Football

Success is elusive in college football, Trojans lack it

trojanswire.usatoday.com

Success is a tricky thing to gauge in college football. For some fans, winning a title is the only form of success. For others, competing year in and year out is all you can ask for. It’s an interesting dichotomy. Some see success as one thing, others see it in a different framework. Boosters add a different spin to this problem with their own demands, which come with the weight of financial leverage. It’s a complicated issue for a complicated time.

Measuring success in college football is also going to vary from program to program. One program might consider 10 wins a success, another might see that as a failure to achieve program goals. If you’re Nick Saban and Alabama, winning a national title is the only form of success you’ll accept. If you’ve won seven national titles as a head coach, you’re going to draw the line at a different level than a coach who has won none.

Then there are schools such as Clemson and Ohio State, which have won recent national titles but have come up short in the last couple of years. They will, of course, view their seasons as a “success,” but are quick to note that they fell short of a program goal for winning a title. Every team has program goals to start the year. Those usually define success.

For USC, the program goals are threefold. The first goal is to win the Pac-12 South. The second goal is to win the Pac-12. The third goal is to win a national title. USC is struggling with the second goal and is nowhere near the third goal under head coach Clay Helton. Yet, the goals remain unchanged. So, what constitutes success? It’s a tricky question and your mileage may vary, but I think it’s safe to say that USC isn’t currently successful. Helton will have to change that this year if he hopes to remain at USC through next year.

Sam Darnold reminded Helton and the USC fan base what success is supposed to look like. The only two New Year’s Six bowl games the Trojans have reached under Helton occurred when Darnold was the Trojans’ starting quarterback. If USC can’t regain that standard in a 12-game 2021 season (unlike the truncated 2020 season which in many ways masked the Trojans’ many flaws), it is hard to see how Clay Helton has a good argument for being given another chance in 2022.

trojanswire.usatoday.com

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