After USC pasted Oklahoma in the 2005 Orange Bowl to win the National Title, Bill Walsh had a little column in the Los Angeles Times. I only remembered this because I happened to be in L.A. that week, and happened to buy a copy (I know, no one buys newspapers anymore). If you want to refresh your memory about what happened in the game, see the video below, but many of Walsh’s comments still resonate years later — and further, all of us are fans on some level.
So much for all the rhetoric that Oklahoma and that part of the country has the best football. . . . The Sooners looked good on their opening drive. But after that, it became obvious that USC was clearly a better football team in every facet of the game — from the coaching to the play-calling to the talent on the field and the confidence that they had.
The Southern Cal players just played smarter, more mature football. Oklahoma came unraveled after about 20 minutes, to the point where it wasn’t really the Oklahoma team we were looking at. The Sooners were a shadow of the team we saw this season.
I give a lot of credit to USC’s coaching staff for that. Pete Carroll is the most dynamic coach in all of football right now. He’s able to motivate men and bring them together, assemble a top coaching staff, and he has so much enthusiasm and energy. He also has incredible knowledge of the game. He’s been one of the top defensive coordinators in the NFL, and he’s got a great football mind.
When you combine Pete with what Norm Chow does as USC’s offensive coordinator, it forms the heart of the best coaching staff in college football — and probably the best in all of football.
The best coaches take care of the smallest details. For instance, the slipping and sliding of some of the Oklahoma players was probably due to the wrong cleats on that surface. That’s how the details can kill you. Oklahoma gave away points because their receivers slipped. . . .
Pete is the ultimate in a new wave of American football coaches who are actively involved with their players and heavily contribute to the strategies and tactics of the game. You can see that in his defense. The tackling of the USC defensive players collectively was a clinic for everyone in football, including the NFL. They did an incredible job. You don’t see that in the NFL. It’s just because they’re so intense, they believe and they’re willing to sacrifice. . . .
It helps a coach to have a talented quarterback, and Matt Leinart is clearly one of those. He has beautiful touch. He just throws a nice, soft, catchable ball. That’s why these guys are making such excellent catches. Joe Montana used to do that. He threw such a catchable ball that it allowed great receivers to make a play on it. . . .
I can see [Leinert] making the transition to the NFL. Make no mistake, it will be a transition. NFL defensive players are so much faster and they cover so much better. So I don’t know how tough the transition will be, but if he goes to a program with a solid, established system he’ll do fine.
He’s benefited greatly from working with Norm Chow. I was particularly impressed with the call Norm made on an early touchdown pass to Steve Smith. On the play before, the Oklahoma corner was beat and then clearly injured his shoulder. Norm saw that, and immediately called the next play right over his head for a touchdown.
We’re witnessing the evolution of offensive football. Anyone who says you have to establish the run before you can do anything is fooling themselves. They’re living in the deep dark past. It’s just not the way the game’s played now. Just look at the way the Trojans tore apart Oklahoma, with Leinart hitting receivers all over the field.
We’re never going to see that Woody Hayes-, Bo Schembechler- style of football again, that run-first mentality. The game has totally changed in a matter of eight to 10 years, and especially in the last three or four. People are playing out of the shotgun, they have mobile quarterbacks, multiple receivers, and they’re throwing the ball like crazy.
There will be at least 10 quarterbacks out of college this year who will make an NFL team. For the NFL ever to say again that they aren’t producing quarterbacks in college is just ridiculous. . . .