O/NSO - Inside Edition

With the Trojan horses nearly in the starting gate for one of the most anticipated USC Spring Practices of the Pete Carroll era comes the DVD debut of the 2005 season highlights, a major surprise at the Los Angeles Times with an ironic twist, a sudden ticket drought, and a Trojan legend gets national exposure in more ways than one.

The Obvious – With the Trojan horses nearly in the starting gate for one of the most anticipated USC Spring Practices of the Pete Carroll era comes the DVD debut of the 2005 season highlights, a major surprise at the Los Angeles Times with an ironic twist, a sudden ticket drought, and a Trojan legend gets national exposure in more ways than one.

The Not So Obvious – It's also still too many moons away but already home game tickets with Nebraska and Notre Dame are almost non-existent, and that Coliseum ticket with the Irish on Nov. 25 may be the toughest to secure in the history of the storied rivalry played in Los Angeles. Thanks to last season's classic in South Bend, reality is this year's Coliseum ticket could be a tougher a ticket than it was at Notre Dame Stadium last season and, brother, take it from one that witnessed it first-hand with tickets in hand, there were many of the cardinal and gold persuasion outside the hallow grounds of Notre Dame Stadium staring at Touchdown Jesus hoping for a ticket miracle that never came.

The Obvious – The new 2005 Trojan season highlight DVD, Fight On, made its way onto the shelves of various retailers this week.

The Not So Obvious - The O/NSO brought a copy at Tower Records (on sale for $13.99) and also received a free 2006 schedule poster as well. Fight On, which normally sells for $19.98, in our humble opinion, is the best of the recent Trojan season highlight DVDs. This edition is the tightest and cleanest production yet and the extra features, which includes a very touching moment of senior speeches after the UCLA game and a tight feature on the 2006 recruiting class, is very engrossing. While the previous DVDs had extended per-game football and locker footage, we felt there was never a feeling trying to finish a video marathon. We do understand, however, for the Trojan fans that can never get enough there was probably not enough.

The Obvious – James Earl Jones is the voice of Darth Vader in the Star Wars movies.

The Not So Obvious – Fight On uses the voice of Carl Weathers, whose voice comes across as a Frank Caliendo impression of James Earl Jones, as narrator of the 2005 season, and there were times when I expected Luke Skywalker and Hans Solo to come running down the fabled Coliseum tunnel.

The Obvious – The Fight On DVD scores big again with the before-and- after scenes in the Trojan locker room.

The Not So Obvious – Trojans fans might be surprised how emotional former defensive line coach Jethro Franklin was before games, and it was exhilarating for any Trojan fan to hear linebacker coach Ken Norton before the Notre Dame kickoff yelling, "It's personal, it's personal, it's personal!" Carroll's post-game deliveries to his team are again well worth the price by itself, especially after the ND game. Offensive line coach Pat Ruel shows a fiery side before games that certainly shows intensity that the general public may not be aware.

The Obvious – Many Trojan fans displayed much trepidation of the Fight On DVD because of its inclusion of the Rose Bowl against Texas.

The Not So Obvious – Fight On handles the loss with dignity and class and gives credit to the Longhorns and shows video evidence that the Trojans had a million ways to have won it all, but it just wasn't in the stars. In a very tasteful way, Fight On shows Vince Young's brilliance on that fateful day. What we like about Fight On was that the highlights were not drawn out for each game, the camera angles were both press box and sideline, and there wasn't any lag during the presentation. One final comment, kudos to the producers for recognizing through the video the accomplishments of the entire Pete Carroll era and especially the hard work done by coach Chris Carlisle who tells the players during a preseason workout, "You either work in a factory or you own the factory!"

The Obvious – Los Angeles Times Sports Editor Bill Dwyre has been elevated to Executive Sports Director and is being replaced by former Times writer and columnist Randy Harvey, who recently has served time as sports editor of the Baltimore Sun.

The Not So Obvious – Trojan fans have always felt at the gut level that Dwyre was always sympathetic to his Notre Dame alumni status. Well, it would appear that those same Trojan followers may be relieved with Dwyre's reassignment, but they should be forewarned that Harvey, who is married to former Times sportswriter Maryann Hudson, is a graduate of the University of Texas.

The Obvious – Legendary Trojan tailback Anthony Davis has successful gastric bypass surgery to curb a potential fatal health risk of sleep apnea and obesity.

The Not So Obvious – Still no confirmation that Art Bartner's Trojan Marching Band performed at halftime and Notre Dame's Ara Parseghian hoped to serve as guest anesthesiologist. The surgery was streamed through computers around the land and we are awaiting the ratings between SoCal and South Bend.

The Obvious – At a recent WeAreSC gathering at the popular Papadakis Taverna in San Pedro, honored guests included former Trojan quarterback Matt Cassel and defensive tackle Shaun Cody, currently employees of the New England Patriots and Detroit Lions, respectively.

The Not So Obvious – Cassel was asked by the O/NSO about his family following his career way on in New England. The personable signal-caller revealed that his mother attended Boston University and it was like a homecoming.

The Obvious – Both Cassel and Cody gave the Papadakis audience some insight into life in the NFL and the differences in playing levels.

The Not So Obvious – Cassel said that the biggest difference to him was "they are grown men" at the NFL level, the speed of the game, and the closing speed of the defensive backs. Matt said the ball really has to be on the money or it will get intercepted. Of course he added that the speed of the defensive linemen goes without saying. As for Cody, the O/NSO asked him if there was one offensive lineman he faced his rookie season that left an impression. Cody said, " Oh yeah, it had to be Dallas guard Larry Allen (6-3, 325). He is unreal. I had to work a move two times to get around him. The guy is massive."

The Obvious – Cassel and Cody discussed coaching relationship differences in the NFL and at Troy.

The Not So Obvious – Matt said, " With coach Carroll, the door is always open and you can go in and just talk. Carroll can get players to play for him.There is no hierarchy. Coach Belechek knows football like nobody I've ever met. Coach Belechek definitely has a closed-door policy. If you mess up, he tells everybody. He's kind of a teacher by threatening. Coach Carroll is positive and more upbeat." Cassel certainly wasn't complaining about Belechek, but made it clear the NFL is a whole different animal. Cody was looking forward to playing for former Trojan assistant Rod Marinelli, the new Lions head coach. The O/NSO informed Shaun, who played his prep ball at Los Altos, that Marinelli is a former All-CIF linemen from Rosemead High, and Cody got a kick out of learning that he would be playing for a former "San Gabriel Valley" guy. Cody also got a hoot out of Marinelli's high school fame of playing in the Shrine Game as an offensive guard. "I'll have to bring that up when I see him," Cody laughed.

The Obvious – The Trojans have pro-rated some of their per-game ticket costs so that games with Nebraska and Notre Dame have a higher ticket charge.

The Not So Obvious – The cost of a "normal" ticket to a Pac-10 home game at the Coliseum is $45. Before anybody gets out the boo bird sound effect, let it be known that the CIF was charging as high as $35 per ticket for the Boys and Girls Southern Basketball Regionals at the Sports Arena.

The Obvious – WeAreSC recently published some photographs of Trojan workouts in preparation for Spring Practice.

The Not So Obvious – One comical photo showed players using small orange cones in place of footballs due to NCAA rules, which state that players cannot use a football when coaches are present and teaching. However, the most reassuring photo was that of tailback Chauncey Washington in a "USC" sweatshirt, which should be a comforting visual for all Trojan fans. Although he won't participate in Spring Practice, Washington will be as anticipated as any Trojan newcomer in August and he should be. So, how many of you subscribers remember what uniform number Washington wears? Don't check last year's press guide, Chauncey isn't in there.

The Obvious – The photos of the workouts by our Garry P. are a reminder of how much a year-round "beat" covering Trojan football has become.

The Not So Obvious – One other photo that caught our attention was of early entry safety Antwine Perez from Camden, New Jersey. With a blossoming beard and increased hair length, it appears that Antwine is adjusting to college life just perfectly. Many like to already compare the rookie to Ronnie Lott, but we find him more along the Mark Carrier model.

The Obvious – The Trojan's radio broadcast rights, which previously belonged to 1540, are now up for bidding.

The Not So Obvious – No need to beat the dead horse power of 1540, especially when the sun goes down, but you could make a worse bet in Las Vegas than picking ESPN as the odds-on radio new home for the Cardinal and Gold. The irony of the whole on-the-air intrigue is ESPN used to be KMPC 710, once the longtime home of the Westwooders.

The Obvious – For those too young to remember, the late Fred Hessler was the longtime "voice" of the Bruins on KMPC 710.

The Not So Obvious – We had the good fortune to know Fred when he handled the Southern California Broadcasters Association luncheons in the Valley, and he was a wonderful person. He was a throwback to when teams had a voice over the years in which to relate. The Trojans, of course, had Tom Kelley for many decades, and many fans feel current radio voice Pete Arbogast is again beginning to fill that USC identification roll. Should the Trojans transfer their sports broadcasts to ESPN, it will be of great interest to see if Arbogast also makes the transition, considering his golden throat is also used during the day on 1540 for sports updates. The broadcasting rights may have that sort of domino effect that can make life as a broadcaster so tenuous.

The Obvious – The Pac-10 played their basketball tournament at the Staples Center.

The Not So Obvious – So how did it feel for most fans of the Blue and Gold when during the CBS telecast of the Pac-10 championship, those Chevy Tahoe commercials kept showcasing a young man in a LenDale White No. 21 jersey, and, no, only a blind man across the country wouldn't have made the connection. For the sake of argument, the stadium used as background in the commercial was not the Coliseum.

The Obvious – Much will be made this spring about the youth and inexperience of some of the Trojans who will be asked to replace some very prominent performers.

The Not So Obvious – For the record, the Trojans return their youngest player in receiver Patrick Turner (May 19, 1987), who figures to be overtaken by the early-entry of freshman Antwine Perez. As for the oldest Trojan, there appears to be Pete Carroll competition between offensive guard Alatini "Tiny" Malu (April 30, 1981) and new tight end arrival Gerald Washington, who spent four years in the U.S. Navy as a helicopter mechanic and the last two years at Chaffey JC. We wait with great anticipation over the official release of Washington's date of birth.

The Obvious – Most agree that tight end Gerald Washington (6-5, 253) certainly passes the eyeball test when comes to looking physically imposing.

The Not So Obvious – Washington, who played just his senior year at Vallejo High and had just one reception for a 21-yard score, originally started his sports career as a youth by playing tennis and competed in junior tournaments. Well, if Gerald can't make it in the NFL, there's always Wimbleton.

The Obvious – You get the impression that when Oaks Christian coach Bill Redell says he thinks his Jimmy Clausen, called by some as the "LeBron James" of prep quarterbacks for this coming senior class, is Notre Dame's recruit to lose, the veteran coach isn't just blowing smoke out of the Golden Dome.

The Not So Obvious – Nobody seems to dispute this both on and off the record, so it appears an even greater recruiting drama will be the candidates to replace Clausen as future Trojan quarterback recruits. What makes the quarterback recruiting more interesting than usual is the fact that some insiders believe that if John David Booty has an overwhelming season as the Trojan starter, he just might be inclined to head on to the NFL.

The Obvious – Reggie Bush was honored in December as the 71st Heisman Trophy winner.

The Not So Obvious – The O/NSO recently received a copy of the official publication of the Heisman Trophy, the Heisman Journal, which is published annually and is used as the official program for the Heisman dinner and induction ceremony. This year's 84-page publication, which also has a colorful pictorial set of pictures from Matt Leinart's Heisman 2004 winning dinner, not only has pictures and stories on each winner but also contains interesting university advertisements saluting each school's trophy winner. Naturally the Trojans have a full-page ad with the photographs of their previous "six" winners. The Big 12 Conference placed a full-page color ad on the inside back cover honoring past winner from member schools. Okay, the Bruins placed a fourth-page ad for Gary Beban with reference to head football coach Bob Toledo and athletic director Pete Dalis. For the record, the great Tommy Prothro was Beban's coach and J.D. Morgan the athletic director.

The Obvious – The Trojans and the Irish are tied with seven Heisman winners apiece.

The Not So Obvious – In the interest of fair play, the Irish also have a full- page ad for their winner in the Heisman Journal, and it comes on the page preceding the Trojans' acknowledgement. While the Trojans' ad has action shots of their winners, the Irish uses mug shots superimposed on a backdrop of the Golden Dome. Before Trojan fans get too steamed up, it should be noted there are plenty of references to USC football throughout the publication. For those Trojan fans wishing to get a copy or subscribe to this publication, you might want to call 212-425-7000 for more information.

The Obvious – There are rumors bouncing around the general public that the Trojans have sold out of season tickets for 2006.

The Not So Obvious – According to the official athletic website, "We are sold out of NEW season tickets that include a ticket for all home games. We are now offering a PAC-10 season ticket for $160 (+ a $6 per ticket fee), which includes Washington, ASU, Oregon and California." Ah, the O/NSO again working for the people. BTW, that's not a bad package if you aren't too pained about not getting a ducat for the Cornhuskers and the Irish.

The Obvious – Most of the NFL draft "experts" figure to see the usual Trojan suspects taken in the first round.

The Not So Obvious – Yeah, it's a no-brainer for Bush, Leinart, White, and Justice, but it gets your attention when you see Dominique "I didn't catch a TD pass in 13 games last season" Byrd listed as a late first-round candidate ahead of Mackey Award winner Marcedes Lewis, who had ten touchdown receptions in 2005. Then you also realize that strong safety Darnell Bing's chances of a first-round selection seem to be on the fade. Of course in the meat market world of the NFL, there is never an absolute and just ask Trojan Willie McGinest, a New England salary cap victim.

The Obvious – Those colorful mallards from Oregon come to the Coliseum on Nov. 11 for the first time since 2000.

The Not So Obvious – The Trojans lost that year 28-17 before 54,031 fans. Something tells us much has changed since Paul Hackett's final season. The Men of Troy apparently feel it would be nice to throw a little welcome home Ducks party and the Trojans' Homecoming game will certainly fit the "bill."

The Obvious – One of the more popular football terms is "three and out."

The Not So Obvious – This year's Trojan Huddle has a new term and it's "In-N-Out." The latest information is that Coliseum "concession stands" will be open for the Huddle and no mention of the popular hamburger chain. That probably has a lot to do with why a ticket to this Coliseum scrimmage is just $10. Oh dear, we are going to miss those long lines because "that's what a hamburger is all about."

The Obvious – For Trojan fans, there is a real sense of excitement and revitalization that will be unveiled with the beginning of Spring Practice on Tuesday.

The Not So Obvious – There is a scene in the Fight On DVD in which Reggie Bush reminds his teammates during a tense moment before a game that they are the number one team in the country. While the Trojans don't figure to be No. 1 when the 2006 polls come out in August, that doesn't mean they don't expect to be in the Fiesta Bowl in January. This is a program that expects to be on top, wants to be on top, and knows what it takes to be on top and a return to that plateau begins on Tuesday.

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