USC Football: Trojans' 6 Best Moments of 2013
With a tumultuous 2013 season for the USC Trojans football team wrapped up, it is time to look back on what was an adventurous campaign for the men of Troy.
Coaching changes, injuries and intrigue of all forms indelibly stamped their mark on this year's Trojans. When all was said and done, 2013 was one of the most memorable of all time for the Cardinal and Gold, though not always for positive reasons.
Now, with the season in the rear-view mirror, fans of the program can ponder the myriad of events that made this year both satisfying and difficult all at once.
This slideshow will take a look back at the season just completed and identify some golden moments for USC as it meandered through one of the most difficult seasons in recent memory.
So without further delay, here are some of the best moments of USC's 2013 season.
Ed Orgeron Is Named the Interim Head Coach
So I'll bet you were waiting for me to identify the firing of head coach Lane Kiffin as one of the best moments of 2013 for the Trojans.
Well, that's not going to happen.
I won't take satisfaction over a man who did his best losing his job for whatever reasons—even if there were a multitude of those.
Instead, I will celebrate the naming of longtime assistant Ed Orgeron as the interim head man after Kiffin was fired unceremoniously following the Arizona State loss.
Orgeron brought an unmistakable enthusiasm to the Trojans, and the players rallied to his infectious spirit and love for his players and the program.
Unfortunately for Orgeron, his 6-2 record after taking over wasn't good enough to land the permanent job. The fact that the two losses were to Notre Dame and UCLA—USC's main rivals—probably cost the gravel-voiced Cajun any real possibility for removing the "interim" tag from his job description.
Even more unfortunate for both Orgeron and USC was the response Orgeron gave after being passed over for the job when he abruptly quit prior to the Las Vegas Bowl.
Rumor has it that USC is pursuing Orgeron again, per Tom Fornelli of CBS Sports. If successful, this slideshow would have to be amended to celebrate his return.
Buck Allen Busts out Against Oregon State and Starts His Remarkable Run in 2013
For two years, Javorius "Buck" Allen languished on USC's bench while other running backs took turns as the featured runner in the Trojans backfield.
Of course, that was while Lane Kiffin was calling the shots. When he departed, Allen got his chance, and boy, did he take advantage of it.
It all started for Allen in the ninth game when he toted the rock 16 times for 133 yards and three touchdowns on the road against Oregon State in a game that USC easily won—thanks in large part to Allen's efforts.
After that game, Allen became a featured back for the Trojans and finished the season with 785 yards and 14 touchdowns despite not seeing significant playing time until two-thirds of the season was completed.
Allen provided many great moments for USC in 2013, but it all started against Oregon State in a game the Trojans had to win.
Nelson Agholor Takes Two Punts to the House Against Cal
Recent history shows that USC has pretty much had its way with Cal over the last decade, so when the Trojans beat the Bears in the 10th game of the season, it came as little surprise to those who follow the men of Troy.
But while the outcome may have been predictable, how USC got there was not.
Displaying high special-teams acumen—USC will miss you, John Baxter—Nelson Agholor pulled double duty and showed that he is not only a dangerous receiver but also an electric punt returner as he returned two of those to the promised land.
Averaging a ridiculous 84 yards per return, Agholor tied a team and Pac-12 record as he helped USC to yet another easy win at Berkeley, 62-28.
Although the game itself was pretty boring, there was nothing routine about Agholor's efforts on special teams as he showed the speed and elusiveness that makes him so dangerous in the passing game.
Did I mention that USC will miss John Baxter and his special teams' brilliance?
Of course I did.
USC Upsets Top-Five Ranked Stanford
After Ed Orgeron took over for Lane Kiffin and lost his first game on the road against Notre Dame, the Trojans reeled off five consecutive victories. The fourth game in that run pitted USC against their nemesis, Stanford.
The Cardinal came into that game sporting a top-five national ranking. Anyone who followed the sport knew that Stanford was USC's own personal "Boogeyman" after dominating the Trojans in recent years.
It wouldn't matter on that Saturday afternoon at the Coliseum.
Relying on a tough defense and offering just enough offense to make it work, USC pulled off the upset 20-17, and the "keep Coach O" rallying cries began in earnest.
Although it wouldn't secure the head coaching gig for Orgeron, when the gun sounded ending that game, it marked one of the best moments in 2013 for the Trojans.
USC Introduces Steve Sarkisian as Its New Head Coach
He may or may not have been athletic director Pat Haden's first choice, and for many Trojan fans, he certainly wasn't. But when former Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian accepted the USC job, it represented one of the best moments not only for 2013 but (the fans hope) long beyond this year.
Returning to the venue of so much of his past success, Sark stayed behind the scenes as USC prepared for the Las Vegas Bowl but quietly served notice that he would put his own stamp on the program for 2014 and beyond.
Now in the process of securing his first Trojan recruiting class and crafting his staff, Sarkisian is only just setting a foundation for his USC legacy.
Years from now, Trojan fans will hopefully look back and say Sark's hiring was one of the best USC moments in 2013.
USC Gets Its 10th Win with a Big Victory over Fresno State in the Las Vegas Bowl
When one stops to ponder the things USC had to overcome in 2013, it is remarkable that the Trojans could even find a way to be competitive this year.
Playing for three head coaches in one year, the Trojans also had to overcome an inordinate amount of injuries and did so with a severely depleted roster where, more often than not, they had to play with 15-25 fewer scholarship players than their opponents.
However, the 2013 edition of the men of Troy was not a team that looked for excuses, although there were many available. Somehow USC not only made a bowl game but did so knowing a victory would result in the magical 10th win of the season.
Dialing up an inspired effort as a tribute to the now-departed Ed Orgeron, the Trojans rose up and delivered one of their best efforts of the season by dominating an 11-1 Fresno State team 45-20 and securing that double-digit win total for this year.
After all of the trials and tribulations USC experienced in 2013, winning the Las Vegas Bowl certainly qualifies as one of the best moments this year.
While 2013 will be remembered as a roller-coaster ride for the men of Troy, given the tremendous hurdles they overcame, it will also go down as a successful season to be sure.
Now with 10 wins under their belts, USC approaches 2014 as a team on the move with a new coach and attitude. The Trojans will find themselves as a serious contender in the Pac-12's southern division.
But whatever success the Trojans find next year will have been built on a foundation laid in 2013 when USC persevered in a season that could have been easily given up as lost.
For those Trojans who return in 2014, they can fondly look back to the year before with pride, knowing that whatever they achieve next year could not have occurred without the best moments found in 2013.
And for that, Trojan fans should offer a tip of the cap for those moments they hope will lead to even more next year.