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Rankman's Friday Mailbag: Are Helton's 15 minutes already up? Why did God curse UCLA football?

I gave a letter to the postman,He put it in his sack.And by the early next morning,He brought my letter back.She wrote…

I gave a letter to the postman,
He put it in his sack.
And by the early next morning,
He brought my letter back.
She wrote upon it:
Return to sender, address unknown.
No such number, no such zone.

(Scott and Blackwell)

Unbuckling this week's bag:[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]

Not question of IF USC fires Clay Helton after one yrs plus...only WHEN if he loses couple more games which IS an almost certainty!

Coaches Hot Seat @CoachesHotSeat 

Well, hot seats are obviously your business, not mine, but I would be shocked, shocked, SHOCKED if USC blew Helton out in his first full season.

I would have less respect for USC as an institution of higher learning, and I’m not so sure how much I respect them now. Or, should I say institution of “hire” learning? Listen, I was blown away when USC AD Pat Haden failed to claim Kiffin at the LAX baggage carousel five games into his fourth season.

Even GM Don Klosterman gave a young Rams quarterback named Haden more time to grow bigger hands back in the 1970s. Haden got six years with the Rams to throw his 52 touchdown passes against 60 interceptions.

I’m not sure Helton is the long term answer but I know, short term, he got handed a load of manure and a schedule sent to him by Satan.

His last four games of last year were Oregon (L), UCLA (W), Stanford (L) and Wisconsin (L).

Helton’s first four games this year were against Alabama (L), Utah State (W), Stanford (L) and Utah (W).

I’m not sure Knute Rockne would have won half of those games. That’s not saying Helton was the right choice. It just means that he deserves more time than our shock-jock, knee-jerk society wants to give him.

Wonder why those defending Helton point to Carroll starting 1-3, not Neuheisel at UCLA or Weis at Kansas?

Bangkok Buck@tokyotrojan

Again, I would only point to Helton’s schedule. Rick Neuheisel did open 1-3 at UCLA in 2008. His opponents were Tennessee (W), BYU (L), Arizona (L) and Fresno State (L). Tennessee and BYU were ranked No. 18, Arizona was not ranked and Fresno State was No. 25.

Charlie Weis started 1-3 at Kansas in 2012, on his way to 1-11. His first four games were against South Dakota State, Rice, TCU and Northern Illinois. Only TCU (16) was ranked.

Seven of USC’s last eight opponents have been ranked (Utah State was the only exception). That gantlet included games against No.1 (Alabama) and No.7 (Stanford).

And for a lagniappe (notice the clever Cajun reference) to the LSU-Orgeron situation, how much spicier would things get if Helton gets canned also, making available both jobs that O may want and that may want him?

Dr. Kurt Edward Kemper, Prof. of History, Dakota State University

Well of course I knew what “lagniappe” meant…right after looking it up in the Cajun dictionary I keep on my desk.

Anyway, these former keystone USC kops can’t seem to get out of their own way. I saw one Vegas line ( that had Lane Kiffin and Ed Orgeron at 9\1 odds to get the LSU job.

Isn’t that perfect?

The only guy we know isn’t getting the LSU or USC job is Steve Sarkisian. Although, if Kiffin leaves, Sark will likely become Alabama’s next offensive coordinator on his comeback redemption tour.

I say this: if the Seattle Seahawks go down the tubes this year how about Pete Carroll coming back to USC?

And, if all this happens, Norm Chow can sit back and laugh. “See what you got for firing me as OC back in 2005?”

Good old, Coach O. The man is indeed a great assistant coach and self-promoter, but no way I’d pick him as a permanent HC


Brian, I’ve never understood Ed Orgeron. Not as a coach, I’ve literally never understood him. His Louisiana Cajun accent is so thick his press conferences need closed caption. His life soundtrack should be a loop of Credence Clearwater’s “Born on the Bayou.”

As a head coach, he has proven to be an excellent defensive line coach. Some guys just aren’t cut out for the top job because it involves so much more than football knowledge. Orgeron is a tremendous recruiter, motivator and position coach. He was a key contributor to those great defensive lines at USC under Pete Carroll.

As a head coach, though, his record is his record. He went 10-25 at Mississippi and 6-2 as USC’s interim coach in 2013. The problem with that 6-2 was the two losses were to Notre Dame and UCLA.

We’ll see how it goes at LSU. Coach O inherits a talented team and no doubt he’ll get his players motivated.

Read More

Georgia is down 31-0 at half-they will probably move up to #11 next week


Casey it is so cynical of you to suggest the USA Today coaches would continue to overvalue an SEC school even after a two-point win over Nicholls, a one-point win over Missouri and a blowout loss to two-loss Mississippi.

These coaches take their polling duties seriously. It’s not like they just hand off the responsibility to their sports information directors every Sunday morning.

And, for the record, Casey, the USA Today coaches did drop Georgia, all the way from No. 11 to... No. 20. (Sigh).

Getting serious for a second, Georgia at No. 20 is a joke and the reason the coaches’ poll was a borderline fraud when it was used all those years in the BCS formula.

I mean, come on. Georgia is a weak 3-1, yet is ranked ahead of undefeated San Diego State, which at least defeated Cal, which defeated then-No.11 Texas?

And shouldn’t Boise State, which is undefeated with two wins over the Pac 12 North, be ranked ahead of Georgia?

As I’ve always said: if you can’t trust the bottom of a poll, how can you trust the top?

Don’t answer that: it was rhetorical!

#OTD in 1973 Nolan Ryan set the Major League record for strikeouts in a season (383), passing Sandy Koufax. Where you there?


You know very well I’m a huge Ryan fan but I missed that epic performance, against the Twins of Minnesota, on the last day of the 1973 season. I’m pretty sure I had a date with Cheryl Ladd that night.

A pleasure reading @DufRankman obit on Arnold Palmer. LAX sports section not same without Rankman.

Don Norcross@Don_Norcross

Thanks Don. I enjoyed writing that obit even if it did run on the front page nine months after I retired from the newspaper.

People at my gym came up to me and said, “Hey, that’s great, you got your job back? I thought for sure when they canned your butt it was forever.”

No one listens when I say, “Well, I left voluntarily and got a year’s salary.”

Back to obits: I likely wrote that Palmer obit seven years ago, probably when Arnie turned 80. Part of my off season job at the Times was writing advance obits for famous people. It may sound morbid but I looked at it this way. First, the icons I wrote about were alive when I was writing about them. And, I always turned the obits in wishing my subjects good health and a long, long life to come. But you can’t just have an Arnold Palmer die on Sunday and expect a writer to put his incredible life together in a couple hours. You have to have these things “in the bank.”

Any athlete who has cashed an endorsement check owes a debt of gratitude to Arnie!

John Patrick@JPktik

You got that right. There are millionaires on the PGA tour, many of whom have never won a tournament, who owe their Bentleys and summer homes to Palmer.

Arnold was not the greatest golfer of all time, although he’s on the short list. He was like Mickey Mantle, who was not the greatest baseball player of all time.

Both, though, had charisma and swagger that moved the ratings needle. Palmer won seven majors between 1958 and 1964 just as TV was growing up. His magnetism sold color TVs to people that didn’t even want them. His success and go-for-broke style increased tournament purses and paved the way for today’s $10 million paycheck for the FedEx playoff winner.

@DufRankman "I had watched Stanford ... in Palo Alto." Stanford is not in Palo Alto. #PetPeeve

David Ward@DavidAlanWard

David, you got me. Nailed me to the cross. Point blank. Right between the eyes. Shot me in the heart! Stanford is not, technically, in Palo Alto. It is in Stanford, although parts of the campus are in Palo Alto. And never mind that "Stanford" is basically a mailing address and an unincorporated “town” that doesn’t even have a mayor!

Ok Chris. You win. But what's missing here? What does UCLA need to get over the hump?


Beats the eight-clap crap out of me Larry. People have been asking that question about UCLA since the 1930s. How can a school that looks so good in their uniforms consistently fall short of expectations? I don’t get it. Maybe God thinks UCLA already has enough with its beautiful campus and surrounding areas like Brentwood and Beverly Hills.

Maybe God made USC football better (well, at least historically) because it is located next to car dealership: Felix Chevrolet.[/membership]