O/NSO - Anniversary edition

"It was a special team. Our offensive linemen were not Tony Boselli, but we just played well together." – Former USC offensive lineman Jeremy Hogue discussing the 10th anniversary of the 1995 Pac-10 Trojan champions at Wednesday night's WeAreSC dinner at San Pedro's popular Papadakis Taverna.

The Obvious – " It was a special team. Our offensive linemen were not Tony Boselli, but we just played well together." – Former USC offensive lineman Jeremy Hogue discussing the 10th anniversary of the 1995 Pac-10 Trojan champions at Wednesday night's WeAreSC dinner at San Pedro's popular Papadakis Taverna.

The Not So Obvious – A sweet memory of the 1995 club was the undressing of Cinderella Northwestern, 41-32, in a wild 1996 Rose Bowl game. While glowing words come flowing out about Pete Carroll's 2005 team, we are reminded that Hogue's group was one of the few shinning lights during the dark side of the previous Trojan decade. The 1995 team had to deal with a nation that was in love with Gary Barnett's team from Evanston, Illinois. Hogue said he was also a big fan of Northwestern during the 1995 season, but when he found out Troy was playing the Wildcats in the Rose Bowl, he wanted to "kick their %*@."

The Obvious - " I love Pete Carroll, It's always great to be a Trojan, especially right now!" – Jeremy Hogue, who entertained an overflow gathering at the traditional Greek restaurant with tales of his playing career and observations of the current Trojan reign of terror.

The Not So Obvious – One area that Hogue said was critical of the Trojans up and down performances during his time at Troy was that of revolving assistant coaches. The former El Toro High star made it quite clear that the change of assistant coaches made a huge impact on player performances. Jeremy was able to communicate to the full house of Trojan fans just how critical a change of assistants can be. In a lighter moment, Hogue left the audience laughing reminding them that his personal and family's roots were from Oklahoma City and how much satisfaction he got from watching the Trojans waxing of the Sooners in the Orange Bowl.

The Obvious – " We used to go around town and nobody knew who were, but this year's team, all the girls know who they are!" – Jeremy Hogue, comparing his envious appraisal of when he was a Trojan in the 90's and today's 2005 Trojans.

The Not So Obvious – Hogue was asked by a patron what the difference he sees from previous Trojan teams to that of the Pete Carroll era. Hogue said, " Carroll's teams approach the game at a professional level. I don't see blown assignments or giving up big plays." Hogue did say he felt that while he respected departed offensive coordinator Norm Chow, Jeremy felt the greater loss was that of former defensive line coach Ed Orgeron.

The Obvious - "We were thinking we were going to play with Southern Cal (last year)," said Keller who received mop-up duty behind Andrew Walter that day. "Once they jumped on us 14-0, we kind of crawled in a hole. The whole Trojan thing got going." – 2005 Arizona State quarterback Sam Keller as told to CBS Sportsline's Dennis Dodd.

The Not So Obvious – Keller also said he is looking forward to playing the No. 1-ranked Trojans in Tempe on Oct. 1. Get in line kid and take a number; the line forms in the back as the Trojans are also the nation's number one target. What works for Carroll's Trojans is exactly what Keller says – "Once they jumped on us 14-0, we kind of crawled in a hole. The whole Trojan thing got going." And that's exactly the point. As much as teams want to make Saturday night's headlines against the Trojans, they also fear the thought of "The whole Trojan thing got going" syndrome. Being No. 1 can be a two-way street.

The Obvious – "The (USC) defensive line coach saw Derek at the camp and called Pete Carroll and said, 'We've got to have him,' " Singer said. "So they called him into Pete's office after the camp and offered him a scholarship. Derek said, 'I'm in.' " – Armijo High football coach Mike Singer in the Fairfield Daily Republic, after his star returned from the Trojans Rising Senior Camp with an offer.

The Not So Obvious – "Derek is definitely not a 'combine' player," the Scout.com review of Simmons said. "He is a football player, not blessed with freakish athleticism. Simmons does it with blue-collar ethic and drive. Very consistent player who can be counted on to go 100% for the whole game." So much for combine evaluations.

The Obvious – "USC guard Jeff Byers is out for the year because his surgically repaired hip didn't repair. That's three starters and half the coaching staff that the Trojans have lost since the end of last season. And no, I don't have the guts not to pick them No. 1. But I'm now thinking about it." - ESPN's Ivan Maisel in his popular 3-Point Stance column.

The Not So Obvious – It's amazing how many folks are viewing the departure of valued members of the Trojan rosters but can't pull the trigger to drop the Trojans from the No. 1 spot. Could it have to do with the lessons learned last season with similar issues leading into the 2004 season? Of course, as long as Matt Leinart is at the helm, things aren't likely to change in the world of college polls.

The Obvious – "They had tried to get in contact with us, but they were unable to reach us by phone," Carter said. "The rules say they can't contact the athlete directly, so they sent the letter to Charles through the program. It was hand-written and said, 'Hey baby, the champ is calling. Come out West to the home of Heisman Trophy winners." - Recruiting mail sent indirectly to super Louisiana RB Charles Scott by Trojan linebacker coach Ken Norton, according to The News Star, which covers Northeast Louisiana.

The Not So Obvious – J. Hodge offensive coordinator Brian Carter said this was the most unusual piece of mail they have received for Scott's recruiting process, and it came as a hand-written note by Norton. The coaches of Scott were so taken with the letter that they hung it on the tack board in the team's locker room.

The Obvious – "My mother keeps track of them," he said last week. "Some day, I'm sure it'll be pretty cool to look back on them." – Trojan quarterback Matt Leinart from a fine story about the Trojans and college football magazines and their covers by the Riverside Press-Enterprise's Dan Weber,

The Not So Obvious – Well, Lefty, mom can add another as he and Reggie Bush made the WeAreSC Yearbook, which is due out in August.

The Obvious – "Replica game jersey in white or team colors. Short-sleeve V-neck wih rib-knit collar, screenprinted team graphics, numbers and Swoosh design trademark. Team color: 100% nylon. White: 100% polyester. Importe." – Nike '05 college football replica jersey displays in the summer espnshop.com summer catalog.

The Not So Obvious – So how hot are the Trojans in the world of merchandising? Well, in the display of six jerseys, two of the replicas are Trojan home and away jerseys with, of course, No. 11. The remaining schools being promoted are Ohio State, Miami, Wisconsin, and our friends from South Bend. Those four are home jersey displays only. On the bottom of the page, the catalog has an insert with ESPN.com's Pat Forde's 2005 college predictions. Forde says Matt Leinart over Texas QB Vince Young for the Heisman, and the Trojan as three-peat national champs over Michigan.

The Obvious – "My youngest is going to David Fulcher's football camp this weekend and as it goes, there were tons of Buckeye fans there yesterday, all clad in OSU shirts, hats, NC stuff. Needless to say, I will be sporting my back to back NC shirt today at the camp and David will be debuting his new Reggie Bush jersey. Is it any wonder I don't have many close friends here in Ohio???" – Scott Downer, WeAreSC contributing writer and correspondent, who lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The Not So Obvious – If you have not read the Scott Downer story of how this former Ohio University gridiron center wound up a Trojan fan from a young age in the midst of the Woody Hayes era, you might want to flip though past issues of the WeAreSC magazine for his story. Downer, who has written features on Trojan greats Anthony Munoz, Tim Rossovich, and Mike Battle, can tell you first hand, which he did on a recent visit to SoCal, what Trojan tight end Fred Davis of Toledo, Ohio, was going through in trying to escape to Los Angeles from the fanaticism of Buckeye football.

The Obvious – "Weis began dropping hints about the importance of this game (USC) almost as soon as he landed in South Bend. Notre Dame has an extra week to rest and three years worth of motivation to prepare. The Irish still don't have the horses, but they also won't be hung with another 31-point loss." – The Irish Sports Report's 2005 Notre Dame Football Annual on this year's prospects with the Trojans in South Bend.

The Not So Obvious – Considering this is a publication of the South Bend Tribune and a very good 96-page Notre Dame "annual," what should be also added is the yearbook's prediction on the outcome of the Oct. 15 Trojans visit to South Bend. According to the publication, "Bottom Line: USC 35, Notre Dame 13." Well, at least for the Irish faithful, it's fewer than 31 points.

The Obvious – "If you're 270 as a 14 year old you're fat. I'm sure his dad and his coaches'll have him in the weight room over the next few years as his body is going to change drastically. The great thing is that his body can carry that much weight but if you're 270 at 14/15 years old you're not athletic...you're doughy. It's encouraging to hear that he's already college football sized though. Heck hopefully by his senior year he's about that same size/wt and an athlete. Again, no offense to Graf or anyone else, but he's got some work ahead of him." – A loyal WeAreSC subscriber's comments concerning the size of 14-year-old Kevin Graf, who is on varsity at talented Oaks Christian High as a freshman.

The Not So Obvious – The son former starting offensive guard Allan Graf, a key member of the legendary 1972 national champions, and brother of former Trojan lineman Derek, we can certainly understand the subscribers skepticism concerning the 6-foot-6, 270-pound youngster and his physical dimensions. Nobody is more skeptical on these matters than the O/NSO. However, there are cases, like youth basketball, that every blue moon brings a prodigy of nature. We have watched young Kevin, who was too big to play Pop Warner, grow before our eyes from year to year, and this "future" Trojan has given every indication that he is not some Krispy Kreme adolescent. Seeing is believing so if you have not done so, check out the WeAreSC video with young Graf.

The Obvious – "Patton is among the 40 to 50 UH players who have elected to spend their summer days toiling under the summer sun rather than lounge at the beach, and their motivation can be summed up in three letters: USC." – The Honolulu Advertiser, which did a recent story on a record number of Hawaii players who are turning out for summer workouts,

The Not So Obvious – "It makes you want to come out here," receiver Jason Ferguson said of UH' s opener against the Trojans. "It's a dream to play against teams like that." With dreams like that, who needs nightmares?

The Obvious – "Tommy Trojan Got Leid In Hawaii." – 2005 Trojan Weekender button being sold for $3 by the USC Hawaii Alumni Association.

The Not So Obvious – Of course there is always the "Tommy Got Leid " Sun visor for $24 or the "exclusive Reyn Spooner Aloha Shirt," 100% cotton, and "USC block embroidered logo above left pocket" with " 2005 Aloha Weekender" embroidered on the left sleeve." Okay, Moneybags, put $72 on the plastic for that piece of wearing apparel.

The Obvious - "One side of my room is nothing but Ohio State posters and things, and the other side is USC posters, so I really like both of them, and always have." – Glenville, Ohio CB/WR Ray Small (5-11, 174, 4.4) to Scout.com's Scott Schrader in discussing his top two college sweethearts in the high stakes dating game called recruiting.

The Not So Obvious - Oh, there might be some snickers among the Trojan faithful in terms of sneaking another "chipper" out of Buckeye country, but in the name of Toledo Rogers tight end Fred Davis, let's not forget there is a Trojan dossier of scarlet and and gray in a manila folder marked with the names of Cleveland East end Allen Behrendt (1924-26) and Cathedral Latin defensive tackle Gary Jeter (1973-76), Wooster halfback Ron Calabria (1954), Canton guard Earl E. Haas (1936), Canton McKinley guard Nick O'Brovac (1950), guard Ed and fullback Ralph Pucci (1948-53), and tackle Tom Weber (1952-53), Cleveland West guard Russell Powers (1934), Ed and Ralph Pucci, Columbus West tackle Chuck Weeks (1951-52), and Akron Kenmore halfback Harry Welch (1951-52) and Akron Central-Hower linebacker Errick Herrin (1994-95). Whew!! Who says the Trojans can't crack the Buckeye state, so help me Pete Carroll.

The Obvious – " Van Blarcom said an official told him his attempt was left ‘ by a couple of inches.' The low-sailing kick had the length and height." - The OC Register's account of USC-bound kicker Troy Van Blarcom's 61-yard field goal attempt at the end of the first half of the 46th Orange County All-Star Game at Orange Coast College.

The Not So Obvious – Orange Lutheran's Van Blarcom did connect on three field goal "chip shots" and had kickoffs that reached well into the end zone, perhaps gaining momentum as the heir apparent to Ryan Killeen.

The Obvious - "I've been away from home before, Young said. "I mean the University of Florida is a five-hour drive and it's a six-hour flight to Los Angeles. Either way you have to travel." - Ft. Lauderdale Aquinas High offensive lineman Sam Young (6-6, 295), who is being heavily recruited by the Trojans.

The Not So Obvious – When you talk about mature recruits who realistically look at all the basic issues such as distance from home, you can't help but be impressed with the logic of Young. The kid may end up staying in Florida, but he gets high marks of basic logic in minimizing the restrictions of being a Trojan.

The Obvious – "It was a microcosm of what he did in college. Some good, some bad." _ An NFL scout on the workout of former Trojan defensive tackle Manuel Wright, who applied for the NFL supplemental draft.

The Not So Obvious – Perhaps the most stunning of all his workout activities was that the fact that Big Manny weighted in at 329 pounds. What appeared to have been a bad omen when large contingent of Miami Dolphins representatives left the workouts before they had concluded may have been a smokescreen as Lou Saban' s Dolphins selected Manny in the fifth round of the Supplemental Draft. Oh those NFL folks, they've got almost as many moves as Reggie Bush.

The Obvious – "I was talking to USC, and they kept talking about winning national championships with me out there," Goodson said. "But if I go to OSU," Goodson revealed, "I can be the man. And they need someone that can come in and just take over." – Klein Collins running back Michael Goodson who surprised the recruiting world and Heritage Hall by selecting Oklahoma State.

The Not So Obvious – Michael Goodson is a tremendous running back, but when a back of this caliber selects an Oklahoma State over a USC, Oklahoma, and even Texas A&M, there are always going to be questions. Perhaps it simply got down to the fact he wanted to be "the man" and right away, much like West Virginia's Jason Gwaltney, who spurned the Trojans last recruiting season with a similar mantra of instant gratification. Don't kid yourself, Trojan fans, Goodson was the real deal, but the Cardinal and Gold are in good shape for some of the other exclusive prep running back prizes.

The Obvious – "I'd say there is an 80% chance I'll end up at USC, even though I'm still open. They've won two national championships in a row and that makes me really want to go there because my high school hasn't won many games and I don't want to go to a losing program. I want to win." - Irvine Woodbridge defensive end Alex Parsons as told to our Allen Wallace.

The Not So Obvious – Yeah, so who says winning isn't everything? The Woodbridge Warriors have struggled the past couple of years as a team, but they do send guys to the big time. In this year's NFL draft, former Woodbridge High and Oregon State All-Pac-10 tackle Doug Nienhuis took the leap into the Sunday league.

The Obvious – " USC became a recruiting champion because Carroll's enthusiasm, charisma and competitiveness are resonating among prospects in Southern California." – Times prep editor Eric Sondheimer in the Trojans 2005 media guide.

The Not So Obvious – Not bad from a guy that graduated from UCLA and whose brother, Mike, is in charge of recruiting for the Bruins.

The Obvious – "This allows for some games to be played in the current season rather than allow teams to be ranked purely on preseason expectations." - BCS coordinator and Big 12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg, commenting on the newly created Harris Interactive College Football Poll which replaces the AP poll in the BCS rankings.

The Not So Obvious – The new poll will rank the top 25 teams on a weekly basis, starting Sept. 25, or if you look at it from a Trojans' point of view, after the Men of Troy have played Hawaii, Arkansas and Oregon. Plans call for 114 voters. The panel will be comprised of former coaches, players and administrators, plus media members. The season's first BCS standings will be released Oct. 17.

The Obvious – "None," Carroll said when asked how many other schools come in. When I asked why, he said, "We don't like to share." – From a CBS Sportsline interview by Dennis Dodd concerning how many college coaches came to the Trojan spring practice to learn from Pete Carroll concerning how the Trojans stay atop the college football world.

The Not So Obvious – If you're looking for a major difference between Carroll and the legendary John McKay, you have to look no further than spring ball. While Carroll has removed the Welcome sign from his coaching fraternity doormat, it was not unusual during the McKay era to see the likes of legendary Alabama coach Bear Bryant and Arkansas icon Frank Broyles interacting with Saint John and his assistants as the Trojans went from drill to drill.

The Obvious – There is the old saying goes, "Talk is Cheap,"

The Not So Obvious – However, if one could now get a dollar for every quote and printed word expressed on a daily basis concerning the upcoming USC Trojan football season, retirement could probably have been achieved at an early age. The good news is while the avalanche of words continues to flow, Trojan fans can now begin to turn their football compass in the direction of Diamond Head. Not a bad direction, indeed, and nobody has to say a word.


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