USC's football players were not available to talk with reporters after the Trojans lost Saturday's game to USC. Photo Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports Oct 21, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Southern California Trojans players enter the field before the game against the Utah Utes at United Airlines Field at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

As the reigning Heisman Trophy winner and presumptive No. 1 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, USC quarterback Caleb Williams has become one of America’s most prominent athletes. He can be seen in commercials for Nissan (Heisman House), Dr. Pepper and Wendy’s. But anyone who might have wanted to hear Williams’ thoughts after USC’s loss to Utah on Saturday was out of luck.

And to be fair to Williams, the same was true for all of his teammates.

Following the game, Ryan Kartje of the Los Angeles Times¬†reported that “USC declined to make any players available after its loss to Utah” and that head coach Lincoln Riley was the only person affiliated with the Trojans to speak with reporters.

It’s not at all uncommon in sports (professional or college) to hear an athlete say something he or she probably shouldn’t have in the immediate aftermath of a loss. So, while it might make things more difficult for those covering the teams, a player opting against talking to the media after a loss is understandable. In some cases, it might even be a commendable show of maturity.

But to not even make them available. That’s not only harmful to the people covering the game.

If USC had any hopes of reaching the College Football Playoff after the loss to Notre Dame, those came to a screeching halt after the loss to Utah. But several players on the team have a good chance (or significantly better) to play at the next level. Not even giving them a chance to speak to reporters deprives them of a chance to show teams how well they handle adversity in its immediate aftermath.

And even if you might think that’s overstating the potential damages, the fact remains that there is no benefit for USC to do this.

[Ryan Kartje]

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