Tide Turning in USC Rivlary?

After eight straight losses, most of the lopsided variety, it would take even the most optimistic Notre Dame fan to suggest that the tide is turning already in the USC rivalry – even with the Trojans heading into the major sanctions placed on them by the NCAA in June.

Is the tide turning in Notre Dame's favor in the USC rivalry? ESPN seems to think so. (Photo - IconSMI)

ESPN, however makes a case for the tide turning in Notre Dame’s favor in its longest storied rivalry.

First, ESPN makes the case for the arrow pointing upward for Notre Dame.

So among all the sky-high demands placed on Kelly — compete for a national championship, embrace the school’s traditions and sprawling alumni base, recruit like Alabama and graduate like Duke — he must stop the bleeding against USC.

Tough job. But you have to like Kelly’s chances.

Just ask Texas coach Mack Brown. Once, when Brown was coaching in the Hula Bowl, he had an excitable coach on his staff from Grand Valley State. Brown put this Brian Kelly guy in charge of play calling for the bowl game.

“He was so excited, so pumped,” Brown recalled. “I didn’t even know where Grand Valley State was until I met him.”

Today, after watching Kelly burn a trail of success through Division II, the Mid-American Conference and the Big East, Brown is a believer.

“He’s won everywhere he’s been, so there’s no reason to think he can’t win,” Brown said. “I think he’s a great choice [for Notre Dame].”

Then they make the case for USC’s arrow pointing down.

In his head-coaching career, Kiffin seemingly hasn’t gone longer than 15 minutes without infuriating someone, committing a secondary NCAA violation or accusing another school of committing a violation. We’ll see how well the Kiffin charm works on a new university president and athletic director who seem quite serious about restoring USC’s image.

Pull it all together and you can understand why, in terms of program trajectory, optimism is high regarding the Irish and skepticism is high for the Trojans. Notre Dame has a lot of catching up to do, but the opportunity to close the gap on its biggest rival is clear and present.

A lot of what ESPN says does make sense, but that still might not be enough to make a difference this year.  Even with last year’s narrow defeat to USC, Notre Dame still has a lot of ground to make up in the rivalry.  USC took a hit in the depth department with the transfers that ensued after the sanctions were handed down, but they will still have a more talented starting lineup this fall.  Kiffin and his staff will, however, still have to deal with the problem of motivating a team that likely will not have a chance to play in a bowl game this fall (depending on the outcome of their appeal of the sanctions).

Until Notre Dame starts winning the games its supposed to win debating whether or not the USC rivalry is starting to turn back in Notre Dame’s favor is still very premature, but that’s ESPN for you.  If there is one thing to take from this piece from the World Wide Leader, it’s that there is at least a lot of optimism and faith in Brian Kelly from the mainstream media.

You may also like


  1. Notre Dame has always been the pride of the nation. Even back when I listened to them on the radio, the Glory Years! (the Jonny Lujack. Glenn Davis and Doc Blanchard years.) I believe, with Kelly leading, we are going back to those Glory Days! Just like Springsteen sings Glory Days!

  2. I think with the talent that Notre Dame has, it should be able to compete on the field with just about anyone. Now, there is a lot of work ahead of us – and there’s not much time. But, like Kelly says, the workers have to be 100% committed. You can’t beat USC unless you’re really focused on moving people around — getting them to go where they don’t want to go and getting them to go where you want them to go. Kelly gets that and he’s shown that he can get his kids to understand that.

    It’s lot to expect to beat SC in year one but they’re a fading team of blue-bloods. They’ll get knocked around midway through the season and their arrogance will turn to timidity by the time we play them. At the same time, we’ll be a younger, leaner and quicker squad. We’ll start a bit unsure but by the time of the SC game, things will have changed in South Bend. We’re done gettin’ blown out by better teams and beatin’ weak teams by a touchdown. We’ll be running the football, throwing the football, getting to the quarterback and dominating the line. It’s going to be a fun fall.

    And SC will be back where they belong.

    1. Manti,

      Great minds think alike!
      Years back when this current squad were high school recruites I foresaw a great year in 2010 & 2011. That’s how good the talent is. Now Charlie Weis was endanger of wasting all that talent, until Kelly came to our rescue. He understands the tremendous talent that he has inherited, and he will take full advantage of it.
      Chris noted eariler that if ND
      can get through the first portion of the schedule watch out.
      Yes sir, watch out indeed!

  3. ND 27 / SC 16 – Kelly gets his signature win year one. If ND gets past the first 5 games watch out. Agreed hype dont mean crap until they get on the field and play but Crist was the #1 QB in the country when he committed to ND and Kelly will be having this team sky high this year.

    There is always a 1st year bump w/ a new coach Davie got it Willingham got it and Weis got it and the schedule is very favorable. You also have a seasoned coaching staff w/ a head coach who not only challanges players and places confidence in them but he demands results which he has gotten everywhere he’s gone.

    It’s the intangibles that nobody really considers that make the college landscape so exciting and game changing! No – like Weis’s first year, this is a great opportunity for Kelly to run the table. If the energy of D coach Diaco continues to infiltrate his players, all of the sudden there is another intangible that we havent had in a long time namely a defense!

    Strap on your helmets boys – it is gonna be an exciting ride this year! GO IRISH!

    1. Great points Chris. Thats why college football is so much better than pro. The intangibles. The fact that a 2 star recruit can get pumped up and trained right and beat a 5 star thats going through the motions anyday. The fact an appy state can beat a meeshigan. That was my problem with Weis (though I admit to being as excited as anyone when he came in). His professional approach was largely emotionless. College kids need that emotion. Kelly brings it. With emotion and the talent that we have…wow, we control our own destiny in every game.

      GO IRISH

      1. Yup, Brian Kelly has a 5-minute plan, and he really has talent on the team. Go Irish! It will be a great year, if there are no more injuries, if Dayne keeps healthy.
        It IS eery how so many details resemble the beginning of The Era of Ara: the style of practices, the apparent teaching excellence of the assistant coaches, the recuperation of the QB from a major health condition (remember Huarte’s shoulder separation?), a team full of talented players and poor coaching, the trail of success of a genuine college coach, etc. Go Irish, this team will improve the entire college football territory.

  4. “CW running the show??” What have you been sniffing pal? I love these analysis-paralysis psuedo-wannatabe-ND-fans. Carry on Shaz, let the diatribe begin, I with you.

    1. i’ve been a nd fan since i was a kid. which means ive been around for the last 15 years of post-holtz mediocrity. I’m sorry if i’m a little jaded, but being a fan doesn’t mean you completely separate yourself from reality.

      pros – players are in better shape, kelly knows what the f*** he is doing, we have a lot of talent on offense and defense, schedule doesn’t seem too tough as of yet, even with everything that happened last year we could have gone undefeated.

      cons – crist has never started a game and only saw significant playing time against mich st where he handed the ball off and/or ran it himself, crist is coming off major knee surgery, our back-up qbs are real suspect…

      im just sayin, this season will depend on the development of crist’s knee and his mental development as well.

      with that, 9 wins is a good year. i hope in 5 months we can look back and call me an idiot, but either way, we should be scary good in 2011.

      1. I have been following Irish football for over 40 yrs.
        I’ve seen a lot in that time.
        Many years of success, as well as many years of struggle.
        I can see from your point how it would be easy to become discouraged.
        My expierence tells me that USC’s current rein is comming to an end. And a new era of ND football is about to start.
        I think that’s someting worth getting excited about. And something worth sharing with my fellow fans.
        If I thought that we were in for another year of mediocrity, as you so elliquintly point out,
        I can assure you that I would just assume keeping it to my self and not logging onto my favorite ND Web-site just to spread gloom and doom no matter how real my basis may be.

  5. i would have appreciated winning 10 games and a BCS game while espn continued to play the role of naysayer, but espn on the bandwagon is good for recruiting so i will put my personal animosity aside.

    I agree, this year is too early to say the tide has turned on this rivalry. usc may lose a couple games because of a lack of motivation, but they will not have that problem against us. if crist can develop by then it will be a close game, otherwise, it will be much of the same.

    1. Well ted, you seem to have the inside track when it comes to naysayers, bandwagoneers, and the unmotivated.
      Just because some pencil-neck says that USC is more talented doesn’t make it so. And it doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t see for ourselves the new direction the program has taken.
      When RichRod took over for that school up north, he made it clear that it would take a couple of years to assemble “his type” of guys needed to run his spread offense.
      Kelly on the other hand understands the quality, experience, and abundance of talent that he has right now. There is no 5yr. plan here.
      20 plus years of “much of the same” is over my friend. Starting today.
      This team has a lot more than a little bit of the best talent in the country.
      Kelly WILL NOT WASTE THIS YEAR trying to rebuild.
      There’s just too much talent.
      USC? They lost 4 games last year and should have lost more. They aren’t the same teams of 2004/2005.
      I don’t care how motivated they are, or that they play us at home, or how many in a row that they have won. Mark my words…
      we will bury them so deep they won’t come up until next spring.

      1. Shaz,

        I love it, however, your showing your age and these younger mamby pamby fans can’t take the abuse. Your “jack wagon” speech will hurt feelings. OK, toss them a box of kleenex, LOL!

      2. JC,
        Kleenex??? This guy sounds like he could use a extra large Sham-Wow.

        “oooh, we lost last year so we are sure to lose this year too.”

        “Mark says USC is better so I must obey.”

        “Their new coach is so much better than our new coach”

        “I’m a turtle-necker, I’m not sticking my neck out. I can’t
        go out on a limb and predict ND success until they have won
        at least 2 national championships”

        “It’s USC, for crying out loud. Maybe we all should just hope for a nice close game this time”

        Jesus H Christ, maybe these people should just stick with soccer or tennis.

      3. whooa there shaz.

        1. they don’t need 2 national championships, but maybe dressing for a single game would help. and i think we will be successful soon, im just not ready to say we will beat them handily this year. i hope they do, but give it a year or two.

        2. usc is not dead. okay they lost 4 games last year starting a true freshman at quarterback and they lost some incoming freshman recruits, but they are still undeniably loaded. i don’t care if the ‘pencil pushers’ deem them good players or not, many of them are headed to the nfl.

        3. some realism is healthy. if not, we may still have cw running the show

      4. ted,

        In this world there are believers and non believers.
        I believe in Brian Kelly and what he says. Like:

        1. “This is not a 2 yr. plan or a 5 yr. plan. We exspect to win. Now”


        2. “The Pride and Tradition of Notre Dame football will not be left to the Weak, the Timid, or the Non Committed”

        The reality is that there is no law stating that a new head coach can’t win it all in his first year.
        Urban Meyer won in his first year at Florida with Ron Zook’s players. If one coach can do it, another can too.

        Please excuse me if I seem a bit harsh.
        I just learned that I suffer from “Overtrained Blogger’s Syndrome”

      5. btw shaz, it took urban 2 years to win it at florida. He went 9-3 in 2005 then 13-1 and a bcs title in 2006. see below, i think this team could follow a similar path

  6. Lots of big talk out in La La Land that the final game of this season (ND vs USC) is being regarded by USC as their bowl game for this year.
    I really like that. I like that the stage will be set for ND to deliver a crushing defeat to that damn smug team, their spoiled fans, and their arrogant coach. And it will be one that will linger for a whole year!

    “You can’t give the enemy any breaks, send him to hell”

    (Lt. Col Benjamin “Vandy” Vandervoort 101st Airborne. June 5th. 1944)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button