USC Not No. 1: What Is Scott Wolf Thinking?


That’s right. Scott Wolf doesn’t think USC deserves to be Number One.

So who is Scott Wolf?

First of all, he is a USC alumnus.

Secondly, he is a sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News and is the USC beat writer.

Thirdly, he runs the USC Blog site for the Daily News.

Finally, he is the only Los Angeles writer with a vote in the Associated Press College Football poll.

This week, USC was again voted Number One in both polls. 65 writers voted in the AP poll, including Scott Wolf. 62 of them voted USC Number One. Only three writers voted for other teams.

Scott Wolf was one of them.

Who did he vote for Number One? Georgia.

The same Georgia Bulldogs that did not perform so well against the South Carolina Gamecocks.

Did he even watch the Georgia-South Carolina game? It was Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks that fumbled the game away rather than the Mark Richt’s Bulldogs actually winning it.

There was absolutely no comparison between the way the Bulldogs dodged a bullet against South Carolina and the way that USC manhandled Ohio State.

So, Wolf voted USC for the Number Two spot?

No, that went to the Florida Gators, who didn’t even play.

Apparently, he felt that Florida extended a much better effort not playing than USC did in overwhelming Ohio State.

What was Scott Wolf thinking?

He was thinking about last year and the year before. He was thinking about Stanford and UCLA. He was also thinking about the upset loss to Oregon State in Corvallis two years ago. Guess who the Trojans’ next opponent is?

I think you know my answer.

Yet I believe it is equally wrong to project ahead. So we go from the supreme USC critic to the supreme USC homer.

In this case, that title goes to Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times. In his Sunday column, Plaschke wrote that this was the best Trojan team of the Pete Carroll era.

Not so fast, Bill.

When asked by a reporter if this was his best team, Pete Carroll said, “That’s risky business. We’ve only played two games and haven’t started conference play yet.”

The Oregon State game, a week from Thursday in Corvallis, will be the Trojans’ first Pac-10 game.

Just as it was wrong for Wolf to look back at USC’s losses in previous year, it was just as wrong for Plaschke to look ahead and proclaim this to be Pete Carroll’s best team.

Could it be? Of course. This 2008 squad has that potential. No one really knows, but it might be as good as the 1972 squad, the best USC team of all time.

But that remains to be determined.

What we do know is that Carroll’s current squad is deeper and faster than any other that he has had. It definitely has the ability to withstand key injuries. The Trojans are six deep at running back, nine deep at receiver, four deep at tight end, and four deep at quarterback.

Now that is not to say that they are all equal in quality. But the Trojans could weather a key injury here and there and still come out on the winning end of the score.

I don’t think they would fold like Oregon did last year when they lost Dennis Dixon. But of course, that, too, remains to be seen.

As for speed, they may not have anyone quite as fast as Reggie Bush, but for all-around team speed, I believe this is the fastest squad that Pete Carroll has fielded.

The other huge plus, and perhaps the most important, is that the coaching staff has remained intact, allowing for continuity on offense, defense, and special teams.

Also, the coaches have their own self-scouting system to discover their tendencies in various situations and make changes so they will be less predictable.

Finally, the USC staff patterns various facets of its game after winning teams in the NFL like the Denver Broncos, the Indianapolis Colts, the New England Patriots, and the pro-style West Coast offense.

All of these factors combined could make this the greatest USC team of the Pete Carroll era. But for a sportswriter to state that they are the best after only two games is ridiculous.

On the other hand, not to vote USC Number One in the Week Three poll is equally ridiculous. Let’s give credit where credit is due. But let’s not go beyond that.

Just as USC takes each game one at a time, pollsters—especially those in the Coaches’ Poll used for the BCS rankings—should do likewise.