When Pete Carroll lifted the glistening crystal football over his head on January 4, 2005, the college football world knew this much: the USC Trojans were here, they were for real, and they were not to be messed with.
The mighty Trojans—in a reversal of historical events—looked their enemy, the Oklahoma Sooners, in the eye, gave them the business and emerged victorious, 55-19.
Then a scandal involving one of the greatest collegiate athletes of all time burned Troy to the ground.
In the years since Carroll reestablished the USC football program as the nation's best, the lens through which we view the Trojans has cracked and shattered, with Saturday's 10-7 loss to Washington State the latest reminder where USC now stands.
To some, USC is the University of Smug Cheaters, and it got what it deserved.
Others still view the Trojans as one of the greatest, most dynamic powerhouses in sports, and they are left bamboozled by the state of mediocrity and underwhelming football that Troy finds itself in today.
To understand how USC's legacy has been so scorched, here's a look at the matches that lit the fire over time.