“A few adjustments and we should be fine for next year’s opener against Alabama,” is what no USC fan tweeted after Friday night’s 49-24 loss to Iowa in the Holiday Bowl.
This is only an educated guess since I vowed to view USC’s late-December bowl game without any social media interaction, knowing Trojan Nation was rip-roaring mad going into the last game coached this year by Clay Helton.
Nothing, win or lose, was going change the hearts and minds of USC fans nearly universally apoplectic with the school’s upper management decision to retain Helton for his 2020 services.
A USC victory would have not likely changed the narrative of a fan base that had already made up its mind about Helton and the direction of the program.
This fan base has made its voice clear via every medium known to man. It almost started to sound "whiny." The fan base can’t believe newly-hired president Carol Folt fell for Helton’s nice-guy charm and got duped after being handed a game-ball, by Helton, after a victory over UCLA.
The base can’t believe new athletic director Mike Bohn took the job and then decided not to do the job he was hired to do.
My guess is that, after USC’s performance against Iowa in the Holiday, what's left of the Trojan base continued calling for the immediate resignation of Folt and Bohn.
And don’t even get them started about defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast, special teams coach John Baxter and in-game decisions by Helton and his staff.
My post-game guess is that Helton praised his players for fighting hard and never quitting and I'll bet you a Trojan VIP seat cushion Helton noted the outcome could have changed on “one or two plays.”
The Holiday Bowl was a microcosm of why Folt probably decided to keep Helton without fully understanding the depth of the despair or the dysfunction.
Folt chose to consider extenuating circumstances devoted followers have long ago stopped considering.
As an outsider from North Carolina, an 8-4 season looked pretty good to her when she considered all the tough luck and injuries.
The Holiday Bowl could also be seen, by an outsider, through the excuses prism. As badly as USC’s defense played, the Trojans were only down by four, with the ball, in Iowa territory, in the second half, when quarterback Kedon Slovis was knocked out of the game with an injury.
It is not unreasonable to think USC could have won had Slovis not been injured, yet this notion is simply not going to be tolerated headed into the 2020 season.
Nor should it be.
Nothing, beyond a coaching change, is going to appease most USC fans going forward.
Friday night’s final score didn't changed anything--it only inflamed what was already on fire.
USC football heads into the off-season with backward momentum, facing fourth-and-California. The Trojans finished 8-5 and dead last in Pac 12 recruiting.
Going forward with Helton, from this point, has to be an organizational gut job. The defense needs to be restructured along with the special teams.
Helton can’t talk the Holiday Bowl away but, remember, this is only his fault in-so-much as he wanted to keep his job.
Carol Folt made the ultimate decision to allow Friday to unfold as it unfolded.
Helton is her coach now, and USC is her baby.
As far as looking forward to next year’s opener against the Crimson Tide, well, we can’t imagine any USC Trojan fan out there who is…