By Tom Galaraga
Ten-years ago this week, Herm Edwards enlightened the sporting world with an insight that was painfully obvious yet often forgot. ‘HELLO!!! You play to win the game… You don’t just play to play it.’
The rant, which inevitably became an iconic blip in the televisual-lexicon, no doubt re-fueled the 2-5 New York Jets and ignited a four-game win streak. Although the Jets season ended in the second round of the play-offs when they were defeated by the Oakland Raiders for the second year in a row, Edwards post-game interview proved to indeed be a highlight for the ages.
His point seems obvious right now, taken out of context, but what Edwards was really hinting at was the obligation that each and every athlete has to perform at his or her best, at all times. It doesn’t matter if your team has never won, isn’t expected to win, or isn’t even respected–as an athlete you have no choice but to compete.
But amidst all the hype and expectations that accompany the sporting-media world–especially the college football pre-season–this is often times forgotten.
Where is USC? Less than eight weeks have passed since this writer proclaimed Matt Barkley as the Heisman Trophy front-runner, only to perhaps be surpassed by his own receiving core Robert Woods and Marqise Lee. Yet, expectations aside, the Trojans have seemingly become irrelevant in regards to any Heisman or championship race.
Going into week 10 the Trojans are fifth in the Pac-12 power rankings, and have been plagued by penalties and sloppy play. That many of these penalties have come after the whistle can only point to a lack of discipline, and/or poor coaching on Lane Kiffin’s behalf. Apparently, USC’s own expectations have got the best of them. And after their loss to the Arizona Wildcats last week, the outlook for a Saturday’s Oregon Duck-hunt doesn’t look so good. But give it to Arizona. They played ‘to win the game.’ And they did.
Meanwhile, the Ohio State Buckeyes remain number one in the Big Ten power rankings, and are still undefeated. Nebraska, who was crushed by the Buckeyes three-weeks ago, are holding onto the second spot in the power rankings and are followed by Penn State, Silas Redd’s former team, Michigan and Northwestern.