Whether gleefully chanted by rowdy southeasterners, muttled under the breath of Texans, or banished to the furthest recess of a Big Ten fan’s mind, the most powerful conference in college football lately has been the S-E-C, S-E-C, S-E-C. Six national championships in a row is not impressive, it’s dominant. It doesn’t stop at the championship game either, the SEC has absolutely laid waste to opposing conferences during bowl season in the last half of a decade. Although in the Big Ten’s defense, going into bowl season last year, they were 5-5 against the SEC in the last ten bowls played between the two conferences. That not withstanding, most just accept as fact that the southern boys can’t be touched right now.
One little thing could throw a monkey wrench into Mike Slive and crew’s quest for world domination, though. USC is through with their post season ban. Uh-Oh. Sometimes we forget that before the NCAA hammer fell, “Hollywood” Pete Carroll and company were riding high on Carroll’s “Win Forever” mantra. Continuously stockpiling new talent that allowed them to reload each year instead of rebuild. While they got most of the California talent, they were also in a position to recruit nationally almost as Notre Dame did in their heyday. And Friends, when you already get the best players in the golden state and you can still go to Florida, Texas, and other 5-star producing locales to bring in more studs, you’ve got something going.
Guess what, it didn’t stop. Yes, the wins aren’t there like they were, but keep in mind how hard it is to motivate 18-22 year olds when there’s no reward to play for at the end of the season. In their last post season appearance they defeated Boston College in the 2009 Emerald Bowl. Even that is deceiving though, while not the high profile type of bowl they’re used to, they defeated the eventual Rose Bowl Champion Ohio State Buckeyes in Columbus earlier that season. Anybody know who the true freshman quarterback of the Trojans was that year? Yes sir, Matt Barkley. He put off the NFL to come back for his senior campaign, and he’ll have maybe the best receiving tandem in the country to throw to. Oh yeah, and four returning starters on the offensive line to protect him. Their uncharacteristically shallow stable at running back, is the only thing close to a week spot on that side of the ball.
Defensively it’s more of the same. The Trojans are returning their entire secondary and linebacking corps which should pick up enough slack early in the season to allow a new D-line time to grow. And when was the last time a Monte Kiffin defense underperformed.
All that, plus one huge chip on their shoulder could spell bad news for opponents this year. In fact if, and it’s a very unproven if, the younger Kiffin can perform his duties mildly competently then a Pac 12 championship is a virtual lock. It’s just the matter of which SEC west school “Traveller” will be leading his boys against in Miami on January 7th. Don’t look now, but here come the Trojans!