Plenty of reasons to dislike USC

EVAN SHARPLEY
ND Insider

To be clear from the start, I have an intense dislike for the University of Southern California Trojans.

It is not the university itself, rather, the Trojan football team and the players’ sense of entitlement, cockiness, and blatant disrespect.

It also is Tommy Trojan, the cheerleaders, the rocking of the bus before they enter the stadium, the “V for Victory” sign, and the incessant and never ending “Fight On” from the band.

To say that the Notre Dame versus USC game is a rivalry would be incorrect. More specifically, for Notre Dame, it is THE rivalry game.

Am I coming in clear?

I hope so.

I recall playing USC in the out-dated and unkempt stadium that calls itself the Coliseum.

The grass in the stadium is sprayed with paint in an attempt to cover up the dying grass.

Interestingly enough, while playing in the friendly confines of Notre Dame stadium, the Southern Cal players complained about the health and length of our grass.

I also recall Coach Charlie Weis playing “Fight On” every day in practice during USC week.

But maybe more than anything that has fueled my intense feelings toward USC has been Notre Dame’s lack of success against the Trojans.

This includes losses in nine of the last 11 games and going winless at Notre Dame stadium since 2001.

Of course, I witnessed several of the losses first-hand during my playing days. Granted, we had a couple of fierce battles (2005, 2006), but I also was part of a couple catastrophic loses (2007, 2008).

Every opposing university loves to beat Notre Dame, moreso when the Irish program is struggling. It adds insult to injury when the team that does it is USC.

Perhaps the roles are now reversed.

USC is the program in dire need of resurrection after NCAA sanctioning and the debacle of the Lane Kiffin “era.”

It is time for the Irish to begin a decade of dominance. It is time to “kick” USC while it is down. It is time. What is it they say about payback?

The Irish have had an entire extra week to recover and revamp.

The Irish football team will be the same team we saw in the first six games of the year.

For example, Tommy Rees isn’t going to be running the option or designed QB runs.

However, the Irish team does have an extra week to prepare and to think about USC.

Yes, players are taught to approach each game the same.

Having said that, once kickoff rolls around, there is an extra gear when Notre Dame plays USC.

Each year, the USC game is the measuring stick.

The University of Notre Dame doesn’t measure the way the program is run compared to theirs.

Again, no disrespect.

Rather, the game can define an entire season.

As Brian Kelly said, “The atmosphere and environment will take care of itself when you play USC.”

However, “the message to our players is just win the game.”

Playing for the Jeweled Shillelagh is by far the most hate-fueled rivalry on Notre Dame’s schedule.

Go Irish!

In addition to his weekly column, former Notre Dame quarterback Evan Sharpley previews upcoming games each Friday at 7:50 a.m. on WSBT’s JT In The Morning Show (960 AM and 96.1 FM). On Mondays, Sharpley co-hosts WSBT’s Notre Dame Football Final, which airs from 9-10 a.m. He’ll also be an occasional contributor to WSBT’s Weekday SportsBeat and Gameday SportsBeat radio programs. He serves as the director of fitness at the Eastlake Athletic Club in Elkhart.

Tribune Photo/MARCUS MARTER Notre Dame lines up in the first half against USC at Notre Dame Stadium Saturday, October 22, 2011.