LOS ANGELES — Their coach was a ball of energy. A-listers flooded the sidelines of their games. Their practices were open to the public.
Pete Carroll was the coach. Will Ferrell and the artist then known as Snoop Dogg were among Hollywood’s who’s who on the sidelines. Seven consecutive BCS bowl games were the result of those practices for USC. It was one of college football’s most incredible dynasties.
Times have changed.
Lane Kiffin became Carroll’s successor in 2010. Snoop and Ferrell had their sideline passes revoked because of NCAA sanctions. The Sun Bowl, last December, was the first postseason game for the team since coming off of a two-year bowl ban as part of those sanctions and the Trojans haven’t been to a BCS game since 2009.
And, as of the 2013 season, practices will be closed, Kiffin announced on Monday.
It’s a new era in college football. USC was one of the few programs to continue to keep its practices open to the media, but not anymore, Kiffin says.
Fall camp, which begins on Saturday, will be open to the media and some fans, similar to what was done during spring drills. However, once game week arrives, preparing for the Aug. 29 season opener at Hawaii, USC practices will be closed.
“My job is to (make) the best decisions for the interest of USC’s football program,” Kiffin said. “We’re going to close down practice because that’s the best decision for our team. We’re basically following suit to what almost all of college football does and almost all of sports do. We’re just, kind of, one of the last ones to jump in on it.
“It really came down to the best decision for our team.”
The idea to close practices was discussed some last season before Kiffin sat down this offseason with members of the school’s sports information department and got feedback from other NCAA coaches.
USC was picked to finish third in the Pac-12 South in the preseason media poll, behind Arizona State and UCLA, respectively.
The Trojans are looking to improve on a 7-6 campaign from 2012. They return 16 starters, including Biletnikoff Award winner Marqise Lee.