Why USC Football fans should be concerned. Very concerned.

If you haven’t heard it already, USC football lost once again to an unranked team (and a Pac-10 opponent) severely hindering its hopes for another Pac-10 championship and BCS Bowl appearance.

Now what I’m about to say may seem like heracy given how dedicated I am to the USC Football program, but here I go. The USC team is just not that good this season and they have bigger problems than their annual lapse of concentration. Hans Tessalar of The Los Angeles Times writes:

“The surprise from the 16-13 loss to Washington on Saturday is that the Trojans have now played two bad games in a row.”

That isn’t a surprise, that’s a fact. The team is flat, uninspired, slllloooowwww, soft, without field leadership and inexperienced. The highly touted offensive line got pushed around the field by both Ohio State and Washington. The play calling looked more like that of Jim Tressel than “Big Balls” Pete.

Now we’ve had stupidass losses before, Oregon State, Cal, Oregon, Stanford, and Stanford but in each of those games there was a clear reason including the famous “they had a running back that was so small our defense couldn’t see him” excuse.  I didn’t say they were good excuses, just clear. But in all of those seasons the team rebounded and asserted itself as the dominant force in the Pac-10 if not in college football. Why? Because those teams still had something that was undeniably “dominant”, an offensive line, a defense, a quarterback/wide receiver, Thunder and Lightning, something that you could look at and say, yup, we got cocky and complacent and blew it, but we’re a solid team and we’ll adjust and they did.

This season is different. This team is not dominant ANYWHERE! Not even in special teams. In short, this is NOT the type of USC team we’ve become accustomed to. This is much more like the teams of the drought years, and I can say this because from the year I started college to the year I graduated grad school I had to endure loss after loss to both UCLA and Notre Dame. I for one do not want to go back there again.

But I digress, the biggest issue that nobody is talking about is that this isn’t an issue of getting their quarterback some experience in games. And the issue is not that USC is losing, it’s that they might not be able to get better.

The secret sauce in USC’s success is that any team they have faced on a Saturday afternoon since 2001 has never been as good as who they have faced every day in practice. Yes the key to USC’s success is that because they have been so dominant that they have practiced to the level of USC Football, the level of their competition has largely been irrelevant as very few teams have been able to rival the speed, athleticism, inspiration and focused passion and play calling of a USC Football team.  So Saturday’s games have been really an extension of team scrimmages rather than a test of ability or execution. Now throw in Pete Carroll’s inspired leadership and a Norm Chow offense and you have magic. But they couldn’t have done it without both of these factors. Inspiring medicoracy might get you a surprise performance but it isn’t sustainable and it certainly doesn’t lead to national championships.

With the team this season being so average in every way, they won’t be practicing against competition that is as good as let alone better than who they will face on Saturdays. And the old adage of “the harder you sweat in practice, the less you bleed in battle” may not apply, because while they might put in the effort, they simply won’t have the competition across the line to MAKE them better.

And that should be frightening to the USC faithful.

It's Been Far Too Long

This is actually a post to let you know that I am going to begin posting again very soon.

I have spent the last year directing one of the largest performance improvement rollouts in our firm’s history and it has kept me away from having even a few minutes to blog with any regularity.

What I can tell you is that the lessons learned during this effort (and it is still going on) you will be able to use to improve the performance of you, your organisation and your people.

For anyone contemplating a transformational effort of your own, either personally or organisationally, you should know that the process and the roadmap are identical – and in some cases, what I’ve learned is that we in the human athletic performance arena actually do a better job than those in the organisational performance space. But there is always time to improve and that’s what I’m hoping to share with you, and learn more about from you, going forward.

We covered all aspects of a major culture and mindset change – training, community, social networking technologies, leadership engagement, measurements and incentives, and communications.

More to follow on this soon. For now, I wanted to thank Mashable, Professor Erich (who’s now living in beautiful Utah) and the whole WordPress vulnerability issue for reminding me that while 140 characters is useful, sometimes we need to provide a bit more context and narrative.