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CHRIS DUFRESNE / ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL

For some heavyweight programs, the body blows are pretty hard

USC and Texas have some serious issues to deal with after stunning losses on Saturday. For Notre Dame and Florida, it's not all bad.

September 08, 2013|Chris Dufresne
  • USC Coach Lane Kiffin felt the heat from angry fans as his Trojans were upset by Washington State, 10-7, Saturday at the Coliseum.
USC Coach Lane Kiffin felt the heat from angry fans as his Trojans were upset… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)

It is not every day when USC, Texas, Notre Dame and Florida all lose football games on the same day.

It happened Saturday, in fact, for the first time since Sept. 11, 1976.

These proud programs have 19 combined Associated Press national titles, but the fan bases are generally not the types to sip tea and wait for storms to blow over.

Let's take a dispassionate step back, though, and try to analyze each situation. We'll offer hope and inspiration (where possible).

Crisis, or not a crisis?

USC (Crisis!)

This is a football DEFCON 1.

The good news is the school dumped Coach Kiffin and got significantly better on that side of the ball. Unfortunately, the coach was Monte and the side was defense.

USC's defense under first-year coordinator Clancy Pendergast is a big upgrade from the creamy-filling soft Tampa 2 concepts.

Trojans fans, though, are demanding relief from the entire Kiffin royal family following Saturday's 10-7 home loss to Washington State. Boos are raining down on the Coliseum the way ash once did on the old Trojan hamlet of Pompeii.

I admit to having the wrong Lane Kiffin tipping point, figuring it would come with an intolerable home loss to Utah State on Sept. 21.

What now? The problem is Athletic Director Pat Haden, an honorable man of his word, recently made a video 100% backing the same Lane Kiffin who backed USC into 7-6 last year.

Don't expect Haden to overreact just because fans are dissatisfied. That won't happen unless USC loses next week to Boston College.

Time capsule: USC lost on Sept. 11, 1976, to Missouri. It was John Robinson's first game as coach and he received so much hate mail the Carrier Pigeons' Union went on strike. USC rebounded with 11 straight wins that included a Rose Bowl win over Michigan.

Notre Dame (Not a Crisis)

The Irish, big deal, fell short in a highly entertaining game at Michigan. This may be a good time to reiterate Notre Dame was never going 12-0 again on its way to the BCS title game. Last year was as fluky as it was fun with Notre Dame pulling out one harrowing win after another.

The loss of quarterback Everett Golson to academics terminally doomed the repeat odds as hope was placed again on senior Tommy Rees, a talented but turnover-prone quarterback whose two interceptions Saturday in the 41-30 loss were the 35th and 36th of his career.

Time capsule: Notre Dame lost to Pittsburgh on Sept. 11, 1976. The Panthers were 12-0 that season on their way to the national title. Notre Dame finished 9-3 under Dan Devine with a win over Penn State in the Gator Bowl.

Texas (Crisis!)

Mack Brown said he'd have to take a look at the film before deciding whether defensive coordinator Manny Diaz deserved to be back for next week's Mississippi game.

The film turned out to be worse than "Plan 9 from Outer Space."

What Mack saw in review of the 40-21 loss to Brigham Young was his Longhorns giving up 259 rushing yards to a quarterback wearing a knee brace after surgery.

Diaz was fired Sunday and reassigned to a distant corner of the athletic department.

It was so bad to be Manny Diaz this weekend that the University of Georgia tennis coach of the same name was bombarded by Twitter. "I'm getting tweets calling for my dismissal for running an ineffective football defense today," the handle @CoachMannyDiaz reported.

The "other" Diaz got his burnt orange slip Sunday.

"Our performance on defense last night was unacceptable," Brown said in a statement.

But then he went and hired back former co-coordinator Greg Robinson, who was so available he could have made Tex-Mex reservations for four in Austin on Sunday night.

Texas returned 19 starters from last season's nine-win team and was considered by some a dark-horse national tile contender.

Not anymore.

Time capsule: Texas lost to Boston College on Sept. 11, 1976. Coach Darrell Royal's team finished 5-5-1 that year and he retired after 23 seasons.

Florida (Not a crisis)

Florida is what it is and was last season — a great defensive team with offensive indigestion. Losing to Miami, 21-16, is not a shock when your offense is irrevocably inept. Florida somehow went 11-2 last season despite finishing No. 103 in offense while struggling to defeat Bowling Green. The Gators still have four huge games to get back in good standing — Louisiana State, Georgia, South Carolina and Florida State.

Time capsule: Florida lost to North Carolina on Sept. 11, 1976. Doug Dickey's team finished 8-4 that year with a Sun Bowl loss to Texas A&M.

Weekend wrap

--Stanford opened the season late Saturday night with a vise-grip, 34-13 win over San Jose State. The Cardinal held the Spartans to 35 rushing yards. "There's not a lot of teams that look like us anymore, and that's fine," Coach David Shaw said. "We don't live on stats." But here's one: No. 5 Stanford has recorded a school-record 50th straight appearance in the AP poll.

The Cardinal welcomed back senior back Tyler Gaffney, who rushed for 104 yards and two touchdowns after taking a year off to play minor league baseball. "Like riding a bike," he said.

--Texas A&M let Johnny Manziel speak to the media after the Aggies' 65-28 win over Sam Houston State. It wasn't that exciting. "It feels like another game, feels like Week 3 of the season," he said of next Saturday's epic showdown against No. 1 Alabama in College Station.

--There are a lot of ways to win. Oregon defeated Virginia by 49 points despite 11 penalties for 119 yards. Boston College went penalty-free in its Friday win over Wake Forest.

--Teddy Bridgewater may win the Heisman Trophy for Louisville, but he is not eligible for coach of the year. Bridgewater tried to wave off the punt team on a fourth-and-two play during Saturday's win over Eastern Kentucky and was told by his boss, Charlie Strong, "We have enough coaches on staff."

chris.dufresne@latimes.com

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