Robinson Ready to Run

USC head coach Clay Helton has welcomed another successful assistant back to Troy, announcing the return of Tommie Robinson from the University of Texas to coach the running backs and serve as the run game coordinator.

Robinson was the running backs coach (along with passing game coordinator) at USC in 2013, guiding Buck Allen and Tre Madden to breakout seasons. The Trojans scored 29 rushing touchdowns that year, the most in a single campaign since 2005 (51).

"We are thrilled to welcome back Tommie to the Trojan Family," said Helton. "He is one of the most respected running back coaches in our profession.  He has had an extensive career in both the NFL and college and he will pass on that knowledge to our young running back group.  I have had the good fortune to work with Tommie on two different occasions, at USC and at Memphis, and have seen firsthand how he develops young men both on and off the field.  He is a true professional and a terrific recruiter."

As part of this announcement, Helton explained that he is reorganizing his current assistant coaching staff to make room for Robinson. Johnny Nansen, who previously coached running backs and special teams, will become the linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator, while retaining his assistant head coach role. Nansen, who played linebacker at Washington State, coached linebackers for three years (2004-06) at Idaho and has spent 13 of his 18 coaching years on the defensive side of the ball.

Also, Tyson Helton, who was hired earlier this month as the running backs coach and pass game coordinator, will now coach USC's quarterbacks. And, special teams coordinator John Baxter will add tight ends coach to his duties.

Robinson, 52, has 30 years of coaching experience.  As Texas' running backs coach in 2014 and 2015, he helped the Longhorns rank 17th in the nation in rushing in 2015, averaging 224.8 yards a game while scoring 27 times on the ground.

Before USC, he was in the NFL with the Arizona Cardinals, coaching their backs from 2010-12. He also enjoyed extended stints with the Dallas Cowboys (1998-2000), Miami Hurricanes (2007-09) and Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (2002-05).


2016 NFL Divisional Round

| 1 Comment
palmer4-nfl.jpgThe Best

Carson Palmer, QB, Cardinals

The MVP candidate got off to a slow start on Saturday night, but he was simply setting things up for a classic finish. With Arizona trailing 13-10 entering the fourth quarter, Palmer led an 80-yard TD drive, capped by a fortuitous pass to Michael Floyd for six. After the game was shockingly sent to overtime thanks to a Hail Mary, Palmer athletically scrambled to find his favorite target Larry Fitzgerald for a 75-yard catch-and-run on the first play of the extra session, setting up the game-winning shovel pass to the future Hall of Famer. At 36, the veteran quarterback earned his first career playoff victory and now stands one win from the Super Bowl.

Best of the Rest

Clay Matthews, LB, Packers - 6 tackles (5 solo) including one for loss

Nick Perry, OLB, Packers - 4 tackles (3 solo) including a sack

Frostee Rucker, DE, Cardinals - One tackle for loss

Ryan Kalil, C, Panthers - All-pro center helped Carolina topple the Seahawks


Growing Seeds

| No Comments
USC men's tennis legend Steve Johnson is seeded at a grand slam tournament for the first time in his professional career, starting the Australian Open at No. 31. The American, who made it to the third round in Melbourne last year, will open the tournament against Great Britain's Aljaz Bedene.

The Greatest American.jpg

SooHoo Gallery: USC Hoops vs. UCLA

| No Comments
USC men's basketball's win over UCLA at Pauley Pavilion was so big that even Jon SooHoo was in the house to take pictures for us. Here are his images from the night:

01/14/16-USC@UCLAMEN - Images by Jon SooHoo

Trojans on Top

| No Comments
USC has taken over the lead in the SoCal BMW Crosstown Cup thanks to men's basketball's win over UCLA in Pauley Pavilion on Wednesday Night. The Trojans' victory was worth five points, leaving the other five to be decided in the rematch at Galen Center on February 4.

Click here for the Crosstown Cup standings.

Next up: USC men's volleyball at UCLA on January 23.


NFL to LA: Pat Haden

| No Comments
Written by Caroline Deisley, USC blog contributor

The Los Angeles Rams are officially returning home, 22 years after relocating to St. Louis. The NFL voted on Tuesday afternoon 30-2 in favor of moving the St. Louis Rams to the new Inglewood stadium, while also giving the San Diego Chargers a one-year option to join the Rams in the same stadium that is set to be completed by 2019.

In the meantime, the Los Angeles Rams will share a home with the USC Trojans at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. USC athletic director Pat Haden, who was a quarterback for the Rams from 1976-1981, spoke to a few media members on Wednesday to explain the impact of the NFL's decision on the Coliseum and its renovation plans.

"It's great for NFL fans here in Los Angeles," said Haden. "Playing for them was a wonderful experience for me to be able to play my entire high school, college and professional career here in Los Angeles... It's going to be really nice to call them the Los Angeles Rams again."

Since the Trojans and Rams will be sharing a stadium, plenty of decisions need to be made in the next few months to ensure that the Coliseum is suitable to house both teams for the time being. Haden outlined a few of the biggest concerns saying that the first priorities are field maintenance and the Coliseum's lights.

"There are certain NFL standards that must be met like lighting for example," explained Haden. "The field, the condition of the turf, is really great with one team, but with two, it's something we're going to be talking about what we might want to do. There's probably a whole variety of other things that we haven't thought about that we'll work through over the next few months."

Here is USC AD Pat Haden's full response to the return of the Los Angeles Rams...

Photo Gallery: Taking Over Pauley

| No Comments
USC men's basketball snapped its six-game losing streak against UCLA by going into Pauley Pavilion and dominating the Bruins, 89-75. The Trojans led by as many as 21 points thanks to a brilliant team performance, highlighted by freshman Chimezie Metu (21 points and 8 rebounds) and sophomore Jordan McLaughlin (23 points and 4 assists).

Here are the John McGillen photos:

3-Points: USC 89, UCLA 75

| No Comments
Written by Caroline Deisley and Sarah Bergstrom, USC blog contributors

The USC men's basketball team defeated UCLA at Pauley Pavilion, 85-79, snapping the Bruins' 12-game Pac-12 home winning streak to secure the Trojans' third-consecutive Pac-12 victory. Not only did the Trojans dominate their crosstown rivals, but they also gave USC the lead in the BMW Crosstown Cup standings.

JMAC FINAL UCLA.jpgClick here for a full recap from tonight's rivalry victory.

It Really Does Take A Team

The Trojans needed every member of their team to get the job done on Wednesday night, with their bench outscoring UCLA, 32-2. Freshman Chimezie Metu led this USC bench effort, scoring a career-high 21 points on 80 percent shooting. 

"If one person doesn't bring it that's in the starting lineup, the next person has to step up and be ready to go," said sophomore point guard Jordan McLaughlin. "It's huge that we have a deep bench." 

USC's mindset since the start of the season is that it takes a team, and Wednesday night's performance demonstrated just how confident the Trojans are in their complete roster. Six different players have led USC in scoring through 18 games this year, and week-in and week-out the Trojans can expect someone new to step up when they need it most. 

So Fresh, So Fly
Speaking of the freshman... "Air" Metu made a statement in his first crosstown showdown, coming off the bench to completely change the game (and throw down a highlight-worthy dunk). When the forward entered the game, he immediately started nailing jumpers and grabbing rebounds, while making his presence in the paint known to UCLA's aggressive guards. This game in particular demonstrated the freshman's rapid progress since arriving at USC. While displaying obvious raw talent, Metu has also adjusted to collegiate basketball, quickly understanding the nuances of the game in order to have a career-night on one of college basketball's largest stages. The best part for Trojan fans is he isn't anywhere close to the brink of his potential. 

"He doesn't have a ceiling. He's a freak athlete," said McLaughlin. "The sky's the limit for him."

Air Jordan

The USC shooters were on fire at Pauley Pavilion shooting 45.6 percent from the field, but no one hit more crucial jumpers than McLaughlin. The sophomore point guard finished with a season-high 23 points on five three-pointers, while playing more minutes than anyone else on his team. McLaughlin's performance set the tone for the Trojans' dominating effort throughout the game as they led the Bruins for nearly 35 minutes of play. After two statement victories, USC has earned a break to recover and revel in its wins before hitting the road next weekend to face Oregon and Oregon State. The Trojans' last three victories are fueling their confidence early in the season, but don't doubt that USC is still hungry.

"We're 4-1 in the Pac-12, but I think the league is as good as it has been in a long time. There are no off nights this year," said Enfield. "This is a great win for our team and our program. It's hard to come into Pauley [Pavilion] and get a victory. But, we're certainly not going to go home and feel like we've done something. We've got a lot of basketball to play."

Check out all the highlights from the Trojans' dominant victory. We won't tell anyone if you watch it more than once...

Bradford Named DB Coach

| No Comments
USC head coach Clay Helton has tabbed Ronnie Bradford to lead the secondary after the former NFL defensive back spent the last three seasons as an assistant coach at Louisiana Tech. Bradford, who has 13 years of coaching experience, spent seven seasons as an assistant coach in the NFL with the Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs before moving to the college sidelines.

"We are extremely pleased to welcome Ronnie Bradford to the Trojan Family," said Helton.  "His 17 years of experience in the NFL as both a player and a coach jumped out to us immediately.  I am very impressed with his ability to coach technique and fundamentals at the defensive back position.  He is a true technician.  His energy and personality is infectious and will be valuable in recruiting.  There also is a terrific chemistry between Ronnie and our new defensive coordinator, Clancy Pendergast, after having worked together both at the Kansas City Chiefs and at Cal."

Click here for the complete story.

Bradford played 10 seasons in the NFL with the Broncos (1993-95), Arizona Cardinals (1996), Atlanta Falcons (1997-2001) and Minnesota Vikings (2002).  In his career, he played in 136 games (99 starts), getting 523 tackles, 14 interceptions (with 1 TD), 70 pass deflections, 4 forced fumbles and 2 fumble recoveries.  He intercepted a pass in Super Bowl XXXIII as a member of the 1998 NFC champion Falcons. 

A Colorado alum, Bradford, 45, worked with USC defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast in 2010 at Cal and also the Chiefs. He went on to coach a year at Memphis in 2011 before his three-year stint at Louisiana Tech.


State of Troy: January 2016

| No Comments
Each month, we interview USC Athletic Director Pat Haden to get his take on the hot topics around Heritage Hall.

Haden on men's basketball's resurgence...

USC_mens_basketball_arizona-1903.jpgI am delighted for Andy Enfield and our players, and maybe more than anything, I am thrilled for our core group of basketball fans who have loyally stuck with this program over some trying years. Andy had a plan, and we knew that change was not going to happen overnight, but we certainly are a much improved program now. And, I think we are going to continue to improve, not only over the course of this season, but the coming years. I hope the success is embraced by our students and non-core fans. The environment for the quadruple overtime win against Arizona was magical. It was transformative for the team, and our fans can be worth six or eight points, which is enough to swing a bunch of games in this conference. We hope to get that kind of support the rest of the year.

Click here for men's basketball ticket information.

Haden on women's basketball's return to the Top 25...

Cynthia Cooper-Dyke brought in some new coaches, highlighted by Beth Burns, and it has really made a difference. We are a well coached team. And, we have a superb recruiting class coming in next year. Much like men's basketball, the Pac-12 is pretty equal on the women's side, so every game is hotly contested. We had a terrific win over a very good UCLA team on Sunday to even up the BMW Crosstown Cup. I am looking forward to the rest of the season.

Click here for women's basketball ticket information.

Haden on Clay Helton's major coaching hires...

He has a philosophy of having three coordinators: offense, defense and special teams. He really believes that you need to have somebody entirely focused on special teams. He and I are in agreement that John Baxter is the best special teams coach that we have ever been around. Clancy Pendergast led us to the best defense in the conference in 2013, so it is good to have him back. And on offense, promoting Tee Martin to offensive coordinator is well deserved. This is the next step in his career. We are excited about our prospects for 2016 as we continue to build the staff.

Click here for season ticket information.

Haden-Rams.jpgHaden on the Rams returning to Los Angeles...

I am delighted to have my former team back in Los Angeles, and calling them the "Los Angeles Rams" again. I had a great experience in my years with the team, including playing in the Coliseum after my USC days. Los Angeles gets its wish for an NFL franchise, and I am thrilled that it is the Rams. As for the Coliseum, USC's lease with the Coliseum Commission only allows one NFL team to play in the Coliseum at any given time, so in order for two teams to play in the Coliseum, both the Coliseum Commission and the California Science Center Board would need to approve a second team by amending our lease.

Haden on the Stevens Academic Center's effect on academic improvement...

Since we opened the doors of the Stevens Academic Center in August 2012, the level of academic engagement and success for our student-athletes has increased tremendously. We attribute a very large portion of that success to the new academic facility that has provided significantly more study space and a much better layout that is conducive to the various functions our academic support staff meets. We also immediately noticed a huge increase in the amount of time our student-athletes spend studying in our facility as well as a significant increase in the request for academic services from student-athletes in all 21 of our sports.  Since the Stevens Academic Center opened, we have an average semester GPA of 2.91 versus 2.81 the prior 12 years, and improvements in the number of student-athletes on the Dean's List with an average of 120.1 versus 97 the prior 12 years, an increase in the average number of 3.0 and higher GPAs of 287.5 versus 248 the prior 12 years, and a steady reduction in student-athletes below a 2.0 (52.7 versus 68.1). In the last 3 years, we have had an average of 12 student-athletes on academic probation per semester. Prior to the opening of the Stevens Academic Center, we had an average of 33 student-athletes on probation, dating back to Fall 2000.

Click here for the fall semester report card.

Haden on the new tennis stadium...

We are thrilled to open the new Marks Tennis Stadium and Buntmann Family Tennis Center in February. It had not been renovated in three decades, so the players and coaches are thrilled with the enhancements. We had a handful of very significant donors, some of them former student-athletes, who gave back for this. We are going to have the finest tennis facility in the country, which is deserving of our two programs. The men's team has been dominant under Peter Smith and long before him, and the women's program is knocking on the national championship door seemingly every year under Richard Gallien.