Trojans need to be back on top


first_imgThis last week of school marks the end of my sophomore year, or the halfway point in college. Everyone uses different events to signify milestones in their lives. For me, USC athletics has been that marker. Like any crazy Trojan fan, I remember exactly where I was and what was happening for the biggest moments of USC sports while I have been alive.As irrational and insane as that sounds, that is the beauty of sports. We identify with teams and connect to them on a visceral level. Our spirits rise with big wins over rivals and deep runs into the postseason. They fall with inept coaching decisions and  no-shows in big games.So, it’s only natural that when reflecting on the first two years at USC, sports play a major role in that process.After all, I’ve been a fan for more than three quarters of my life thus far. It started pretty early on.I remember watching Mike Williams make unbelievable one-handed grabs against Oregon State during one of my first Coliseum experiences. I remember watching Carson Palmer light up Notre Dame on a Saturday night while I was sitting in the basement of a synagogue in Chicago. Then the Trojans played Iowa in the Orange Bowl and withstood a kickoff return for a touchdown to start the game, as they came back and obliterated the Hawkeyes and started their streak of dominance over the Big Ten. I was hooked.I remember the fourth-and-9 to Dwayne Jarrett and the subsequent Bush Push on a Saturday afternoon in mid-October. USC’s 66-19 victory over UCLA also happened to be during my sister’s bat mitzvah, which is the Jewish rite of passage into adulthood. USC’s heartbreaking loss to Texas was one of the first days of second semester of fifth grade. Needless to say, I didn’t go to school the next day.I remember touring a new middle school in the fall of 2006. My mind wasn’t on the place, but instead trying to find my dad who was listening to USC’s matchup against Oregon State. USC lost 33-31 after John David Booty’s pass was tipped, followed by another school tour with another tipped pass and loss, this time to UCLA. Therefore, I was pretty wary of school tours at that point.I remember sitting at my friend’s house, he was a UCLA fan, and forcing him to watch Daniel Hackett locking up Kevin Durant as USC upset Texas in the NCAA tournament and almost beat North Carolina in the next round until Taj Gibson went out with five fouls. I thought that was the start of a powerhouse for USC basketball. I was wrong.I also remember the low points. I remember where I was on a Sunday morning when the news came out that USC was sacrificing the basketball team by imposing sanctions on themselves. I remember USC coming so close to upsetting Michigan State in the NCAA tournament, but losing in the final two minutes.I remember USC getting blown out by Oregon on Halloween, which was the beginning of the end of the Carroll era. It wasn’t until a few weeks later, when Jim Harbaugh went for two and stuck the proverbial fork in Pete Carroll’s tenure at USC, that I realized dynasties don’t last forever.I thought Lane Kiffin might be able to keep the party going, but it turns out winning is just a little bit harder than Pete Carroll made it seem. The same could be said about Kevin O’Neill and Tim Floyd.All these memories have one thing in common. I grew up thinking USC was infallible, that continued excellence was guaranteed, and that nobody would ever challenge USC’s dominance of the Pac-10.By high school, I realized all of these things were false. I should have listened to my dad and uncle when they said to cherish the championships because greatness doesn’t last forever. Yet, as an eternal optimist I thought that maybe fortunes would change when I moved to the student section.With the exception of the incredible upset victory over Stanford, the first two years of my time at USC have been marred by mediocrity in football and basketball. Four and five-loss seasons just don’t cut it at ’SC for football, and neither do two or three-win seasons in the Pac-12 for basketball.If these sound like the lamentations of a spoiled fan, it’s because they are. I was spoiled by Pete Carroll and Rose Bowls galore. That became an annual expectation, and one I hope the Trojans get back to soon enough.Outside the context of athletics, USC is the greatest school in the world to attend anyway. The classes are great, the students are always happy, the weather is even better, and there is nothing quite like the Trojan family. That being said, it feels like something is missing. That something is national titles.USC fans aren’t content with  third-place finishes and the occasional victory over a rival. We want excellence, all the time. Plain and simple. Though the last two years have taught me what it means to be a true fan by sticking with the basketball and football team through leaner times, I’d rather have victories.Hopefully, Steve Sarkisian and Andy Enfield can turn the fortunes of their respective programs around and again compete for national titles and tournament berths on an annual basis. That would make the final two years of college that much sweeter.Jake Davidson is a sophomore majoring in accounting. His column “Davidson’s Direction” ran Mondays.last_img

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