Hey Arrogant Nation. Arash Markazi responded in the comment field of my recap this week and I thought I’d put it in a post so you could read it. I am always about fairness and in the spirit that my critique of his post was not personal, I wanted to give him a forum to respond. That’s the arrogant way of doing things. He was classy and I could picture him writing this with a nice cigar, a fedora and perhaps some Eagle Rare with a cube or two in it.
Anyway, his take follows. Give it a read, it’s a good rationale for his post and frankly, some well deserved communication between ESPN and Arrogant Nation.
Zack, thanks for the thoughtful response to my column. You make some good points. I guess it’s important to note the role of a post-game column here as opposed to a straight game recap with the score, stats, player/coach reaction you had mentioned. I guess the reason columns illicit the responses they do sometimes is because they are largely based on opinions and observations and we don’t always agree on those. Sure, I could tell you it was just one loss, it’s a long season, the players are going to take it one day at a time and get back on the horse, etc., etc. but that wouldn’t make for much of a column and I’m sure you’d agree it wouldn’t make for an exciting blog either.
I saw Dennis Erickson get that Gatorade shower from Vontaze Burfict and wasn’t surprised by it. Coaches and coordinators get Gatorade showers all the time now. Denver Broncos coach John Fox got one last week after beating the Cincinnati Bengals. A winless coach will get one for finally winning a game, a defensive coordinator will get one if his unit posts a shutout, I’ve even seen a team manager get one at the end of a long season. Erickson and Burifect talked all week about keeping your composure after what Matt Barkley said about him and after the way he played and posting a 21-point win, I expected him to do that. I certainly don’t think Gatorade showers are barometers for signature wins though.
If this was a couple of years ago, Arizona State fans would have certainly covered the field after the game and gathered around the players as they walked off. I lived in Tempe for two years and covered the Sun Devils and have seen them rush the field plenty (OK, maybe not plenty) of times after signature wins over ranked teams but Saturday’s win wasn’t one of them.
It was surprising there wasn’t a bigger reaction from Arizona State’s fans or players after the game. Even last season when USC went 8-5, Oregon State and Stanford fans rushed the field after the game but those days seem to be gone and for someone who has covered USC for the past decade that stuck out to me after the game.
Maybe that is to be expected for a team on probation but it doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth noting. I thought USC should have been better than they were in 2009, 2010 and will no doubt think the same after this season because the real headaches for this team will begin next year when they will have to deal with 10 less scholarships per year over the next three years. The pain of seeing local players over the next three years who wanted to go to USC but can’t because of a number crunch go to other Pac-12 schools will be far more painful than missing out on the Holiday Bowl or Alamo Bowl.
I also don’t think simply being on probation is a reason to believe a team like USC shouldn’t be better than 8-5 or 8-4. In 1993, Auburn went undefeated (11-0) despite being banned from TV and the post-season and suffering reduced scholarships. Five polls named them the national champions and the AP had the Tigers finishing No. 4 despite being the only undefeated team in the country. I know USC players began the last two seasons with a similar season in mind.
I give Kiffin credit for recruiting well but honestly Paul Hackett was pulling in great classes when he was at USC (Carson Palmer and Troy Polamalu). Not to take anything away from Kiffin, but recruiting should be the easiest part of the job as the USC football coach. Coaching that talent once they get on campus is the hard part. Just as Steve Lavin about his days as UCLA’s basketball coach.
Anyway, to quote another line from Macbeth “…what’s done is done.” Keep up the good work.