USC Football: Redd vs. Carlisle; Did Trojans Get the Better Deal?
It wasn't so long ago that Trojan fans were up in arms over the unexpected transfer of running back Amir Carlisle to their rival, Notre Dame.
For reasons that are still cloaked in mystery, Carlisle sprang the news to the Trojans shortly after the 2011 season ended and in doing so, left USC in a lurch, scrambling for depth at a critical position.
Upon his departure, many pundits smiled knowingly and began identifying the tailback position as a likely weak link in the Trojans pursuit of a national championship.
And they would have been right too except for one messy incident at Happy Valley, Pa., which changed everything.
When the brutal sanctions were laid down by the NCAA for transgressions committed by Penn State relative to the Jerry Sandusky horror story, the Trojans set their sights on the Nittany Lions' great running back, Silas Redd.
And when they garnered the transfer of the talented running back, those same fans who fretted about Carlisle immediately lost interest in that story as they celebrated the arrival of Redd.
Now with a couple of weeks to digest the news, one question still remains.
Are the Trojans better off with Redd instead of Carlisle?
This slide show will look at the pros and cons of a convoluted set of circumstances that led to what many think is a stronger running back unit for USC.
Redd or Carlisle?
Eligibility: Carlisle Has More of It Then Redd
One of the most critical aspects of measuring the value of either Redd or Carlisle is how long they would tote the rock for them.
If Carlisle had stayed, he would be a true sophomore for the Trojans in 2012.
Redd will be a true junior this year but there is serious conjecture that 2012 will be a "one and done" for the talented tailback.
If so, unless this is a very, very special year for Redd which, of course, would make it all worthwhile, the Trojans will get that one year from him while Brian Kelly will have at least one more year (and probably two) from Carlisle.
Carlisle is a talented back and Kelly will likely have him for three years.
Durability: In This Area, Carlisle Still Has a Lot to Prove
Of course, when discussing eligibility, it is also important to consider whether or not said players are even capable of playing.
That is to say, eligibility doesn't mean a thing if your not available to play.
For Amir Carlisle in 2011, that meant trying to overcome irritating nicks and bruises, which, along with time spent rising up the depth chart, translated into a season where he carried the ball only 19 times for 118 yards to go along with seven catches for 41 yards.
Not bad for a true freshman, but now in 2012, he will be attempting to come back from a broken ankle which forced him to miss Notre Dame's spring practice session.
Carlisle is expected to be ready for the start of the season but it does speak of an ominous trend for him.
Meanwhile, Redd has no such injury issues.
As a true freshman, Redd averaged 5.7 yards in an a fairly injury free season and last year he was a rock for the Nittany Lions as their featured (and "go-to") back.
Desire to Be a Trojan: Guess Who Wins This One?
To this day, the reasons for Amir Carlisle's transfer to Notre Dame have been clouded in mystery.
According to an article from NBCSports.com, Carlisle's father was quoted as saying it was "family decision," and was motivated by his father's employer's relocation.
That same article notes that, "Normally a waiver is only granted for extenuating circumstances such as the health issue of a close family members that necessitates a transfer closer to home," and "There was no reason given by the school as to why the waiver request was submitted in the first place."
Whatever the reason, one thing is for certain: Carlisle no longer wanted to be a Trojan.
Such is not the case for Silas Redd.
As reported to philly.com, Redd had this to say about joining USC, "My family and I have spent many hours in recent days trying to decide what will be best for me as I look to the future, both personally and professionally."
And when Redd made that decision, it came down to where he thought he would be best fit for and who offered him the best chance for success.
And to prove that he wants to be a Trojan, he has rolled the dice and moved across country.
Sounds committed to me.
Big Advantage to Redd
Proven Commodity: Redd's Reputation Makes Him Harder to Game Plan for
Look, I have little doubt that Amir Carlisle has the talent to be very successful at Notre Dame. He is a very good running back and has a lot of potential.
USC was classy in letting him go to Notre Dame and in doing so, they have bestowed upon the Irish a back that may very well come back to haunt them in the near future.
And when, or should I say "if" that happens, this slide will require major revisions to be sure.
But potential doesn't put points on the scoreboard and when it comes to a back who has proven he can shoulder the load, Carlisle can't hold a candle to Redd.
In a Penn State offense that was built around him, Redd reeled off tons of yards despite being keyed on as the Nittany Lions' most dangerous player.
How many opposing defensive coordinators will be game planning for Amir Carlisle at the start of the college football season?
Now ask yourself the same question about Silas Redd.
Productivity: Redd Has Been There and Will Continue to Do That
Sometimes you just have to plow through the subterfuge and get right down to numbers.
And when it comes down to that for Redd and Carlisle, the statistics don't lie.
In his one year with the Trojans, Carlisle did a good job by running for 118 yards on 18 carries (6.2 avg) and catching seven balls for another 41 yards (5.9 avg). Carlisle was responsible for one touchdown.
Meanwhile, Redd, in his two seasons for the Nittany Lions, went for 1,678 rushing yards on 321 carries (5.23 avg) and also collected 13 passes for 67 yards (5.2 avg). Over those two years, Redd contributed nine touchdowns.
Nothing more to be said.
To offer a concise assessment of whether or not the Trojans are better off with Silas Redd than Amir Carlisle, an inordinate amount of assumptions must be made.
Will Carlisle stay healthy? And if he can, will he be productive?
How about Redd in 2013, will he still be a Trojan or will he be plying his trade on Sundays?
Because of these uncertainties, the only reliable barometer for measuring the value of each player relative to the Trojans, must be limited to this season.
And when applied to 2012, there really is no question as to whom the Trojans would rather pair with incumbent returning 1,038 yard rusher, Curtis McNeal.
When Silas Redd made his choice to come west, it gave the Trojans perhaps the most prolific running back tandem in the nation.
Bottom line for the Trojans in 2012, in any Redd vs. Carlisle discussion, the conversation must be short.
And for USC, the best player is spelled R-e-d-d.