Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Holiday Bowl: USC vs. Wisconsin

It's not on until 7:30 pm (Pacific), so a late game if you're on the East Coast.

In any case, at the Los Angeles Times, "For resilient USC seniors, a period of unprecedented tumult will end in Holiday Bowl":

They came to USC knowing that part of their careers would be played under NCAA sanctions.

No bowl games for a few years? They could deal with that.

A thinned roster because of scholarship limits? That might lead to more immediate playing time.

Four coaching changes and multiple off-the-field dramas later, USC's seniors are preparing for Wednesday's Holiday Bowl against Wisconsin, a final game in a span of unprecedented tumult.

Members of the 2011 and 2012 recruiting classes will leave the program with advanced degrees in resiliency.

"We went through hell and back," fullback Soma Vainuku said. "That's how you can explain us seniors."

These are players who signed on to play for Lane Kiffin, who had succeeded Pete Carroll and in his first season guided the Trojans to an 8-5 record in 2010.

They saw Kiffin get fired, Ed Orgeron promoted to interim coach, Orgeron bolt when Steve Sarkisian was hired, Clay Helton promoted to interim coach for a bowl game, Sarkisian fired, Helton promoted again to interim coach and, finally, Helton hired as permanent coach.

They also endured three changes at defensive coordinator, numerous arrivals and departures of position coaches and controversies surrounding coaches, teammates and Athletic Director Pat Haden.

Freshman tailback Ronald Jones II marveled at the seniors' ability to play through the upheaval.

"I can't imagine," he said. "I probably couldn't have stayed. It would be hard seeing a new face every offseason and then trying to buy into his motto and system. That would have been tough."

Not everybody did stay. Six players from those classes, Marqise Lee, Leonard Williams and Nelson Agholor among them, left early for the NFL, and a handful transferred or quit or were removed from the team. But a dozen seniors from those classes will complete their eligibility this week...

And don't miss Lindsey Thiry at the video above.