Simple as It Sounds, Opening Practice Is a Big Step for USC Football
USC athletic director Pat Haden's candor immediately following the dismissal of former head coach Lane Kiffin trickled into the football program itself.
The university announced Tuesday that practices under interim head coach Ed Orgeron are reopened to the media, a bold move that bucks a trend in college football.
USC is also working on accommodations for fans, Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times reports. The NCAA banned the public from the practice field as part of the program's sanctions.
USC adopted the clandestine approach, commonplace throughout the sport. As Kiffin told FOXSportsWest.com's Rahshaun Haylock prior to the season, his decision to close off practice was hardly unprecedented:
"We're basically following suit to what almost all of college football does and almost all of sports do. We're just, kind of, one of the last ones to jump in on it."
Southern California is a long way from SEC Country. There, Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban can operate under college football's version of omerta and still command national attention.
By controlling the narrative, the SEC reaps the benefits: higher rankings, and thus improved footing in the race for BCS positioning. This will be of particular importance beginning in 2014, when the College Football Playoff begins and teams are jockeying for one of four spots.
Pete Carroll followed a blueprint for turning attention out West. His media policy helped make USC the center of the college football universe.
Rarely does the Pac-12 occupy a spotlight hogged by its Southern brethren, but USC did so with zeal last decade.
Lo and behold, the Trojans amassed seven consecutive conference championships and BCS bowl appearances despite the dreaded schematic disadvantage of reporters seeing their practices.
Of course, the victories compiled in that era played a key role in the Trojans' popularity during the 2000s. Carroll's welcoming personality simply curated the program's success to a wider audience.
A program with the on-field results of the 2000s Trojans can sacrifice some of the media spotlight without losing too much visibility. A team sitting at 0-2 in the Pac-12 must make concessions to keep its brand name front and center.
And indeed, much of what makes USC an attractive job is the brand name. Haden does not have a difficult sell to his next head coach, and the Trojans drawing some much-needed positive attention will only strengthen the athletic director's case.
Perhaps most significant is that this is an overture to the city and fan base that declares in yet another way that change is coming to the USC football program.
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