May 26, 2009
Fellow SEC homers, wouldn't you sell a vital organ or one of your more rambunctious offspring to see your hard-toiling warriors give those freewheling pretty boys from Southern Cal a taste of Southern sweat? Proud SC fans, don't you yearn to send those loudmouth rednecks packing with a slice of humble pie? ESPN.com's Ted Miller imagines all of this and more today, but he says it ain't gonna happen while anyone you recognize still has any eligibility -- although apparently not for a lacking of trying on the Trojans' end:
The earliest it could happen, according to USC's senior associate athletic director, Steve Lopes -- the man charged with the Trojans' football scheduling -- is 2015.
"We've talked to a lot, if not all, of the SEC schools about playing in the future," Lopes said. "I can't get into who said yes and who said no, but we have conversations with a lot of schools. Scheduling is a hard thing because sometimes you want to play each other but it doesn't work out from a timing standpoint."
Miller notes that USC was 4-0 against the SEC under Carroll from 2002-05, all by gaping margins. Lopes goes on to make the very valid point that many of these games are settled years in advance, but too late: The prospect of an SEC-USC marquee matchup is now firmly fixed in our rotation of offseason reveries. So while it might not be immediately feasible, here, hypothetically, theoretically, are the five SEC schools we'd most like to see taking the field at the Coliseum:
Florida: Of course. The defending national champions and presumptive favorites for next year's title versus the Trojan dynasty. They're also far more likely than any other team on this list to be one of the unmentioned naysayers. The Gators do not travel. They don't need to, not with the sheer volume of lower- and middle-tier teams operating out of the Sunshine State filling their out-of-conference slate year after year. Sadly, with the light-speed brand of football they're currently employing, Florida would also represent the most intriguing matchup for USC by a wide margin. One possible solution: Urban Meyer does seem to be more than a little on edge these days. We'd suggest assigning somebody in the Trojan athletic department to plant false rumors of recruiting violations in Florida media outlets and see how long it takes the Gators to rise to the bait.
Tennessee: The draw here comes from the presences on the sidelines -- Lane Kiffin and Ed Orgeron cut their schematic (not to mention chest-baring and smoke-blaring) teeth early on in the Carroll years. With this year's squad still adjusting to a completely revamped staff, it's not exactly the most opportune time to strike out west, but with recent home-and-home series against Cal and UCLA to their name, taking on the Trojans would not be an unreasonable move for the Vols, and would serve as the ultimate challenge for young Kiffin's boundless (but adorable!) megalomania.
Georgia: Another SEC school with a marked dislike for venturing out of their geographical comfort zone, the Dawgs do have a very recent history of widespread out-of-conference scheduling: They traveled to Arizona State last fall and will visit Oklahoma State for this year's season opener. A primetime showdown on the west coast would do away with whatever remains of Georgia's homebody reputation overnight.
Ole Miss: We're going to be honest here: We really, really want Houston Nutt plopped down in central Los Angeles for no other reason than to see what will happen. It's the college football equivalent of feeding peyote to your pit bull, and we are cheerfully unashamed of our desire to rubberneck. Those watching last year's Cotton Bowl will also recall the Rebels' recent penchant for knocking off media darlings -- while we would not necessarily pick Ole Miss to win outright, an upset would be far from the weirdest thing Nutt has ever done.
Bama: We're not buying the "2003 grudge" claim Miller lays out, but just in case there's any lingering hostility over LSU's title, consider that the architect of that championship team is currently sporting the crimson and white. Football doesn't come more good-versus-evil than Pete Carroll versus Nick Saban in a titanic struggle not just for conference supremacy, but for the fate of the human race. We imagine this would look something like the whirly-eyed snake from The Jungle Book battling a particularly glittery unicorn.
But by 2015, we'll be facing the prospect of Brennan Carroll, offensive coordinator, matching wits with Tim Tebow, balding quarterbacks coach, and the magic will be long gone. What do we need to do to make this happen now?