As thousands of red-clad Canadians stood together singing “O, Canada,” citizens across our great nation expressed their dislike for our neighbors to the north, going as far as saying “Fuck Canada.” Isn’t that just sportsmanship at it’s finest?Americans can now go back to not caring about hockey as the NHL resumes play tonight, but for a brief moment, the country was fixated on Canada Hockey Place.And with good reason.It was the biggest hockey game in 30 years, as Team USA tried to knock off the gold medal favorite Canada squad on its home ice. Sure, the two teams faced off in Salt Lake City at the 2002 Games, but Canada won that matchup as well.With that in mind, it was Team USA’s turn to take the gold on Canada’s home ice. Unfortunately for the Americans, however, those in red and white dominated for much of the afternoon.But when Zach Parise scored with less than 30 seconds to go to send it into overtime, I saw the kind of excitement that in this state is usually reserved only for the celebration of those touchdowns that are followed by Lambeau Leaps.Making the game even more exciting was the fact that Team USA was far from the favorite in these Olympics. In fact, the Americans weren’t even expected to medal in Vancouver.With Canada being the obvious favorite, many tabbed Russia and the Czech Republic to take home silver and bronze, respectively. Team USA, on the other hand?Most thought if it was to medal, it would take the bronze at best. To even reach the medal round was an accomplishment for such a young, inexperienced American squad.Reaching the gold medal game? That was just a bonus.But that’s also the problem with being angry toward Canada over Team USA’s devastating loss — Team USA was playing with house money. You can’t be too upset over losing something you never expected to win in the first place.At the same time, this was Canada’s moment. It was its game, on its home ice, in front of its crowd dressed mostly in red. The outcome of that game — whether good or bad — meant infinitely more to the Canadian squad than its American opponent.Besides, Team USA already had its moment.Defeating Canada a week earlier in the same building in impressive fashion was already a greater accomplishment than most expected for Team USA.Conversely, the 5-3 loss was devastating to the host nation.When the Americans flat out dominated Finland 6-1 in Wednesday’s semifinal, they guaranteed at least silver and showed they were far better than most had thought.But Canada is to hockey what Team USA is to basketball.In any international hockey competition, Canada is the team to beat, having won eight Olympic gold medals, a feat matched only by the Soviet Union/Unified Team. Team USA, on the other hand, has just two gold medals in Olympic hockey.Sure, beating the heavily favored home team would have been great.But silver isn’t too bad either.As Americans, we like to believe we are the best at everything, especially sports. If the Vancouver Games are any indication, Team USA is the best. At finishing second and third.Team USA’s 15 silver medals were two more than Germany’s, which finished second in finishing second. Americans also grabbed 13 bronze medals, which is nearly double the next highest total of seven bronze medals earned by Germany and Russia.Canada, on the other hand, is the best at being the best.With 14 golds, the 2010 host nation set a new standard, breaking the previous record of 13 set by the Soviets in 1982 and matched by Norway in 2002. Fourteen also breaks the record for most golds won by a host nation, set at 10 by Norway in 1994 and matched by Team USA in 2002.For that, the Canadians should be proud. They fell short of the goal of their “Own the Podium” campaign, but put on the best-ever Winter Olympic Games performance by a host nation by winning the most gold medals and third-most medals overall.Still, Team USA had its best Olympic showing to date, winning a Winter Games-record 37 total medals to lead the medal count for the first time since Lake Placid in 1932.And the U.S. athletes won in sports Americans care about and enjoy watching — alpine skiing, snowboarding and short track to name a few.So, let Canada enjoy this victory. Don’t curse our friendly neighbors to the north for winning Olympic hockey gold. Even if the game-winning goal was scored by the best player in OUR National Hockey League.This was Canada’s Olympics. Although Team USA may have won the most medals, it seems clear we were just along for the ride.“With glowing hearts, we see thee rise. The True North strong and free.”Jordan is a senior majoring in journalism and political science. What was your favorite part of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics? Let him know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
USC freshman quarterback Max Wittek knows he’s inexperienced.Consequently, he knows that as a 17-year-old, first-year signal caller, big things are expected of him as a potential backup to junior quarterback Matt Barkley come August.Inexperience · Neither Cody Kessler, Jesse Scroggins nor Max Wittek has taken a snap under center during a college game. This fall, one of them will be asked to replace Mitch Mustain, who was 8-1 in his career as a starter, as USC’s backup quarterback. – Carlo Acenas | Daily Trojan “I definitely need to learn a lot more in terms of the playbook and just getting used to the environment of the offense,” Wittek said following Tuesday’s early morning practice. “But I think I’m doing well. Of course, there’s always room for improvement. I just have to get into the playbook and keep studying.”With a seasoned Barkley essentially guaranteed to start the team’s Sept. 3 season opener at home against Minnesota, Wittek is currently in the midst of a three-way quarterback battle with fellow freshmen Cody Kessler and Jesse Scroggins to supplant a graduating Mitch Mustain as the No. 2 quarterback on the depth chart.“You’re not looking for that guy to have a 400-yard passing game,” said USC coach Lane Kiffin earlier this spring. “He’s not going to get a lot of repetitions during the week in preparation, so he’s going to be a guy who approaches the game very seriously. He has to be a guy who can go in there at any time and run the offense.”In other words, Kiffin and quarterbacks coach Clay Helton are looking for a backup who can fill in for Barkley in case of injury.That’s certainly a plausible scenario; during the last two seasons, Barkley has suffered various ailments that have sidelined him for two games — against Washington in 2009 and Notre Dame in 2010. In those games, USC is 0-2.Against Washington, then-sophomore Aaron Corp completed just 13-of-22 passes for 110 yards and an interception. USC lost on a last-second field goal, 16-13.Against Notre Dame, Mustain completed just 20-of-37 passes for 177 yards and an interception. Similarly, USC lost 20-16.“I guess it’s important for me to stay healthy,” Barkley said with a smile. “But it is important for those guys to be ready as well. Who knows what’ll happen this year. Hopefully more than one of those guys will be ready in case something happens.”But among the three potential backups, none have taken a snap under center during a college game.Scroggins, who arrived on campus last fall, redshirted last season and headed the scout team during practices.Kessler and Wittek, who should technically be picking up corsages for their high school proms, enrolled in January to better grasp the playbook.“It’s been crucial,” Wittek said of being able to participate in spring practice. “To have that much of an edge on the playbook before coming in the fall is really important. It’s always nice to get used to the entire college environment as well. It’s been good. I feel very comfortable here.”But although Wittek, who played at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif. like Barkley, is most similar to the Trojans’ starter in terms of arm strength, footwork and delivery, Kessler and Scroggins might have the edge this fall.Statistically, Kessler is among the leaders in terms of completion percentage this spring, while Scroggins, who redshirted in the fall, remains the most experienced of the group.Accuracy and experience continue to be areas of emphasis for USC’s coaching staff.But in spite of such circumstances, Kiffin remarked last week there is no pecking order yet, and the trio continues to split snaps evenly.“We’re pushing them as hard as we can,” Kiffin said. “We’re giving them a lot of reps. It’s great for them to be here.”Based on talent and past accolades, all are at least serviceable.Kessler and Wittek were ranked second and third nationally at the quarterback position in Yahoo! Sports’ Rivals.com’s 2011 recruiting class. Similarly, Scroggins was fifth at the position last year.“We’re all just here just trying to get better,” Kessler said when asked about their past success last week. “Everyone was used to being the main guy and then they come in and learn from someone else and back them up. You can’t let it frustrate you.”But Barkley, who was also a highly touted high school prospect in 2009, has taken notice of their poise and command after seven spring practices.“They’re further along than when I was here,” said Barkley, who was a spring enrollee as a freshman, like Kessler and Wittek. “What they’ve learned so far and what they know in the film room, and what they’re saying in regards to protections and the playbook is pretty impressive. They’re playing their butts off.”