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Best-worst case redo: USC

2/8/2011

Every preseason we take a look at potential best-case and worst-case scenarios for every Pac-10 team. While these are often tongue-in-cheek, they nonetheless represent the top and bottom we see for each team.

So it might be worthwhile to revisit each.

Next up is USC, which finished 8-5.

Best case: 13-0, Trojans crowned AP national champions despite NCAA sanctions that include a postseason ban.

What was right: Yeah, well, this one is pretty flip. That was based on the overwrought dislike of Kiffin that was still hot when this was put together in July. The Trojans did start 4-0, and they also beat California, Arizona, Arizona State and UCLA. It's fair to say that quarterback Matt Barkley had a nice season.

What was wrong: A lot. Kiffin didn't plug the BP oil spill in the Gulf. He didn't bring political leaders together and solve the partisan bickering in Washington, D.C. And he lost five games, his defense underachieved, and the Trojans finished unranked as Oregon surged to the top of the Pac-10 for a second consecutive year. We still don't know the verdict from USC's appeal of NCAA sanctions. Heck, I even was apparently incapable of correctly reading a schedule and seeing that USC played Notre Dame in the Coliseum this year.

Worst case: 6-7

What was right: There's a lot right here but the tone is completely off because much of the flippancy is based on Kiffin acting like a idiot, which he didn't this past season. The 4-0 start was correct, as were losses to Washington, Stanford, Oregon, Oregon State and Notre Dame. Wins over California and Arizona State also were correct.

What was wrong: Well, for one Kiffin wasn't a sniping, immature coach this year. Further, the Trojans held together fairly well much of the season -- there were no reported anti-Kiffin whispers. They also beat Arizona and rival UCLA, which finished 4-8 and hardly surged into the L.A. college football void with a bowl victory and a highly rated recruiting class. USC continued to rule recruiting in Southern California by signing a top-five class and most of the top local prospects. And we still don't know what will happen yet with the appeal.

Conclusion: More than most of these, USC's 2010 season blended best- and worst-case scenarios. The 8-5 finish was certainly a downer for fans who are accustomed to dominating, but that decline started in 2009 under Pete Carroll. In fact, Trojans fans are probably fairly happy with Kiffin so far. He's been far more measured with the media than most expected and he, most important, signed a top-5 recruiting class. So for USC, 2010 was full of good and bad news. And we we still don't know what will happen yet with the appeal.