As the whole Pete Carroll Saga played out over the weekend, I couldn't help but think of two distinct ways that it could affect Syracuse. One in an obvious way and one in an unlikely-yet-possible way.
(And by the way, no Syracuse fan should feel bad for Carroll and USC, considering The Greg Robinson Era was his fault)
The obvious way? USC is going to be a weaker football team over the next couple seasons. I think that's a fair assumption to make. Recruits are already jumping ship. Whoever the new coach is, he won't have the same cache that Carroll has accumulated for the past decade. It's going to take a little while for the Trojans to regain their foothold among the elite programs in the eyes of a lot of people. And that makes them vulnerable.
Which is good news for Syracuse, who visits Southern Cal in 2011. Now, a lot can happen over two seasons so it would be unwise and unfair to say that the Orange have a good chance to beat the Trojans in that game. Who knows where both programs will be by then? But if you look at what's possible and probable, you're looking at a Syracuse team that should be coming off a bowl season (IMO) and a USC team that probably had a similar season, which would be considered disappointing by their standards. The Orange "should" be recruiting very well by then while the Trojans might not be getting the same blue chippers they've been used to.
If I had to guess right here and now I'd say USC is probably still favored strongly in that game, but not anywhere near as much as they would be if Pete Carroll is still there. And I think that's all Syracuse fans can ask for at this moment in time. That they walk into the Coliseum in two years with a fighting chance. My money is on that becoming a reality.
The not-so-obvious way this could affect the Orange? Look at all of the things going on with USC Athletics right now. Pete Carroll is gone. Joe McKnight is leaving while under investigation over NCAA infractions. The basketball team just put itself on probation and banned itself from the postseason over the OJ Mayo infractions. The stink of Tim Floyd's tenure still permeates the program. Reggie Bush is finally meeting with the NCAA to discuss allegations over benefits he received at USC.
By all accounts, there is a disaster brewing at USC. And in situations like this, everything ultimately leads back to one person. Athletic Director Mike Garrett. Everything listed above happened under his watch. Both of the coaches who allowed them to happen are gone. When the hammer eventually drops, a lot of people are going to want someone to take the fall. Garrett's the only one left standing, which means there's a good chance he won't be when the smoke clears
When it comes to sanctions and poor judgment, why isn't USC spanking Garrett?
There is lots of talk about how the basketball program is assuming the role of sacrificial lamb in the hopes its slaughter might mitigate any football punishment, but that also takes the blame off Garrett, who deserves it all.
So if the assumption is that Garrett could end up taking the ultimate fall for what's happened under his watch, that would mean the position of Athletic Director at USC would be available. And if that's the case, I can think of one person in particular who would be interested in gauging the possibility of filling it.
Former senior associate athletic director for USC and current Syracuse Director of Athletics DOCTOR Daryl Gross.
Now, I have absolutely no idea if he's interested and it's just a hunch, but, you gotta imagine Gross sees that as a dream job and an enormous step up, right? He's a Los Angeles guy, made his initial mark at USC where he spent 14 years, got his Master's from USC, credited by some (including himself) as the guy who brought Pete Carroll to USC, and this could be his opportunity to be its savior once again.
I have to imagine he makes that call. And if he does and things fall into place, could we actually find ourselves lining up across from Daryl two years from now in Southern California, watching him talk on four cellphones at once while wearing red rather than orange? Likely? Maybe not. But possible.