The Not So Obvious –Returning to campus after a highly entertaining Bay Area speaking engagement on Thursday night, Pete Carroll now prepares for some of the best prep talent across the continent, who are gathering this weekend at Howard Jones and Brian Kennedy Fields for the Trojans' skills and linemen camps. Ah, the moment when the Trojan staff has its biggest opportunity to see if players like San Pedro lineman Zack Heberer (6-6, 275) on Sunday are the "real deal" and are deserving of a dream scholarship offer, which of course can lead quickly to that sacred "silent" verbal right on the old spot.
The Obvious – The annual WeAreSC softball game, lunch, and round table discussion was held last weekend at Big League Dreams Sports Park in Chino Hills.
The Not So Obvious – The brainchild of Trojan alum Jeff Odekirk and family, Big League Dreams is a sports complex highlighted by a selection of "If you build it, they will come" ballparks past and present. It's a stunning sight off of SR 71 in Chino Hills to gaze upon the facade of Yankee Stadium, the Green Monster of Fenway Park, and the "Welcome" sign of Wrigley Field. Deeper in the complex, it's the ghost of Cincinnati's Crosley Field, complete with that famous inclined, grass terrace leading up to the outfield wall. And, yes, the "laundry building" behind the fence and the memorable scoreboard with clock atop in left center. The only thing missing was Vada Pinson in center and Frank Robinson in right. And did we mention fireballer Jim Maloney on the mound?
The Obvious – Legendary Trojan fullback Sam Cunningham threw out the first pitch to start the softball game at "Fenway Park" in Chino Hills.
The Not So Obvious – Cunningham, a wonderful Trojan to talk with, was very informative and approachable for the fans that were able to make the WeAreSC event. Among the things that "Sam Bam" revealed in conversation was that the hardest hitting teams in his three years at Troy were Oregon State and Washington. Cunningham also said that the best team he faced was NOT Ohio State or Notre Dame, but Oklahoma with RB Greg Pruitt. Old No. 39 also said that it was appropriate he could throw out the first pitch of the afternoon since he had spent a number of outings at the real Fenway Park when he was a nine-year member of the Patriots (the No. 11 pick in the 1973 NFL draft).
The Obvious – A number of Trojan fans have wondered how the 2004 national champs compared with Cunningham's vaunted 1972 club.
The Not So Obvious – Sam was very objective in his assessment. The All-America fullback, who is credited with breaking the color barrier in the South in 1970 after helping destroy Bear Bryant's Alabama squad 42-21 in Birmingham, was quite adamant that defensive tackles Shaun Cody and Mike Patterson could play on that 1972 team. "Those cats could play on our team, no doubt." The former Santa Barbara High star said his secondary (remember the late safety Artimus Parker?), especially the defensive backs (remember Charles "Sugar Bear" Hinton?), were stronger than the 2004 club.
The Obvious – The 1972 Trojans had receivers the likes of Lynn Swann, J.K. McKay, and Charles Young.
The Not So Obvious - "We didn't throw it that much, but those guys always caught the ball," informed Cunningham, who said he would like to "come out of the tunnel with this year's Trojan team." " I told coach (Carroll) he wouldn't have to worry about short and goal!" With all due respect to current standout fullbacks David Kirtman and Brandon Hancock, the O/NSO thinks Pete Carroll wouldn't mind having "Sam Bam" in there either. Ah, just one more over the top, Sam, in memory of old Woody Hayes, the legendary Buckeye coach.
The Obvious – One of the most important members of Pete Carroll's coaching staff is strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle.
The Not So Obvious – Carlisle's work was on display at Big League Dreams Sports Park last weekend when Trojan All-America punter Tom Malone cranked a softball over 300 feet into the Fenway Park bleachers. It was no fluke since Malone earlier had hit one off the wall in dead center.
The Obvious – The Trojan team has received their 2004 national championship rings.
The Not So Obvious – For those who made it to Chino Hills, they had the opportunity to see a ring up close and personal. Impressive would be an understatement and the O/NSO just had to hold it and do the once-over. We especially like the side of the ring that displayed the peristyle end of the Coliseum with a "Pac-10- Champions" engraving.
The Obvious – Pete Carroll and his staff will try to show this weekend's prep stars on campus the Trojans version of Big League Dreams.
The Not So Obvious – This may be the biggest gathering of out-of-state talent in the four years of the Carroll camps regime. If former Trojan DB and LB Poly star Darrell Rideaux, who was also a guest speaker in Chino Hills, is correct, Trojan fans need not worry if those prep stars will get a chance to see the DVD highlight video, "Undisputed." "They might not get a copy (NCAA rule), but you can bet they will probably see it," Rideaux gushed.
The Obvious – The Trojans will not only have the bulls-eye on their backs this season, but in the recent round table discussion at Big League Dream, they will also have one on the front side of them as well.
The Not So Obvious – If rare previous victories over the Trojans are any indication, better cover the women and children if Carroll's boys have their Coliseum win streak snapped this season. Former Trojan kicker David Newbury remembers when Washington State came to the Grand Old Lady and upset the 2000 Trojans. "Oh boy, Washington State players were taking dirt out of the Coliseum turf and putting in their helmets after they beat SC," said Newberry, who along with former DB Darrell Rideaux, will again be on ESPN radio in the fall to comment each week on the state of Trojan football.
The Obvious – Sophomore quarterback Rocky Hinds has apparently decided to transfer to a yet unnamed institution, and Pete Carroll commented that Hinds is better off leaving if he feels he can't compete.
The Not So Obvious –How ironic that not too long ago a certain quarterback was also rumored to leave because competition pecking order didn't appear to be falling into place. This quarterback remained and took the Carroll competition challenge and ended up being the Heisman Trophy winner in 2004 and leading his team two consecutive national championships. Now really, do we have to say his name? Here's a hint: His initials are M.L, wears No. 11, and throws out first pitches at major league baseball games.
The Obvious – Rumors are that quarterback Rocky Hinds has his sights set on UNLV.
The Not So Obvious – This is one of those transfers that seems to be win-win for both programs. Although you really don't like to see Trojan players transferring, Hinds is a fine prospect, but timing is everything, and it might have been too difficult to be sandwiched in between John David Booty and incoming prodigy Mark Sanchez. We wish Rocky best of luck if he elects to join hands with former USC quarterback and new UNLV coach Mike Sanford..
The Obvious – Another "rumor" turned out to be positive when Trojan coach Pete Carroll announced that defensive tackle Gabe Long of Fullerton JC will not be with the Trojans in the fall.
The Not So Obvious – With the loss of Long, it will be very interesting to watch the Trojans recruiting this year in the area of defensive tackles, especially with new defensive line coach Jethro Franklin leading the charge. While it is expected that Long will eventually become a Trojan, depth remains an issue of concern and the availability of senior tackle LaJuan Ramsey to remain healthy throughout the year will be critical. Of all the Trojan defections and academic issues, the loss of DT Manuel Wright is the most significant.
The Obvious – The Pac-10 Conference will return to the ESPN world of college football again with a new contract with ABC Sports.
The Not So Obvious – The EPSN six-game package, which will start in 2007, was certainly a marriage waiting to happen and don't let anybody kid you that both parties were more than happy to ride coattails of a 22-game Trojan win streak and back-to-back championships. However, the true test of this union will be the times when the games are played. With ABC generally getting the 12:30 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. window, let's see how many ESPN games start at 7:15 p.m., as is the case with FSN. There has been talk, according to ESPN VP programming exec John Wildsack, that of some Pac-10 games could be played on Thursday nights.
The Obvious – Last season's USC/Notre Dame game was the highest rated contest on ABC schedule (6.3 rating).
The Not So Obvious – So what does this mean for this year's USC at Notre Dame game played in South Bend? It means that NBC, which normally goes with a local 1:30 p.m. kickoff in South Bend (11:30 a.m. in L.A.), has decided this year to go with a 2:30 p.m. South Bend kickoff, which translates to a 12:30 p.m. L.A. window. Knowing that ABC is televising its Pac-10 games at 12:30 p.m., it look like NBC has laid down the TV version of the Lexus Gauntlet. By the way, the O/NSO had the 2:30 p.m. local South Bend kickoff time confirmed by the ND Ticket Department.
The Obvious – There will a large number of Trojan fans making their way back to the Midwest for the "Notre Dame Weekender" in Chicago.
The Not So Obvious – The 2:30 p.m. kickoff in South Bend will actually allow those going to the game to get an "extra hour" of sleep. Instead of leaving at 8:00 p.m. for the 1 1/2 hour drive to South Bend, it looks like Trojan fans can have an extra hour of night action along Michigan and Rush Streets.
The Obvious – It has been officially announced that the opener at Hawaii is now a 1:00 p.m. kickoff at Aloha Stadium.
The Not So Obvious – ESPN2 will televise the game which will come into Southern California at 4: 00 p.m. and more importantly for the ratings suits, a 7:00 p.m. Eastern prime time window. Trojan fans making the trip to "The Islands" would be advised to bring some extra sun screen for what figures to be a warm, humid, and sunny kickoff time. Of course, Hawaii coach June Jones couldn't be happier with the early afternoon tilt, unless he sees film of how the Trojans handled their warm and humid Auburn experience a couple of years ago.
The Obvious - As long as the Trojans remain on fire, so will their ratings and look for ESPN to try and fit future USC game times into that East Coast window, which is actually a good promotional tool for the Cardinal and Gold.
The Not So Obvious – Trojan fans can also expect to see more of Fowler, Corso, and Herbstreit at the Coliseum with the new ESPN arrangement. If the Coliseum and the NFL have a marriage and the Grand Old Lady is redone, perhaps the Trojans could be a candidate for one of those future Thursday night games in a local venue as the Rose Bowl. Some have even said Dodger Stadium could be an option.
The Obvious – ESPN has pulled out of its relationship with the Coaches Poll beginning this season.
The Not So Obvious – Speaking of polls, MSNBC featured a poll on whether the Trojans can Three-Pete. As of this posting, 65% said "no" and 35% voted "yes". Music to Carroll's ears.
The Obvious – Heralded Texas running back Michael Goodson, considered the No. 1 recruit in Texas and in the Big 12 area, made an unpublicized visit to USC last week that sent reverberations throughout the country.
The Not So Obvious – When you can bring in perhaps the nation's most explosive back in and out of Los Angeles during the week and not one recruiting bloodhound gets a sniff, you know Pete Carroll and staff placed Goodson's visit with his dad on the highest level of security. Not that WeAreSC.com and others have to know everything, but this was an exceptional event that apparently has placed the Trojans at the front of the Goodson recruiting line.
The Obvious – There has been a growing list of comparisons between the Trojan's All-American tailback Reggie Bush and Houston's Michael Goodson.
The Not So Obvious – In high school, Roadrunner Reggie averaged 12 yards per carry as a senior while, as a junior, Goodson averaged a whopping 14 yards per touch. They are both triple threat players in running, catching, and special teams. In fact, Goodson even plays some defense. Good subscribers, if you have not done so already, break out the Trojans "Undisputed" DVD with Bush and then immediately go to Scout.com and watch the three highlight videos of Goodson. Not just one highlight video, my friends, but all three videos, which includes the Goodson kickoff and punt returns. We think you'll quickly understand why Pete Carroll and his staff see Reggie Bush déjà vu.
The Obvious – If you have read the accounts of Michael Goodson from last weekend in the City of Angels, you know this week the phenom is at Oklahoma for the weekend.
The Not So Obvious – There appears to be a reasonable chance that Goodson may commit to the Trojans after this past weekend's visit to Soonerville. Perhaps the interesting aspect of Goodson's recruiting to this point is his lack of excitement in Coach Mack Brown's Texas Longhorns, especially considering the success of RB Cedric Benson. As have many recruits before him, Goodson says there's just something about the Trojans that's different and that's the way Pete Carroll wants it.
The Obvious – One of the most respected of the college football preseason magazines, Lindy's, is now on newsstands with its national preview.
The No So Obvious – Our friend Don Borst, the former Press-Telegram sports reporter and now associate editor of Lindy's, has done another fine job of covering the country. At $6.99, Lindey's gives a pretty good account of the team's that will contest the Trojans for college football supremacy. Lindy's likes the Texas Longhorns and quarterback Vince Young to meet the Trojans for the BCS championship at the Rose Bowl on Jan. 4.
The Obvious – Needless to say, the Trojans were Lindy's choice for the Pac 10 title.
The Not So Obvious – The Trojans pursuers were as follows: Oregon, UCLA, ASU, Cal, Washington St., Oregon St., Arizona, Washington, and Stanford.
The Obvious – Needless to say, Trojan QB Matt Leinart was selected to the Lindy's preseason All-Pac-10 team.
The Not So Obvious – Joining Leinart on the Lindy's preseason All-Pac-10 first team were fellow Trojan RB LenDale White, WR Dwayne Jarrett, OT Sam Baker, OT Winston Justice, AP Reggie Bush, DB Darnell Bing, and punter Tom Malone. DB Justin Wyatt made the second team.
The Obvious – Trojan Matt Leinart, of course, is on the cover of Lindy's national magazine.
The Not So Obvious – Joining Matt on the Lindy All-America preseason team was RB Reggie Bush. WR Dwayne Jarrett made the second team. Punter Tom Malone made the second team as the punter. Malone was the only Trojan to garner recognition on the "defensive" side of the ball.
The Obvious – Come Sunday night, you can bet that Trojan fans will be checking WeAreSC.com for any news of verbals coming from this weekend's skills camps.
The Not So Obvious – For those subscribers that need a WeAreSC.com recruiting glossary, if the publisher says he is feeling good about a particular player, read between the lines and ask no more. Better yet, put on "Undisputed", the Trojans 2004 national championship DVD and crack a cardinal and gold smile as you watch another Reggie Bush punt return.