The Sporting News' Matt Hayes and Davis Curtis disagree on what it will mean for USC now that Pete Carroll has left to join Seahawks.
Hayes gives his five reasons why USC won't recover:
1. The degree of recovery
Recovering from losing Carroll means rolling along at the same elite level, landing blue-chip recruits and toying with the rest of the Pac-10. And that's not going to happen. The biggest problem for Carroll's replacement will be the constant comparisons to the coach who made it cool to play at Troy again. Anything less than a Pac-10 championship won't do. Every win will be relief, every loss tragic.
2. Recruiting won't be the same
Somehow, year after year, Carroll was able to convince five-star recruits to come to USC and compete with other five-star recruits. Or better yet, sit and wait their turn behind other five-star recruits. His "win forever" mantra and hip way of reaching teenagers brought elite players to USC despite the underlying negatives: The facilities aren't among the best in the Pac-10, the stadium is a dump, and the campus — despite its history and beauty — isn't exactly in the most desirable area of Los Angeles. Remember that many of Carroll's All-Americans had to be convinced to leave home.
3. Rick Neuheisel
This is the break UCLA needed. There are too many positives, and the Bruins have made too many recruiting strides in three seasons with Neuheisel, for this program not to blossom. It likely would've happened with Carroll at USC; now it will get there quicker. Don't underestimate Neuheisel's ability to recruit — and don't underestimate how much easier it will be without Carroll's indomitable presence at every city high school. It's all about procuring players, and Neuheisel already was winning a handful of head-to-head battles with Carroll. It wasn't that long ago that UCLA won eight straight in the series (1991-98) and owned Los Angeles.
4. The Pac-10 is closing in
It has taken the entire decade, but it now appears that more than one Pac-10 team has the coach and the commitment to challenge USC. Oregon and Oregon State have been legitimate threats to USC the last two years, and Arizona and Stanford took big swings this fall. All that's needed is a crack in USC's recruiting, and an ability to pluck a few elite players from Los Angeles, and the balance of power will begin to shift. When Washington was dominating the Pac-10 in the 1990s, it was going into Los Angeles and getting elite players while USC was searching for the right coach. It's all cyclical.
5. The NCAA investigation
If the Reggie Bush saga develops into what many believe it will, USC could lose much more than a championship coach. Maybe there's nothing to the Bush investigation (doubtful), or maybe there's enough that the Trojans will sustain serious scholarship cuts and other sanctions (doubtful). It's likely somewhere in the middle. But understand this: The NCAA hasn't worked years — that's plural — on this investigation without something being there. Something is coming, and with the forced deposition of Bush coming as soon as the end of the NFL season, a decision could come before the new coach throws on the Cardinal and Gold for his first game.
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