The Not So Obvious – While Pete Carroll continues to adjust his own staff along with some player movement, the reality of the last four years came full speed with the announcement that Trojan season tickets wouldn't enough to purchase away game tickets, unless, of course, you belong to one of the billboard support groups. Such is the price of the extraordinary success of the Trojan under Pete Carroll and really, what would you rather have….a losing program with plenty of road game tickets or a national championship contender which brings a sobering ticket reality?
The Obvious – Chatham Hargrave Military Academy (VA) wide receiver Vidal Hazelton signed his letter of intent with the Trojans on Thursday.
The Not So Obvious – It is done. Well, the Dallas Cowboys once had a linebacker named Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson and now the Trojans have their own Vidal "Hollywood" Hazelton. This recruiting saga might have ended with a fax machine, but the reality is that this baby is just beginning. With all the comments about academics, coaching, family, and the local Hollywood environment, it appears that no player in recent Trojan memory will be under such scrutiny and expectations both on and off the field. The microscope will definitely be on Pete Carroll and staff to maintain the Hazelton "family" interaction. With Hazelton being a New Yorker, somebody cue Frank with "New York, New York" or "Hooray for Hollywood" when the kid makes his first Coliseum scoring grab.
The Obvious – The Trojans hire Nick Holt as their defensive coordinator.
The Not So Obvious – Perhaps the best recruit of the off-season is the return of Pete Carroll's original Trojan mafia coaching staff. Perhaps the player that may most benefit from Holt's return is junior-to-be defensive end Jeff Schweiger. Schweiger, who obviously missed the style of Ed Orgeron, may find Holt to be just what the doctor ordered. The fact that Holt coached defensive linemen at Louisville brings added credibility. Needless to say, the volume level on Brian Kennedy will sound more Orgeron and natural come next month.
The Obvious – Pete Carroll hires former grad assistant David Watson as a full time assistant.
The Not So Obvious – Watson, who will work alongside defensive line Nick Holt, isn't out of his element in switching from Pat Ruel's offensive line to Holt's defensive line. The intense and extremely vocal Watson began his career as a grad assistant at Southwest Minnesota State, coaching the defensive line in 2002. A year later, he was a fulltime assistant working both the defensive line and linebackers. Watson played defensive end at Minnesota and Western Illinois. At Division 1-AA Western Illinois, Watson was an All-American in 1998 and set records for season (41) and career tackles (72) for losses.
The Obvious – Assistant coach Rocky Seto recently rejected an overture by the Buffalo Bills to enter the NFL.
The Not So Obvious – The fact that Seto is only 29, the "kid-coach" now knows he is on the NFL radar screen but was mature enough to know that leaving the Trojans at this time would have been premature. The fact that he will deal with the secondary and will be able to increase his knowledge of defensive football will be of great benefit to Rocky in the future. Of course another deciding vote to stay local may have been Rocky's wife, Sharla, who played on Troy's 1998 Pac-10 championship soccer team. The Seto's also have a very young daughter and the rigors of an NFL coach and freezing Buffalo compared to the family-oriented Pete Carroll staff and sunshine is really a no-brainer.
The Obvious – The Miami Hurricanes hire Rich Olson as Larry Coker's offensive coordinator.
The Not So Obvious – Well, you're really dating yourself if you remember that Olson was once an assistant for John Robinson's Trojans in 1977. However, you go beyond dating yourself if you saw Olson quarterback the Montebello High School Oilers in the old Pacific League and we plead guilty on all counts. Pass the bran flakes.
The Obvious – The Trojan ticket department has sent out emails concerning season tickets.
The Not So Obvious – A number of Trojan season ticket holders were stunned when they tried to renew on-line and drew a response that they were part of a season ticket lottery. The O/NSO placed a call in their behalf to the ticket office and a courteous ticket employee said he had no idea why that was popping up. The good news was a later email came through to re-order that had no "lottery" message.
The Obvious – There are been a number of Trojan football games last year that approached four hours in length.
The Not So Obvious – According to conferences that reported their time strengths, the longest games were played in the Big 12 and Western Athletic Conferences (3:35) while the Pac-10 was fourth (3:28). The shortest game times were reported in the Sun Belt (3:14), which has no instant replay. For the record, the WAC does have the instant replay. Go figure.
The Obvious – The NCAA football rules committee looks primed to make a few changes that could not only change the length of games but strategy as well.
The Not So Obvious -One recommendation is to cut the length of halftime from 20 minutes to 15, although teams could have longer halftimes if both teams agree. Other proposals include: (1) Following a change of possession, the clock will start when the ball is marked for play rather than on the snap. (2) On kickoffs, the clock will start when the ball is kicked instead of when it is touched by the receiving team. (3) The kicking tee will be reduced to 1-inch high in an effort to limit touchbacks, something that will increase the challenge for Pete Carroll's beleaguered special teams kickoff coverage. Decisions on the proposals, which figure to pass, will be voted upon in March.
The Obvious – Matt Leinart has placed 17 billboards across the greater Los Angeles area thanking fans for all the support and memories.
The Not So Obvious – The Leinart billboards will remind all Trojan fans throughout Los Angeles that players of his class and style do not come but every blue moon. The billboards will a fitting ending to a career that should not have ended in defeat in Pasadena. Some might call the billboards self-serving, but there's no NFL team in Los Angeles to feed off of and Matt will always be a Golden Boy in our fair town. We give it thumbs up. BTW, Leinart has a nice full-page action photo in the Guide to USC, a booklet sent out to prospective students through the Office of Admission.
The Obvious – The Trojans begin Spring Practice on March 21.
The Not So Obvious – The official calendar day for spring is March 20. Well, leave it to the boys in Westwood who began their "Spring Practice" on Thursday, still in the midst of winter. Perhaps the boys from the other side of town are trying to use this week to get ready for the conditions in South Bend when the Blue and Gold travel to South Bend for their Irish introduction on Oct. 21. Wonder if Charlie Tuna will hide the lawnmower.
The Obvious – One new Trojan who figures to get a lot of Spring Practice attention is early enrollee Antwine Perez (6-2, 200), the physical safety out of Camden, New Jersey.
The Not So Obvious – In ESPN magazine, scout Tom Luginbill was quite complimentary of consensus prep All-American Perez. Luginbill wrote, "He's a fierce hitter. If you come across the middle, your head better be on a swivel. He's a real class act, but he has a natural-born nastiness. Perez is a little like Darnell Bing, except even more physical. Actually, I'd compare him to Troy Polamalu because he's all over the place: one second he's out of the picture, the next he's on top of the ballcarrier."
The Obvious – Junior quarterback Jimmy Clausen Westlake Oak Christian, the nation's anointed one, told Scout.com's Jamie Newberg this week that he is down to three selections, including Notre Dame, USC, and South Carolina.
The Not So Obvious – Although, Clausen claims to have no leader at this point, the kid's recruiting is heating up with our Brian Mathews alerting Trojan fans that at this point in time it's the Victory March of Notre Dame taking the early lead. For those skeptics out there who wish to discount Brian's report of an early Irish lead, let's remember his father, Clay, the former Trojan All-America linebacker, is on the Oaks Christian coaching staff.
The Obvious – Many Trojan fans are leery of the lack of offensive line recruits in this year's recruiting class.
The Not So Obvious – All of which reminds us that offensive lineman Kevin Graf, the man-child son of former Trojan offensive guard star Allan and brother of Derek, has transferred out of Oaks Christian to Agoura High. It has been confirmed that this transaction has indeed taken place. Graf will be a sophomore next season at Agoura.
The Obvious – The WeAreSC staff is busy putting together the eagerly anticipated recruiting edition of the magazine.
The Not So Obvious – Did Hollywood Hazelton make the late deadline? Which reminds us to shamefully mention that WeAreSC magazine is now at all Barnes and Noble stores and superstores in southern California. No, we aren't kidding and look for some future editorial decisions that should take the mag to the next level. A good thing for Trojan fans, in our humble opinion.
The Obvious – One of the more popular recruiting cable television shows is Countdown To Kickoff, which comes out of the Southeast with Scout's Jamie Newberg.
The Not So Obvious – Wouldn't it be a recruitnik's nirvana if somebody picks up on the same idea for the West Coast?
The Obvious – One of the more highly anticipated position battles in the spring will be at quarterback between John David Booty and Mark Sanchez.
The Not So Obvious – More than a few knowledgeable folks agree that John David will open the season at Arkansas and Mark will close the season at UCLA. The durability question of Booty seems to be the most prevalent opinion, which reminds us how injury fortunate Matt Leinart was in his three brilliant years at the Trojan helm.
The Obvious – According to the official Trojan website, there is a new season ticket policy for road games.
The Not So Obvious – As an O/NSO public service, it reads as follows: "At this time, due to the limited quantity of tickets available to USC for away games, tickets will be available to members of the Scholarship Club, Committee, Cardinal & Gold and Women of Troy season ticket holders only. This includes the UCLA game. Order forms will be sent at a later date. Tickets remaining after requests are processed for Athletic Donors will be available to non-donor season ticket holders. Customers will be contacted by email regarding ticket availability." How long will be it take before Trojan fans are reminded that StubHub is the official ticket agency for the Cardinal and Gold, especially for those willing to pay a premium for tickets?
The Obvious – The Trojans open the season at Arkansas on Sept. 2.
The Not So Obvious - Arkansas has not yet released a date for individual game ticket sales. Of course, you could become an Arkansas season ticket holder and eliminate the fear of being shut out of a seat. Don't be shocked if some Nebraska fans try to do the same with Trojan season tickets just to get into the Coliseum.
The Obvious – The Trojans open defense of their Pac-10 championship at Arizona on Sept 23.
The Not So Obvious – Individual tickets for 2006 Arizona home games go on sale in Tucson at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, August 5. Mark your calendars, Trojan fans. At this time, kickoff is slated for 7:00 p.m.
The Obvious – The Trojans' second Pac-10 road game is at Washington State on Sept. 30.
The Not So Obvious – Individual tickets for the 2006 WSU home game against the Trojans go on sale (online) in Pullman starting Saturday, August 5th at 10 a.m.
The Obvious – The Trojans host Notre Dame on Nov. 25 and it figures tickets will be hard to come by.
The Not So Obvious – According to the Trojans official website, "Due to contractual agreements, season tickers holders in sections 3-16 will be relocated for the Notre Dame game." Pass the Tums and let the anger management classes begin.
The Obvious – Pete Carrroll plans to move reserve linebacker Ryan Powdrell to fullback for Spring Practice.
The Not So Obvious – This may be the least surprising position move heading into the spring. Powdrell was more than just an outstanding fullback at Mission Viejo High his senior year, rushing for 494 yards and eight touchdowns. Even as linebacker at Saddleback College, Powdrell was used on offense as a short-yardage fullback.
The Obvious – Pete Carroll is interviewing longtime NFL assistant Al Everest for a position as special teams coordinator.
The Not So Obvious – Watching the Trojans glaring weakness in special teams, did you really think Carroll was going to allow this sometimes disaster a free pass? It seems almost shocking that the Trojans ranked only seventh in the Pac-10 last season in kickoff coverage. In shaky punt return coverage, the Trojans ranked seventh in the conference as well.
The Obvious – Legendary sports broadcaster Curt Gowdy died Monday at 86.
The Not So Obvious – Gowdy, who died of leukemia, was recently inducted into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame, but obviously was too ill to attend this year's Rose Bowl game to be honored at halftime. Gowdy covered 12 Rose Bowl games, including many of the Trojans Pasadena appearances on NBC. Senior Trojan fans will always remember Gowdy's call of O.J. Simpson's 80-yard run against Ohio State in the 1969 Rose Bowl, and his play-by-play of the 1975 Rose Bowl against the Buckeyes when Pat Haden threw to Shelton Diggs for a two-point conversation in the end to win the game.
The Obvious – Cost of a season ticket for the Trojans next year is a base $290 per ticket.
The Not So Obvious – Cost of a public season ticket without support group membership for UCLA is $259. As Grandpa Howie always says, "You get what you pay for." BTW, UCLA is not offering single-game tickets for their Dec. 2 home game against the Trojans. You need to be a Bruin season ticket holder. Need to make a choice of season tickets between the Trojans and Bruins (lol)? Just know the Bruins' non-conference home games are against Utah and Rice while the Trojans welcome Nebraska and Notre Dame.
The Obvious – The Trojans' Pro Day and Junior Day will both be held on April 2 on the USC campus.
The Not So Obvious – Normally, Junior Day, which brings to campus many of the top junior prospects on the recruiting charts and coincides with a Trojan spring practice. It is no coincidence that Pro Day, a day when prospective Trojan draft choices display their skills in front of a bevy of NFL scouts, intersects with this year with Junior Day. There are plenty of days to court the senior-to-be nuggets, but April 2 is a real recruiting gold mine for future Trojan prospects to rub elbows with the likes of Matt Leinart and company. You don't think Pete Carroll doesn't know these prepsters won't be thrilled to this Trojan end game?
The Obvious – Trojan fans are now turning their attention from the Vidal Hazelton story to Spring Practice but will still have a four-week wait.
The Not So Obvious – Let the foot tapping begin and the light up the countdown board, 2006 Spring Practice without Matt, Reggie, and LenDale figures to the most eagerly anticipated set of gridiron auditions since the departure of Carson Palmer, Justin Fargas, and Troy Polamalu. A pessimist would say lightening doesn't strike twice in the same place, but the optimist says where there's thunder, there's lightening and don't all Trojans hope so.