I’m sure those who hate on USC quarterback Caleb Williams for whatever reason, or want to see him fail, are in their total glory after the Trojans lost for the third time in four games.
Seeing the reigning Heisman Trophy winner shaking, crying in the arms of his parents following a 52-42 defeat to Washington had to feel good for those folks.
For the rest of us football purists who appreciate a generational talent when we see one, it was pretty heartbreaking — and to be honest, revealing in a good way about what Williams is made of.
Watching Caleb Williams sobbing with his family after losing the game will BREAK YOUR HEART. This young man pours his heart out for his team EVERY TIME he plays. Any NFL team would be lucky to have him as their QB and this emotion shows how much this game means to him. @CALEBcswpic.twitter.com/BLBBE9IvG9
There was a lot of talk about Williams just sitting out the rest of the season once USC was out of the national championship picture. Once the Trojans fell twice in a row to the likes of Notre Dame Utah, speculation only grew that Williams might do just that to preserve himself for the 2024 NFL Draft.
I always thought it was a little ridiculous. Maybe it’s the best big-picture move, yet whichever franchise ends up with the No. 1 overall pick might be a little put off by Williams ducking out for the season.
Instead, Williams authored a 50-49 win over California, and hung 42 points on the fifth-ranked team in the country who’s on a collision course with the College Football Playoff. Williams’ counterpart from Saturday night, Michael Penix Jr., may well succeed him as the next Heisman winner.
Supplying all that background to say this: Caleb Williams’ competitive fire is obvious. He outplayed Penix, and if he was really only out for himself, his reaction to the loss would’ve been something along the lines of, “Well shoot. Did all I could do. Can’t play defense for my teammates! Not my problem!”
But that’s not how Caleb Williams is wired. Before I launch into that, how about this wholesome answer at the postgame presser?
Asked Caleb Williams about his emotions after tonight’s loss against Washington: “I want to go home and cuddle with my dog and watch some shows.” pic.twitter.com/dvfoYTnY88
Personally, I love to see it. Here’s a guy who hasn’t faced a ton of football-related adversity in his life. Top recruit. Instant success as a true freshman at Oklahoma. Follows Lincoln Riley to USC. Heisman. Likely No. 1 pick in the draft. And here he is, amid a 1-3 stretch on a team whose defense is a straight-up sieve, devastated because he’s not delivering a national championship.
This may go down as one of the moments where people say, “Caleb Williams is a baby. He’s immature. He’ll never hack it at the highest level of football if this is how he handles losing. Imagine when he goes pro! He’ll be in a terrible situation with a bad team, and it’ll be a disaster! BUST!”
Quite the contrary. This is exactly the type of adversity I’d want to see if I were an NFL team thinking about hitching my entire organization to drafting Williams. Caring that much about winning or losing, navigating those emotions to better handle it the next time around, and refusing to throw anyone under the bus in the process tells me far more about Caleb Williams than if he’d been all stoic, distant and nonchalant about what happened in this game.
Meanwhile, there were no fewer than four mind-boggling plays that Williams made last night that I’m sure will get lost in the shuffle of his emotional eruption in the stands.
So please do enjoy, and remember that Caleb Williams is a transcendent player who’ll most likely be an NFL superstar.