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Colleague could see the fall of Troy from months away

The Times' national football writer, Chris Dufresne, predicted correctly that USC would be in trouble with a freshman at quarterback.

December 06, 2009|T.J. Simers

I know how silly you people feel.

You are USC saps, many of you staying home Saturday rather than opening yourself to further humiliation by showing up at the Coliseum.

More people came to the Coliseum to see San Jose State play the Trojans than Arizona, and that's how far your heroes have fallen in your eyes.

No question, you feel let down. You undoubtedly bought the preseason hype that came with USC being ranked No. 4 in the country.

If you're a USC arrogant honk, and of course you are, you were irritated at the time the Trojans weren't ranked higher.

You figured that at worst, the Trojans would be in the Rose Bowl -- or, at best, in the BCS title game in Pasadena a week later.

You would have made a donation to UCLA before giving any consideration to USC ending up in the Poinsettia, Las Vegas or Nut Bowl. Yup, you feel pretty silly right now.

Washington thought a win over USC was something special. So did Stanford and Oregon. Pretty commonplace if you ask Arizona.

The only one who knew how this was going to go was The Times' Chris Dufresne, the best college football writer in the land, the headline atop his story on Aug. 28 reading: "It's too much too soon for USC's Matt Barkley."

He went on to write, "The margin of error in the BCS is razor-thin," implying that Coach Pete Carroll, as we know now, no longer walks on water and was off his rocker.

A week later, and that's why he's the best college football writer in the land, writing the same thing over and over again until he really nails it, this time detailing the history of freshman quarterbacks.

"Since the NCAA reinstituted freshman eligibility for athletes in 1972," Dufresne wrote, "the number of true freshman quarterbacks to start the season and lead their school to a national title is . . . zero."

Dufresne knew USC's season was over before it began.

Dufresne knew Aaron Corp got a raw deal, and holy Mitch Mustain, so much for Carroll's assertion that every job is open to competition every week.

Dufresne knew Carroll would abandon the team's running game in favor of playing his wannabe son. By the way, I asked Carroll on Tuesday if he had filed adoption papers yet for Barkley.

Dufresne knew the kid's inexperience would make life tougher on the Trojans' defense. Dufresne knew there would be missteps along the way, sabotaging USC's grip on Pac-10 dominance.

So what does he get for his keen foresight? Nothing but grief from the USC saps who think Traveler is the greatest horse we'll ever see in our lifetime.

An apology is certainly in order so you might feel better about yourself, so I'm including a formal one to be copied and e-mailed to chris.dufresne@latimes.com, or abbreviated and sent along to twitter.com/DufresneLATimes.

Right now you have to be feeling pretty foolish.

"Dear Dufene,"

(I suggest misspelling his name so he doesn't get a big head.)

"As a die-hard USC supporter, I could have saved myself a lot of misery had I not canceled my newspaper like everyone else in my neighborhood.

"I know Page 2 probably told you what to write, but since you took credit for it, you seem to know as much about football as Page 2.

"Had I known what you and Page 2 know, I would have seen how far off track Carroll fell, given his infatuation for the kid quarterback, and would not have sounded so bitter or clueless as the Trojans racked up the losses.

"Most of the bitter and clueless blame offense/quarterbacks coachJeremy Bates, even though it didn't matter who was calling the plays. I know now it was a very mediocre season because it could be nothing else with a youngster at quarterback, and recognize your genius, as well as Page 2's, in identifying that before anyone else. Please pass my admiration for Page 2 on to the big guy.

"Sincerely,

"A USC sap."

STILL TIME to grab some breakfast this morning, meet Santa and receive a stuffed animal from Miranda's toy chest while supporting the Miranda Beck Scholarship Fund.

You might recall a photo of Miranda in The Times, in a hospital bed and posing for pictures with the Stanley Cup thanks to a visit by the Ducks a few years ago. She lost a two-year battle with leukemia and now her mother, Lisa, is intent on helping others in the name of her 12-year-old daughter.

Breakfast starts at 7:30, runs to noon and is a $5 bargain -- $3 for kids -- in the St. Andrew School auditorium, 42 Chestnut St., Pasadena.

YOU CAN'T make this stuff up. Driveliketiger was slated to run in the sixth at Hollywood Park on Friday, but of course was scratched.

I'VE NEVER met anyone who works harder to make sure no one reads him, Dwyre doing stories on tennis, golf, boxing and horse racing, sometimes his work appearing on Page C9 in our eight-page section.

A week ago he tried to hype the appearance of Zenyatta at Hollywood Park. Fewer than 10,000 people then showed up on a Sunday for the track's turf festival and the chance to see Zenyatta.

No matter what Dwyre has to say or write, with the exception of the Breeders' Cup and the Kentucky Derby, the sport is as dead as Barbaro.

DODGERS OWNER Frank McCourt stood on the USC sideline, the Trojans' sports information director having no idea who gave him a pass. Just a hunch, but I don't think he received any help from USC trustee JamieMcCourt.

I CAUGHT UP with McCourt as he tried to beat the traffic and leave before anyone else. A Parking Lot Attendant knows what it's like when everyone tries to leave at the same time.

I asked him, "What do you think of the Justin Miller signing?"

But all I got was his back as he walked away. First time I can recall sharing the same opinion.

t.j.simers@latimes.com

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