The proceedings will begin on national television at the Black Coaches Association game. According to most prognosticators, the final verdict on the season won't be heard until the men in Cardinal and Gold take the field in January 2005, at the Orange Bowl, in the National Championship Game. The evidence, the cold, hard facts, will reveal themselves through each and every Saturday this fall. And the witnesses, the opposing teams, their coaches and fans, will have no choice but to testify like all the men and women before them – "Yes, your Honor, those damn Trojans, they are that good."
The man who created "Beamer Ball" may not believe it, but when the day is done, I am certain that just like those before him, he'll fall in line.
It's fortunate, for Pete's sake, he's not making the trip alone. Stuffed into a satchel as big as a jumbo jet, are the best offensive and defensive coaches one man could hope for. It's almost unfair. On one side of the ball there's this guy named Dr. Chow, who looks more like he should be hosting a golf tournament in Hawaii, or performing open-heart surgery on some lucky soul, then calling plays on a gridiron. But, as his record speaks, he's been involved with more Heisman Trophy candidates and winners than Jennifer Lopez has husbands. In simpler words – he's the best in the business.
As mild-mannered as the Doctor is, he's got a madman in charge of his offensive line that goes by the name of Tim "Mass Kicks Ass" Davis. I've met Coach Davis on a few occasions and he always leaves me feeling like I could live my life with just a little more passion. He also leaves me feeling a little deaf, but that is his magic – he gets his point across, one way or another. If Coach Davis had Tom Hanks role in Saving Private Ryan and it was the real thing, not some Spielberg cinematic creation, I guarantee you all the boys would've made it home.
Not to be outdone in the decibel level of his communication or coaching skills, stands perhaps the tallest of all Trojans. Ed Orgeron. I say this because way before anyone truly believed in the fairytale unfolding for Trojan fans, Coach O pulled his charges aside one night – had them all over for some of his wife's fine cooking and told them they were the best defensive line in the history of the game – because they were his. Within two quick seasons, he had them playing well enough to earn a nickname that isn't casually thrown around in the land of "Ahs," where folks are rarely impressed because of all the stars that surround them, – Wild Bunch II. They lived up to that moniker and have set the tone for Trojan football in the new millennium.
I could go on about each and every coach Pete Carroll has hired but that would take far too many pages. Suffice it to say, there are fourteen men in all that lead the Trojans into battle. That's twice as many as the famed Magnificent Seven. I'd wager when Pete Carroll looks down that line, he knows his staff is twice as deadly.
For the first time since 1979, the USC football team enters a season as the defending national champion and the pre-season No. 1 pick. The Trojans, who'll be the home team despite being thousands of miles from Los Angeles, will attempt to protect their 9-game winning streak when they meet perennial power Virginia Tech.
I didn't say "perennial power". I took it from someone else's write-up. Maybe they used it because it sounds nice. Perennial is something that returns every year. Annual might be more appropriate to describe the Hokies – something that appears once, and then dies. I am not trying to be mean, just stating an opinion. To me, once Michael Vick left, Virginia Tech football was suddenly just as dead as it was before he got there. Sure, they've won some games. They beat Miami last year. A team most lost respect for when Kellen Winslow, Jr. called himself "a soldja" and I thought to myself "No, you're a junior". Ah Kellen, there's a picture of Marines wearing SC paraphernalia on the WeAreSC website – they are the soldiers – you just play a game.
Virginia Tech has made it to their share of bowls, but never the big time. No folks, they are hardly a perennial power. Exhibit A, or Coach Carroll's first bit of evidence that will deliver his National Championship finding: Frank Beamer's boys are picked to finish in the lower half of their division. They are ranked as low as 67th and as high as 42nd by the various polls.
That's not to say Beamer Ball won't put some points up on the Trojans. The first quarter could be close – kind of like an Ali prize fight. USC will measure its opponent, do a little rope a dope, take a couple shots to the body, quickly realize the other guy "ain't got it," and for the next ten rounds, or three quarters as it were, pick the pugilist apart. Beamer Ball – that got me thinking. A Hokie is a turkey. Perhaps by the time the BCA classic is no longer a classic, thanks to the drubbing the Trojans will most likely inflict on those poor turkeys, the nation will start calling Beamer Ball "Butter Ball" – another often used term for a turkey. Okay, now I am being mean. I have long believed that any team in the top 25 can beat any other team in the top 25 on any given Saturday. The problem is, the Hokies are not and will not be in the top 25 anytime this season.
It was suggested that I might do a position-by-position comparison of the two teams – a way to measure the Hokies' talent against the Trojans'. So I started looking at both rosters to see where the real match-ups will come from. Where the battles will be fought to win the war. Here we go… Ah, hang on a minute… Oh shoot, I know they're here somewhere… Oh, never mind, it's a waste of time.
There really isn't a match-up. DeAngelo Hall, is in the NFL. Kevin Jones, their top running back too. They do have Cedric Humes to carry the rock. He's recovering from a broken leg. As bad as the Trojans' Matt Leinart's elbow might feel – it ain't broke. Speaking of quarterbacks, the Hokies return Bryan Randall. Randall started last year and put up very respectable numbers. He was then supplanted by, now gone Marcus "can I get you ladies a drink" Vick, in the Spring. Randall is a mobile qb with a decent arm. He's going to need to be – mobile that is, with Cody and Patterson chasing him around.
Certainly, I could go on about the off-field issues surrounding the Trojans, their impossibly young offensive line, the questions regarding the db and wr units – but that's just us fans talking. USC wins football games because of their coaches. Simple. I am not suggesting that plugging just anybody in would equal the same result, but they'd still win a lot more than they'd ever lose. It's just an added bonus that Carroll and Company have such fantastic players to execute their game plan with. These boys came to USC with talent. The coaches made them a team – made them men, made them winners.
One of Coach Beamer's specialties is just that – Special Teams. The Hokies seem to have blocked more kicks and returned more punts for touchdowns than anybody in college football. DeAngelo Hall was the magic behind that show. Did I mention he left last year for the NFL?
So, Frank has found himself a new boy – Eddie Royal. This true freshman runs a 4.3 forty, is something like 6'3, benches an impressive 350lbs and has a 37 inch vertical. I must admit, I am hoping he doesn't give the Trojans "the Royal Treatment". But even if he does, he is just one man and his act will not last through four quarters.
They do have a linebacker who's been quoted saying something about "shocking the world" when the Hokies drub the Trojans. "Yes, that would be a shock young man. Now be quiet and watch how Matt Grootegoed plays your position. See, that's how it's done, son – you walk softly and carry a big stick".
As hard as the media has tried to make this look like a game – it really is much ado about nothing. For SC fans, they get to quench a thirst that has been eight months dry by seeing their men in Cardinal and Gold take the field and keep on winning. They also get to see the nation's top recruiting class in action. Mssrs. Jarret, Davis, Schwieger, Rivers and Byers – to name a few. For Hokie fans, they get to read the writing on the wall – it's going to be another one of those up and down seasons.
I remember when Groots, Cody and now departed Bernard Riley were brought in, someone who knew a lot more about football then I could ever hope to learn, said "They are the type of player you build a team around". He was right. Now the Trojans have men just like them waiting in line. A comparison to the talent of the 1970's? It doesn't really matter. They all wear the same colors. Fly to the ball with devastating abandon and go to battle with the same war cry – "Fight On!" I feel sorry for those turk…‘er Hokies. It's going to be a long night, the night Mr. Carroll goes to Washington.
SC by a bakers dozen or more.