USC Loses to Reggie Bush
“Our 75 is better than your 85”
It’s a shirt that has been worn around USC’s campus ever since USC was hit with sanctions caused by the Reggie Bush scandal a couple years ago. The sanctions have limited the Trojans to 75 scholarship football players this year while the rest of the country has 85. The shirt suggests that 75 Trojans are greater than 85 of anything else. The shirt is wrong. USC’s lack of scholarships is the reason USC lost to Stanford.
Injuries are a bigger part of football than any other sport, which makes depth in football more important than it is in any other sport. Coming into the game USC was missing starting center Khaled Holmes, kicker Andre Heidari, and was nursing a banged up back field. Stanford did a brilliant job exploiting all three sore spots in the Trojan lineup. They put pressure on Barkley all game by bowling over Holmes’s replacement Cyrus Hobbi, they were able to focus primarily on the passing game without the threat of the run, and they were able to better predict what USC would do on 3rd down on offense by knowing USC was not going to kick any field goals (USC 1-13 on 3rd down vs. Stanford.)
The 10 missing scholarships would have gone a long way for USC at Stanford. College teams can select the best players coming out every year without having to wait their turn like a pro league draft. For a school like USC 10 missing players doesn’t mean missing 10 scrubs, it means missing 10 blue chip prospects. And while there are no guarantees in recruiting, it’s safe to say that USC would have been able to get some dominant players with their 10 last scholarships. They would have been able to carry a couple more lineman, one or two more running backs, and would have been able to afford the luxury of a backup kicker.
The lack of numbers hurts USC in other ways too. One of the things USC has prided itself on is competition, not just on game days, but also in practice. With 10 less scholarship the practice competition diminishes. There are less full contact drills which may have played a part on Stanford out physical-ing USC up front. The lack of competition also decreases the amount of pressure put on players to perform to maintain their spot on the depth chart. Yes, they gave it their best effort at Stanford, but there is an added sense of urgency when the job is on the line everyday.
If this game took place on week one, there is no doubt in my mind that USC would have stomped all over the Cardinal. Unfortunately for USC, losses in the starting lineup were too much to over come. I hope Reggie Bush is enjoying the ghost of his Heisman trophy , because his selfishness continues to haunt Trojan Nation.