O/NSO - Anticipation Edition

The month of July heats up ticket prices for USC away football games, turns the recruiting Bunson burner to tanning level, and hypes Trojan summer workouts as the anticipated No.1 team in the land continues "volunteer" 7-on-7 preparation for next month's season opener with Virginia Tech.

The Obvious - The month of July heats up ticket prices for USC away football games, turns the recruiting Bunson burner to tanning level, and hypes Trojan summer workouts as the anticipated No.1 team in the land continues "volunteer" 7-on-7 preparation for next month's season opener with Virginia Tech.

The Not So Obvious – From Landover, Maryland, to Pullman, Washington, there is nothing hotter at the moment than the ticket departments of Trojan opponents, who are raising prices and chomping at the bit at the very thought of the No. 1 USC Trojans coming to town. Oregon State leads the USC charge with a "normal game" ducat going for $33 inflating to $60. Yep, those Corvallis boys charge more for the Trojans this year than for their Civil War opponent, those Quackers from Eugene.

The Obvious – The Trojans' game at BYU has been changed to from Sept. 4th to September 18th.

The Not So Obvious – That wasn't the only change for the game. Even the good Mormon folks at the BYU ticket department are getting into the act hiking a "normal" sideline $30 ticket to a USC $40.00 admission. And you think that our friends from Palo Alto aren't taking advantage and getting into the USC ticket act? The Cardinal have increased their "normal" $30 to $35 per USC ducat. The Trojans never had so many supporters…..until kickoff.

The Obvious – One of the challenging road contests for the Trojans will be their October 30th trip to Pullman, Washington, with the confident and waiting Cougars.

The Not So Obvious – The game in Pullman is Dad's Day for WSU students with a special Cougar student ticket offer in store for the visiting Trojans. However, the Cougs did not change their standard individual ticket price just for the Trojans ($44) – except increasing a ticket for their final home game against loveable, Apple Cup Washington.

The Obvious – One of the big questions this off-season is how much has the Trojans' own season ticket list has grown, especially with the anticipated return of All-America wide receiver Mike Williams.

The Not So Obvious – With the Trojan Ticket Department feeling the full breeze of near consensus magazine number one rankings, how much of an increase has there been in season tickets and more importantly, will this homosapien onslaught force changes in Trojan season ticket holders' locations in the future? From early reports, its appears a number of folks, especially Cardinal and Gold supporters, have had their seats relocated and are as angry as Ed Orgeron's defensive line.

The Obvious – The Trojans averaged 77,804 last year in the Coliseum to lead the Pac-10 in attendance.

The Not So Obvious – Only Washington (71,906) came close last season to Troy with Oregon (57,701) a distant third. Provided that the Trojans are proclaimed by the legitimate polls as the pre-season No. 1 and they defeat Virginia Tech in the opener, it will be extremely intriguing how many fans pack the Coliseum with each home appearance of a top-ranked Trojan team. Given undefeated status and a revenge game against presumed Pac-10 top contender California, it will interesting to see the home attendance difference between the Golden Bears and the home-opener against Sonny Lubick's Colorado State club.

The Obvious – The Trojan ticket department also has its usual adjustment for big games as the Notre Dame this November 27th at the Coliseum is a base $60 with regular games at $40.

The Not So Obvious – The Notre Dame fans will be pleased to know that the price includes your presence for Anthony Davis Day in honor of No. 28's touchdown onslaughts against the South Benders. No word whether haunted Irish legendary coach Ara Parsegian will be part of the ceremony. Any odds that "Pete" will have Davis speak to the boys before kickoff?

The Obvious – Trojan Heisman quarterback candidate Matt Leinart has told the Sporting News that he intends to remain at USC and not pursue the NFL after this season.

The Not So Obvious – Although many in the Heritage Hall inner circle figured that this might be Leinart's last USC season, the Heisman candidate brings out the credibility card. Trojan fans remember Mike Williams saying he was staying. However, Leinart certainly recalls the pain and frustration in his assent to Trojan stardom, so logic says it took too long just to play two seasons and out. Don't discount conversations that Leinart had with Carson Palmer, who openly has told the lefty to stay in school, enjoy those runs down the Coliseum tunnel, and the NFL isn't exactly football's version of Disneyland.

The Obvious – The Leinart announcement was a Sporting News exclusive and was picked up by the local SoCal electronic media.

The Not So Obvious – Curiously, there has been no mention of Leinart's announcement from the competing local print media such as the Times, Daily News, and the Register. A respected local sports columnist said, "It's really a non-story at the moment because we've been down this road before with guys saying they are going to stay. We'll see in January." The feeling here is if anybody can be believed about staying, it would be Leinart.

The Obvious – Nationally acclaimed Mission Viejo quarterback Mark Sanchez, who reminds us somewhat of former Stanford immortal thrower Jim Plunkett, has committed to the Trojans.

The Obvious – Quarterback Sanchez selected the Trojans over Ohio State and Texas.

The Not So Obvious – If ever there is a defining moment that says that Pete Carroll and staff have sealed the borders of Southern California, Sanchez would be the recruit that screams out. Oh sure, there will be some SoCal gridders that get away due to academics or childhood faves, but gone are the days of exodus for the greener pastures of Columbus, Ann Arbor, Tallahassee, and Lincoln. If anything, good players may play at other programs because, quite frankly, they aren't good enough for Pete Carroll's program. It ain't braggin', it's just telling it as it currently is.

The Obvious – Speaking of the heralded Mission Viejo gunner, nervous Trojan fans should have had faith after Sanchez's recent meetings with Pete Carroll and Norm Chow, the Trojans' legendary offensive coordinator.

The Not So Obvious - Don't ignore last Saturday's Nike 7-0n-7 Passing Championship, which gave Sanchez one last comfort zone test competing and walking the grounds of Troy before contacting the USC staff. Sanchez's verbal puts a big engine in the Trojan's 2005 recruiting racer, which now figures to gain high speed with recruits across the country. You can also bet that Sanchez will be more than happy to assist Trojan recruiters in helping built the next dream SC backfield. The flag is up!

The Obvious – Matt Leinart's Sporting News' announcement that he will be around through the 2005 season makes the John David Booty redshirt plan a near no-brainer.

The Not So Obvious – The big winner of Leinart's announcement is senior quarterback Brandon Hance, who figures to assume this year's backup role. Hance is also a big winner because in the far future he won't have to part of the 2006 spring competition feeding frenzy between Booty, Rocky Hinds, and Mark Sanchez for the departed Leinart.

The Obvious – Trojan fans are counting the days until the first week of August when their heroes return to the practice field to begin another season of sacred glory.

The Not So Obvious – Trojan fans are also ringing their Rosary beads and taking deep breathes in hopes that summer school classes and incoming freshmen academic scores are all in positive order. Like receiving an essay test grade from a teacher, there is nothing that brings more excitement and fear to SC fans than the first-day release of the fall roster, especially with the current Internet rumors and innuendoes.

The Obvious – The Trojans have installed FieldTurf on Howard Jones and Brian Kennedy Field, becoming the sixth Pac-10 school to have FieldTurf either at its practice facility or stadium.

The Not So Obvious – FieldTurf is a patented mixture of sand and rubber infill that almost exactly replicates the soil in which the best natural grass fields are grown. The footing is designed to be just as it would be on natural grass. FieldTurf has synthetic grass blades designed to resist extreme weather and temperature conditions.

The Obvious – The folks at FieldTurf are busting cardinal and gold having sold their product to the defending national champion, a title that brings lots of corporate vendors to Heritage Hall.

The Not So Obvious – "Getting USC's renowned football program involved with FieldTurf is a major feather in our cap," said FieldTurf CEO John Gilman. "When a top-notch university like USC and a standout coach like Pete Carroll recognize FieldTurf as the best product in the marketplace, then that just solidifies what so many colleges, NFL teams, and MBL teams already know. I am sure that the new FieldTurf surface at USC will be an asset to the Trojans as they seek to defend their national championship in 2004."

The Obvious – Pete Carroll and staff are always looking to eliminate any opponent's advantage over the Trojans not matter what the form.

The Not So Obvious - The instillation of FieldTurf will come in handy for games at Washington State and Oregon State, which have FieldTurf. Looking to the future, the Trojan open in Hawaii in 2005 at Aloha Stadium (50,000) and that venue as well has FieldTurf.

The Obvious – The Trojans FINALLY released the highly anticipated DVD, "The Tradition Continued", highlighting the 2003 national championship season.

The Not So Obvious – The day before its release, the Trojan Store in the South Coast Plaza reported a 50-plus DVD reservation list. The first sale happened less than ten minutes after the store had opened and before the videos were actually put on display. By the way, it's hard to miss the USC store thanks to that big white window sign that reads "National Champions."

The Obvious –The Tradition Continues presents Trojan fans with game footage, multi-narrators (Trojan All-America Tim Ryan, the NFL Films' Harry Kalas, USC voice Pete Arbogast), exclusive player and coaches' interviews, and inside the Trojans' locker room football including UCLA and the Rose Bowl.

The Not So Obvious – Clearly a Trojans' star of stars that took a backseat to no one last season and perhaps the toughest of them all to replace from last year's national champs is wide receiver Keary Colbert. Thanks to the evidentiary highlights, it brought into proper prospective just what an impact Colbert had, important game after important game. With Mike Williams' impending return, perhaps the most challenged player next season will be sophomore Steve Smith, Colbert's protégé.

The Obvious – Aside from the highlights of the glorious 2003 season, much like the previous year's highlight video, Trojan fans are again given a full glimpse of coach Pete Carroll's boyish enthusiasm before and after games.

The Not So Obvious – In one pre-game locker scene, Coach Charisma is seen literally running into the locker room like a new father announcing the news to his in-laws. Equally informative is the Rose Bowl halftime pontification by normally low-key offensive coordinator Norm Chow to his offensive unit. It is certainly a rare and fascinating atypical look at an intense and extroverted Chow.

The Obvious – Speaking of videos, another late arriving Trojan football video is the commercial-free 2004 Rose Bowl game.

The Not So Obvious – While the digital video is excellent, the audio is even better. You pick up both the USC and Michigan bands and intense crowd reaction. Thumbs are up on this one and the presentation is fast-moving thanks to no commercials and sans halftime.

The Obvious - The Trojans continue their local 7-on-7 drills against local community colleges.

The Not So Obvious - You don' think those Huskies from East Los Angeles JC didn't get an eyeful of speed and talent when they were overmatched against the touring Trojans. The young and old Trojans should, however, show that ELAC playing field some respect since the Huskies once provided the USC program with the likes of running backs Clarence Davis and Lynn Cain and linebacker Ray Rodriguez. No, we didn't forget quarterback Walt Ransom!

The Obvious – The 53rd Shrine All-Star Game was recently played at Mt. San Antonio College and featured three Trojans – lineman Thomas Herring, safety Josh Pinkard, and linebacker Eugene Germany.

The Not So Obvious – The Shrine Game chairman for the 53rd Classic was Stephen Wurtzel, a graduate of UCLA. Bruin Wurtzel was quite complimentary of his interaction with members of the Trojan "family" for their help in trying to rebuild the game to its historical place among great prep classics.

The Obvious – A big disappointment for Trojan fans in attendance and those watching on Fox Sports Net, however, was the unanticipated "no-shows" of future Trojan quarterback Rocky Hinds, lineman Chilo Rachal, and wide receiver Derek Jones for their respective teams.

The Not So Obvious - The reality was that Hinds and Rachal did show to the game in person and did have cordial interaction with Shrine officials. While the three players may have had legitimate reasons for their last minute withdrawal, it is a particularly sensitive issue when USC players decommit to a charity and tradition-laced game like the Shrine at such late notice.

The Obvious – Future Trojan defensive back Josh Pinkard of Hueneme was selected as the Public schools' Fox Sports Net Defensive Player of the Game for the 53rd Shrine Game.

The Not So Obvious – While Pinkard's performance was self-evident, of the three Trojans performers in the regionally televised game, the most intriguing prospect remains Fremont's two-way line performer Thomas Herring. Herring, who played well against a vastly inferior Private school offensive line, still remains a mystery of positions. The "kid" (6-6, 290) enters Troy as a defensive lineman and may yet eventually end up with Tim Davis' offensive line, but the feeling here is that the Trojan coaches may not even know Herring's final destination until the bloodletting starts at Howard Jones' Field.

The Obvious – The 45th Orange County All-Star Football Game was played last Saturday night at the Santa Ana Bowl and no scholarship Trojans were in the game.

The Obvious – Orange County Player of the Year Jed Collins from Mission Viejo was named Offensive Player of the Game. Collins, who played tight end and made his mark during the regular season as a linebacker, is headed for Washington State. He wanted to be a Trojan but in this day and age, sometimes good is not good enough to don the cardinal and gold. Let's hope he doesn't turn out to be another Kevin Mitchell, the former "undersized" Mater Dei linebacker, who also wanted to be a Trojan and went on to a wonderful career at Oregon. Both Collins and Mitchell can be simply defined as warriors.

The Obvious – The NFL and the Coliseum are in discussions about changing the Coliseum into a smaller venue and there is concern by USC about those changes.

The Not So Obvious – Should there be renovation of the Coliseum and the Trojans are forced to play home games at the Rose Bowl along side the Bruins, there could be a return to both teams wearing their home uniforms, since both teams would claim the Rose Bowl as their home field. Now wouldn't that be a nostalgic sight for sore eyes.

The Obvious – For those that watched the 53rd Shrine Game on Fox Sports Net, the versatile Bill Macdonald, the former Corona Del Mar grad, called the play-by-play along with "Trojan" analyst and WeAreSC's John Jackson.

The Not So Obvious – Some have called McDonald a UCLA homer, but Macdonald, by his own admission, says he attended both USC and that school across town.

The Obvious – The recently completed Trojans' Adult Fantasy Camp was a resounding success as USC gridiron dreamers of all ages were treated to a cardinal and gold Walter Mitty experience of being USC freshman football players.

The Not So Obvious – Not to be outdone, our friends from South Bend also had an Irish Adult Fantasy camp, which was a five day affair and included a final flag football game in Notre Dame Stadium, complete with a public address announcer. Both the Trojans and the Irish camps featured over 40 campers, locker room use, and charged around $4, 000 per person.

The Obvious – USC's Chris Carlisle, the Trojans' guru coach of strength and conditioning, continues his summer workouts that have grown to be legendary in both physical demands and resounding results.

The Not So Obvious – Heralded Trojan freshmen Keith Rivers of Florida and Jeff Byers of Colorado, two of the most physically fit and defined of the in-town Trojan youngsters, have been challenged by Sergeant Carlisle's regiment. It is said that both Byers and Rivers saw a different prospective of an earlier digested meal during an introductory Carlisle session. Many of the new Troybabes couldn't believe it when, after a tough indoor workout, Carlisle ordered everybody to the track to run and NOT into the pool. Whatever became of those recruiting memories of wine and dine, beach and babes, and the Papadakis Taverena?

The Obvious – Over the years, the Trojans have had various radio play-by-play voices including the late Chick Hearn, Midwesterners Tom Kelly and Mike Walden, and the past and present Pete Arbogast, the local boy from Marshall High.

The Not So Obvious – Through these many years, Trojan fans have been treated to the "homer-isms" of Tom Kelly, who is still heard on some Trojan events, and Walden, who once did Milwaukee Braves games before coming to Los Angeles, and who can still be heard on local commercials. Both men never openly admitted to being "homers", so it was quite refreshing when Pom Pom Arbogast openly admitted recently on the air on 1540 that "I admit it. I am a Trojan "homer." How do you do and thanks for the honesty!

The Obvious – Legendary SoCal sports columnist Loel Schraeder has joined the writing staff of WeAreSC and will be a contributor to our monthly magazine.

The Not So Obvious – Wholly John McKay, "Batman" Wood, there isn't a better Trojan historian than legendary Loel Schrader, the former Press-Telegram wag. This space hasn't forgotten a generation past when we'd get in the car on a Tuesday afternoon and drive from a local Los Angeles suburb out to Norwalk just to get Schrader's weekly recruiting "Cuff Stuff." Loel was a true pioneer in the recruiting world and once had thee direct pipeline to the legendary John McKay, who would let the Long Beach scribe take a peek at the then clandestine Trojan blue-chip list. Respected by all inside Heritage Hall, he is now one of us at WeAreSC. Mr. Schrader, welcome to the "Julie's" of the print and cyberworld, and we'll leave the cardinal and gold light on for ya!

USCFootball.com Top Stories