USC can get back in the national hunt only if it adopts our 10-step self-help program.
The plan does not involve blending wheat grass with beets and carrot juice or walking over hot coals. It does require some post-Andrew luck, the boys catching a few breaks and a sense of humor.
Nothing is over in college football until we say it’s over.
Bluto: “Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?”
Saturday’s loss at Stanford hurts, but “History for Dummies” books are filled with stories of valiant comebacks after shaky starts. Harry Truman, in his early 30s, couldn’t keep a haberdashery in business.
Albert Einstein reportedly couldn’t read until age 7. Winston Churchill flunked sixth grade.
All of those guys had solid second halves.
Here is the 10-pronged power-point presentation — concocted, just like the original plan for the Bowl Championship Series, on a cocktail napkin:
1. Beat California on Saturday. Nothing else matters because one more loss puts you in contention for the Holiday Bowl.
Prospects for winning: excellent. USC hasn’t lost to Cal since 2003, after which the Trojans won out and claimed the Associated Press title.
2. Quit worrying about the media. We are not the problem. Block defenders getting into your backfield, not reporters from getting into your practices.
Keeping secrets in the Internet age is like eating soup with chopsticks — it’s just not worth the effort.
Do not stomp out of post-practice interviews after 28 seconds. Arkansas Coach John L. Smith, a 52-0 loser to Alabama, but wouldn’t start his news conference this week until everyone smiled.
3. Identify a field-goal kicker until Andre Heidari returns. You really do need one. If you are afraid to let the backup try from 30 yards, hold a tryout.
In 2008, at Texas Tech, Mike Leach saw a student win one month’s free rent by making a 30-yard kick during a halftime contest. Leach sent word to have the kid, Matt Williams, come by his office. Williams ended up 30 for 30 on extra points and made two of three field-goal attempts.
4. Join the Southeastern Conference. The application date may have already lapsed, but playing in the SEC really does make a difference. The only five schools to win the BCS title with a defeat are all from the SEC: Louisiana State lost once in 2003 and twice in 2007. Florida had one-loss title runs in 2006 and 2008 and Alabama claimed last year’s one-defeat crown without even winning its own division.
5. Have your star quarterback make a rousing speech. This idea worked like a charm for Florida in 2008. After a late-September home loss to Mississippi, quarterback Tim Tebow delivered what is now known in Gator lore as “The Promise” speech.
“You will never see any player in the country play as hard as I will the rest of the season,” Tebow said in words now engraved on a plaque on the Florida campus. "…You will never see a team play harder than we will the rest of the season.”
Florida ran the table and beat Oklahoma to win the national title.
Matt Barkley missed his postgame chance after Stanford, but he can still book time in the locker room before Saturday’s game.
6. Lose to Colorado, 62-36. Oh wait, that only worked once, for Nebraska, in 2001. The Cornhuskers made the BCS title game that year despite a horrific Thanksgiving weekend loss in Boulder.
Losing to Colorado won’t work this year. Have you seen Colorado play?
7. Talk up the Pac-12 like it’s tougher than Patton’s Army. SEC coaches are masters of public relations in defense of their league. Stock quote: “How can any team that wins this league be denied a spot in the title game?”
It has worked almost every year except 2004, when undefeated Auburn finished third behind USC and Oklahoma.
Lane Kiffin’s mantra from this day forth should be: “The only team better than the one we’re playing this Saturday? The team we played last Saturday.”
Colorado week is going to be tricky, but Kiffin might try: “I’ve never seen a team, in all my years, improve more after losing the first quarter, 35-0, to Fresno State.”
8. Don’t get hurt. It’s not the reporting of injuries that is hurting USC, it’s the injuries. The Trojans played Stanford without their starting kicker and center and are so thin they might be two sprained ankles from the Las Vegas Bowl.
9. Root for the enemy. It’s hard, but USC fans need UCLA (3-0) and Notre Dame (3-0) to keep winning. The Trojans play UCLA on Nov. 17 and Notre Dame a week later. Victories over highly ranked schools late in the year can have a springboard effect in the polls
10. Avenge, not revenge. USC needs to defeat Oregon and hope it earns a rematch against Stanford. The Ducks come to the Coliseum on Nov. 3. Two weeks later, Stanford plays at Oregon.
USC needs Stanford to defeat Oregon and claim the Pac-12 North, which could earn the Trojans a rematch with the Cardinal in the Pac-12 championship game.
What if Barkley, 0-4 against Stanford, got one more chance? Winning the second game is way more important.
Last year, Alabama lost at home to LSU in the regular season but won the rematch in the BCS title game.
Guess which game came with a trophy?