The USC Trojans showed signs of life during the Sun Bowl matchup that took place against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on New Year’s Eve. Unfortunately, it happened to be at the wrong time and against the wrong guys.
Sources have told Scott Wolf of the Daily News that anywhere from 10-to-15 players were involved in a locker-room altercation after the game. Younger players were reportedly questioning the leadership of the veteran players and things continued to escalate from there.
Wolf reported the following:
The incident started when some freshmen questioned the leadership of the team's seniors and whether they gave 100 percent effort for the Sun Bowl. This led to an argument that eventually escalated according to witnesses.
Things really seemed to get ugly, according to players who were there to witness what went down.
"It was one of the worst things I've seen in a locker room," said a player who did not wish to be identified.
According to an ESPN report, there was a player questioning why quarterback Matt Barkley, who was nursing an injured shoulder, did not participate in the game. The star quarterback was recently on ESPN's The Herd With Colin Cowherd and said the reports of the altercation are true, but no punches were thrown:
I would say tempers flared, yeah, but that's football. It's an emotional game and when you end your season on a negative note like that, emotions are going to be high. Guys were expressing their opinions, for better or worse, but we had it under control. It was nothing to be alarmed about.
If you ask some of the guys who were there what happened they'll negate those claims about people throwing punches and all that stuff or whatever was said. Obviously in the locker room after that game, which was a loss, there's gonna be words exchanged. People weren't in the best mood, but that wasn't to say we were fighting each other or there was an altercation.
This is really the last thing that the USC program needed. Beginning the year as a preseason No. 1, the Trojans were picked as one of the favorites to win the national championship. Instead, a 7-6 season took place that was filled with controversy involving head coach Lane Kiffin. Everything from the deflated-ball incident to the jersey-switching debacle to suspicious recruiting has taken place this year.
But it is the lack of performance on the field that has haunted USC this season. Not only was the Trojans' record absolutely brutal, but the team averaged more than 16 penalties a game and was tied for dead last in the Pac-12 with 34 turnovers.
The loss to a subpar Georgia Tech team in the bowl game was the last straw for some of the guys, and things got out of hand.
It is unfortunate that the Trojans waited until the season was over to show some type of passion. The events that unfolded are even more disturbing when you consider that the emotions that spilled over weren't even intended for an opponent on the field.
The Trojans still can't seem to get out of their own way, even when the season has come to an end.