In the constellation of pandemic “blessings” the current Notre Dame sophomore class lays claim to an curious distinction: they may be the only Irish players to avoid playing in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. So many words are spilled celebrating the Greatest Intersectional Rivalry In College Football, but too few folks are asking a more important question: What if we didn’t?
USC, both as a university and as a football program, is mired chaos, and this saccharine petit fours soured jarringly by, well, all of this (TW: garbage), because we’re never sure if all the inept leadership is gone, or just in hiding.
Their athletic department is no better, although the run of three(!!!) inept family hires has finally ended — leadership that has overseen sanctions, and illustrious names such as Ed Orgeron, Lane Kiffin, Steve Sarkisian, and Clay Helton at the helm. Can Trojan fans expect anyone other than Jon Gruden or Urban Meyer at this point? I’d call this list a murderer’s row, but I wouldn’t want to give these folks any ideas. So many of the Texas Football critiques map effortlessly to the Trojans — in a geographic recruiting hotbed where there’s no historical conference peer, the self-inflicted wounds are everywhere. For every coaching hire they get right (Pete Carroll, John Robinson) there are countless others the prove the futility of bad fits and missed opportunities (everyone else they tried to hire before Pete Carroll fell in their lap, and John Robinson again).
And the Coliseum.
Listen, this is an historic venue, set to host its third Olympic Games in less than a decade’s time. But make it a point to avoid football games at all cost. A minor-league version of the Green Monster for Major League Baseball? A venue for Evel Knievel and, coming soon, NASCAR? It’s a place that works for everything except football, so this venue’s Doofus Management Hydra tried to slap an airline sponsor on the stadium to retrofit it for football, which is about as jarring as the Soldier Field’s visual structure. All the recent upgrades do a great job of distracting patrons from realizing they’re trying to watch a game from a terrible seat.
It’s the Anti-Notre Dame Stadium in nearly every respect, a venue build specifically for football (and until very recently, patrons who will only take up 18″ on a wooden bleacher slab). As a mental simulation in contrasts, imagine yourself in a folding chair atop Notre Dame’s Library, and that’ll give you some approximation of “enjoying” a live sporting event from the Peristyle seats.
So yes, USC comes to town — named after the folks who fell for the literally the oldest trick in the book. They’ll bring with them their latest interim coach, their warmest winter gear, a perpetually disappointing record, and a roster with dangerous blue-chippers, albeit sparsely populated given their history and geography. They’ll bring their band although I don’t know why, given their esteemed place directly directly adjacent to the stadium’s loudspeakers — the same band that wears sunglasses at night and where Hollywood extras parade as the armored drum major. It’s all for show, a legacy lacking substance.
Over the last couple years we’ve witnessed the fragility of life and its customary traditions alongside an increased awareness that the future isn’t promised. Given all that,
Beat Southern Cal.
What to Watch: Navy (1-5) vs Cincinnati (6-0), Sat 12:00PM ET on ESPN2
Not much in the way of future Irish opponents on the schedule, what with mid-season byes coupled and the NBC primetime slot. Chaos Agent Cincinnati looks to go crazy against Navy, and ND fans can get Halloween fright started early thinking about the triple option defense.
- Georgia Tech (3-3) at Virginia (5-2) (Sat 7:30PM ET, ACC Network)
- Florida State (2-4) vs Massachusetts (Sat 12:00PM ET, ACC Network)
- Virginia Tech (3-3) vs Syracuse (Sat 12:30PM ET, Watch ESPN)
- Wisconsin (3-3) at Purdue (4-2) (Sat 3:00PM ET, Big Ten Network)
- Toledo (3-4) vs Western Michigan (Sat 3:30PM ET, CBS Sports Network)
On the year, teams on the schedule are 40-36 with an average schedule strength of 48.