What Went Wrong When the 2005 USC Trojans Left the Nest?

The Lost Boys of Troy

Hailed as the greatest college offense of our time, the swaggering 2005 USC Trojans were destined to produce a crop of NFL greats. Yet few found success in the pros, and with the benefit of hindsight, Austin Murphy writes that NFL scouts, coaches and general managers have admitted to looking at members of that team through cardinal-and-gold tinted glasses (page 40).

Some USC players shined in the NFL, such as Keneche Udeze and Mike Patterson, but their careers were cut short by freak medical conditions. Most NFL-bound Trojans from that era, however, hit the pavement after leaving Pete Carroll’s program, and struggled with discipline, character and conditioning issues that kept them from succeeding at the next level.

Says one assistant G.M. of the tendency at the time to overrate USC players, “You don’t think you’re doing it, but sometimes you subconsciously [escalate a guy’s draft stock] based on the strength of the brand. [USC] won 34 straight games, they were very well coached and they ran a pro-style scheme similar to what you see at this level…. What you had was a lot of guys that played even better than they were.”


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