USC Now mailbag: A season prediction made too soon

USC Coach Steve Sarkisian watches practice on Aug. 25.

USC Coach Steve Sarkisian watches practice on Aug. 25.

(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

It’s a Monday edition of the USC Now mailbag.

Plus it’s game week.

This almost equates to the best Monday of the year.

It doesn’t take much to read between the lines and conclude that basically what you are saying is that [Steve] Sarkisian is in serious trouble with the fan base. Because you can’t on the one hand say that “the bare minimum is 10 wins” and then turn around and predict four losses, as the team obviously isn’t going to make the 10-win “bare minimum” performance bar even with a bowl victory. So, that instantly begs the question: How much trouble will Sark be in if the team goes 8-4 pre-bowl game?


— Allen Meadows

If only I waited a week to make a prediction.

For those who missed last week’s mailbag, I predicted an 8-4 season for the Trojans with road losses at Arizona State, Notre Dame and Oregon and against UCLA in the Coliseum.

But wait a minute.

USC Coach Steve Sarkisian said after the Trojans’ mock game on Saturday that Clay Helton would take over play-calling duties.

This could be a game-changer.

Sarkisian said he still would have input, “especially in third-down and red-zone scenarios,” but his head won’t be buried in a play sheet for the duration of the game.

Sarkisian should be a better game manager, which will help USC win close games, especially on the road.


It’s too late to change my prediction, but a nine- or 10-win season now seems within reach.

And to answer your question, Sarkisian will be in trouble if they’re 8-4.

I hope Sark finds the time to check out the defense over the next couple weeks. He is the head coach, right? Thanks for the coverage. I depend on it!

— Tom Kane


It sounds like Sarkisian made a tough decision for himself to find the time.

Sarkisian said that it was a “little difficult” to give up play-calling duties but that it was important for him to understand what happened in defensive and special teams meetings.

Thank you for publishing my email last December regarding USC having no integrity for not hiring coach [Ed] Orgeron. I probably still should not care, but do you think USC is sorry now after Coach Sark has embarrassed the university? Coach Sark gave a clue to his character when he asked his daddy for sideline help last season. Wonder if [Athletic Director Pat] Haden’s gut feeling for selecting a coach is being replaced with common sense?

— Bob Brown


It always leads back to Ed Orgeron.

It’s easy to look back and wonder whether Orgeron would have been the better option as coach.

But that’s impossible to determine.

USC seems to find itself in controversy, regardless of who the coach is.


Orgeron might not have caused the issue Sarkisian did, but with the Trojans, it would have been something.

Why is the media questioning if USC should keep Sark? USC was wilder and more arrogant under Pete Carroll. Ever since Pat Haden took over, USC has been timid. Championship teams are edgy, sometimes arrogant and even have turmoil. This is exactly what we needed!!!

— Cass Brown

But did Pete Carroll ever give a speech at Salute to Troy while intoxicated?


Questions or comments about USC? Email me at or tweet @LindseyThiry and I will respond to select messages in a weekly USC mailbag.