As the most tumultuous week in USC history came to a close and SEC whinning about Lane Kiffin's exit beginning to lessen, we were once again reminded that nothing is like it seems it should be. During the USC-UCLA basketball game, the Eagle Bank Bowl trophy was paraded around Pauley Pavilion honoring their "unbelievable" win over mighty Temple(?!)and Coach Rick Neuheisel was heard saying, "If you've been paying attention to this past week, you can see the college football landscape shift a little."
Say what Rick? Keeping Norm Chow and watching Carroll leave for the NFL only means you have less excuse for mediocrity, buddy!
Neuheisel's statement came during halftime of a game at UCLA's home court as the Bruins were in the process of getting trounced 67-46, which turned out to be USC's biggest win over UCLA since 1945.
One has to wonder just what exactly Rick Neuheisel was referring to because last season showed no evidence whatsoever that UCLA is narrowing the gap. Additionally, the Tennessee anger of Kiffin seems more personal and lees accurate, the more we watch the "kid' do business!
Back to Neuheisel...
Your humble correspondent was at the 2009 USC-UCLA football game where UCLA showed little or no ability to compete against the Trojans. The highlight of the game had to be the "which of us is a bigger goof" game that Neuheisel and former coach Pete Carroll played at the end of the contest. It ended up 28-7 in one of the least tantalizing games in the history of these two teams. The only thing UCLA had to look forward to was revenge on Carroll and the USC coaching staff.
As they say, the rest is history and so is Pete Carroll. Enter Lane Kiffin and some Trojan uncertainty.
So, in order to set the record straight, we decided to investigate coach Neuheisel's claim about the shifting football landscape in Los Angeles at the same time taking a look at Kiffin's ability to hold what Pete Carroll had put together.
According to real solid sources, the landscape as indeed shifted. Apparently, Brett Nottingham from Danville, Calif., was so moved by Norm Chow's allegiance to the Bruins that he switched his commitment from UCLA to Stanford over the weekend.
Reality 1 Neuheisel 0
However, as of Sunday night, USC was holding strong in its efforts to bring in Carroll's class. The overall ranking of the class so far is a solid four star rating. Players such as four-star defensive back Dion Bailey and five-star running back Dillon Baxter are holding strong along with four-star Giovanni Di Poalo, a big offensive lineman.
These are all huge Trojan needs and if these players are developed (a given in the Carroll era), USC should be positioned to dominate again without missing a beat!
The biggest catch so far appears to be Kyle Prater, the 6-foot-5 wide receiver who does the 40 in 4.56. This young man, if developed properly by Kiffin's staff, should be able to legitimately stretch the field for the Trojans and their quarterback Matt Barkley .
It could add up to a lot of excitement for the Trojan faithful over the next several years. Throw in five-star Robert Woods who may be slated for wide receiver or defensive back and you can see that there is no reason to hang your head low as the Trojans look forward to the Kiffin era.
As your correspondent researched things further, he noticed that USC "still" has commitments from eight of the Rivals.com top 100 players while the "shifting landscape" of UCLA still seems to be relatively bleak. They come in with one solid commitment in the top 100.
Kiffin 8 Neuheisel 1
To be fair, much can change between now and the national signing day in three weeks. So far, USC's highly risky and controversial hiring of young Lane Kiffin has held a very good class firm. Sorry SEC detractors!
If you throw in a few surprises on both side of the board it does not look remotely possible that UCLA will be closing the gap on USC in footgall any time soon.
For that matter, UCLA has now been beaten twice in a row in hoops as well, so maybe Coach Neuheisel should think twice before he parades that "impressive" Eagle Bank bowl trophy around Pauley again!