Mailbag Monday: Coliseum Upgrades, Cornerbacks and Commitments


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We’ve been fielding your questions for our Mailbag Monday feature, so let’s celebrate the start of the work week by getting right into the burning topics on USC Football, as editor Michael Castillo answers your questions.

Art from Facebook asks: When will we see more upgrades to the Coliseum?

Michael: Due to the wording of the new lease agreement with the Coliseum Commission, expect it to be soon. USC is locked into spending a minimum of $70 million in structural upgrades to the building, and there are stipulations as to how parking revenue must be spent on maintaining and improving the Coliseum or Sports Arena. The lease could get done as early as this week, as the state is meeting on Wednesday to vote on the final terms of the lease, which would put it into effect. Assuming the deal gets finalized, expect periodical work done in the offseason, though it probably won’t start until 2014. USC can’t tear down the Sports Arena until summer 2015 at the earliest, meaning that all efforts are likely going to be put into the Coliseum, including the long awaited chair-back seat replacement idea that has been bantered about for years.

Rickey from Facebook asks: Does the CB position scare you as much as it scares me?

Michael: It has to be cause for concern, as it’s without a doubt the Trojans weakest part of their roster. Last year, Torin Harris was a liability and Anthony Brown showed glimpses of success but was inconsistent. Josh Shaw looked good at corner late in the year, though he spent much of the spring playing safety. With the emergence of Su’a Cravens, Leon McQuay III and the returning health of Dion Bailey and Gerald Bowman, not to mention spring standout Demetrius Wright, there’s enough options at safety for Shaw to slide back to corner in the fall. The spot opposite of him will still be up in the air, with Harris, Brown, Chris Hawkins, Kevon Seymour and Devian Shelton all vying for that role, in addition to McQuay, who got reps there in the spring. Hawkins looked awfully raw in the spring, while Shelton is probably the quickest and most athletic despite injuries that nagged him during camp. As it looks now, Harris and Brown are probably the favorites to play opposite of Shaw again, and Clancy Pendergast will just have to take his chances and hope that a playmaker emerges. Plus, who knows, perhaps the Trojans end up getting enough at safety that McQuay or Cravens winds up playing as a corner during their freshman season.

Jon from Facebook asks: Last year we had a flood of commitments over the summer. Does it look like the same will happen this year?

Michael: I think so, but perhaps not to the same degree. Recruiting is evolving, with so many kids committing during the summer now because they want to keep their head clear during their senior season of high school. That’s great for establishing a class, but it also lays the groundwork for late de-commitments if circumstances change, as seen with USC last year. It’s not just SC getting earlier commitments either, as Michigan 22 commits early last summer, and so far this year, Tennessee has 15 already. Combine that mentality with USC’s limited scholarships and it was a perfect storm for a slew of commitments last summer. The recruiting camps will certainly bright forth a bunch of commitments again this year, but with USC being able to bring in 20 guys next fall, plus the Trojans’ being stung by de-commitments last year, don’t be surprised if Lane Kiffin’s staff stresses the idea of silent commitments, as opposed to outspoken vocal ones. Talkative commits serve a purpose, as Michael Hutchings and Khalil Rodgers were huge recruiters for USC in 2013, but it also creates targets for other recruits from opposing coaches, not to mention the grass is greener theory.

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