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Old 07-30-2007, 05:37 PM   #1
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Default Harbaugh: USC may be the best in the history of college football...

'Best In History?' Slow Down There, Jim

You’ve got to give Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh a little credit. Just by opening his mouth, he’s managed to create more buzz for Stanford football than anyone since ... jeez, I don’t know. Maybe that trombone player.

Harbaugh raised quite a few eyebrows last Thursday at Pac-10 Media Day when he said of a certain conference member: “There’s no question in my mind that USC is the best team in the country, and they may be the best team in the history of college football.”

Harbaugh, you may recall, also raised a Trojans-related ruckus last spring when he told CBS Sportsline, “Pete Carroll’s only got one more year, though. He’ll be there one more year. That’s what I’ve heard. I heard it [from] inside the [USC] staff.”

As Carroll said when he took his turn at the podium Thursday, “You gotta love Jim, don’t ya?”

While Harbaugh has yet to coach a game, for the most part, I’m already a big fan of his schtick. The guy’s fired up about turning around Stanford, he’s fired up about coaching in the Pac-10 and in his state of perpetual excitement it’s clear the guy will say just about anything to anyone.

But please, Jim, and anyone else who might share his sentiments -- can we cut it with the USC/greatest-of-all-time nonsense already?

You would think everyone would have learned their lesson in 2005, when ESPN spent the better part of Christmas season comparing that Trojans squad to some of the most acclaimed teams of all time only to find out that they weren’t even the best team that season, as Texas defeated USC in the Rose Bowl. I do think that USC team -- in which Matt Leinart was a senior, Reggie Bush and LenDale White were juniors and Dwayne Jarrett was a sophomore -- may have had the greatest set of offensive skill players in history, but it was lacking a pretty key element: A defense.

Fast forward two years, and that’s no longer a problem for the Trojans. With 10 starters returning from the nation’s 11th-ranked scoring defense -- including potential All-Americans Lawrence Jackson, Sedrick Ellis, Keith Rivers and Rey Maualuga -- USC could well field a unit comparable to those great Shaun Cody/Mike Patterson/Lofa Tatupu squads in 2003 and ’04. Throw in a proven QB in John David Booty and an All-American left tackle in Sam Baker, and it’s easy to see why the Trojans are a sure bet for preseason No. 1.

But let’s no go deluding ourselves into thinking the 2007 Trojans are unimpeachable. How quickly we forget USC was held to nine points (by UCLA) just two games ago. Or that the Trojans, despite their endless stable of running backs, struggled to average four yards a carry last season. Or that their most experienced receiver (Patrick Turner) notched a grand total of 272 yards last year.

Don’t get me wrong -- just about every coach in the country would gladly trade his roster for Carroll’s in a heartbeat. Not to mention Turner is a certifiable stud who’s been waiting his turn for two years, and incoming freshman Joe McKnight could upgrade that rushing game in a hurry.

Still, I’d not only dispute Harbaugh’s laughable “greatest ever” assertion, but I don’t even agree with him about there being “no question” the Trojans will be the nation’s best team. Will they start out the favorite? Absolutely. But USC was hardly invincible last year (ask Oregon State and UCLA) and there’s no reason to think they won’t be vulnerable this season, particularly early. They could be perfectly capable of stumbling at Nebraska in mid-September? Or losing to a Pac-10 opponent no one ever would have expected.

Meanwhile, there are any number of other squads -- LSU? West Virginia? Wisconsin? -- that could well play the role of 2005 Texas. Like USC, all appear to be loaded, and like USC, they’re not without their own nagging questions.

But Harbaugh seems pretty confident in predicting the Trojans’ future -- both on the field and off it. Perhaps he’s a psychic. Or perhaps he’s psychotic.

Stewart Mandel




Bold statement for a team that hasn't played a game yet.
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Old 07-30-2007, 05:52 PM   #2
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I think this article is essentialy Harbaugh saying, "Don't look at me if we lose by 50 to them."
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Old 07-30-2007, 05:59 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Ross View Post
I think this article is essentialy Harbaugh saying, "Don't look at me if we lose by 50 to them."
I don't know what to make of Harbaugh yet. For all the talkin' he has done he sure better win some games this year.
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