Q&A with former USC linebacker Keith Rivers

CARSON, CALIF.,— At this point, you’ve probably figured out that Crystal Ball Run was camped out at this year’s NFLPA Bowl over the last few days. During that time we did a quick profile on Oklahoma State’s Brodrick Brown, explained what the game meant to each individual player and even had the chance to chat briefly with Herm Edwards, who coached the National team in Saturday’s game. Unfortunately Edwards’ team played, but apparently not to win the game. They lost 34-0 to the Dick Vermeil coached American squad.

But beyond Vermeil and Herm there were a number of other football dignitaries at the event, including New York Giants linebacker Keith Rivers. And when Crystal Ball Run had a moment to chat with Rivers about his time at USC, it was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up.

Rivers spoke about the Trojans’ disappointing 2012 season, what it was like being recruited by Lane Kiffin and how enjoyable playing for Pete Carroll was.


Having watched ‘SC this year, what were your thoughts on the program overall? It was obviously a tough year to watch them as an ex-player, right?

Yeah, you know, it was a bummer to see them be ranked so high and have so much talent- offensively at least- and not see them do as well. But I’m interested to see how it goes; the year before we were all gung-ho and happy about it and we only lost two games. But this is a ‘what have you done for me lately’ business, so we’ll what happens. We’ll get a good recruiting class and get a lot of guys who can come in and contribute.

What are memories of Coach Kiffin from your time at ‘SC?

Kiffin recruited me. He’s a great guy. He did a great job. He got me there. ‘SC also does a great job of selling itself. But he’s a great guy and he can get it turned around sooner rather than later.

What are your memories of Coach (Pete) Carroll? This was one of the great college coaches basically of all-time. What was it that made him so special during his run when you were there, before you arrived and a little bit after you left?

The thing about Coach Carroll is that he made football fun, and he made it an environment of competition. And as young athletes that’s what you love to do, is go out there and compete and he made it all about competing and competition. Whether you were competing for a job or you weren’t, you thought you were, and he does an excellent job of fostering fun amongst serious business.

You know, that was an attitude that people said would never work in the professional ranks. As a professional now are you surprised that the approach has carried over and had so much success? The attitude of being a professional but having fun at that level?

Going into the NFL, it’s something that you would think would (work), and then after being in the NFL for a while you’d think it wouldn’t because there are guys that have kids and families and they’re not all about the ‘rah, rah.’ But at the end of the day we’re playing a kid’s game and any time you make it fun that’s what we’re looking to do.

It’s a business, but we’re looking to have fun. It is a child’s game.

I’ve got to ask: Are you glad you’re not in the Pac-12 now with all these spread defenses?

Ha, I am. Last season we struggled a little bit against those running quarterbacks and those spread offenses. And hopefully we’ll figure out a way to contain them with whoever Kiff(in) picks up (as his defensive coordinator).

Finally, what’s your favorite memory from ‘SC?

I had such a blast there, but the Michigan Rose Bowl was a really good time. We just got after it that game.

For all his opinion, insight and analysis on college football, be sure to follow Aaron on Twitter @Aaron_Torres.

About Aaron Torres

Aaron Torres works for Fox Sports, and was previously a best-selling author of the book 'The Unlikeliest Champion.' He currently uses Aaron Torres Sports to occasionally weigh-in on the biggest stories from around sports. He has previously done work for such outlets as Sports Illustrated, SB Nation and Slam Magazine.