Sanctions will keep USC out of a bowl game and the Trojans finished an unimpressive 8-5 this season, not much to cheer about for one of the nation's most prestigious programs in Lane Kiffin's opening season.
The mood has certainly been tepid with the Reggie Bush scandal making more headlines than anyone at USC would like, the changing of athletic directors and a season that started sluggishly at Hawaii and never seemed to gain much traction.
But USC is still USC and it showed again Friday night when five-star wide receiver George Farmer committed to the Trojans. His early pledge was a bit of a surprise but his school selection was not.
Sources close to Farmer had said all along that even if he took visits or praised other programs or talked about the benefits of going away to school or waited until the U.S. Army All-American Bowl to announce his decision that it was going to be the Trojans.
It was always going to be the Trojans.
It was the Trojans Friday night.
His commitment wasn't the only news though as Farmer and his Gardena (Calif.) Serra squad defeated Arroyo Grande, 35-10, to win the CIF Southern Section Western final, another impressive win in a truly memorable season.
The Cavaliers, led by a plethora of future college stars, were hardly tested all year. Farmer, rated as the nation's top receiver and fourth in the 2011 class, was a big reason why things were so easy at times.
"I want to go over there and win some national championships," Farmer told USCFootball.com "… I just thought about it with my family and it was just the right place for me."
Oregon, Florida, Cal, Miami, Alabama and other national powers tried to sway Farmer and he took some visits but USC was always considered the favorite. He'll be reunited with former Serra star Robert Woods, a scary tandem in what will most definitely be one of the nation's strongest receiving corps.
With Farmer's pledge, USC joins Alabama, Oklahoma and Florida State as the only four schools that have two five-star commits. The other for the Trojans is running back/cornerback De'Anthony Thomas from Los Angeles Crenshaw who's earned so much acclaim for years in Southern California.
There is at least a good possibility that Serra teammate Marqise Lee will commit to the Trojans at some point as well. Lee's recruitment has been difficult to gauge at times but he and Farmer both said on multiple occasions that they'd like to play together in college. That could become a reality.
For at least one night and probably many more, USC fans can forget about the sanctions and the lackluster season. That's the past.
Part of the future is Farmer playing at USC. That is outstanding news for Trojans' supporters.
He made his commitment to the Trojans and a pledge to strive for national titles. This is a night - maybe one of many to come - for USC fans to celebrate again. The Trojans took a huge step forward by adding Farmer to the fold.