USC Trojans on brink of starting a new dynasty


With USC boasting another  top-five national recruiting class, you have to wonder if a second wave of Trojan dominance is on the way to the Pac-12. 

247Sports posted their latest recruiting rankings for Pac-12 teams, and the results were similar to what we saw in 2014. Last year, USC was the only Pac-12 team to finish in the top ten, nationally, as the Trojans came in at exactly number 10. Stanford followed at 13, UCLA at 18, and Oregon at 21.

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On the heels of finishing second in the conference behind the Bruins in 2013, and 13th overall in the nation, you can see the steady rise of what was once the premier west coast college football program. 2015 shows USC at number five in the nation, with Stanford(11), UCLA(13), and Oregon(18) the only other universities in the top 20.

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Going from 13th, to 10th, to fifth shows that momentum is brewing in Southern California, and that with the onerous sanctions from the Pete Carroll era finally gone, this program is looking to regain its former mastery of the Pac-12 conference. Oregon is flashy, but the cool pines of the Pacific Northwest can hardly compete with the sunny beaches of the Los Angeles metro area. Stanford might be the greatest program turnaround in NCAA history, but it’s still a school traditionally known more for academics than athletics. If the Trojans can offer more to a top recruit than just about anywhere else in the country, and with their football program back in the championship conversation, expect them to pull in top-five recruiting classes annually.

Analysts believe the depth of talent is finally back at USC, which has always pulled in stars, but in the recent past has been thin due to the scholarship reductions. The media picked USC to win the Pac-12 title this season, although some healthy skepticism exists about that claim. We all remember 2012 when the media gushed over the Trojans, only to watch the team face=plant on the way to a 7-6 season. Ted Miller of ESPN’s Pac 12 blog gives his thoughts on why USC is better this year than in 2012:

"So what’s the difference in the 2012 and 2015 teams? I see four things: 1. Better depth. 2. Better “non-star” players. 3. The tough lessons of 2012 being present among the fourth and fifth-year players. 4. Sarkisian in 2015 being better equipped to handle this team than Lane Kiffin in 2012."

Do not underestimate the impact No. 4 will have this season. Steve Sarkisian, head coach of the Trojans, is a much more savvy and talented coach than the deposed Lane Kiffin who might have a brilliant mind, but college football is not the NFL. Here it’s more about motivating players than it is about scheme. Ask Charlie Weiss about “schematic advantages” and how they helped the cause during his tumultuous run at Notre Dame. The players did not play hard for Kiffin and he lacked the charisma to turn the season around after a bad loss. Sarkisian should be better equipped to handle adversity in 2015.

The depth is another issue, as football is a violent sport where players often get injured. When you have strong depth on your team, you can play your backups more during the three or four blowouts every program has during the beginning part of its schedule. The Trojans had a couple of those paycheck games in Arkansas State and Idaho in the beginning of September, games that will be little more than glorified practice sessions. More than that, the depth on the team will allow USC to combat fatigue playing against the multiple up-tempo offenses of the conference, programs like Oregon and Arizona State.

Overall, it is clear that this year the Trojans are finally over the harsh penalties the NCAA enacted against them. However, even if USC cannot take the conference crown back from the North division, it is clear that this is a program on the way up, and there is no doubt that Southern California will be a national power in the very near future.

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