The Not So Obvious – According to the publisher's press release, "Coach Pete Carroll was the saving grace for the Trojans, but it wasn't an easy task. In Conquest: Pete Carroll and the Trojans' Climb to the Top of the College Football Mountain by David Wharton and Gary Klein (Foreword by Pat Haden) fans will revisit the ups and downs and critical moments that have gone into rebuilding the Trojans into one of the best football programs in the country."
The Obvious – Conquest author(s) David Wharton is a former Trojan beat writer for the Times who covered Troy during the Paul Hackett era, while Gary Klein is the current Times USC football beat writer.
The Not So Obvious – Klein, who once pitched in the Kansas City Royals' organization, attended Mark Keppel High in Alhambra, the alma mater of former Times and current San Francisco Chronicle columnist and author Scott Ostler.
The Obvious – The cover of Conquest features quarterback Matt Leinart, of course, and an insert of Pete Carroll holding up the 20004 national championship trophy.
The Not So Obvious – The book contains an eight-page color photo insert.
The Obvious – The nation has been captured by the return of the Trojans, and Conquest attempts to answer most of the questions of how bad things were for long suffering Trojan fans and how the program turned around so unexpectedly.
The Not So Obvious – "Fans didn't ever think the glory days would be recaptured. But in Conquest, readers will get the inside story on the Trojan's downward spiral and long road back. Stories such as: Why Coach Pete Carroll wasn't the Trojan's first choice. The history of how losing became the norm. How Carson Palmer went from disappointing to Heisman Trophy winner. Which Trojan player was "an ugly duckling" growing up. Recaps of key victories that sent the Trojans on a remarkable winning streak. Why the team was able to turn the corner into a new era of winning and The sweet victory in the 2005 Orange Bowl vs. the Oklahoma Sooners." – Conquest press release.
The Obvious – Conquest has been available for purchase recently on Amazon.com.
The Not So Obvious – The O/NSO received an advanced copy of Conquest and enjoyed the historical retrospect. Don't expect any shocking revelations or bombshells, but you won't be disappointed either. If you want a nicely detailed account of how the Trojans returned to the top of the college football world, this is definitely the book for you. We enjoyed Conquest's account of the rise of quarterback Matt Leinart and how his Heisman recognition has placed a new emotional challenge upon him, and there is a chapter devoted to the Trojan off-season coaching changes and challenges, touching on the sensitive departure of former offensive coordinator Norm Chow, now with the NFL's Tennessee Titians.
The Obvious – You can bet there will be other publications that are just waiting to pounce on the Trojans should they make it a three-Pete.
The Not So Obvious – The intriguing aspect of this season is just how much is going to be written and discussed about this year's Trojans and their storied football history. It's almost a relief for all college football fans that in a week the Trojans can finally attempt to walk-the-walk of history after all the preseason talk-the-talk.
The Obvious - "The History of USC Football," a 100-minute DVD that celebrates the winning tradition of USC football, will be released on Sept. 13 by Warner Home Video, in conjunction with Collegiate Images and USC. Centered around the Trojans' 116-year history and 11 national championships, the DVD costs $19.98 and is available at many outlets where DVDs are sold, including the USC Bookstore or online at www.uscthestore.com." – Trojan Athletic Department press release.
The Not So Obvious – Hmmmm, let's see now. The Trojans open at home on Sept. 17 against Arkansas, probably will still be No. 1, and isn't this the DVD that almost every Trojan fan will want to purchase? Sounds like a perfect distribution time. If the DVD has clear footage of some of those classic national championship Rose Bowl games during the McKay vs Woody era, the DVD will be well worth it. Now the big question, do you by it at $19.98 on campus or do you wait for it to hit DVD Planet or Costco? Decisions, decisions. Of course the O/NSO always feels guilty if we leave Costco without forking out a minimum of a hundred bills.
The Obvious – "California confident it can win Pacific-10" - headline in Thursday's USA Today, previewing the Pac-10 Conference.
The Not So Obvious – "They (USC) are very strong, no question about it, but to have the national champion in your league every year really gives you incentive to go after it yourself." - Cal coach Jeff Tedford who will get that opportunity on Nov. 12 in Berkeley.
The Obvious - With the AP Poll showing the Trojans are not the consensus No.1 team in the land, according to those that see the eyes of Texas and the Churchill Downs world of the University of Louisville, pundits are now dissecting the Pete Carroll 2005 club like a Dr. Michael Baden autopsy.
The Not So Obvious – "The riches are vast if Southern Cal runs the table for a second straight year and wins a third title. The BCS title game is set for the Rose Bowl, where the Trojans will be standing on the edge of history. If they complete the task, we'll call them the greatest team of 'em all." –The Kansas City Star
The Obvious – "We like it because it makes us push and work harder every day just to stay on top. Being No. 1 is just going to make us push each other and compete at the highest level out here and just work as a team." – Trojan sophomore wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett to the Associated Press.
The Not So Obvious – As mentioned here before, much like Wooden's UCLA 88-game win streak and consecutive titles, being No. 1 for two years has its many benefits and one of the main ones is the mindset of a champion. The O/NSO can assure Trojan fans from the numerous August camp practices we have attended, this is a team that likes being the nation's finest and is VERY goal oriented. Could they lose? Sure, but it won't be for a lack of a "Fight On " spirit. Evening during this week, the calm before the Honolulu storm, players and coaches were staying out long after the official end of practice to work on technique and strategies. Carroll's boys know they are the ultimate hunted, a target they seem to embrace.
The Obvious - "I'd like to make this a yearly event and continue to grow with it.'' – Pete Carroll on the success of last Sunday's Fan Appreciation Day free Coliseum scrimmage.
The Not So Obvious – Like everything else Carroll seems to implement, this was yet another success that certainly figures to be a fixture each year, as long as Coach Charisma remains at the helm. Perhaps more exciting than this idea, what will the coach come up with next?
The Obvious – "It's pretty cool. I might be playing in front of more people than I ever did in high school." – freshman quarterback Mark Sanchez in anticipation of Sunday's Fan Appreciation Day scrimmage in the Coliseum.
The Not So Obvious – So how did the experience of playing in front of an announced crowd of 30,000 effect the young signal-caller? Sanchez was 8-of-12 for 108 yards, working primarily with the scout team.
The Obvious – "I'm a big fan of college football. I like prestigious football programs. I want to be able to play in big games and play on the big stage." - Trojan recruit Taylor Mays in a story in the Seattle Times.
The Not So Obvious – And isn't this what we're hearing from players like Sylmar's RB/DB C. J. Gable, who told Scout's Allen Wallace "My mom and I have really been looking at USC as the place to go lately, Right now, they've got a big lead, and if I had to say it, there's about an 80% chance that I'll be going there." As legendary Long Beach Press-Telegram columnist used to write about John McKay's banner recruiting classes, "Them that has gits."
The Obvious – "KMPC-AM 1540 "The Ticket," in its fifth year as the exclusive radio home of USC football and basketball, will provide an unprecedented level of coverage this season as the Trojan football team seeks a third consecutive national title." – press release regarding the Trojans broadcast network.
The Not So Obvious – "KMPC also will have a nine-station network of affiliates carrying all USC football broadcasts, which will provide outstanding coverage throughout Southern California, Orange County, the Inland Empire, the San Joaquin Valley and Southeastern Nevada." Well, let's clarify one thing, the Orange County coverage is "outstanding" until around dusk when KMPC drops power and much of the air waves in the Trojan country of the Big OC is filled with south of the border entertainment. Receiving night home game broadcasts of Arkansas and Fresno State will be almost as impossible as tackling Reggie Bush one-on-one.
The Obvious – "Someone please tell me how star freshman WR Patrick Turner is going to play ahead of WRs Steve Smith and Dwayne Jarrett at USC – and potential stud Whitney Lewis, if he's academically eligible. Yet, coach Pete Carroll has been raving about Turner. This embarrassment of riches is really sick" – Matt Hayes' "take" in the Sporting News college football preview.
The Not So Obvious – There are two types of players you can recruit, as John McKay found out during his college reign of terror. There is the recruit that thrives on the competition and the other who just wants the easy way in…as in playing time. Pete Carroll's Trojans turned the corner when they started selling competition over playing time.
The Obvious – "Oh, what was that? It sounded like a car crash!" – the son of a Trojan beat writer who attended Wednesday's practice.
The Not So Obvious – "No, it was defensive tackle LaJuan Ramsey tackling running back LenDale White." – a bystander informing the young mendicant of the noise's origin.
The Obvious – "I was raised to be how I am today: Be kind to others, respect others, never forget where you came from, remember your values - all those sorts of things. And growing up, my older brother would beat the crap out of me if I ever got out of line. He still would to this day. He's smaller than me, but he's got that big-brother edge." – Trojan quarterback Matt Leinart about his celebrity status
The Not So Obvious – And you wonder why Matt Leinart became a very rare two-time captain of the top-ranked Trojans?
The Obvious – "Due to NCAA regulations stating that media guides cannot exceed 208 pages, the Football Media Guide has been condensed, as you will see. We apologize for any inconvenience and will refund $5.00 plus applicable tax for each guide purchased." – Notre Dame Catalog Fulfillment Center
The Not So Obvious – Can that also apply somehow for Trojan fans trying to also secure tickets for the Oct. 15th game in South Bend? Somehow, due to lack of ticket availability, the O/NSO doesn't see Barry's Tickets, Murray's, and Stub-Hub sending out a similar notice.
The Obvious – "USC at Cal - No team poses a bigger threat to USC's three-peat hopes than the Bears, who've been trouble three straight years, including a 2003 upset in Berkeley." – Sports Illustrated's college football preview of "Must-see Games."
The Not So Obvious – No doubt this is going to be a toughie, but what is more likely to determine the game is which team's perceived weakness becomes a strength come November. Will the Trojans' defense replacements be humming on all cylinders at an advanced rate over the Cal quarterback maturation?
The Obvious – "I figure with Buck that you just have to chuck it and he'll go get it." Mark Sanchez, Trojans' freshman quarterback, to the OC Register after throwing for two long touchdowns in camp to senior speedster William Buchanon.
The Not So Obvious – When you talk about intense competition, it's gotta be the "Big" receiver spot featuring Dwayne Jarrett, Patrick Turner, and William Buchanon. Take out the term "big" and nobody has been more impressive in development the past couple of years than former Chino High star Chris McFoy, the junior who is line for some quality playing time.
The Obvious – The Trojans practiced Thursday afternoon in the L.A. heat and on Cromwell Field, which has Aloha Stadium-type FieldTurf.
The Not So Obvious – "We're used to practicing in the heat. I don't think USC will be ready for the heat." – Hawaii quarterback Tyler Graunke. Don't bet on it, kiddo. Just ask the Auburn Tigers. And how'bout Pete Carroll watering the FieldTurf to get a little Dole pineapple humidity?
The Obvious – "USC now has been ranked No. 1 in 19 straight AP polls, the second-best streak since the preseason rankings started in 1950."– Associated Press.
The Not So Obvious – Miami's 21-week run at No. 1 during its 34-game winning streak is the longest consecutive stay atop the AP. If the Trojans defeat Hawaii in the opener and with a bye the following week, a win over Arkansas in the home opene and the Trojans will establish a new AP record breaker of 22 weeks atop the prestigious poll.
The Obvious – Aloha Stadium seats around 50,000, and it would figure that the Trojans, being a No. 1 and all that, would mean a sellout.
The Not So Obvious – According to Hawaii officials this past week, a reported 9,000 tickets remain for the season opener with the Trojans. USC received 10,000 tickets for the game and additional 30,000 ducats have already been dispersed. So what did you expect? If there were plenty of seats available before kickoff time at the Orange Bowl BCS title game between the Trojans and the Sooners, there certainly is going to be tickets available for Hawaii.
The Obvious – "He pays more attention to detail. He's more of a basic fundamentals guy, more of a teacher. And I think he's really warmed up to us after getting to know us and the system in the spring. We're really together." – Trojans' offensive tackle Winston Justice on first-year offensive line coach Pat Ruel.
The Not So Obvious – If there is one thing Ruel has done this summer camp is remind his linemen it's his way or the non-playing highway. It also appears that Ruel is not just a one-unit coach. In practices and scrimmages, "Golden" has liberally substituted his linemen and has had no problem switching player positions as we saw at last Sunday's Coliseum scrimmage when he inserted starting offensive left tackle Sam Baker into the left guard slot to make a point to starting guard Deuce Lutui.
The Obvious - "These guys, they communicate so well that everything just flows. I'm really excited. It's working out great. They feel very comfortable. We've had enough practice already that they're going off the (game-plan) cards like they would in a regular game." – Pete Carroll to the South Bay Daily Breeze after the Trojans first scrimmage with the new offensive play-calling chain of command.
The Not So Obvious – Things also looked good during last Sunday's free scrimmage at the Coliseum. So far, there has not been one delay of game penalty to our knowledge. You might not like the play selection, but you'll dislike a delay of game penalty even more.
The Obvious – "Harris Interactive has been diligent in creating a voting panel that is balanced, statistically valid, and representative of all I-A conferences and independents." - BCS coordinator and Big 12 Conference commissioner Kevin Weiberg discussing the new BCS Poll that replaces the AP Top 25 Poll.
The Not So Obvious – The new BCS poll originally consisted of114 panelists voting for the Bowl Championship Series, but a number voters have resigned due to various conflicts of interest. Of course, any college poll that has Terry Bradshaw as a voter is already a conflict of interest. While former coaches are listed with the various teams they once led, it was curious that former Trojan coach Larry Smith, who once mocked Trojan uniforms and tradition during his downward spiral, was only mentioned as affiliated with Missouri. Heck, even recent Harris Poll resignee, Lou Holtz had Arkansas, Notre Dame, and South Carolina beside his name. The first Harris Poll will be released on Sept. 25 and the first BCS Poll will be announced on Oct. 17.
The Obvious - "In a year that began with USC's 55-19 rout of Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl, national sales of licensed Trojan merchandise have increased 324 percent thus far, totaling more than $2 million, according to SportsScanINFO, a market-research firm that tracks sales in the sporting-goods industry." – Riverside Press-Enterprise story on the sales marketing effect of the Trojans college football dominance.
The Not So Obvious – If you were at Sunday's Coliseum scrimmage, you would have gotten a good read about the amount of Trojan merchandise being sold. Even when Sunday's scrimmage had ended, the souvenir stands outside the tunnel entrances were doing a brisk business selling anything and everything with a USC or Trojan logo.
The Obvious – "In a surprising announcement, USC names twice-fired NFL head coach Pete Carroll (33-31 in four seasons with the New York Jets and New England Patriots) as the school's new head coach. The 49-year-old northern California native – who last coached in the college ranks 17 years earlier – replaces Paul Hackett, who was axed after compling at 19-18 record in three seasons with the Trojans." – Sports Illustrated.com's caption of the first photo of the "Top 15 moments of the Pete Carroll era with the Trojans."
The Not So Obvious – "In one of the heavily anticipated bowl games in recent history, USC erases all drama by halftime, taking a 38-10 lead en route to a 55-19 Orange Bowl victory over No. 2 Oklahoma. Leinart gives his best performance yet, going 18-of-35 and five touchdowns, as Carroll earns his second straight national title and raises his four-year record to 42-9." - Sports Illustrated.com's caption of photo No. 15 of the "Top 15 moments of the Pete Carroll era with the Trojans."
The Obvious – And finally, the O/NSO looks forward to posting twice a week during the upcoming season, beginning with our Hawaii edition set for next Friday and the Hawaii review appearing late Sunday evening.
The Not So Obvious – You have to admit it, good subscribers, if ever there was a time to follow the USC Trojans, it doesn't get any much better than this. We hope you enjoy all of our writers and what WeAreSC.com has to offer this season, for the best is yet to come. You can "book" on it!