Adios, Coach!

Hey Pete –

It’s been fun.  But, nothing is forever.  The first boy to break my heart taught me that.  I was reminded again with our 9-4 season this year.

I don’t blame you for leaving.  Sorry State Department, but I’d quit my job if someone in Seattle was going to pay me $2 million more a year too.  Heck, I’d quit for half that.

Sure wish you would have done it differently though.  If Paul Allen wants you as much as it seems, I bet he would have been willing to wait until after signing day.  But, I get it – you stood in those boys’ living rooms not too long ago and promised to be their coach.  However, loyalty to the USC program you rebuilt should have trumped your personal guilt for breaking your word.  Not to worry though, it isn’t what I will remember you for.

What I will remember is that 23-0 win at Auburn – the sweltering humidity and those nice but completely dejected Tiger fans.  The Orange Bowl win too – the one that was so overwhelming there was not a Sooner in sight at the beginning of the fourth quarter.  And, I will never forget my roommate shouting, “No more momentum changes!” as we fought back at Autzen Stadium in 2005 (I’ll never forget the angry duck who threw marshmallows at me that day either).  But, most of all, I will remember the Bush Push.  Now, that was heartache – watching the time run out on the clock that crisp evening in South Bend.  But, it was as if the voice of God spoke when the announcer ordered the Irish fans off the field and put enough time back on the board for us to win the most thrilling game of I’ve ever experienced.

As time passes, we will forget being upset by an inferior UCLA team in 2006.  And hopefully we will find a way to push the Texas game into the deep recesses of our minds.  Then there was your last game in the Coliseum – a loss to Arizona:  That will be your farewell, but not your Trojan legacy.  We’ll let go of all these memories of your tenure and hold onto the great moments in college football that you gave us over the years.

To the coach who succeeds you:  we want/need to see a clean program that wins – and in that order.  We need someone committed to the personal and professional development of these young men into honorable members of the Trojan family.  I don’t care if they graduate, that is their prerogative – but I prefer them not to break laws or NCAA regulations that put their careers and our program in jeopardy.  It’s a difficult balance I know.  But, we need someone who has enough control over our players to avoid gross misconduct at least.  Hopefully whoever steps up to fill your shoes will learn from both your achievements and your mistakes.  And, hopefully they will be as committed to the university community as you have been.

For now, vaya con Dios, Pete.

I hope you aren’t leaving because the NCAA is ready to hand down crippling sanctions and you are running for cover while we are left to cope.  Please let that just be rumor.

But, I guess it doesn’t matter either way.  It is college football.  We will move on. Maybe next year we will be better than a 9-4 team.  Maybe not.  But, we’ll still have fun.

I never believed you wanted to grow old at USC.  You were just waiting for the right opportunity to try to beat to death the NFL monkey on your back.  I hope you found it.  We didn’t care that your victories as a college coach carried an asterisk and a footnote with your Jets record.  But, we know you did.  And so we wish you great success in Seattle.

Just, if it doesn’t work out, please don’t follow the Nick Saban career path and come back home to the Pac-10, coaching for Stanford.  Or worse.

Good luck!

Jen Vitela, Class of ‘96

PS:  Don’t forget to pack an umbrella.