O/NSO - Quotable edition

Since the last tackle in Miami and the drying of ink on those precious February Letters of Intent, much has been said "on the air" and in print, comments both on and under the general radar pertaining to USC football and the Trojans common interest. No matter where you turn as spring practice approaches, there seems to be an endless stream of opinions and revelations regarding Pete Carroll's domain, even as the collegiate hoopsters celebrate their cherished March Madness.

The Obvious – Since the last tackle in Miami and the drying of ink on those precious February Letters of Intent, much has been said "on the air" and in print, comments both on and under the general radar pertaining to USC football and the Trojans common interest. No matter where you turn as spring practice approaches, there seems to be an endless stream of opinions and revelations regarding Pete Carroll's domain, even as the collegiate hoopsters celebrate their cherished March Madness.

The Not So Obvious – "Spring attitude….Can the team remain hungry? USC is going to be the unanimous preseason number one meaning the bull's-eye will be bigger than ever. The early road to Hawaii will be a win, but it's still a long trek. Arkansas, at Oregon, and at Arizona State come up right away meaning the Trojans have to be humming on all cylinders early. This won't be the walk in the park season many will make it out to be; USC has to be Orange Bowl-like jacked up for every game and pumped this spring." – Football News.com as part of their spring outlook for the Trojans.

The Obvious – "The coaches can use the practice more than the players. Five assistants have left the program. It will basically take two coaches to replace former offensive coordinator Norm Chow. Steve Sarkisian is the new quarterbacks coach. He'll be working with 29-year-old OC Lane Kiffin, the old receivers coach. Matt Leinart needs to start developing new relationships right away and not hang his head over the loss of Chow. Why they're ranked (No. 1) here: Twenty-two-game winning streak, back-to-back titles. Duh." – Columnist Dennis Dodd for Sportsline.com, a typical media spring Top 25 analysis of the Trojans who are unanimously ranked No. 1.

The Not So Obvious - Are you starting to get the impression that members of the media are more concerned about the Trojan coaching replacements than the replacement of four defensive All-Americans in Cody, Patterson, Tatupu, and Grootegoed?

The Obvious -"With the departure of offensive line coach Tim Davis, USC lost more offensive coaches (three) than it did offensive starters (two). The return of Steve Sarkisian as quarterback coach softens the transition, but I can't remember that kind of transition happening." – ESPN.com's Ivan Maisel in his weekly "3-Point Stance."

The Not So Obvious – Oy, Veh is mir!!!! Translation – " Oh, woe is me!!!".After reading some of these early appraisals, you'd think the Trojans were in for a season as long as the beard on the boys from ZZ Top. You still have to like Pete Carroll's record of coaching hires. The only dud turned out to be original offensive line hire Keith Uperesa.

The Obvious – "This is a special time to be a Trojan. Back-to back national championships, 22 victories in a row, three straight BCS wins, two of the last three Heisman Trophy winners, three consecutive Pac-10 titles and an unprecedented three-year sweep of rivals UCLA and Notre Dame." – Coach Pete Carroll's opening paragraph message in the 2005 football schedule and ticket information brochure.

The Not So Obvious – On the brochure cover is junior wide receiver Steve Smith between tailback Reggie Bush on the left and LenDale White on the right. Shows ya what Smith's three-touchdown Orange Bowl performance can do when next season's ticket information is mailed.

The Obvious – "Matt's the freakin' king of L.A. right now. He's not leaving." – Trojan coach Pete Carroll to SI.com's Peter King on the possibility of Leinart going in the supplemental draft.

The Not So Obvious – Need further March Madness proof Lefty is returning. Not to worry, Leinart is pictured on the cover of the colorful football ticket brochure dwarfing Steve Smith , Reggie Bush, and LenDale White and wearing his back-to-back national championship T-shirt and holding that precious crystal football over his head.

The Obvious – "Head coach Pete Carroll has been in charge of the premier program in college football over the past two years, and there appears to be no end in sight." – Recruiting guru Tom Lemming in his latest March Prep Football Report magazine.

The Not So Obvious - Who says Lemming doesn't respect the Trojans and the West? In fact, Lemming says had the Trojans had more scholarships to give out, they would have passed Nebraska and Tennessee in the recruiting food chain.

The Obvious – "The likely fill-in at (Shaun) Cody's tackle spot will be either imposing junior Manuel Wright (23 tac, 6 for loss, 2 sack, 2 FR wit 1 TD, 2dfl in 2004), who actually started twice there last year when Cody went to end, or senior LaJuan Ramsey (2 tac in 2004). Wright will sit out 2005 springs drills to concentrate on academics." – 2005 USC spring football prospectus.

The Not So Obvious – And you thought the Trojan defense was already starting to look like a donut – as in big hole in the middle. One thing you can say about old Manny, he keeps Trojan fans on the edge of their seats.

The Obvious – "I am not making idle threats because Pete Carroll is a friend of mine, but he has never really done anything great against me." - New Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis addressing a early morning meeting of students in South Bend.

The Not So Obvious – Weis added, "But the negative with the right now with that is Southern Cal is a much better football team than Notre Dame is." You can just feel the Irish fans cringe with that dose of reality.

The Obvious – "I left Pete (Carroll) a message just to say that he's set the bar very high for college football coaches.What he has done for that program in recruiting and the coaching and the talent he's developed is unparalleled. There's Pete Carroll and then there's everybody else." - Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis in a later updated Trojan evaluation after taking some heat over those above earlier comments.

The Not So Obvious – Continuing his verbal rehab, Weis said, "I just want him (Carroll) to know how I felt about the work he's done there." When asked if Carroll is the Bill Belichick of college football, Weis answered, "How could you argue with that?"

The Obvious – "When we go out of state, we're looking for No. 1 draft picks." – new Trojan recruiting and offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin in a recent Internet interview.

The Not So Obvious – Kiffin added, " Southern California is still our recruiting base, but if we look outside our area, we are looking for No. 1 picks." Translation: NFL first round draft selections.

The Obvious – "It looks like the Wisconsin game will be on ESPN or ESPN 2." University of Hawaii spokeswoman Lois Manin, informing the public that the UH/USC game Sept. 3 had not changed to satisfy the cravings of cable television.

The Not So Obvious – According to Manin, USC "balked" at the change of day and so did Hawaii due to fan inconvenience. The big winner is Pleasant Hawaiian Holidays, who is providing a package deal. BTW, those with American Airline miles better find a better option as most of the reasonable dates and times have long gone "mahalo."

The Obvious – "I just didn't realize how much he loved USC. He loved the kids there" – Frank Cushing, the father of Trojan New Jersey linebacker recruit Brian Cushing, on his son's devotion to the Trojans during the recruiting finale.

The Not So Obvious – "Coach McNair, their running back coach, started recruiting me. He's from New Jersey too, and I related to him best. We always had something to talk about." - Brian Cushing, Frank's new cardinal and gold son.

The Obvious – "He's not as fast as I am. I can catch the ball better. And I am just as big." – Michael Coleman, the highly publicized Inland Empire Player of the Year who has openly challenged LenDale "Mr. Thunder" White by enrolling early for spring ball, being moved to tailback by the Trojan coaching staff, and attending rooster hours to get in shape to back up his macho.

The Not So Obvious – "I told White, ‘I feel I am better than you.'" -Coleman's final verbal challenge to LenDale. All we need now is Michael Buffer's opening for running back competition – "Let's get ready to rumble!" Coleman, who some say is the best player out of the Inland Empire since Ronnie Lott, has the type of "competition" spirit that makes Pete Carroll swoon.

The Obvious – "This is a game we have wanted for a long time." – Fresno State head coach Pat Hill commenting on his teams game against the Trojans in November.

The Not So Obvious – Perhaps the game was just a gift from his likeable athletic director Scott Johnson, the former Bulldog SID, whose son ironically is named Troy.

The Obvious – "We stayed there 10/04. Our room had multiple windows and we could see the lake, the Navy Pier, and the downtown area from our room." – An Ohio member of Tripadvisor.com reviewing their stay at the Chicago Sheraton Towers, the official hotel of the Trojan Alumni Association for the Notre Dame Weekender in October.

The Not So Obvious – Another travel member from Champaign, Illinois, said," We stayed at the Sheraton Towers over the weekend of Jan. 5 (2005). The bed was great, but the TV was the smallest thing I have seen since junior high (1979)."

The Obvious – "I just have to show them (coaches) I haven't lost my speed." – former starting fullback Brandon Hancock in an exclusive WeAreSC.com premium interview.

The Not So Obvious – Returning from ACL surgery issues, Hancock has been somewhat lost in the Trojan public eye. Hancock also commented, "My body fat is 7%." The balance of the interview was quite revealing and those premium subscribers were treated to Hancock's views on the past season, rehab, and his competition and expectations for the spring and fall.

The Obvious – "Take advantage of a special opportunity to order 2005 UCLA Football season tickets prior to the general public. Because you are a member of the Bruin Family, you have an exclusive window of opportunity – until this Saturday, March 12 – in which to order season tickets and receive the best available seats at the Rose Bowl." – A recent mass Email sent out to the UCLA Bruin family and followers.

The Not So Obvious – The Email arrived on March 14, two days after the deadline. Did we mention the same Email also invited fans to the March 12 scrimmage? In the immortal words Howard Cosell on the late Jim Healy show, "Who goofed, I've got to know!"

The Obvious – "We are extremely excited to perform at the World Expo and tour Japan for the very first time' – Art Bartner, USC Marching Band director, after the TMB was selected to perform in the Far East in June.

The Not So Obvious – The World Expo, which will be held in the Japanese city of Aichi, is also known as the World's Fair and the exact date for "USA Day" is June 20th. The long trip should make that football trip to Honolulu in early September look like a L.A. to Las Vegas run.

The Obvious – "The official Yellow Pages of the USC Trojans." - From Verizon's February edition.

The Not So Obvious – The colorful cover features the Coliseum, Pete Carroll raising the "crystal", and an action scene of the "home" Trojans against Washington State. Inside on Pg. 9, there is also a colorful picture of wide receiver Mike Williams making his legendary one-handed catch against Oregon State in 2003.

The Obvious – "He is so good looking!" – Kelly O'Boyle, a Mater Dei student after seeing Heisman winning quarterback Matt Leinart at a recent MD function honoring both Matt and former Notre Dame star John Huarte, the parochial school's two Heisman celebs.

The Not So Obvious – The ceremony at Mater Dei included the naming of a walkway "Heisman Lane" in honor of both Leinart and Huarte. Hey Monarchs, how about a little something for Matt Grootegoed, your All-America linebacker? There is Gouxgate entering the practice field at USC. How about Grootegoed Gate at the Monarch practice field?

The Obvious – "I played scout team quarterback during the time we had defensive end Tim Rossovich and linebacker Ray May. I just hated it when we ran Oregon State's option offense and Rossovich and May would just kill me." – Former Trojan scout quarterback Bill Cunerty, who took a daily pounding during the mid-1960s.

The No So Obvious – Cunerty, who also played baseball at Troy and went on to a tremendous head coaching football career at Saddleback College in Orange County, will be part of a NFL Trojan draft story in the upcoming April edition of We Are SC, the Magazine. Cunerty worked with Shaun Cody, Mike Patterson, and a number of other Trojans at the Home Depot Center as part of Athletes Performance, a training corporation for present and future professional athletes. Bill is also actively involved in putting together the highly acclaimed Trojan Adult Football Fantasy Camp.

The Obvious – "The athletic directors approved it with a strong vote." – Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hanson, commenting on the conference's approval to use Instant Replay for the upcoming 2005 football season.

The Not So Obvious – Don't get the idea that Pete Carroll will be able to use his NFL knowledge on using replay. Unlike the NFL, Pac-10 coaches will not be able to issue replay challenges. The Pac-10 will offer an official in a press box who will be judge and jury over the review. Knowing how corporations and universities love to market everything for financial improvement, you can just hear Coliseum public address announcer Dennis Packer say, " The following replay decision is being presented by Nike and Carl's Jr."

The Obvious – "When Notre Dame started out, they looked plenty fast. They looked plenty tough. They looked like they were even with USC. It seems to me like the team slowly dropped off. They just became non-competitive as the game went on." - Scout.com and SuperPrep publisher Allen Wallace commenting in the South Bend Tribune about the USC/ND game at the Coliseum for a story concerning the importance of speed, schemes, and desire.

The Not So Obvious – "Don't get me wrong, I love speed, but speed can be overrated. If he's not a football player, what difference does it make how fast he is." - ND Coach Charlie Weis, responding in the same article about his speed philosophy. When the Trojans visit the Irish on Oct. 15, Weis might pull out the speed equalizer – long grass and an overactive sprinkler system unless Mother Nature doesn't intercede like she did in a mid-90s South Bend freezer.

The Obvious – "There are only two seasons in Texas, football season and getting ready for football season." – Longtime Texas motto pertaining to the importance of football in relation to all other sports in the Lonestar State.

The Not So Obvious – And thanks to back-to-back national championships and three BCS bowl victories, the same could be said in regards to USC football as the Trojans and their fans ready for spring practice with the highlight being The Trojan Huddle, the ceremonial fall rehearsal scrimmage that reminds all why Texas doesn't have a monopoly on that famous football proverb.

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