Jason Gill leaned forward in his office and contemplated the weight of his words.
“I know it might sound funny,” USC’s new baseball coach said, explaining his core consideration for taking the Trojans job last summer, “but for me, it was all about winning national championships.”
In the context of USC’s storied history, this shouldn’t seem strange: The Trojans have 12 College World Series titles, double the amount of the next closest schools in the country. They have 21 CWS appearances and 2,858 wins, both fifth-most all-time. They have a historic alumni list that includes MLB legends Tom Seaver, Randy Johnson and Mark McGwire. Most of all, they are situated in arguably college baseball’s most fertile recruiting landscape.
“It’s U-S-C,” Gill continued, emphasizing the three-letter acronym that for so long was synonymous with baseball excellence. “It’s like, this is the best job in the world.”
Only, this century, it hasn’t been. Instead, a program once perched on the sport’s mountaintop now finds itself far from the summit, almost 20 years removed from its last CWS berth and facing a steep climb to reach Omaha again.