Is USC College Football’s Most Hated Team Again?

For most of the early-mid 2000’s, USC was on top of the football world.

The Trojans, led by Pete Carroll, tore through the then Pac-10, winning national titles and Rose Bowls seemingly every year, churning out NFL talent, grabbing Heisman Trophies and embracing the local connection with Hollywood.

The inarguable swagger of the those teams and their success contributed to a sport wide animosity towards SC.

But a new report in The Athletic makes the claim that the current Trojans have rapidly regained the status being one of the “most hated teams” in college football.

LOS ANGELES, CA – APRIL 23: Quarterback Caleb Williams #13 of the USC Trojans warms for the 2022 USC Spring Football game at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on April 23, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

The initial focus is on Oklahoma’s newfound hatred of USC for hiring away head coach Lincoln Riley for an enormous, undisclosed amount of money.

One local columnist claimed that OU fans would rather cheer for historic rival Texas than root for the Trojans

“I would think if Texas played USC, that most OU fans would hold their nose and cheer for Texas. They wouldn’t want to, but I think they would. They really want to see Lincoln Riley fail.”

But the article goes further, saying SC is now the “most hated team in college football:”

“In the months since, USC has transformed into the most hated team in college football — one that will need to be entirely comfortable assuming the sport’s villain role this fall.”

The focus is mainly on Riley’s raiding of the transfer portal to restock the SC roster, taking former OU players, famously prying Jordan Addison away from Pittsburgh, and grabbing star running back Travis Dye.

Then, after a fascinating recruiting period, the Trojans announced they were bolting the Pac-12 for greener financial pastures in the Big 10, generating further animosity.

All of these issues are legitimate – USC has, maybe more than anyone, used the transfer portal after Lincoln Riley took over.

They’ve faced questions over NIL and the potential money involved in grabbing the most highly valued players.

But at the same time, USC needs to actually win something in order to return to the top of the “most hated” heap.

Winning the offseason, while potentially upsetting to some groups, doesn’t seem to be create that level of animosity. What people really hate is when the same team wins over and over and over again.

USC hasn’t done that since Carroll.

It’s certainly possible that Riley turns the Trojans into an immediate juggernaut, but until that happens, it seems extremely premature to suggest that most college football fans hate SC as much as say, Alabama.

But for those within the program, they seem to revel in the possibility of being hated again – it means they’re doing something right.

Written by Ian Miller

Ian Miller is a former award watching high school actor, ice cream expert and long suffering Dodgers fan. He spends most of his time golfing, eating as much pizza as humanly possible, reading about World War I history, and trying to get the remote back from his dog. Follow him on Twitter.

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  1. Wasn’t Lane Kiffen once the head coach at USC? I mean, how can you hate a program MORE than one Lane Kiffen is coaching…. Why Nick Saban decided to resurrect his career is a mystery — maybe it was to prove he could rehabilitate a maggot-infested, dead skunk into a.. umm.. well, something ABOVE a maggot-infested, dead skunk…

    At any rate, the ONLY reason USC MIGHT be more hated than Ole Miss is because most people could care less about Ole Miss — regardless of what mindless drivel is herding the cats in Oxford today.

    AND let’s not forget that Lincoln Riley bailed on OU as soon as he realized he was gonna be dealing wth 24/7/365 SEC football. He scampered away to the paper-tiger PAC-12 to avoid the pressure of having to deal with the possibility of going a solid 5-5 in conference with a questionable game vs the likes of MissSt or South Carolina (The Real USC) holding his career in the balance…. I say: “Cool. we knew Lincoln will fold like a chap suit when the chips are against him…” Reminiscent of his “Affirmative action” trips to the National Championship playoffs — “one and done” is the albatross hanging upon Riley’s neck; no one sees him doing any better, but USC will be happy to get the invite…

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