Weekly Musings – The Glorious Win over Stanford Edition

Now THIS is what a Saturday night, Sunday day, and Monday morning are supposed to feel like. THIS is why we love Trojan football. What an extraordinary night it was for the men of Troy – one of the great Trojan football games in our lifetimes. I could not be happier for the young men on this football team and these great coaches that have put all this together. It was a feeling they deserved to experience, and can carry with them forever. And frankly, this was a lot more than a mere win over a conference rival.

When a team is down to playing with roughly 45 players because of the most unjust, unfair, inconsistent, and preposterous sanctions ever passed down in NCAA history, and then suffers through a dozen injuries to some of our key, nationally-known players, that team has no business winning a single football game. They certainly have no business beating the #4 team in the country who just got done beating the tar out of the #2 team in the country the week before. The USC haters out there, at the very top of that list being the incompetent unemployable bureaucrats at the NCAA, can not understand for the life of them how we even have a winning record throughout the sanctions – let alone ruin Oregon’s season in 2011 and go 10-2, or beat Stanford in 2013 and likely end up with another 10 wins. In a year where the narrative has been all across the land “will USC ever be relevant again?”, a narrative with heavy octane after the mid-season firing of our head coach, the fact that the rare teams that beat us STILL rush the field after doing so, and the fact that we are currently 5-1 with an interim head coach who just beat one of the powerhouse teams in the country, both state loudly and clearly that the sanctions did not work. Those who wished to see USC permanently eradicated from national relevance have been smacked upside the head. And nowhere was that smack louder and harder than behind the foot of Andre Heidari who calmly split the uprights with a 48-yard kick Saturday night that belongs in the permanent archives of Trojan football.

There is a lot that must be said about this win over Stanford. The first thing, though, is that this was even more than a victory over Stanford. It was a victory over all of those who have hated on the Trojans and predicted our demise. 45 people just beat 85 people. It was a victory over the gross injustice of the NCAA. It was a victory over a system that gave a near-death penalty to a program who had one player with one rogue step-dad take some free rent on a home 90 miles away, and yet has now given the equivalent of gift certificates and trophies to completely corrupt programs who have literally insulted the entire system we supposedly participate in (Miami, Ohio State, Auburn, and Oregon, for starters; Alabama and Oklahoma State will be the next two corrupt institutions to receive a free set of luggage after their investigation for overt cheating WITH an advantage to the school, something no one ever claimed was remotely true at USC when a felon gave a step dad a few months of free rent so that the player would LEAVE USC). So does this win bring a sort of vindication against the dirtbags at the NCAA? Yes it does.

And so will the years to come in Trojan football, and our inevitable reclaiming of football glory – a football glory that comes to schools who abide by the simple mantra of FIGHT ON. There has not been one single moment over the last several years that I even temporarily wondered if USC was no longer a force in the football universe. When you look into the heart of courage, you will see the spirit that is Troy, and for all the haters our there (or 25-year olds who browse USC chat boards bitching that our uniforms aren’t as cool as Oregon’s), understand this: The team that beat the might Stanford Cardinal on Saturday night with only half of a roster is going to be back in the Rose Bowl again, the granddaddy of them all, maybe not this year, but soon – and one of the most botched attempted murders in history is going to be the laughingstock of the country. You can’t sanction Trojan football; you can only lie, cheat, and steal and then watch us beat Stanford on national television. You can’t destroy Fight On. Paul Dee can absorb that for a little bit while he incinerates slowly and quietly.

Okay – no more talk about the NCAA or larger meaning behind this glorious win. The win itself contained a plethora of on-field battle victories that have to be mentioned.

To me, the number one play of the game was, of course, the call to go for it on 4th and 2 late in the game where a failed attempt would surely have given Stanford a very reasonable path to field goal range themselves. But not only did Coach Orgeron make that call, but Marqise Lee made that play. And when you look at a highlight reel of THAT play, along with his two-point conversion, along with his catch and staying inbounds down at the 1-yard line earlier in the game, along with some other tough balls thrown over the middle, Marqise Lee played a MAN’S game this Saturday. He had moments that I am telling you were nearly frightening in the level of grit, angst, and toughness involved. I have not seen him like that all season, and what he did Saturday night in those key moments were legendary.

We can not say enough about Heidari’s game-winning field goal, and he deserves all the accolades he will get all week long on campus and in practice. It was HIS moment – HIS chance to sign – and I wish the young man Godspeed in enjoying all of that glory that he earned. This was, believe it or not, USC’s first game-winning field goals since 2000 when David Bell beat UCLA in the Rose Bowl (the one and only year that USC ever finished last place in the Pac-10). It was a big-time kick, and even though I believe we would have won the game in Overtime, I and my blood pressure are really, really happy we didn’t have to.

I can’t decide if the non-call on the running into our punter, or the first down they granted when Stanford was clearly short (both in the spot and the subsequent measurement) were the worst calls of the day. I can say that it didn’t matter, and the corrupt Pac-12 refs are welcome to come to my house any time they want. The record now over the last four years is Stanford 1, USC 1, and the refs 2. There you go.

Besides the previous mention of Marqise Lee, I also need to point out the remarkable performance of Cody Kessler Saturday night. What a first half he had – both in terms of poise and execution. He missed a throw or two in the second half but his performance was extraordinary, and has caused me to believe that he can excel on the big stage in a way we maybe did not believe a few weeks prior.

I do think that Nelson deserved a game ball for that catch and extra effort resulting in a first down … Wow.

Dion Bailey deserves hugs, loves, and chest bumps for his game-saving interception at the 10-yard line, but he deserves a talking-to for cutting into the middle of the field when a sprint to the left was a sure touchdown. =) Fight on, Dion.

Sua’ Cravens is going to be a star, and as far as I am concerned, he already is. Athletic and just plain clutch, that pick was the game.

The discussion about Coach O and the head coaching job has gotten beyond absurd. I certainly agreed after the Cal win that a more quality win than Cal or Arizona would be needed to intensify the seriousness of the conversation. But with the Stanford miracle win now actually having happened, it seems undeniable that the position would be Ed’s to lose IF, and it’s a big IF, we were to win out and beat Colorado then UCLA. We will likely be favored in both of those games (anyone want to guess the last time UCLA beat a good team?). The issue is NOT whether or not we can afford to pay more (we can), or whether or not we could get a bigger ESPN splash with someone else (we could), or whether or not a more proven college winner could be hired (of course one could); the issue is whether or not Ed is the best guy for THIS team, and THIS time. If, and I would say the UCLA win needs to happen first, I can not imagine why an rational USC fan would not believe Ed and an amazing band of coordinators would not warrant the chance to keep it going in 2014. Well actually, I can. People want to believe so badly in the miracle cure of a flashy name coach (even if that coach is Sumlin at Texas A&M, whose defense is ranked somewhere below Eastern Washington A&M in efficacy). The truth is that Orgeron being hired will be a risk, and a new coach being hired will be a risk; so between two risks, who has the confidence and respect of the players and the love for the university needed to perform on the highest stage? I do not know what Pat Haden will do, but I do know that if he wins out the next two weeks it will be unforgivable for him to not warrant leading consideration. As Dion Bailey has said, “Coach O has made up for my early three years experience all in six games. He’s made this a season to remember. This has been my most memorable season of my life. He’s done so many things to enlighten this experience… “. We all feel the same, Dion.

I don’t have anything to say around the country because I just don’t care (besides Duke’s win over Miami). We are SC. Bring on the Buffaloes. Take care of business, Trojan family. And fight on. This Trojan is just so, so proud of you.