Without McCoy, who transferred to Texas after he was enrolled in classes for less than three weeks, USC does not have a five-star in the fold for its recruiting class for the first time since 2000, when recruiting services began ranking the top high school players.,Over more recent years, the Trojans have faced more difficulty reeling in five-star talent, largely the prospects from outside California, at times leaving them over-reliant on top players from their own backyard.,The Trojans finished 5-7 last year, their first losing season since 2000, prompting calls from fans for Helton to be fired following his third full season before the embattled coach was retained by Athletic Director Lynn Swann.,But even in the initial seasons under Helton, while the Trojans made consecutive New Year’s Six bowl games, they were unable to pluck five-star recruits from other regions of the country and poach prospects from other blue-blood schools that have had a better recent track record of producing NFL draft picks, especially among offensive linemen.,Gorney and other analysts reasoned that the Trojans have had enough talent in recent seasons to contend for Pac-12 championships, and they won the conference crown in their second season under Helton in 2017.

Have the USC and UCLA football and basketball teams ever been collectively worse?The Sparks won the citys most recent title in 2016, but that coach is gone.,Yasiel Puig needed to be traded, but he also deserves a nice farewell, and heres hoping he hears it on his first game back with the Cincinnati Reds.For USC football, gritNow that Clay Helton has kept his job and addressed his offense with the hiring of noted passing guru Kliff Kingsbury, there is a bigger hurdle to clear, one that can only come from within.Its time for the program to get tough again.That attitude must start with Helton, who, even in these turbulent times, has remained the Nicest Man on the Planet.,The infamously dour coach often acted like a grump, and sometimes it seemed like his players werent having much fun.Kelly doesnt seem interested in selling the city on UCLA football beyond coaching its team, and thats too bad.,Theyre good enough, if only they can stay upright for long enough.For UCLA basketball, coachingMaybe Steve Alford can turn this surprising mess of an early season into a Sweet 16 appearance like hes done before with far less talented teams.But if he cant, heres guessing Bruin athletic officials, who showed their deep pockets with Chip Kelly, are going to pay for somebody who can.UCLA guard Kris Wilkes (13) drives to the basket against USC guard Shaqquan Aaron on March 3.,For LAFC, repeatThis towns newest sports franchise did everything right in its first year, including opening a sparkling new stadium and building a passionate new fan base.They need to just keep doing it, and maybe this time, throw in a playoff win?For the Galaxy, Zlatan IbrahimovicThats more than enough, thank you.For this column, an endingHappy holidays!

That was the dumbest move that the Dodgers have made since dumping Roberto Clemente.Jonathan GoldsteinLa JollaHow low can the Bruins go?I have an idea for future sponsors for the UCLA basketball team.,I suggest Charmin or Pillsbury because their team is as soft as toilet paper and the Pillsbury Dough Boy.Richard KatzLos Angeles::While watching a UCLA basketball team full of elite talent lose at home to Belmont last Saturday, it occurred to me that elite coaches have a special quality that is lacking in Steve Alford.,Neither Alford nor Guererro seems to have the resources to wake up the team.Pauley was empty against a unknown Belmont team that stole a win with the back door wide open.,Knowing how much I learn in a two-hour Walton basketball broadcast, I can only image the breadth of knowledge that will come from a four-hour Academy Awards show.Jeff BlackLos AngelesOld schoolFor anyone who is student of the game, it is useful to recall that when the Dodgers swept the Yankees in the World Series of 1963, they used the exact same lineup each and every game.,But no worries, because irrespective of what they decide, two-thirds of the L.A. fan base will never be able to see the results.Bill WaxmanSimi ValleyFine whinesOne "fan" would not have a parade for the Chargers in Los Angeles if they won the Super Bowl.Others heap scorn and abuse on a Dodgers team that has made the World Series two years in a row.I've been following sports since the Dodgers were in Brooklyn, and I can't recall a bigger bunch of spoiled brats and whiners than some of those who appear on your letters page each week.Steve MehlmanBeaumontTrojan troubleIt seems that Lynn Swann is urgently trying to justify his retention of Clay Helton by doing some recruiting.