USC started the season as the No.1 team in the nation; however the losses have started to mount for the Trojans who face No. 4 Oregon Saturday. The biggest losses in the program, however, came off the field two and four years ago.
Recruiting at USC was one of the easiest jobs in college football over the last decade during the decade of dominance enjoyed during Pete Carroll’s reign in LA, but sanctions placed on the program had put the program in a bit of a pickle when it came to recruiting the best high school talent in recent years.
Why would you not want to come to USC with a great support staff already there?
The nation’s premiere amateur linebacker shocked recruiting analysts four years ago when a middle linebacker from Hawaii decided to jilt the Southern California coaching staff and head to the Midwest and South Bend, Indiana to play for Notre Dame.
I’m referring to Manti Te’o, who has enjoyed a superb senior season that has him garnering serious Heisman pub across the nation for the No. 5 Fighting Irish whose defense is No. 2 in points allowed per game.
Can you imagine Te’o in the middle of the Trojans defense?
It’s not that far- fetched to say that USC would have had better success at stopping Stanford’s run game with the 6-2, 255-pound Te’o and likely would not have let Arizona score 39 points on his defense.
The Trojans very well would still have their No. 1 ranking this Saturday heading into their showdown with Oregon had the recruiting war gone a little differently. As things are the college football landscape has shifted when a Hawaiian left the island for the wind chills and winter weather advisory’s of South Bend.
Another notable recruit that stiffed USC is DeAnthony Thomas, a player that will be on the other sideline this weekend when Oregon invades the LA Coliseum. Thomas is a Los Angeles native and Lane Kiffin let him get out of the Trojans own background when he left to join the team’s biggest competition for Pac 12 supremacy.
Thomas would have reminded USC fans of Reggie Bush who won a Heisman making plays out of the backfield and in the passing game and would have provided a homerun threat to complement Silas Redd in the run game-which has been inconsistent at times this season.
The Trojans will get a close look at what could have been this weekend when Thomas is back in his hometown and in the season finale will see Te’o flashing his Heisman ability at middle linebacker.
USC can only hope they aren’t playing the what-if game 3-4 years down the road while watching the stars they used to accumulate with ease making plays against them.
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Patrick is a diehard Chicago sports and an avid college football fan, and host of “The Wake-up Call,” a weekly sports show on Sportstownchicago.com airing live on Wednesday mornings from 8-10. View his show’s website here.