State of Troy: Coliseum Renovation

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Two weeks ago, USC sent out a survey to various constituents regarding the possible redevelopment of the Coliseum. In this month's State of Troy, USC athletic director Pat Haden addresses some of the questions he has received regarding the survey.

Why did you send out this survey?

When USC took control of the Coliseum and Sports Arena this past summer, the university and, more specifically, the athletic department became responsible for the operation, maintenance and upgrading of the 91-year-old stadium. USC is required to spend $70 million over a 10-year period for enhancements and improvements to the stadium's infrastructure. While these improvements will help the Coliseum remain functional, they do not address much-needed improvements to the fan experience. It is not an option to "do nothing." Knowing that we have to spend $70 million on the Coliseum, why not investigate all options of what the Coliseum could become? That's the purpose of the survey, to discuss some possibilities and see what our fans will support. This is the time to explore what we want the Coliseum to look like for the next 100 years.

Are you planning to implement everything suggested in the survey questions?

Coliseum-GoPro-Scrimmage13.jpgNo decisions have been made. We know we need to do something based on the lease mandate and the current condition of the Coliseum. So, we have surrounded ourselves with expert consultants to guide us through a feasibility study and examine what possible steps we can take to enhance the facility. We recognized that the first step must be to gauge the appetite of our fan and donor base. This has been done through the release of our survey to nearly 250,000 stakeholders and will continue through the use of focus groups. This will provide telling information about what our fans truly want and what they are willing to support. Certainly not everyone is going to answer the survey the same way, but we, as an athletic department and as a university, must first listen, then digest the information, and finally act accordingly in the best long-term interest of the Coliseum and the faithful Trojan fans. We greatly appreciate the thousands of fans who have completed the survey. Positive, negative, or indifferent, all of them have been heard and are playing an active role in the possible redevelopment of the Coliseum.

Why does the Coliseum need to be renovated beyond the bare minimum?

Very little has been done to renovate the Coliseum since it was built, except when the field was lowered to add seats in 1993 and when major repair and retrofitting was needed following the 1994 earthquake. If we do nothing beyond the required $70 million in enhancements, the Coliseum will slip decades behind most other premier venues in the country. We will fall short in addressing not only many on-going issues and problems (life-safety, ADA, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, general infrastructure, ingress and egress, restroom, concession, audio-visual, football operation, sports medicine, media and technology), but there will be an overall lack of fan amenities. We have recently given facelifts to some of our campus athletic facilities, like Heritage Hall and the Uytengsu Aquatics Center, to the benefit of future generations of student-athletes and the Trojan Family. I believe we can do the same for the Coliseum, while keeping in mind that this is a historic landmark and preservation guidelines must be followed.

What are other benefits of renovation?

Modern stadiums have amenities that we simply cannot provide our fans in the Coliseum's current state. An updated Coliseum would provide significant opportunities to create long-term revenue generation through less intrusive sponsorship activation. Technology will provide us with a better in-game experience for our fans and sponsors. We want a more intimate environment to improve our home field advantage by bringing our fans closer to the game, and we will study acoustics and sight-line plans accordingly. We can provide premium experiences through club seats, loge boxes and luxury suites. We can improve the video boards and fix some audio issues. We can enhance the experience for our players by providing a better locker room and medical facility. The media would enjoy an improved press box. And most importantly, fans will have a better overall experience from tailgating to seating to watching the game.

Coli-Tunnel-Camp20-McG.jpgAre fans going to lose their seats or be forced to buy a personal seat license to protect them?

Again, no decisions have been made. As part of our survey, we are receiving valuable feedback from our fans regarding stadium renovation programs that have been pursued by other universities, including personal seat licensing and other topics. There has been a range of opinions, both positive and negative, and those ideas will be considered at every step in the process, including how to honor and recognize previous commitments should seat licenses be imposed in some of the stadium. At the same time, we need to be cognizant that not every long-time USC fan wants a premium option and we need to provide an affordable experience for those fans. We recognize that the support of the Trojan Family is what makes the environment at USC football games special, and we do not want to make decisions that would change this irrevocably. Our goal is to create a facility that our fans' children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren can proudly visit.

What is the Coliseum Improvement Fee that is part of current ticket prices and how is this money used?

The Coliseum Improvement Fee, begun in 2012, has allowed us to make some improvements throughout the Coliseum. Over the past two years, we have upgraded the quality of the playing field, added a centralized point of sale system for concessions, improved the connectivity and sound for our guests, and partnered with third party concessionaires and maintenance professionals. This upcoming season, among other things, we will use the fee to implement advanced technology for ticket scanning and we will provide new pre- and post-game tailgating opportunities. But the cost of making impactful improvements to fan amenities and the game experience far exceed the annual fees generated by ticket sales and the Coliseum Improvement Fee.

How are other schools handling the problem of aging stadiums?

In the Pac-12 Conference alone, UCLA, Washington, Arizona State, California, Arizona and Washington State all either recently completed or are currently undergoing massive renovation projects. Since 2000, every Pac-12 school has spent between $32 million and $313 million more on stadium improvements than USC. Nationally, schools such as Notre Dame, Texas A&M and Baylor are taking on $100 million to $500 million projects.

2014 Spring Practice #10: Notes

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The Trojans took it down a notch today removing the pads and surviving the heat.
  • By rule, USC has to have three padless practices during the spring, so Steve Sarkisian decided to utilize the final one today to revitalize his team with five more practices to go this spring.
  • Running back depth has become such an issue during spring that walk-on QB Conner Sullivan moved to tailback today behind Tre Madden and Jahleel Pinner.  Sarkisian hopes to have Buck Allen and Ty Isaac back soon, and then Justin Davis will be healthy for fall camp.  Madden played through a hamstring injury for most of the second half of last season, but he said that it is fully healed.
  • Nelson Agholor made another outstanding catch on a deep ball to highlight today's practice.  "Nelson kinda does what he does, keeps making big plays," praised Sarkisian.
  • Sarkisian expects to name a starting quarterback before the end of spring practice, but all the quarterbacks struggled today as the coaches started to input a silent cadence at the line of scrimmage leading to a handful of mistimed shotgun snaps. "I thought it was a hard day for the quarterbacks because of some things going on around them, and then how they responded to it made a little bit difficult as well," said the head coach who is looking forward to how the QBs respond Thursday. "Understanding every day might not be your day, every play might not be your play, but how you bounce back from it is probably as important as anything."
  • The defense also played its part disrupting the offense with a steady pass rush led by the fast-improving OLB Jabari Ruffin. "He is really what you are looking for at that SAM linebacker position for us," said Sarkisian about his size and speed combination. "He was a high school receiver that is extremely athletic for a big man, but yet he is violent at the point of attack."
  • The new 3-4 defense poses all kinds of "different looks" and "odd fronts" for opposing offensive lines, said LT Chad Wheeler. On a daily basis, he is tested against big bodies like Delvon Simmons and speedy athletes like Scott Starr. "It's difficult.  That's why the defense throws it at you," Wheeler said. "They want to come at you with power and speed, so you have to be on your game on every level."
  • Wheeler was one of the surprise stories of last season developing into a mainstay at left tackle after gaining nearly 100 pounds.  A year later, he feels much more comfortable in his bigger body.  "Your organs have to catch up," he said. "You've got to get used to the weight so you can get faster. I try to cut down on the fat, so I can build more muscle."
  • Wheeler has also become a leader on the line as one of the few returning starters. "I have been working on my craft continuously. I'm trying to show up for our incoming freshmen, Toa [Lobendahn] and Jordan [Austin]," he said.
  • Here is Sarkisian's post-practice presser in which he expands on what he thinks can be a "very good" defense:

Wills Battles the Boys

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USC women's lacrosse assistant coach Devon Wills is in training camp with the New York Lizards trying to earn a spot in the all-male Major League Lacrosse.  The women's national team goalie is quickly adjusting to life at the sport's highest level.

"The speed of the release [is different]," she said about the major differences. "But it's also what's going on in front. They shoot a lot of shots with screens in front of you. In the women's game, that just doesn't happen."

Click here for the full story in Long Island Newsday.

While Wills only had a weekend to show off her skills before returning to USC, head coach Joe Spallina was impressed. "I thought she was great today," he said. "She showed she can play."

Wills is back with the Trojans now awaiting word on whether or not she made the cut.  The Women of Troy end their regular season on April 27, which coincides with the Lizards season opener.

Wills-Bob-Sorensen.JPG(Photo by Bob Sorensen)

Spring Breakout: Darreus Rogers, WR

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Written by Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributor

There is plenty to be excited about in the upcoming year of USC football, and with spring ball underway the Trojans are discovering new and improved talent all across the field. Whether new to the roster or finally positioned for a starting role, this year's spring breakouts are ready to make a difference.

Rogers-UT-McG.jpgName: Darreus Rogers
Year: Sophomore
Position: Wide Receiver

The Past: Last season, Rogers played the role of go-to backup wide receiver, appearing in 11 games (starting in four) with 22 receptions for 257 yards. He was the most dependable non-starting receiver as the majority of the receiving corps was depleted by injuries throughout the past year. 

The Present: With the departure of Marqise Lee, Rogers is now forced into the spotlight as the Trojans search for a suitable complementary receiver to junior Nelson Agholor. The competition through spring ball is between Rogers, George Farmer, Victor Blackwell and Steven Mitchell, and will only grow more competitive come fall with the addition of freshmen JuJu Smith, Rashead Johnson and Ajene Harris. Rogers has the upper hand at this point with more playing experience, exposure and practice in Steve Sarkisian's new system and a significant improvement of speed and strength in the offseason. 

The Future: The 6-foot-2, 210 pound Rogers has great potential in the eyes of the coaching staff as a receiver with good size, athleticism and an ability to make plays. Additionally, the pattern forged at his position in recent seasons is promising for the sophomore. USC has a long line of talented wide receivers, but in the past couple of years, it seems when one has departed for the NFL another player immediately steps in to seamlessly fill the void. From Ronald Johnson to Robert Woods to Marqise Lee and now Nelson Agholor, the torch has been passed with continued success. Whether he likes it or not, all eyes will be on Rogers to fill the void and how he manages that pressure will greatly impact how he does this season. Rogers has all the potential in the world to become next in line as a star receiver for the Trojans, but the ball is in his hands now.

Sark On Rogers: "The transition is when you go from a guy who has been a role player to being one of the guys, it is a little different. It's different from a mental stand point in that every snap you have to be locked in and focused. It's not physical for Darreus, it's the mental aspect of having to really lock in on the details every single snap. And he'll get it, he's a competitive guy, it's just a matter of getting it done."

Here is Rogers with our Sarah Bergstrom...

Sarkisian and Enfield on Tour

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USC head football coach Steve Sarkisian and men's basketball head coach Andy Enfield will hit the road next month for a seven-city tour with legendary coach John Robinson serving as the emcee.  Plus, student-athletes and special guests will join the coaches at each stop.

Click here to RSVP or email us for more information.

Here is everything you need to know...

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Photo Gallery: Women's Water Polo vs. UCI

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While All-Americans Flora Bolonyai and Monica Vavic are the core of No. 3 USC women's water polo, the Trojans have some new stars emerging in junior Eike Daube and freshmen twin sisters Ioanna and Stephania Haralabidis.  Daube scored a career-high five goals in the most recent victory over UC Irvine, while the Haralabidis' sisters are both top five in goals scored this season on the team.

Here are the Trojans in action as John McGillen documented the 16-5 win over No. 6 UCI:

v UCI - Images by John McGillen

Johnson Trending Up

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USC men's tennis legend Steve Johnson has hit a new career-best ranking at No. 69 after winning a tournament in Guadeloupe.  The four-time NCAA champion has been battling out on the challenger circuit, and now sits in a position that would earn him automatic qualification for all the majors.

Finding an Oasis

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USC baseball's dry spell in the desert is finally over.  The Trojans had not won a game in the state of Arizona since 2009 before out-slugging ASU on Sunday 8-7. 

Click here for the recap.

Despite dropping two out of three, the Trojans found their bats averaging nearly seven runs per contest.  Now, they return to Southern California for the next 12 games in need of a run to put themselves in serious consideration for a postseason berth.

At 15-15 overall, USC has navigated the country's fourth most difficult schedule by opponents' winning percentage to this point, according to @SoCal_CBDaily.  The schedule softens a bit in the coming weeks with three-game home series against Utah (April 11-13) and Arizona (April 17-19), two teams below the Trojans in the standings.

Head coach Dan Hubbs is buoyed by his team's response tweeting, "Huge effort to salvage a win today! Great team win! #character #uscbaseball #fighton"

The Trojans travel to Pepperdine (Tuesday at 3 p.m.) before playing the following seven games at Dedeaux Field.


Team Effort

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No. 1 USC women's golf won...again.  The Liz Murphey Invitational title makes it eight tournament victories on the year (school record), 11 of its last 12, 14 of 16, and 15 of 18 dating back to the fall of 2012.

What differentiated this win from the collection?  Two things. 

First, the Women of Troy typically battle the field in a 54-hole stroke play format, but the latest victory came via match play with USC topping No. 5 Arkansas in the final.  Second, the Trojans succeeded despite missing top guns Annie Park and Sophia Popov.

Andrea Gaston's recruiting depth is so powerful that USC was able to replace two All-Americans without skipping a beat.  Sophomore walk-on Victoria Morgan picked up a big point in the semifinals, while freshmen Gabriella Then (pictured) and Karen Chung carried the team in the championship match.  The future of the program is bright, while the present is nearly blinding. 

The Trojans have the week off before teeing it up in Napa for the Silverado Invitational starting Monday, April 14.


Bounce Back Victory

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No. 3 USC women's water polo had a whole week to digest its first loss of the season.  The Women of Troy obviously did not like the taste of defeat showing a renewed hunger in a 16-5 win over UC Irvine on Sunday.

Click here for the recap.

Here are the highlights and post-match reaction from the Uytengsu Aquatics Center: