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USC Trojans

The USC Trojans football program, established in 1888, represents the University of Southern California in college football. USC is a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I FBS and the Pacific-12 Conference (Pac-12). The Trojans are a football powerhouse, and have been throughout NCAA history, claiming 11 national championships. As of 2013, 480 Trojans have been taken in the NFL Draft, more than from any other university.

History

1888–1910s

USC first fielded a football team in 1888. Playing its first game on November 14 of that year against the Alliance Athletic Club, gaining a 16–0 victory. Frank Suffel and Henry H. Goddard were playing coaches for the first team which was put together by quarterback Arthur Carroll; who in turn volunteered to make the pants for the team and later became a tailor. USC faced its first collegiate opponent the following year in fall 1889, playing St. Vincent’s College to a 40–0 victory.

In 1893, joined the Intercollegiate Football Association of Southern California (the forerunner of the SCIAC), which was composed of USC, Occidental College, Throop Polytechnic Institute (Cal Tech), and Chaffey College. Pomona College was invited to enter, but declined to do so. An invitation was also extended to Los Angeles High School.

Before they were named Trojans in 1912, USC athletic teams were called the Methodists, as well as the Wesleyans. During the early years, limitations in travel and the scarcity of major football-playing colleges on the West Coast limited its rivalries to local Southern Californian colleges and universities. During this period USC played regular series against Occidental, Caltech, Whittier, Pomona and Loyola. The first USC team to play outside of Southern California went to Stanford University on November 4, 1905, where they were trampled 16–0 by the traditional West Coast powerhouse. While the teams would not meet again until 1918 (Stanford dropped football for rugby union during the intervening years), this was also USC's first game against a future Pac-12 conference opponent and the beginning of its oldest rivalry. During this period USC also played its first games against other future Pac-12 rivals, including Oregon State (1914), California (1915), Oregon (1915) and Arizona (1916).

Between 1911–1913, USC followed the example of California and Stanford and dropped football in favor of rugby union. The results were disastrous, as USC was soundly defeated by more experienced programs while the school itself experienced financial reverses; it was during this period that Owen R. Bird, a sportswriter for the Los Angeles Times, coined the nickname "Trojans", which he wrote was "owing to the terrific handicaps under which the athletes, coaches and managers of the university were laboring and against the overwhelming odds of larger and better equipped rivals, the name 'Trojan' suitably fitted the players."

1920s–1930s

After several decades of competition, USC first achieved national prominence under head coach "Gloomy" Gus Henderson in the early 1920s. Another milestone came under Henderson in 1922, when USC joined the Pacific Coast Conference (PCC), the forerunner of the modern Pac-12. Success continued under coach Howard Jones from 1925 to 1940, when the Trojans were just one of a few nationally dominant teams. It was during this era that the team achieved renown as the "Thundering Herd", earning its first four national titles.

1920s–1930s

After several decades of competition, USC first achieved national prominence under head coach "Gloomy" Gus Henderson in the early 1920s. Another milestone came under Henderson in 1922, when USC joined the Pacific Coast Conference (PCC), the forerunner of the modern Pac-12. Success continued under coach Howard Jones from 1925 to 1940, when the Trojans were just one of a few nationally dominant teams. It was during this era that the team achieved renown as the "Thundering Herd", earning its first four national titles.

1940s–1950s

USC achieved intermittent success in the years following Jones' tenure. Jeff Cravath, who coached from 1942–1950, won the Rose Bowl in 1943 and 1945. Jess Hill, who coached from 1951 to 1956, won the Rose Bowl in 1953. From 1957 to 1959, the Trojans were coached by Don Clark.

1960s–1970s

The program entered a new golden age upon the arrival of head coach John McKay (1960–1975). During this period the Trojans produced two Heisman Trophy winners (Mike Garrett and O.J. Simpson) and won four national championships (1962, 1967, 1972 and 1974). McKay's influence continued even after he departed for the NFL when an assistant coach, John Robinson (1976–1982), took over as head coach. Under Robinson, USC won another national championship in 1978 (shared with Alabama; ironically, USC defeated Alabama, 24–14, that same season) and two more players won the Heisman Trophy (Charles White and Marcus Allen).

1980s–1990s

In the 1980s, USC football did not realize a national championship, though it continued to experience relative success, with top-20 AP rankings and Pac-10 Conference championships under head coaches Ted Tollner (1983–1986) and Larry Smith (1987–1992) Each coach led the team to a win in the Rose Bowl and USC was recognized among the nation's top-ten teams three times. Despite the moderate success of team during these years, some alumni had grown accustomed to the programs' stature as a perennial national championship contender. In 1993, Robinson was named head coach a second time, leading the Trojans to a victory in the 1996 Rose Bowl over Northwestern.

2000–present

In 2009, USC was named “Team of the Decade” by both CBSSports.com and Football.com, as well as the “Program of the Decade” by SI.com, plus was No. 1 in CollegeFootballNews.com’s “5-Year Program Rankings” and was ranked No. 2 in ESPN.com’s “Prestige Rankings” among all schools since 1936 (behind Oklahoma). Additionally, in 2009, ESPN.com ranked USC the second-best program in college football history.

2002

USC opened 3–2 in 2002, suffering losses to Kansas State and Washington State. However, the Trojans went on to win the rest of their games, completing the regular season 11–2 on the strength of senior quarterback Carson Palmer's breakout performance. After struggling for most of his collegiate career, Palmer excelled in the Pro Style offense installed by new offensive coordinator Norm Chow. In fact, Palmer's performance, particularly in the season-ending rivalry games against Notre Dame and UCLA, impressed so many pundits that he went on to win the Heisman Trophy, carrying every region of voting and becoming the first USC quarterback to be so honored. Despite tying for the Pac-10 title (with Washington State), having the highest BCS "strength of schedule" rating, and fielding the nation's top defense led by safety Troy Polamalu, USC finished the season ranked No. 5 in the BCS rankings. Facing off against BCS No. 3 Iowa in the Orange Bowl, USC defeated the Hawkeyes 38–17.

2003

In 2003, highly touted but unproven redshirt sophomore Matt Leinart took over for Palmer at quarterback. Although his first pass went for a touchdown in a win over Auburn, the Trojans suffered an early season triple-overtime loss to conference rival California in Berkeley. Nevertheless, Carroll guided the team to wins in their remaining games and they completed the regular season 11–1. Before the postseason, both the coaches' poll and the AP Poll ranked USC number #1, but the BCS - which also gave consideration to computer rankings - ranked Oklahoma first, another one-loss team but one that had lost its own Big 12 Conference title game 35–7, with USC ranked third.

2004

In 2004, USC was picked preseason #1 by the Associated Press, thanks to the return of Leinart as well as sophomore running backs LenDale White and Reggie Bush. The defense—led by All-American defensive tackles Shaun Cody and Mike Patterson, as well as All-American linebackers Lofa Tatupu and Matt Grootegoed—was considered to be among the finest in the nation. Key questions included the offensive line, with few returning starters, and the receiving corps, which had lost previous year's senior Keary Colbert and the breakout star of 2003, Mike Williams. Williams had tried to enter the NFL draft a year early during the Maurice Clarett trial when it was ruled that the NFL could not deny them entering the draft. The decision was appealed and overturned leaving Williams unable to enter the draft. When he applied to the NCAA for reinstatement of his eligibility, it was denied.

2005

The 2005 regular season witnessed a resuscitation of the rivalry with Notre Dame, after a last second play in which senior quarterback Matt Leinart scored the winning touchdown with help from a controversial push from behind by running back Reggie Bush, nicknamed the "Bush Push". The year climaxed with a 66–19 USC defeat of cross-town rival UCLA. Running back Reggie Bush finished his stellar year by winning the Heisman Trophy (later returned by USC and reclaimed by the Heisman Trophy Trust considering Bush accepted improper benefits while at USC and was ineligible during the 2005 season), while Leinart finished third in the Heisman voting. Several other players also earned accolades, being named All-Americans (AP, Football Coaches, Football Writers, Walter Camp, ESPN.com, SI.com, CBS Sportsline.com, Rivals.com, Collegefootballnews.com). These include QB Matt Leinart, RB Reggie Bush, RB LenDale White, S Darnell Bing, OT Taitusi Lutui, OT Sam Baker, WR Dwayne Jarrett, C Ryan Kalil, OG Fred Matua, and DE Lawrence Jackson. Additionally, OL Winston Justice did well enough to forgo his senior year and enter the NFL draft. The regular season ended with two clear cut contenders facing off in the Rose Bowl to decide the national championship. Both USC and Texas were 12–0 entering the game, although USC was the slight favorite,[22] USC lost to Texas 41–38.

2006

For the 2006 football season, USC tried to rebuild its strength following the loss of offensive stalwarts Leinart, Bush, and White, defensive leader Bing, and offensive linemen Matua, Justice, and Lutui. The Trojans developed their offense using unproven QB John David Booty and returning star receivers Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith along with second-year wide-out Patrick Turner. Mark Sanchez, the highly touted QB of the recruiting class of 2005 (Mission Viejo High School) was widely viewed as a dark horse to win the starting job from Booty, although Booty was named the starter at the end of fall training camp. The starting tailback position was initially a battle between returning players Chauncey Washington and Desmond Reed (both recovering from injuries) and heralded recruits Stafon Johnson (Dorsey High School in Los Angeles), C.J. Gable, Allen Bradford and Emmanuel Moody.

2007

n July 2007, ESPN.com named USC its #1 team of the decade for the period between 1996 and 2006, citing the Trojans' renaissance and dominance under Coach Carroll.

The 2007 Trojans were the presumptive #1 pick before the season. However they lost two games, including a major upset to 41-point underdog Stanford, and they did not get into the National Championship game. However, the Trojans did win their sixth conference championship and defeated Illinois in the 2008 Rose Bowl Game.

2008

After beating Penn State in the Rose Bowl, USC finished the season 12–1, and ranked #2 in the Coaches' Poll and #3 in the AP Poll. The 2008 season culminated in USC's seventh straight Pac-10 Championship, seventh straight BCS bowl appearance and seventh straight finish in the top 4 of the AP Poll. This also marked seven consecutive seasons where USC has not lost a game by more than 7 points. Their only loss was on the road against Oregon State, which was mentioned in the preseason as a possible upset.

2009

After beating Boston College in the Emerald Bowl, USC finished the season 9–4, and ranked #20 in the Coaches' Poll and #22 in the AP Poll. USC ended its seven-year streak of Pac-10 Championship, BCS bowl appearance and top 4 finish of the AP Poll. The Trojans started the season strong beating #8 Ohio State at The Horseshoe. But they would lose to four Pac-10 teams (Washington, Oregon, Stanford, and Arizona). Blowout losses to Oregon 47-20 and Stanford 55-21 marked a turning point in USC's season and sparked debate in the media about the future dominance of USC football. After the season concluded, head coach Pete Carroll resigned to accept a head coaching position with the Seattle Seahawks.

2010

On January 12, 2010, Lane Kiffin was hired as the head coach. This came following Pete Carroll's departure from USC to become the head coach of the Seattle Seahawks.

In June 2010, after a prolonged four-year investigation into whether former USC running back Reggie Bush and his family had accepted financial benefits and housing from two sports agents in San Diego while he was a student athlete at USC, the NCAA imposed sanctions against the Trojan football program for a "lack of institutional control," including a two-year postseason ban, the loss of 30 scholarships over three years, and the vacation of all wins in which Bush participated as an "ineligible" player, including the 2005 Orange Bowl, in which the Trojans won the BCS National Championship. These sanctions have been criticized by some NCAA football writers, including ESPN’s Ted Miller, who wrote, “It's become an accepted fact among informed college football observers that the NCAA sanctions against USC were a travesty of justice, and the NCAA’s refusal to revisit that travesty are a massive act of cowardice on the part of the organization.

2011

On February 9, 2010, Commissioner Larry Scott announced that the Pac-10 would be considering expanding to twelve schools. The Pac-10 Conference officially became the Pac-12 Conference following the addition of Colorado and Utah on July 1, 2011.

In 2011, although USC finished in first place in its conference division with a 7-2 record, due to their ineligibility to participate in a bowl game, the UCLA Bruins became champions of the inaugural Pac-12 South Division. In the final regular season game, USC's 50-0 win over UCLA was the largest margin of victory in the rivalry since 1930.

The release of the December 4, 2011 final regular season Associated Press college football poll marked USC's return to national prominence with the #5 ranking.[38] The Trojans were not eligible for post season play and did not participate in any Bowl game. When the final AP Football Poll was release USC dropped one spot to the #6 ranking.

2012

USC was ranked number one in The Associated Press’ preseason college football poll for the seventh time in school history and the first time in five seasons, edging out No. 2 Alabama and No. 3 LSU. However, the early season expectations would backfire as the Trojans would eventually finish 7-5 (5-4 versus Pac-12 opponents), including losses to both UCLA and Notre Dame. The team finished second in the Pac-12 South standings and unranked in any poll.