Hats off to Sneaky Pete, he’s managed to put together one of the more impressive runs in college football history since taking over at USC in 2001. He’s brought one of the most storied programs in the country back from the doldrums and turned them into a perennial national title contender. He’s amassed more talent than any other team in the country. He dominates the Pac-10 year in and year out. The boys at the World Wide Leader have a collective man crush on him and constantly praise the Trojan lord and his program. He’s built all of that with a style and fervor that I dare say even bests the likes of old school suspects like Barry Switzer and Jimmy Johnson. He has gangster rappers make appearances at practice and hang out on the sidelines at games. Will Farrell stops by to play practical jokes on the team. He runs a "loose" program and embraces the Hollywood lifestyle. And thus far Sneaky Pete has proven to be all Kevlar, successfully skirting even the slightest NCAA wrist slap despite amassing a laundry list of suspect incidents and infractions that programs like this tend to rack up. UCLA fans keep a running list over on bruinsnation but thus far he’s navigated every bit of it and come up roses. How long can he keep it up? The wheels have to come off at some point and right now Sneaky Pete is staring at a crossroads that’s more dangerous than any he’s come to yet. It isn't the pending Reggie Bush trial over the 300k he allegedly got paid by wannabee sports marketers while playing for the Trojans. It isn’t the fact that he lost 10 starters on defense, he’ll replace them with another 10 NFL prospects. It isn’t the fact he lost both coordinators to Washington, I’m sure he’ll work right through that too. But he does have one very large decision to make that could ultimately determine his fate.
The decision is whether or not to start Mitch Mustain at quarterback in 2009. If he doesn’t start Mitch he might have to go toe to toe with his most formidable test yet. That test is in the form of a middle aged woman named Beck Campbell. In case you forgot Ms. Campbell publicly kicked Houston Nutt and Arkansas AD Frank Broyles square in the balls a couple of years ago right before she jerked her freshman phenom Mitchie right out from under their noses. Those dirty bastards were guilty of not letting her true freshman son throw as many passes as he’d expected to in the offense he’d been promised the Hogs were going to run with his high school coach as the Offensive Coordinator. It didn’t matter to her that they had Darren McFadden and Felix Jones busy slapping a patent on the "Wildcat" formation while winning the SEC West. The whole affair was drama of the highest and most ridiculous order and she was right in the middle of it. The fact that Broyles met with her and that she had a presser afterwards to talk about it still blows my mind. When the dust settled she and her precious little Mitch ended up on Sneaky Pete’s doorstep and that ballsy bastard jumped right on board the Mitch & Mommy crazy train. Now he’s entering 2009 at its mercy. He’s got two other 5 star QB’s in Aaron Corp and Matt Barkley waiting in the wings and they will definitely give Mitch a run for his money. But if Pete starts one of them he’s going to have to either give Mitch the hard sell on the Matt Cassell route or send his boy Snoop to scare him into silence. Because if that kid knows anything about the shady stuff that goes on in that program Beck Campbell’s next presser might just be live from Los Angeles, and it also just might be the one that brings down the house.