Would a USC victory in Pac-12 title game ease friction facing the program? – Orange County Register

If USC defeats Stanford in the Pacific-12 Conference championship game, expect to hear a lot about how the Trojans won their first conference title since 2008.

The question is who this satisfies? It will definitely please USC coach Clay Helton and the players who celebrate the victory. It should please a portion of the fan base.

But will it impress USC athletic director Lynn Swann and some of the program’s more influential boosters? Or even the loud chorus of critics who emerged even after the UCLA victory? This is where there is stress on the program as supporters and critics of Helton create friction.

Swann cannot fire a coach who is 11-2. But he can fire his defensive coordinator, defensive backs coach and offensive coordinator if he wants to. That is the key issue facing the program today.

>>Who would imagine before this season the Heisman Trophy candidate in this game would be Stanford tailback Bryce Love instead of USC quarterback Sam Darnold?

>>Clown conference: Tarps have been installed in the upper decks at Levi’s Stadium for the Pac-12 title game. That ought to tell you something about ticket demand.

>> Former USC basketball coach Tim Floyd, who resigned at UTEP this week, was a notoriously bad driver. He once left his rental car running during an entire high school game in the Bay Area because he was worried he wouldn’t know how to start it again since it had a button instead of a key.

Another former USC coach Bob Boyd, once told me: “Ask Tim about the time he drove a car into a lake.”

>>Darnold and Stanford quarterback K.J. Costello grew up facing each other in Pop Warner games in Orange County. Who won more games?

“K.J. would probably say he did,” Darnold said. “I would say myself.”

>>Darnold gets mentioned as a possible No. 1 pick by the Cleveland Browns. He could sneak over to Howard Jones Field on Saturday and watch the Browns practice in preparation for their game Sunday against the Chargers.

>>Stanford has already cost at least one USC coach his job. In 1924, Cal and Stanford told USC they would no longer play the Trojans the following year. This was only a week before USC was supposed to play Stanford the following week at the Coliseum, but the Trojans canceled the game.

That cost Stanford a big payday. But it also cost USC coach “Gloomy Gus” Henderson his job because he was costing USC the only two major teams on its schedule. So Henderson was fired and paid $20,000, or $10,000 for each year remaining on his…

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