USC coach Steve Sarkisian admitted after the spring game on Saturday that he had “dropped the ball.”
Did the coach forget to call a certain play? Was there a problem with the substitution patterns?
No, nothing like that. The error to which Sarksisian copped to involved a USC tradition that goes back 25 years when linebacker Junior Seau wore the No. 55. Since that time, other star defensive players from Willie McGinest to Chris Claiborne and Keith Rivers have also worn the heralded number. It has taken on a life of itself in Trojan lore.
This spring, Sarkisian gave No. 55 to early enrollee offensive lineman Toa Lobendahn, who has worked his way into the first unit at left guard. Junior linebacker Lamar Dawson -- who sat out this spring with an injury -- also wears No. 55.
When McGinest was asked about an offensive player wearing his number, he made his thoughts clear.
“USC is all about tradition, and to put that number on means something,” McGinest said, while being interviewed during the spring game. “We’ve got to have some meetings and conversations with Sark about that.”
Sarkisian quickly gave a mea culpa in his post-spring game news conference.
“It’s a little bit of miscommunication there, and I probably dropped the ball so we’ll fix it,” Sarkisian said. “It’s a great number and a historical number, and I’ve got a lot of respect for the guys who have worn it.”
When asked if Lobendahn will be wearing No. 55 when fall camp rolls around, Sarkisian answered, “probably not.”