O/NSO - New Years edition

The announcement of a Pete Carroll contract extension, the arrival of Stetson hats at LAX, and a flurry of activity at Tournament of Roses headquarters were tasty appetizers of this week as the No.1-ranked USC Trojans and No. 2 Texas Longhorns are now on full collision countdown as southern California gears up for a potential Rose Bowl classic on Wednesday.

The Obvious – The announcement of a Pete Carroll contract extension, the arrival of Stetson hats at LAX, and a flurry of activity at Tournament of Roses headquarters were tasty appetizers of this week as the No.1-ranked USC Trojans and No. 2 Texas Longhorns are now on full collision countdown as southern California gears up for a potential Rose Bowl classic on Wednesday.

The Not So Obvious – The timing of Pete Carroll's contract extension couldn't have been better with the NFL ready for its annual spring cleaning of coaches and the line of prep standouts awaiting word of Carroll's "true intentions." When UCLA Karl Dorrell was hired, Bruin media analyst Matt Stevens uttered the words to the effect that this was the one hire that USC didn't want. With the Carroll announcement, it's also safe to say Stevens is muttering similar comments along the lines of "This is one re-hire that UCLA didn't want."

The Obvious – The Trojans allow the media to attend the entire length of Rose Bowl practice and are very liberal with player interviews. an anomaly amongst the nation's gridiron superpowers.

The Not So Obvious – Well, you can attest to what a disaster this Pete Carroll policy has been the last four year (tongue in cheek). On the other saddle, Texas is practicing at the Home Depot Center and allows media the first 15 minutes to do their job and no interviews. However, to balance the scales, Texas media reportedly is not allowed to attend Trojan practices after the first 15 minutes because of the Texas policy. Whew! Thanks goodness we cover the good guys.

The Obvious – As expected, the A-list of celebrity status has begun to matriculate into Trojan practices.

The Not So Obvious – Baseball Hall of Fame manager George "Sparky" Anderson of Cincinnati Reds and Detroit Tigers fame made his appearance to practice this week. USC has always been in Anderson's heart. In his 2000 Hall of Fame acceptance speech, Anderson said, "I want to thank the 1948 Trojans, the National Champions, that beat Mr. George Bush, the late president George Bush — not late but the president that was here. We beat 'em 2 to 1, and I was the batboy at USC for six years. And I think that saved my life from the neighborhood I came from. I came from a neighborhood — when you talk about things that are not too good, it wasn't too good. But I tell you what, I wouldn't trade it for one single second. That's what made me, I think, who I am today, is because I came from a neighborhood of good people.I want to thank — and I have too so much — for my father, he started me in the game, Rod Dedeaux ( former USC baseball coach). I could never tell you about Rod Dedeaux, and I'm not gonna go into it up here. Rod Dedeaux was there and will always be there 'til they put me away. He was like my second Daddy. He called me Georgie, and the only other person that did that was my mama. She called me Georgie, Rod Dedeaux called me Georgie."

The Obvious – The Texas Longhorns began workouts at the Home Depot Center in Carson.

The Not So Obvious - From what little time the media had to watch practice, All-America quarterback Vince Young tried to give the appearance of being relaxed by leading his team in warm-ups by doing a Hula dance to get things loose. While the media did not have a chance to talk with Young, the Houston native did speak to ESPN SportsCenter from the ESPN Zone in Downtown Disney following the theme parks experience.

The Obvious – Pete Carroll has tried a number of Vince Young impersonators during practice including freshman tailback Michael Coleman.

The Not So Obvious – Coleman, the former Inland Empire Player of the Year, was a tremendous all-purpose quarterback at Arroyo Valley High. As a senior quarterback, Coleman completed 54% of his passes (2,388 yds) for 22 TDs and ran for 1,077 yards and 17 touchdowns. The problem, however, is Coleman is 6-1, 235, while Texas quarterback Vince Young is 6-5, 235. Coleman has provided the Trojan defense a very physical presence and if you don't believe it, just ask those front line linebackers of coach Ken Norton who have taken some shots from Coleman.

The Obvious – Linebacker Thomas Williams has returned from knee surgery and there is an outside chance he could see some action.

The Not So Obvious – By his own admission, Williams would be happy just to be able to run out of the Rose Bowl tunnel onto the field. However, Williams' spiritual appearance could be just as valuable as No. 41 brings energy and "fan bonding."

The Obvious – Both teams did the Disneyland/California Adventure deal on Thursday afternoon.

The Not So Obvious – While going to Disneyland is old hat for both teams, it was the first time that Trojan All-America guard Deuce Lutui had been to the Magic Kingdom.

The Obvious – Most traditionalists would agree that there is something missing when the 8:00 a.m. Rose Parade is held on January 2 and the Rose Bowl game doesn't kickoff until 5:20 p.m. two days later.

The Not So Obvious –Wednesday's kickoff time has made a number of other events in the southland change their start times in order not to be in confliction. Two that come to mind are basketball games in the Big West Conference as UC Irvine has scheduled its game with UC Davis for 2 p.m. and Cal State Fullerton has done the same for their conference home game against UC Santa Barbara.

The Obvious – After opening up a 6-point favorite to defeat Texas for their third consecutive national title, the Trojans are now a 7-point favorite.

The Not So Obvious – The Trojans may be favored in Las Vegas, but in the latest computer Sagarin Football Ratings, Texas is No. 1 with a rating of 101.81 while the Trojans are No. 2 at 101.72.

The Obvious – The Trojans' Rose Bowl Media Guide is now available for inspection and enjoyment on the official athletic media site.

The Not So Obvious – The upper half of the cover includes action shots of Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart, the 2005 and 2004 Heisman Trophy winners, respectively. The lower half of the cover shows each Heisman winner holding their trophy at their individual press conference following the ceremony in New York City.

The Obvious – Most Saturday night partygoers will have the traditional hangover come Sunday morning, New Years Day.

The Not So Obvious – Don't count on head coach and USC defensive coordinator Pete Carroll and Texas offensive coordinator Greg Davis burning the candle at both ends on Saturday night as both are scheduled to be to be in attendance along with various players for an 8:00 a.m. Sunday morning Rose Bowl press conference at the Beverly Hilton. Unless you are a media member staying at the Beverly Hilton, that long drive from Ventura, San Gabriel, or Orange County has left more than one scribe with a furled brow over the early morning Rose Bowl press conferences.

The Obvious – It's sports tradition that members of the media receive a gift for covering a major event such as the Rose Bowl.

The Not So Obvious – In the past, shirts, hats, briefcases, and other items have been Rose Bowl media gifts. This year's media "offering" is Ethernet cables to cover the game with their computers.

The Obvious – It's a tradition that the two teams that participate in the Rose Bowl get all sorts of goodies.

The Not So Obvious – This year's $500 maximum goodie bag includes a Rose Bowl watch and backpack, a Sony PSP portable Playstation, a Madden NFL 2006 game, a commemorative Rose Bowl flip coin, a New Era hat and knapsack, a Rose Bowl football, and "The Longest Yard" DVD (Adam Sandler version). Both schools can also provide each player up to $350 for bowl gifts, which most schools use for the traditional ring.

The Obvious – The Nebraska Cornhuskers defeated the Michigan Wolverines 32-38 in Wednesday's Alamo Bowl.

The Not So Obvious – Bill Callahan's rejuvenated Huskers, who finished the 2005 season at 8-4, will be the Trojans' 2006 home opener on Sept. 16, and you think those Big Red fans will give the Cardinal and Gold another Coliseum sellout? Speaking of 2006, reports also indicate that the Trojans may open in late August at Arkansas instead of the original Sept. 9, thanks to encouragement by ESPN.

The Obvious– The annual WeAreSC national championship pregame "meal and program" will be held on Tuesday, January 3rd, at noon at the Mijares Restaurant in Pasadena.

The Not So Obvious – As if you are shocked by the name of the establishment, it's a buffet style tacos, tostadas, enchiladas, and the usual assortment of Spanish cuisine for $25. Last year's pregame venture in Miami was a rousing WeAreSC success and this one figures to fill the best appetites of body, game, and recruiting souls. Wanna go? Just call 949-222-1048 or e-mail garry@wearesc.com. Last one there is a Texas Longhorn.

The Obvious – New Years Eve in Los Angeles is a whole different experience than folks experience in New York City and Austin, Texas, for that matter experience.

The Not So Obvious –For tourists in our area, we don't advise driving your rental car down Colorado Blvd. with the windows rolled down when 12 o'clock chimes in – unless you want a car full of confetti.

The Obvious – The CaliFlorida High School All-Star Game will be played on New Year's Eve Saturday at Cal State Fullerton at 3 p.m.

The Not So Obvious – Although there is a strong chance for showers on Saturday, for Trojan football fans, it's almost better than watching the ball drop at Times Square. A number of potential Trojans and perhaps "to-be-announced" Trojans will be performing in the game. While the contest will be telecast on FSW2, we recommend watching the game in a great venue and catching football stuff that the big eye in the sky missies. The Californians, coached by Mater Dei's Bruce Rollinson will feature Trojan verbal Derek Simmons and potential Trojans in Colton linebacker Allen Bradford and DB Shareece Wright while the Floridians will feature Trojan tailback recruit C.J. Spiller (USA Today First-Team All-American) of Lake Butler Union County and Florida verbal Tim Tebow, the highly acclaimed "Steve Young" quarterback, from St. Augustine Nease.

The Obvious – The Trojans will dine Friday night at the 50th Annual Beef Bowl at Lawry's fame restaurant along with the Rose Parade Royal Court.

The Not So Obvious – For those that have had their appetite appeased with a meal at Lawry's, we have always enjoyed looking at the football pictures and memorabilia of past Rose Bowl participants. Of course, the watching the folks slice your prime rib and slosh those mash potatoes aint bad either.

The Obvious – Both the Trojans and Longhorns will practice on New Year's Day and Monday's bowl games extravaganza.

The Not So Obvious – While the rest of the nation will be watching bowl games on Jan. 2, the Trojans are practicing under the lights in preparation for the ABC kickoff time.

The Obvious – ABC is promoting its coverage for the national championship as beginning at 5:00 p.m. (PST).

The Not So Obvious – Actual kickoff is slated for 5:20 p.m.

The Obvious – Trojans' valued backup offensive tackle Kyle Williams played his prep ball at Dallas Highland Park High.

The Not So Obvious – In a recent interview on ESPN radio, Williams admitted he was not a Texas fan, but he did reveal he liked rival A&M. Williams was asked about the vaunted Texas defensive line and replied, " I go against the best defensive line in America every day, but I do respect the Texas defense."

The Obvious – This is the "dead period" for college coaches and prep players.

The Not So Obvious – To eliminate any miscommunication, there are a number of notices on the doors leading into Heritage Hall which state "NCAA rules do not allow you to make unofficial visits at this time. You may make telephone calls to coaches during this period. Please return after the dead period ends on Jan. 2, 2005."

The Obvious – While this year's recruiting is going full blast, it is never too early to look to the class of 2007.

The Not So Obvious – Trojan fans would be well advised to mark in the name Chris Galippo, a 6-foot-3, 230-pound middle linebacker, from Anaheim Servite to your future recruiting calendar. Just a junior, Galippo was named the 2005 Orange County Defensive Player of the Year. Yes, the Trojans are in the hunt but so are our friends from Westwood and South Bend, although the Servite superstar reportedly is not a Catholic. Galippo's wide receiver teammate Dennis Shoemate (6-1, 205) also made the All-Orange County team as just a sophomore.

The Obvious – Tailback Reggie Bush is the seventh Trojan to be named a Heisman Trophy winner.

The Not So Obvious – Heritage Hall does not yet have Reggie's Heisman up for display, however it didn't stop fan speculation to where and how it should be displayed. The consensus was three Heismans to the right and three to the left with Reggie's trophy in the middle. However, that would cause the move of the BCS national title football to be moved and, again, the consensus of fans was to move it (or possibly them) to the middle of the room.

The Obvious – With another passing of the Christmas holiday, the legend of Santa Claus continues to be passed down from generation to generation.

The Not So Obvious – On a recent visit to Heritage Hall and a Rose Bowl practice, Santa was making his rounds of Heritage Hall and then on to practice. Only the keen eye of veteran observers was able to penetrate the Santa beard and outfit to realize "fabled" Trojan quarterback and major domo Craig Fertig was portraying old Saint Nick. Leave it to the old quarterback to ask, "How did you know it was me?" Coach, was it the football pants below the Santa outfit that gave it away?

The Obvious – While it is not unusual to see coach Pete Carroll throwing deep corner patterns with precision, Carroll also has been seen during Rose Bowl practices running down field on kickoff teams.

The Not So Obvious – Not bad for a fella who is about to be sent his AARP card any day now. For those fans in attendance that have the AARP card, they could only shake their heads at the Peter Pan-like physical condition of Carroll.

The Obvious – The Trojans have only one player, junior offensive tackle Kyle Williams, from Texas on their roster.

The Not So Obvious – Texas has three players from the Golden State in running back Sam Areias (Los Banos HS), defensive end Kaelen Jakes (Valencia HS), and linebacker Roberto Schuldes (Modesto HS).

The Obvious – The Trojans athletic department is concerned over autograph seekers before and after practice.

The Not So Obvious – It figured that security would be tighter this week as the Trojans are now on approach week for their date with destiny. However, it is quite a sight to see the walkway leading from the player tunnel exit of Heritage Hall to the entrance to the practice field lined on both sides by metal fencing that one generally sees at events like the Academy Awards. In fact, the walkway also has a number of Trojan security folks insuring the players get from one entrance to the other. After practice, the street leading past the gate to practice is closed for the players to make a quick exit.

The Obvious – A number of visitors to California are also disappointed that the Rose Parade and the game are not on the same traditional day.

The Not So Obvious – Don't count the Trojan Marching Band as one of those that misses the tradition. Normally, the TMB has to be in Pasadena in the wee hours of the morning for the parade, suck it up and march down Colorado Blvd., and go right to the game. They catch a break next week with the events on two separate days.

The Obvious – Trojan fans are being advised to get to the Rose Bowl before 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday in order to get a parking spot, thus making it an enjoyable but long day and night.

The Not So Obvious – Most Trojan fans will show much earlier in the day and those fans would be well advised to bring a radio and listen to the 1540 radio pregame call-in show with Mark Willard, Harvey Hyde, and the rest of the crew live from the Rose Bowl beginning at 2:00 p.m. After the game, it will be the traditional post-game call-in show with Willard. Trojan tailback legend Anthony Davis will also contribute to the broadcast.

The Obvious – With Trojan practices in "full bloom," it appears that freshman linebacker Brian Cushing will get the starting assignment against the Longhorns.

The Not So Obvious – Asked if he was nervous, Cushing told the OC Register, "People keep asking me if I'm nervous, but I'm really not. I feel like I've been preparing for this all my life." Sounds like a key line from the movie "Rudy."

The Obvious – As the recent LA Times article stressed, USC merchandise is going through the financial roof, surprising even for the planners of such endeavors.

The Not So Obvious – However, such a merchandise boon is not confined to the articles of clothing and trinkets. License plates are also popping up on southland roadways like one that read "Got USC," a not so obvious takeoff of the successful milk advertising campaign.

The Obvious – The Trojans will continue to practice through all the New Years activities, which means all party restrictions will be in place to avoid any last minute errors in judgment.

The Not So Obvious – However, don't feel sorry for the Men of Troy for Pete Carroll will continue with 2:15 p.m. practices, meaning the boys will get to see the return of Dick Clark and the dropping of the ball in Times Square, which shouldn't cause distress on New Years Day practice. Some traditions, like Mr. Clark, need to be restored even if the Parade isn't on Jan 1 and it's not a Pac-10/Big Ten classic. While we're not complaining about Wednesday's monster game, a Penn State and USC game would have been acceptable for many of us traditionalists. And finally, Happy New Year to you all!!!


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