The Sun is warm, the flowers in full bloom, family gatherings and patriotic displays.
Summer also officially marks the beginning of the end of waiting for college football to start.
All teams share a new optimism brought by a clean slate, of recruiting and spring practice.
Looking ahead to fall 2005 is a unique experience for Trojans everywhere.. One that has never been experienced at USC before.
"Right Here, Right Now"!
The 2005 motto for the Trojans.
But in a sense, it's not right here or right now. Theirs is a quest for immortality. To be judged either in a positive or negative light against all that have come before them. To be judged against the first teams from the Ivy League, by Jim Thorpe's Carlisle Indians, by Rockne and the Four Horsemen, by Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside, By Wilkinson's Sooners, by Hurricanes and Cornhuskers.
The 2005 season will be a journey to attempt to surpass the myths and legends that have come before.
To achieve the title of "Greatest Team-EVER".
This is the quest.
How things have changed in four short years.
The benchmark which has been established by Pete Carroll, his staff, and the players over these last four years boggles the mind. The pressure from the media and the casual fan is enormous. Each game must be a statement, a masterpiece. No letups, no cliffhangers, only sweeping total domination is satisfactory to the 2005 version of Troy's favorite sons.
But is it realistic?
Can a group of 18-22 year old young athletes be expected to soar week in and week out among the stratosphere of the college football universe?
The competition at SC practices makes one think so. Players have said almost to a man that practice is harder, more demanding than Saturday's games. It will have to be with the ever increasing target now placed firmly on SC's back.
Talent? Certainly the assembly line of gifted players, long a standard at USC is even more defined now. Offensively, the returning Heisman winner, along with the most electrifying player in the country. A strong running game with LenDale White, David Kirtman, and the return of multitalented Brandon Hancock. The receiving corps that could make a NFL GM drool. Smith, Jarrett, McFoy, Lewis, and this years phenom, Patrick Turner.
The offensive line welcomes back Winston Justice. This addition, along with the returning studs could actually have future All-Pro Linemen standing on the sideline waiting their turn.
Defensively the questions marks arise. Losing three All-Americans must effect any team but the reservoir of talent is there to build something really special. Dallas Sartz will prove a battle tested leader. He's seen it all before. Bing and Ware will be the building blocks for a lethal secondary. The defensive line is talented, athletic, well coached albeit very young. But can you see many teams winning a shootout with USC?
The kicking game should be solid with All American Tom Malone opting for a final year.
Placekicking is really the big question mark and purists will cite that area can possibly spell the difference between victory and defeat. But again, do you foresee SC's offense relying on a field goal to win?
So many questions on coaches but Pete Carroll is a consummate professional and certainly knows what he wants to achieve through the teaching and administrating of his program. I should think if anything the coaching changes will challenge the players to prove they can win without Coaches Chow, Davis, and Orgeron.
So the odyssey begins in the paradise of Hawaii. Can it finish down the road in Pasadena?
Of course only time will tell.
But if USC can hold off the challenge of old rivals, the media glare, and the mists of time it will prove a season that elevates a proud, mighty program to immortality.