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New USC Coach Must Recruit Remaining Players

Several May Bolt to the NFL

 

December 5, 2013



By Mitch Chortkoff

Sports Editor

There hasn’t been a lot written about this, but I’ve been told there are an unusually high number of USC undergraduate football players eligible for the NFL draft.

The number I’ve heard is 33. That’s a lot. Some aren’t likely to be high NFL draft choices but they provide depth at USC and they would be missed.

Some have redshirted and that year counts toward NFL eligibility. If a player has been in the program for three years, even if one year he redshirted and didn’t play, he’s NFL eligible.

Many of these players have been close to Ed Orgeron, the interim head coach for the last eight games who was bypassed to continue. Reportedly outraged, Orgeron has resigned from USC and will seek a head coaching job elsewhere. Wake Forest is a possibility.

“Nobody can replace Coach O,” said USC freshman safety Su’a Cravens. “I’m honestly shocked.”

It will be the job of new coach Steve Sarkisian to talk some confused players into staying.

And don’t forget USC has one more year of scholarship limitations due to an NCAA penalty.

Add up these obstacles and it’s easy to conclude Sarkisian’s toughest years in his new position will be the first few.

He was a successful Trojan offensive co-ordinator before becoming head coach at Washington five years ago. He was trained by Pete Carroll at USC. He’s a Torrance kid who thoroughly knows the high school football scene in Southern California. There is every reason to believe he’ll lead USC back to prominence in time.

However, he starts at a considerable disadvantage. USC has lost two straight years to UCLA. Being undermanned, the Trojans have has less players to get them through a full season.

They upset Stanford, but UCLA had a game plan that took advantage of USC’s manpower shortage. Run plays as fast as possible. Frequently go wide, making weary USC defenders run a lot.

Bruin coach Jim Mora knew exactly what to do.

The Trojans’ manpower shortage figures to occur next season too, especially if players who can stay or leave decide to depart.

One negative about Sarkisian making the rounds is that he’s a close friend of Lane Kiffin, the USC coach who was fired early this season.

I don’t think much of that criticism. Kiffin was too conservative with the offense this season. By contrast, Sarkisian expanded the Washington offense as the Huskies won eight games this season.

Kiffin’s persomality was something that limited him this season. Sarkisian has related better to players and the media.

Before the Oakland Raiders hired Kiffin for his brief time as an NFL head coach they strongly considered Sarkisian.

You may think Orgeron got a raw deal from USC, but don’t magnify that by holding anything against Sarkisian.

With the Washington job becoming open there’s a chance the Huskies will try to lure Mora from UCLa.

Mora once said Washington was his dream job.

But that’s a story for another day.

 

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