Weekly Musings – Cal Edition

What a great, great weekend in college football. In a year where I have become almost exclusively interested in my beloved Trojans, and cynically disgusted by almost the entire rest of the country (the offensively stupid slap on the wrist of the booster-paid abortion program that is Miami, the see-no-evil, hear-no-evil treatment at Nike University, the 40-felon enabler Urban Meyer’s hall pass at the Ohio Automobile University), I really haven’t cared about much of anything this year (besides USC). But seeing Nike University set world records for predictability Thursday night with their humbling loss to Stanford, I have to say I paid attention (and loved it). But nothing made it a better weekend then seeing USC go on the road for the second week in a row and win a conference game, this time over a bad Cal team, but a Cal team that we have beaten now ten times in a row. Let’s cover the Trojans then go around the country …

– Of course the special teams was a story in and of itself, and I do not believe each play can be blamed on Cal’s coverage. Our return team flat out made some blocks and opened some lanes on both of Nelson’s runbacks, and Nelson flat out made some extraordinary moves along the way. Punt returning excellence (and kickoff returning excellence) are a by-product of something that can never, ever be coached – and that is an insane split-second intuition and vision. #5 had it in a rather supernatural way. Nelson showed some of the same Saturday.

– The Buck Allen story is a wonder to behold. I believe the 5th string tailback at USC, Ty Isaac, would start at most teams in the conference. Our young stable of running backs is a big reason to be optimistic about the future of USC. But wow, is this Buck Allen going to be a star.

– Cody is maturing and improving every week. May he have a coming out star game against Stanford (pretty please?)

– Cal is atrocious, and I am not making more of this blowout of a 1-9 team than I should, but the team is playing with fire, and I feel so excited to be a Trojan. Fight on, indeed.

Around the country …

– Miami getting pounded by Florida State the week after they skated for running a booster-paid drug ring in their football program for years and years was nice, but of course, Florida State is a much better team. To see Virginia Tech beat them senseless was better, because me and my friends could beat Virginia Tech. I wonder if God sees this whole thing the same way I do, and will never let Miami win another game?? It’s possible …

– Alabama must drive the 26-year olds who never watched a football game until three years ago crazy. The entire “changing of the guard” thesis is completely thrown out the window – laughably thrown out the window by a power run football game that just does not lose. It would be funny if it weren’t so true

– Stanford seems to prove the same point to Oregon every year too

– The Pitt win over Notre Dame further reinforces the great (eventual) cosmic justice of God. Last year the entire nation was forced to watch the most absurd “championship” game in BCS history when a team with one loss got in (Alabama) got in over a one loss Texas A&M team that beat them, and that Alabama team played a Notre Dame team that quite literally was not one of the best ten teams in the country. The championship game was like watching my kids’ soccer team play the LA Galaxy. Had the refs not completely handed the game against Pitt to Notre Dame (a game that went three OT’s, in South Bend, against a team with a .350 winning percentage), we would have been spared that perverse atrocity. Saturday night Notre Dame received their just desserts.

– UCLA squeaked by Arizona but Arizona handed them the game, just like Utah did. I would be very surprised if this Bruin team ended with only two losses. I actually will be surprised if they end with three.

– For all those (like me) praying for an Operation Chaos in the BcS, do not hold your breath. I suspect Alabama WILL lose a game, and STILL get in. I doubt very much we will end up with a plethors of undefeated teams. I have history on my side here.

– Why is Auburn’s coach not getting more respect?

I do want to chime in on the discussion of USC’s coaching search. It is amusing but disheartening (and sadly, not surprising) to see the folks pile on Coach Orgeron based on his Ole Miss record. It would take a thoughtful person who can see past a desired ESPN.com headline (“USC hires Nick Saban with Bill Bellichek as Coordinator and Jim Harbaugh as Special Teams director”) to understand that Orgeron’s performance at Ole Miss is not a necessarily reliable indicator of what he has in him as a team leader. I do not think he will get the job offer, and part of me thinks that even if he beats Stanford and UCLA, it may just be an unfair position to put him in next year. The juvenille members of the Trojan family who have not yet marinated in the maturity necessary to get all this would be screaming for his head the first time one game went against him. They won’t have that luxury with a “name” coach. The reality is that “name” coaches are a safe play. But the real success of the last decade has been from guys like Pete Carroll who people scoffed at. Yes, Saban is the exception obviously. This idea that there is a miracle head coach who changes everything because he is famous is perposterous. The NFL has not learned this. I believe we will get rejected by Gruden, played by Sumlin, and end up with someone that some people like and some people don’t. The idea that a Boise State coach who hates population centers and television markets is a Messiah is absurd (right, Colorado fans?). Petersen is a remarkable coach, but my point is this: The stars have to align for a coach to work out. Saban was a catastophe in the NFL, and last time I checked Franchione is not exactly hot coaching material these days. Whether people want to admit it or not, a lot of what makes a coach a “hot target” is luck. Ask Kirk Ferentz. There are true coaching talents out there – Harbaugh, Saban, etc. – but you just don’t know. Reading the chat boards, it is obvious to me many Trojans are more concerned with a headline announcement so they can get the short term buzz of bragging to the other junior level guys at their office that we just brought in so and so. And if I had a nickel for every time a JC Penney hired a Ron Johnson just to have it blow up in their face I’d have a lot more nickels than JCP shareholders have right now. Orgeron may very well be more suited to be an asisstant guy, a recruiter, whatever. But he loves the university, has restored a Carroll-like joy to the players, and commands respect and trust. My recommendation is that we let this play out and see if maybe, just maybe, we have our guy.
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Stanford week is now. My prayer would be that USC can do to one Bay Area Marxist team next week, what it did to the other Bay Area Marxist team this week. Please God ???