LOS ANGELES — The Cardinal and Gold take on the Cardinals this Saturday and open as 29.5 point favorites, as the soon-to-be form rivals tango at the LA Coliseum for what could be the last time in a long time.
Last year, Stanford tacked on 14 points in the fourth quarter, making the game seem a lot closer than it was. Heading into the 4th quarter last year, the Trojans had a commanding 41-14 lead on the back of 4 touchdowns by Caleb Williams.
Saturday should be another beatdown by the USC Trojans at home. This week’s real story deals with the comments made by Caleb Williams’s father, Carl Williams.
This level of commentary from a father is not something we haven’t seen before, nor something that should come to any surprise, especially in the days of NIL.
Caleb Williams is one of the best prospects of the 21st century but wouldn’t be the first top dog to try and avoid going to a specific destination. In the 2004 NFL, former NFL QB Archie Griffin, not-so-secretly, intervened for his son (Eli Manning), forcing a trade between the Chargers & Giants that swapped Eli for Phillip Rivers. There’s no doubt Williams, if he were to come out, could try and maneuver his way around the draft by “refusing” to play for specific teams, something we saw in the 1983 draft with Jon Elway when he forced his way from Baltimore to Denver.
The “certain team” I allude to is the Arizona Cardinals. Another team that hasn’t had the best of luck with rookie QBs in the past. Former USC legend Matt Leinart and UCLA product Josh Rosen never saw their careers materialize in Arizona, and now (mainly due to injury) Kyler Murray’s career could be in jeopardy.
The big question is whether Caleb Williams would balk at the NFL or stay in college if the Cardinals had the top pick. This is what the Heisman winner had to say:
Caleb’s focus is on the game and season. That is not a surprising answer from the QB1 for USC. I’d be shocked if Williams returned to a college campus next season. But to play along with the narrative, here are the three reasons why Caleb Williams could return to USC.
With NIL in play, Williams stands to make a hefty sum. We’ve seen him in a commercial or two, and I anticipate seeing him more frequently in that capacity as the season progresses. Throughout the years of college football, players would be less inclined to stay in school as the financial benefits from going pro greatly outweighed staying in school. Now, while you can still make way more money heading to the league, a player like Caleb Williams can still make a pretty penny as a collegiate athlete and not feel the pressure to go pro that other athletes may face. So, while every player’s ultimate goal is to be a professional football player, the financial aspect of the NFL has lost a step.
Who’s Picking #1?
This might be the most critical factor in whether Williams decides to return to college, and even though guys like Elway and Manning were able to force their way out of precarious situations, Williams may not be able to do the same. Of all the teams in the NFL that could have the first pick, the Cardinals are by far the most daunting. Arizona can also strike lightning twice as it owns the Texans’ top selection, a franchise that picked second just one year ago. If Arizona holds the top pick and I were Williams, this is the main factor that would give me serious pause. As mentioned earlier, the Cardinals have been a model of instability, and where you get drafted is beyond crucial to your NFL success, regardless of how talented you are on the field.
More on The Table
There’s a world in which USC gets tripped up this season. Colorado looked more for real than any of us anticipated. Washington and Oregon look like they’re picking up right where they left off, Notre Dame looks like a different animal, and Riley still needs to get over the Utah hump. If USC misses the playoffs again, and Williams can’t snag his second Heisman, he may get the itch to return to finish what he started.
All three viable reasons. If I were a Trojan fan, I wouldn’t get my hopes up yet, but I’d be rooting for USC and whoever plays the (Arizona) Cardinals.