USC opener is a hot mess

Woke up Saturday hotter than a tin cat on a Chino Hills roof--or something like that. It was so hot, 110 here Friday, my pair of Lonzo Ball shoes melted.


SoCal Edison put us on an energy-savings pitch count, turning off our air conditioning for the six hours we needed it most.

I didn’t cool off much upon learning USC’s home opener against Western Michigan was on the Pac 12 Network, still unavailable to millions of us peons who bow to the altar of DirecTV.

Here we go again.

Trolls on Twitter hammered me for not caving into Pac extortion demands. Commissioner Larry Scott plays hard ball in negotiations and it’s my fault?


I swore allegiance to DirecTV long before Pac Net was a gleam in anyone’s eye, mostly for the NFL Sunday Ticket, so I’m still holding firm.

“Quit being a doofus and get Pac12 Network,” a guy tweeted me.

Another wondered “Are you an activist or a journalist?”

Rank-man or Rank-mouse?

I was accused of dereliction of duty because I refuse to pay for a slate of games that includes Portland State at Oregon State, full well knowing I had just seen enough of the Beavers on real TV against Colorado State.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]

The quandary comes for the few games on Pac Net I would pay to see.

Saturday was one of those games. I do feel it a duty to casually follow USC, as some have suggested the Trojans are contenders for this year’s national championship.

A twitter friend offered me his Pac 12 code access. There were other nefarious options. I watched last week’s Mayweather fight for free on Periscope, feeling dirty but my wallet $100 fatter.

I finally succumbed Saturday to a “free-trial” for Pac Net access and a tech at TMG headquarters figured out the nuclear-like launch codes just in time to find Western Michigan leading our local heroes, 14-7.


USC players still don’t wear names on the backs of their jerseys. And for a while at Coliseum, they were probably glad. The Trojans also still have players wearing duplicate uniform numbers, including one No. 14 who is NOT Sam Darnold.

What some of us knew: the game was a set-up from the time the line came out. USC as a four-touchdown favorite was a joke wrapped in a spit take.

Never mind that USC ended up winning, 49-31, in a game capped by blind-snapper Jake Olson’s emotional contribution to the last extra point.

This was always going to be a tough go, made even tougher after USC opened with a false-sense-of-security touchdown.

Western Michigan went 13-1 last year, losing only its last game, by eight to Wisconsin, in the Cotton Bowl. This wasn't Eastern, Southern or Northern Michigan. The Broncos of WMU may have lost their starting coach and quarterback, but they returned eight starters on defense.

A 21-21 game in the fourth was only broken loose in the sweaty, helter-swelter final minutes, when USC’s arsenal of bigger and better finally wore down their opponent's defenses.

The good news is this is what contenders do: survive. Ohio State trailed Indiana, 14-13, at the half, and won by 28. It's what you learn after this that counts.

The bad news is Stanford is on its way south next weekend, tanned and rested after a 62-7 win over Rice in Australia. The Cardinal is a bigger, nastier version of Western Michigan.

WMU rushed for 263 yards, averaging 5.5 per carry, against what is supposed to be USC’s best interior defenses in years.

Might want to shore that up in advance of Palo Alto. The initial concerns regarding about USC proved true. The offensive line, replacing both starting tackles, needs to clean some things up. And Darnold was clearly out-of-sync early with his new set of wide receivers.

Victory, though, has no orphans and Darnold, despite two interceptions, played well when it counted most. Sort of like last year's last game: the Rose Bowl.

Final thought: Am I glad I signed up for the 14-day trial to watch USC on PAC?

You bet. It is far superior to any other 14-day trial I have experienced--including one to test a new psoriasis cream.

Don't think, though, that this is the final capitulation.

Like Western Michigan, against USC on Saturday, the DirecTV underdog brigade isn't going to lay down, or get shoved around. We're in it for the long haul. We might lose in the end, but not without a sassy, MAC-like fight. [/membership]