The Not So Obvious – July is beach and pool party time and this week's Sports Illustrated has an "A-list" party of the top 25 celebrity athletes and entertainers for the ultimate "In Crowd" fictional gathering. Trojan quarterback Matt Leinart was one of the invitees along with the likes of Russell Crowe, La'Bron James, Hilary Swank, Bill Murray, Tiger Woods, and Jennie Finch.
The Obvious – Trojan quarterback Matt Leinart has said that despite his portrayal in the media, he really isn't part of the party and Hollywood crowd.
The Not So Obvious – So why was Leinart invited to the SI party of fantasy? SI said that Lefty received his invite because of his 96.2 winning percentage, two national titles, and "a huge female support system." In the flight of fancy article, it says the 2004 Heisman winner will party "mix" with Russell Crowe and Hilary Swank and goes on to say the senior already hangs with a list of stars including Jessica Simpson, Nick Lachey and Alyssa Milano. There is even a triple foldout caricature of the 25 celebs at the pool party.
The Obvious – One of the great sports stories of our time is six-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong's comeback from spreading cancer.
The Not So Obvious – Perhaps the funniest line in SI's "Mid-summer Night's Dream Team" party is the fictional desire of Armstrong to mix with Matt Leinart. The reason for Armstrong befriending Leinart is the fact that "Longhorns fans (Armstrong lives in Austin) love guys who open a drum of whup-ass on Oklahoma like Leinart and USC did last January."
The Obvious –Derek Simmons, a 6-foot-5, 278-pound Fairfield Armijo High football defensive lineman has accepted a scholarship to attend the University of Southern California beginning in the fall of 2006.
The Not So Obvious – Former defensive line coach Ed Orgeron added to his Trojan legend when he "discovered" and molded a piece of work called Mike Patterson, turning the former Los Alamitos star into one of the greatest Trojan defensive linemen in history. First-year Trojan defensive line coach Jethro Franklin could be walking the same path as Orgeron if his somewhat under-the- radar find, Derek Simmons, is developed into a similar success story as Patterson. Filling Orgeron's and Patterson's shoes won't be easy, but this could be Franklin's first big recruiting step.
The Obvious – Most experts refer to the potential of Derek Simmons as "tremendous upside," and the kid from Fairfield Armiijo High came down from NoCal knowing a good performance would probably lead to a Trojan scholarship.
The Not So Obvious – One of the striking physical features of Simmons for old timers is how much the Solano County kid looks facially to late Wild Bunch defensive tackle (1969-70) Tody Smith (6-5, 247), who came to Troy after transferring from Michigan State and is the younger brother of MSU and NFL legend Bubba Smith.
The Obvious – The Trojans have shown interest in Fairfield High linebacker Jamarr Robinson (6-3, 240), who was impressive in the Rising Senior Camp.
The Not So Obvious – Robinson was placed alongside Oakland McClymonds linebacker Josh Tatum in the Rising Senior Camp drills, forming an impressive inside duo. So, now Trojan fans want to know more about this Fairfield community with the possibility of two future Trojans in the 2006 recruiting class. Well, to make a long story short, Fairfield is located between Oakland and Sacramento (think Lodi for all you Creedence Clearwater Revival fans) and the biggest employer is Travis Air Force Base.
The Obvious – According to our Scott Schrader of Scout.com, the Trojans are once again back on the short list for Seattle O'Dea safety Taylor Mays (6-3, 210).
The Not So Obvious – Perhaps it was one too many interviews, but apparently Mays' omission of the Trojans in a recent Scout.com interview was an oversight. Give the kid a pass, especially with the world wanting the latest of the latest. One key for the son of former Huskies nose guard Stafford Mays (1978-79) may be depth charts, something that Mays has said would enter into his decision process. With the Trojans hauling in two listed safeties in last year's crop (Kevin Ellison and Will Harris), the "competition" word could be a deciding factor. To compete or not to compete, that is the question.
The Obvious – Our Paul Morantz did a wonderful story on the 1978 Trojan team that spilt with Alabama for the national championship.
The Not So Obvious – Watching Trojan games since 1962, there was never a bigger national championship rip-off than the season of 1978. Watching the Cardinal and Gold go down to Alabama and virtually dominate, 24-14, in Legion Field all but killed all credibility in the system. If you can't decide between two best teams that have played head-to-head, what's left? And for the Trojans to triumph in Birmingham, no less. Well, Trojan fans can complain about the current BCS polls, but there was never a more ludicrous national development than that of 1978.
The Obvious – The BCS national championship game at the Rose Bowl on Jan. 4 will probably use instant replay.
The Not So Obvious – Well now, here is something about the BCS that everybody can agree and, wow, no controversy. The good news is the Pac-10 Conference will use replay this season and Trojan fans will have a good idea of how this thing will work. The added bonus, of course, is should the Trojans make it to Pasadena, they will be well educated in its application. You don't think this is all part of Pete Carroll's master plan? Come fall practice, let's see if Carroll goes through a simulated sequence of an instant replay call during a scrimmage. It would be more surprising if the head honcho didn't.
The Obvious – Junior Seau, who was one of the first Trojans to leave for the NFL after his junior year, was a USC All-American at outside linebacker and was the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year in 1989.
The Not So Obvious – In The Sporting News recent recognition of "The Good Guys" in athletics, Seau was recognized for donating $900,000 to the Boys and Girls Clubs.
The Obvious – Charles Young, a unanimous Trojan All-American in 1972, is arguably the greatest tight end in the history of USC football.
The Not So Obvious – Charles "The Tree" Young will be officially enshrined into the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Indiana on Saturday, August 13. Young will be part of a new group of inductees that includes the likes of former Ohio State strong safety hitman Jack Tatum and Cal quarterback warrior Joe Kapp. Young will be part of an inaugural parade through downtown South Bend. Okay, it's not the Rose Parade, but it's still one heck of an honor. Early congrats, No. 89.
The Obvious – There was no greater coaching opponent that did more longterm damage to the Trojans than Lou Holtz did as head coach of Notre Dame.
The Not So Obvious – Guess who is going to be the guest speaker for the College Football Hall of Fame luncheon in South Bend the week of the Trojans visit to Notre Dame? Yep, "Granny" will be speaking at the Outback Steakhouse on Thursday, Oct. 13, at 11:30 a.m to discuss Saturday's big game with the Men of Troy. You don't think Holtz will also make it to the Irish pep rally on Friday night in the ACC, do you?
The Obvious – A reminder that incoming Trojan freshman kicker Troy Van Blarcom of Orange Lutheran High will be kicking for the North tonight (Friday) in the 46th Orange County All-Star Game at Orange Coast College at 7:15 p.m.
The Not So Obvious – Van Blarcom will be a definite kickoff candidate for the Trojan in September. You might also see some current Trojan recruits at the game including Mission Viejo's All-CIF fullback Chane "The Train" Moline, whose brother, Chase, the Orange County Player of the Year headed for UCLA, who will play on the defensive line for the South. Don't be surprised as well to see Mission Viejo All-World tight end Konrad Reuland and current Trojan freshman quarterback Mark Sanchez in attendance to support their Mission Viejo brethren.
The Obvious – Incoming Trojan tight end Charles Brown (6-6, 250), San Gabriel Valley lineman of the year out of Pomona Diamond Ranch, will be playing for the East squad in tonight's (Friday) 26th Hall of Fame game at El Monte Mountain View High.
The Not So Obvious – Trojan fans who make the 7:30 p.m. kickoff should watch carefully how Brown performs at tight end, both as a blocker and receiver, for there are those that believe his true future is at offensive tackle.
The Obvious – If the Trojans win the Pac10 Conference and are undefeated, it figures they will play for the national championship in the Rose Bowl on Jan 4.
The Not So Obvious – However, if the Trojans win the Pac-10 Conference but don't make it to the Rose Bowl, they will be relocated to the Fiesta Bowl in Tempe on Jan. 2 where the Pac-10 champions will play the Big 12 champions, if they are not in the Rose Bowl. Could we be looking at a potential 2005 Orange Bowl rematch with those Sooners or Mack Brown's Texas Longhorns? It seems to the O/NSO that aside from the Rose Bowl, the Fiesta Bowl could be sitting mighty pretty in bowl appeal.
The Obvious – The Trojans will play at Cal on Nov. 12, but no kickoff time has been set.
The Not So Obvious – Well, good reader, here's a little hint. ABC will televise the Arizona State at UCLA game at 4:00 p.m. With the other games scheduled for that day being Washington at Arizona, Oregon at Washington State, and Stanford at Oregon State, that ABC designated window at 12:30 p.m. looks almost like a USC lock should the Trojans win early in the season at Oregon.
The Obvious – During a Trojan game, there are many Monday morning quarterbacks that think they know which play and which player they want to execute their personal USC game plan.
The Not So Obvious – At a recent sports bar gathering, a discussion raged over one particular Trojan game situation. If the Trojans had the ball 4th and goal on their opponent's two-yard line, and you had your choice of any running back in Trojan history to get you into the end zone, who would you want to carry the ball? Okay, so who would you want to carry the ball into the Promised Land?
The Obvious – The NFL lost one of its true coaching giants when Hall of Famer Hank Stram passed away on July 4th.
The Not So Obvious – One of those players that benefited from Stram's innovative offensive strategies is current Trojan athletic director Mike Garrett, who played running back for Stram's Kansas City Chiefs. Garrett, a former All-Pro, can seen on NFL Films helping lead his Chiefs to the championship of Super Bowl IV with a 23-7 victory over the Bud Grant Vikings. The video showcased "Iron Mike" scoring a five-yard touchdown on the ground with something called "22 Toss Cross-Power Trap," A field microphone was on Stram, who loved repeating the play call as Garrett ran the counter play into the end zone.
The Obvious – Trojan quarterback Matt Leinart told the Riverside Press-Enterprise this week that he threw only at 75% last season due to elbow issues.
The Not So Obvious – When we saw Leinart throw during a little 7-on-7 recently, it became quite clear that he will be an improved thrower now that his surgery has been a success. It is also clear that not working out for the NFL at 75% was also good business decision.
The Obvious – We are at the point in the summer when many Trojan fans begin to get concerned about the academic eligibility of transfers and members of the high touted incoming freshmen class.
The Not So Obvious – With no sign of Trojan problems at this point, the same can't be said of some other schools that also have ballyhooed recruiting classes. Nearly a third of Georgia's highly ranked recruiting class of 2005 failed to gain admission due into Athens due to academic issues.
The Obvious – One of the most respected regional football publications is Dave Campbell's Texas Football Magazine, which covers the pros, college, and high school teams and players in the Lone Star State.
The Not So Obvious – In this year's 2005 edition, Texas Football Magazine picks the Trojans to win it all, something they actually predicted in last year's edition. In the prep section of the magazine, Klein Collins running back Michael Goodson is listed first team all-state. It is always reassuring when the regional publication aligns with the national evaluations.
The Obvious – The Dodgers are out of it, the Angels are in it, the Lakers have drafted a 17-year-old, and the final prep all-star football games are coming to a close.
The Not So Obvious – So, what are we to look forward to, especially in early July? Say, isn't this weekend the magic moment when Klein Collins "Reggie Bush clone" running back Michael Goodson is supposed to make his college choice known to the rest of the world? Don't know about you, but if reports coming in all directions are true, the Trojans might have the best post-fireworks celebration this side of New York Harbor. Of course, Goodson's last minute trip to Texas A&M late this week leaves more than a few Trojan fans feeling a little Dennis Franchione paranoia.