw.  Ouch!  – Said to me by a Bruin cheerleader alum at my pre-game tailgate: “If we lose, we were supposed to lose; but if we win, it is a big upset. So either way, it is a win-win for us.”  As a taxpayer, I want my money back. She also explained that when she was a cheerleader at UCLA, she used to get really sad when they lost.  But then she used to go out after the games and saw the players partying and laughing as if they had won.  She decided that if they didn’t care, she didn’t either.  She had no idea how much joy she was bringing me.
– The Barkley-haters crack me up. He throws a bad pass into triple coverage for a pick late in the first half, and they scream, “off with his head”. He then leads a game-clinching 73-yard drive late in the fourth quarter (entirely on his passing), and the lip gets zipped. As Carroll told me at MMQB, “he is not just the best QB we have; it is that the gap between him and all the other guys is monumental.” I believe Matt has had a couple rough spots at times this year, but he is responsible for a grand total of ZERO losses. His true freshman season consisted of beating both of our rivals, and leading impressive road victories against Ohio State, Notre Dame, and Cal. My prediction is that Matt Barkley will be the third Mater Dei player to win a Heisman trophy before he leaves SC. You heard it here first. Kudos, Matt, on a fantastic first season!
Malcolm Smith had a game for the ages, adding a pick-six to his stat-sheet padding fifteen tackles. Makes you wonder how a healthy SC’ defense like the one we had in September fares in those two losses. I was blown away yesterday in looking over the roster of defensive linemen and linebackers. One senior out of nineteen guys. This defense will be very, very different next year.
– Joe McKnight is doing the right thing for himself if he follows through on his intention stated this week to come back next year.  He will be a legitimate Heisman candidate next year, and could have an incredible senior season.  He has gotten much better every year, has improved in the fumble issue, and is already a better runner between the tackles than Reggie was.  He will never be the force Reggie was all around the field, because no one ever will be (or ever has been, besides maybe Marcus Allen).  But Joe could be a first or second round pick after next year; right now he is a fourth or fifth round pick.  The difference is millions of dollars.  Fight on, Joe.
– What a Thanksgiving weekend.  What a joy to tailgate for 12 hours (literally) at the beautiful Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Saturday.  I am already missing the season. 
– I believe in Pete Carroll and I am proud to be a Trojan whether we end up 9-3 or 8-4.  I want soooooo badly to beat Arizona.  I admit, if Oregon State beats Oregon, and I have to watch a Rose Bowl feature two teams that we beat, it will bother me.  But we can only control ourselves.  Beat Arizona, go to the Bowl game they tell us to go to, win it, and be proud of what we have done.  Things are only getting better.
One more week to go.  Then bowl season.  Fight on!!  This is as good as it gets.