Conway coming home

USC All-American Curtis Conway didn't set out to be a broadcast analyst, it pretty much happened. And he loved doing it. Not a bad deal, getting paid to talk college football -- and on occasion, some USC football.

As it turns out, you can come home again. Curtis Conway did.

He did it Wednesday. Back on the USC campus with the Pac-12 Networks football crew touring the conference and shooting today's show for airing tonight at 9 and re-airing a number of times before the season's start.

"This is home for me," Conway said. "I mean, really home. My house was at 39th and Vermont. I played football on the grass outside the Coliseum before I ever went in."

And home in another way despite all the hubbub and traffic of student move-in day that made finding a parking spot in the garages almost impossible. "So I decided I'd park on the street and run out every hour and feed the meter," Curtis said. "And I found a spot. But as I was leaving, they told me I wouldn't have to pay because it was move-in day and they don't ticket anybody." So he was home and home-free.

The 12-year NFL vet Conway's actual home now is in the San Fernando Valley where he commutes Friday through Sunday to the networks' San Francisco studios. "It's not a bad flight," he says. Getting to LAX is the worst part of that trip.

This wasn't where he thought he'd be, Conway says. After his long career in the NFL with the Bears, Chargers, Jets and '49ers, the 1992 USC All-American aimed to put his Policy, Planning and Development degree to work for him.

"I wasn't going into coaching or broadcasting,: he said of the opportunities that came along. He was going to do deals and make the big bucks. "That's when real estate was hot," he says. And he liked all the deal-doing and the action back and forth. "But it takes a while for developments to mature and you'd just sit there and wait."

Whie sitting and waiting, Conway was asked to go on an ESPN show talking USC football. And he loved it. "There wasn't any money in it but people just kept asking me to talk football on different shows. I didn't have an agent or anything, I was just having fun."

And certainly not looking for these chances: "I was never a guy who liked a lot of attention when I was at USC, ask [USC SID] Tim Tessalone."

So now here he is, the USC counterpart if you will to the Pac-12 Network's UCLA guy Rick Neuheisel and a newcomer -- Oregon's Nick Aliotti.

Although he says those affiliations are not a big part of this.

"I bleed Cardinal and Gold," he says. But you shouldn't be able to tell it from his comments on the network. "People don't care about that," he says. "I've always called it like I see it."

There is one exception to that rule and not for Curtis. If you're listening to the Pac-12 panel of experts, you might just hear that indeed it was Neuheisel who recruited Brett Hundley to UCLA. "Only three or four times a show," Conway says with a big grin. "But Rick really did do that."

In the near future, however, the farther away they all get from their active careers, "you'll hear less and less of that," Conway says. What he's paid to do now is give his opinion on the here and now. Like a USC team that, despite the 30 scholarships it was penalized by the NCAA and a squad with just 64 originally recruited scholarship players available for the season, has a chance.

Conway thinks they do. "So does Rick," he says, although he's not in the prediction business. Give him "at least two games," he says before he'll tell you how he thinks thePac-12 is likely to shake out.

"I don't get to see USC practice," he says. And he might only get to see them in person if they make the championship game at Levi's Stadium -- "It's right down the road," he says -- when the studio crew will go on location.

So he'll wait for the games to tell him and in USC's case, with Game 2 at Stanford, you'll know a lot. "An even matchup," Conway says, that favors no one although you could make a case that the teams might not be mirror images in what they're trying to do with classic pro-style attacks.

"Both quarterbacks Kevin Hogan and Cody Kessler are a year more mature but Stanford has lost four of their five O-linemen and USC has that tough front seven. And Stanford lost their running back and USC is loaded at running back."

But when asked by host Mike Yam what jumps out at him on this USC team, Conway said he went where "you wouldn't expect me to since everybody thinks I'm all about offense. But it's the defense I'm looking at. "If they can stay healthy . . . but you can say that about everybody."

And no, he's not going to make a big deal out of the numbers. "As long as you have 45 guys who can really play. I mean, you can only play one quarterback no matter how many you have. And when I look at their defense, Leonard Williams is a stud and so is Twocka AKA Antwaun Woods. And Su'a Cravens looks good, really good. And Josh Shaw and Hayes Pullard."

And no, he's not surprised how well USC has survived the sanctions. "USC speaks for itself," he says. When it got back into the business of recruiting local kids under Pete Carroll, that turned it around.

"I'm not surprised," he says, giving away his roots. "When you're a Trojan, you expect this, you expect them to come back."

You can follow me on Twitter at @dweber3440 or email me at weber@uscfootball.com.

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