After spring practice on Tuesday, returning USC Football Offensive Tackle Courtland Ford exposed a potentially uncomfortable aspect of the Lincoln Riley era. He revealed that players can earn 'gold plates,' which are decals to put on their helmets for working hard. Here's what Ford had to say:
Now, first, let's not overreact to this. This does not mean that SC is going to have these decals on during the games. The Trojans are obviously not playing games right now, and are just practicing. Therefore, USC will not necessarily be breaking tradition too much. This absolutely could just be a practice/offseason deal.
If not, and these decals will be on helmets while the team is playing games, this could cause potential frustration from some fans. USC fandom is very interested in keeping our great tradition intact. This decal concept is very popular among some big programs such as Ohio State and Florida State, but USC has never been about this.
USC Football implementing this decal system during games would go against its great tradition.
Of course, going against USC football's tradition in this way is not the end of the world. This would be done with a purpose from Coach Riley; a purpose that is rooted in holding the players accountable and drilling hard work into the players' heads. It's nothing to be angry about.
It is, however, not going to sit particularly well with many fans. I personally would rather the team not do this. I have absolutely no issues with the team doing this for practice/offseason work, but our classic uniforms mean a lot to me and I know they mean a lot to most of you.
I want to keep them as is, as much as possible. USC is not Ohio State--USC has preferred to add 11 National Championships to the program instead of helmet stickers. I'm by no means trying to disrespect the Ohio State's of the world, but that's simply not what this program has been into, and not what this program has been about.
Will I be heartbroken and/or upset with Riley if these decals are implemented on our game helmets? Absolutely not. And none of you should be either. However, I am not in favor of it, and know that many of you aren't either. While it would be an understandable effort from our elite head coach, it would not be ideal when it comes to upholding this great program's blue blood tradition.