The Not So Obvious – If Pete Carroll and his program thought they had some classic challenges last season with Notre Dame, Fresno State, and Texas, that might be lightweight competition for Carroll who must now rehabilitate his program from a public perception of a budding Miami or Nebraska of days gone past. Certainly Carroll has put forth a dramatic effort to keep agents away, keep his players from the police blotters, and keep the local talent at home thanks to hard work, good coaching, and a carefully crafted public relations image. While it clearly hasn't hurt the Trojans recruiting machine as yet, nevertheless, it can't be comfortable during this important spring evaluation period for the staff to walk into a home with this sort of distraction and explanation.
The Obvious – A number of national media are predicting doom and gloom for the Trojan program, and the Eastern media blaming the current Trojan malaise on the lap of Pete Carroll.
The Not So Obvious – Pete Carroll can't be held accountable for every individual action that unfolds from his players, but the stark reality is the fact that these are his recruited players and he is the CEO of the Trojan Football Corporation, good, bad, and ugly. The coach says the Trojans do things differently than his competitors, and it will be intriguing to see what his program will do in the future that will be different to counteract perception a ship off course. Is Carroll responsible for the Reggie Bush mess? Of course not. Is he responsible for Jimmy Clausen going to Notre Dame? Timing is everything, so we say no. Is Carroll responsible for his young quarterback, Mark Sanchez, being arrested? Not a chance. But he is responsible for the efficiency, production, and image of the Men of Troy. That's why he gets paid the big bucks. Carroll is the current caretaker of one of college football's most stories programs and he would be the first to tell you that understands the challenges.
The Obvious – Considering the week's rapid fire of events, for veteran observers such as your humble O/NSO columnist, it wouldn't be a reach to say this was also one of the worst off-the-field weeks in decades of watching and now covering the Trojans.
The Not So Obvious – Considering of some the Trojans past indiscretions, this week's headlines was like one too many shots of your favorite beverage. Call it the curse of Norm Chow, an unexplainable series of unrelated events, or just plain par for the course in this day and age of powerhouse programs, but for Trojan fans everywhere, the phone lines were burning up and emails were flying fast and furious as fans were looking for comfort, explanation, and even a little hope. Even the most hardened Trojan fan was searching for answers and looking a bit dumbfounded. The arrest of quarterback Mark Sanchez was also too much to comprehend. With the national media, Pac 10, NCAA, NFL, and maybe even the FBI and CIA beginning to unravel the Reggie Bush affair, is it time to cue up Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go on? of Titanic fame? Hardly. However, it is time, however, to be very concerned for no Trojan fan wants those Miami or Nebraska comparisons.
The Obvious – The NFL draft is finally here this weekend and for the USC Trojans, the names of Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart, Winston Justice, LenDale White, Darnell Bing, and Dominique Byrd figure to be one giant Cardinal and Gold infomercial for the nation's future recruits, a welcomed respite from the tumultuous Trojan week that looked like the epitome of the old domino theory.
The Not So Obvious – So just when even the most optimistic USC fan felt uncharacteristic trepidation from this week's dark cloud of national headlines, there came a momentary cardinal and gold rainbow when Anaheim Servite High super junior-to-be, D.J. Shoemate, shook the college recruiting world with a verbal that he plans to play for Pete Carroll and hours later, highly regarded Huntington Beach Edison offensive linemen Martin Coleman followed suit. If the Lion King was a tale of the circle of life, then the NFL draft, Reggie Bush's "Housegate," Jimmy Clausen to Notre Dame, the Shoemate and Coleman announcements, and the Mark Sanchez revelation made it all come full circle. Such is the recruiting irony that in one week, the Trojans can billboard the type of superstars they are producing in New York, stare at numerous investigation, lose a rare homeboy, retaining two nuggets, and the arrest of a future prodigy.
The Obvious – Redshirt freshman Mark Sanchez is arrested at his Cardinal Gardens apartment Wednesday afternoon on suspicion of sexual assault.
The Not So Obvious – In this country, you are innocent until proven guilty. For those that have known Sanchez to be a role model of a performer at Troy, the news of his arrest is as shocking as an August snowfall in Death Valley. Trojan players were in a stupor upon learning of Sanchez's fate. The kid comes from a wonderful family and our heart goes out to each and every one of them. However, innocent or guilty, let wheels of justice spin and may the truth rise above it all. The irony of it all is that Sanchez and team members attended a seminar the previous day discussing this type of issue. Our biggest concern without knowing all the evidence is the matter of the alleged fake identification card. As Ben Franklin once said, "Small holes sink big ships." While many might dismiss it as kids growing up, a false identification card can be a big deal for many universities.
The Obvious – The family of Reggie Bush and the Trojans has been put deep into the national public eye by a Yahoo.com story reporting that they allegedly lived in an upscale home owned by a potential sports marketer.
The Not So Obvious – According to the Yahoo writer of the story, Charles Robinson, who spoke on the Trojans' new radio home KSPN, an NFL combine source gave Robinson a veiled tip about the Bush living arrangements and then he confirmed it with another source at the Vince Young Pro Day. Ben Franklin also said, "Three may keep a secret if two of them are dead." Pete Carroll has made of strong point of trying to keep agents away from his players. Somebody is angry with somebody concerning Reggie's business decisions. The timing of it all has the fingerprints of some mighty upset people looking for revenge.
The Obvious – The attorney for Reggie says that the 2005 Heisman winner had no knowledge of his parents living arrangements.
The Not So Obvious – Trojans fans are in full circle-the-wagons mode and are having to fend off the expected rants and chants of the opposition. According to ESPN.com, the University had gone over various rules with Reggie's mother and stepfather, so we could be walking on eggs on this one. Trojan fans all hope this spring storm has a happy rainbow, but the reality is that even if the Bush family is cleared, the perception of living in a house purchased by a sports marketer doesn't look kosher. Reggie may had little knowledge of the arrangement, but this is all about adults, who should know better, following NCAA rules. As for the University, you can bet there will be a "parent orientation and education of NCAA rules" class coming in the future, regardless of how this one turns out.
The Obvious – On a lighter note, Reggie Bush announced on Wednesday that he had been signed to a major endorsement deal with Adidas.
The Not So Obvious – Bush has been a Nike man, thanks to a Heritage Hall contract. The 2005 Heisman Trophy winner will be featured in a variety of marketing and advertising initiatives and will play a role in the development of Adidas football and training-specific apparel and footwear The irony is that Adidas is under contract with the UCLA Bruins. Don't expect to see the new Reggie Bush attire displayed prominently in the UCLA bookstore anytime soon.
The Obvious – If the N.Y. Jets don't trade up with New Orleans, a distinct possibility, there is a strong possibility that quarterback Matt Leinart will be reunited with Norm Chow, former Trojan offensive coordinator, in Tennessee.
The Not So Obvious – While there appears to be a tug of war in the Tennessee camp concerning a selection of Leinart or Vince Young, Leinart made some interesting comments to Dan Lebefeld of NY Jets Confidential. Leberfeld asked Leinart how would he describe his current relationship with Chow? Leinart replied, "It's great. I missed him this past season, but he had a great opportunity to go to the NFL. Obviously he taught me a lot. Our relationship built from just a coach to a player, to friends, to a mentor. I still talk to him frequently."
The Obvious – Former Trojan running back LenDale White told the Denver Post that he "would never trade away the three years I had with Matt (Leinart) as my quarterback." However, if he was an NFL team, White said, "How could you not take Vince Young?"
The Not So Obvious– LenDale supported his position by pointing out the gaudy Rose Bowl statistics of Young. White added, "Nothing against Matt, but Vince Young has to be the No. 1 guy." Having talked with LenDale on a few occasions, he isn't a bad kid, but is it really time for a Charles Barkley impression? There is no truth to the rumor that Matt Leinart, in New York for Saturday's draft, responded by saying, "I would never trade away the three years I had with LenDale as my running back. However, if I was an NFL team and needed to two yards, how could you not take Laurence Maroney (Minnesota), DeAngelo Williams (Memphis), or Joseph Addai (LSU)?" Where are the Jim Healy sound effects when we need them?
The Obvious – It's likely both Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart will give the Trojans a ringing recruiting endorsement as they are interviewed on their high draft selection.
The Not So Obvious – Leinart already has begun the appreciation process by telling NY Jets Confidential of his Trojan memories. Matt said, " I can honestly say I had the best time of my life. Lived at college, had a great time, met tons of people, and all the football stuff speaks for itself. Being a part of something that maybe might never be done again - 34 games in a row, almost three national championships, just the tradition at USC is unbelievable. It was a great career, something that I'll move on from, but I'll never forget."
The Obvious – The University of Southern California has for decades insisted that it never be referred to as Southern Cal, even going to great lengths in its media guides to discourage the use of the term "Southern Cal."
The Not So Obvious – In a recent Sports Illustrated Q&A interview, Reggie Bush was asked how he expected to be used in the NFL. Bush said, "Very similar to the way I was used at Southern Cal." Goodness gracious sakes Annabelle; my stars and stripes forever! What's going to happen if Bush refers to the Trojans as "Southern Cal" during the post-draft press conference? Somebody call Dr. Sample.
The Obvious – Oaks Christian quarterback Jimmy Clausen announces at a news conference at the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend that he will be attending Notre Dame as a mid-year high school graduate.
The Not So Obvious – Called the "LeBron James of high school football," the announcement was all but certain with Clausen visiting Notre Dame for the third time and certainly timed for the Irish Blue and Gold Game, which brought out many other blue chip recruits coveted by both the Trojans and the Irish. While it was no shock to us and those in the Trojans' inner circle, Clausen's announcement for ND was a culmination of factors including Mark Sanchez's development, the Irish's current quarterback situation with Brady Quinn being a senior, confidence that he can be the "man" despite the fact the Irish brought in prep All-American Zach Frazer of Mechanicsburg, Pa., and Chicago's Demetrius Jones. Neither is expected to stop Clausen's rise to the top.
The Obvious – Jimmy Clausen confirmed what others have known and that was that he felt being instructed by Irish coach Charlie Weis was too good to pass up.
The Not So Obvious - Trojan quarterback coach Steve Sarkisian and offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin may continue to raise their profiles with another outstanding offensive season with Booty or Sanchez calling the shots, but for the moment, the O/NSO calls the Clausen decision clear fallout from the Norm Chow departure. It wouldn't be a stretch to say if there was a decision to be made between Weis and Chow, Clausen's choice would have been significantly more complicated.
The Obvious – Barring a recovery setback, junior John David Booty is expected to be the Trojans starting quarterback this fall.
The Not So Obvious – When Jimmy Clausen said he choose Notre Dame because of Charlie Weis, Trojans fans waxed nostalgia, for Clausen's words were almost the same that came from the mouth of Booty when he and his father, Johnny, said they had chosen the Trojans because of Norm Chow's history of producing quarterbacks with Heisman pedigrees and NFL contracts. What's that old saying, "What goes around, comes around"?
The Obvious – The Trojans are recruiting stud defensive tackle Marvin Austin from Washington D.C., pronounced by many as the best defensive tackle in America.
The Not So Obvious – We had a sense that Clausen's Irish announcement was imminent when it "leaked" on a Scout.com interview with Austin (photo) that Clausen had called him to make sure he was going to be at the Irish Spring Game last Saturday. There are other blue chips stars that the Trojans are recruiting, like electrifying wide receiver Arrelious Benn of Dunbar High in D.C., that Clausen also called to make sure he was going to attend the South Bend festivities. You didn't think Jimmy was making sure they would be going to the Trojan individual camps in June, did you? All's fair in war and recruiting as incoming Trojan linebacker Josh Tatum and wide receiver Vidal Hazelton did the same thing last winter for Troy.
The Obvious – Pete Carroll and staff have been very tough to beat in recruiting of the southern California talent area, keeping the prime beef from townships like Columbus, Norman, and, yes, even South Bend up till now.
The Not So Obvious – No matter how you slice, however, the announcement of quarterback Clausen and the addition of Mission Viejo prep All-America tight end Konrad Reuland from this year's class sends a message that the Irish are again factor in SoCal. No, we don't believe the sky is falling because the Trojans beat off the Land of Shillelagh for Servite All-World linebacker Chris Galippo, who found South Bend not to be exactly Laguna Beach. What this adds up to is some future classic recruiting battles between Pete Carroll and Charlie Weis.
The Obvious – One of the hardest things for any recruit to do is to tell the teams he did not select that he will not be going to their school.
The Not So Obvious – In his news conference at the College Football Hall of Fame, Jimmy Clausen revealed that he had not told the Trojans or South Carolina of his decision to attend Notre Dame. While we wish Clausen the best, there is something about not calling the bridesmaids before the public announcement that leaves a bad taste in our mouth. The fact he chose the Irish over the Trojans is not really an issue with us; the Trojans will do just fine. We think that although prep news conferences are now a way of life, nobody said we had to like them, especially after watching the spectacle that was Clausen's new conference, which included a stretch limo and a police escort. Our curiosity begs the question: Who orchestrated such a hyperbole event? We would have felt this way even if the Oaks Christian prodigy had come to Troy. What next? A recruit landing on an aircraft carrier and saying, "Mission accomplished!"
The Obvious – The Trojans will host the Notre Dame at the Coliseum on Nov. 25.
The Not So Obvious – You can bet there will be a number of recruits at that bloodbath that will be the subject of present and future recruiting battles between the Trojans and the Irish. Not only will be the recruits be from SoCal, but there will be the usual number of hot out of state recruits as well.
The Obvious – The loss of Jimmy Clausen to Notre Dame means the Trojans will turn their attention to other potential quarterbacks, both locally and nationally.
The Not So Obvious – One of the national recruits that dropped by Troy recently and received an offer was quarterback Mike Paulus from Syracuse Christian Brothers Academy in upstate New York. After watching film on this kid, his release really reminded us of late Hall of Fame QB Johnny Unitas. Some might say Dan Marino or Carson Palmer because of the height factor, but we saw more of Johnny U.
The Obvious – KMPC 1540 "The Ticket" is no longer the radio home of the USC Trojans.
The Not So Obvious – In case you haven't heard the latest, "The Ticket" announced it will air all Notre Dame football games for the 2006 season. You can bet that 1540's Mark Willard, the former Trojans' pre and post game talk show host, is really looking forward to "Irish Talk." come next fall, especially when the Irish come to Los Angeles. Can you just see Petros Papadakis pumping the Irish on a weekly basis?
The Obvious – There appears to be a change in recruiting policy by the Trojans as two standouts, D.J. Shoemate and Martin Coleman, have publicly announced for Troy in spring.
The Not So Obvious – It strikes the O/NSO as more than coincidence that the Trojans have given the green light to normal "silent commits" to openly announce their decisions in May. However, Texas and Ohio State and Penn State have had much of their recruiting done early, generating early recruiting momentum and publicity, so maybe this is a new trend of Pete Carroll strategy. FWIW, we also believe that the openness of the "verbals" is a feel-good strategy by Carroll to also offset the current wave of negative headlines. Call it a welcomed distraction.
The Obvious – Only a junior-to-be, Servite High's D.J. Shoemate (6-1, 205) is already All-CIF Division 1, First-Team All-Orange County, Co-Player of the Year in the prestigious Serra League, and the CalHiSports Sophomore of the Year.
The Not So Obvious – A star on both sides of the ball, "No. 3's" statistics are eye openers. On offense, Dennis "D.J." Shoemate averaged 8.5 per rush and 20.2 per reception as a sophomore, accounting for over 1,500 yards in combined rushing and receiving. A two-way star who helped dismantle Long Beach Poly in the playoffs by scoring three touchdowns, Shoemate was also a demon on defense. There is no doubt in the mind of the O/NSO this is a major coup for the Trojans and when D.J. is a senior, he will doubtless be a Trojan publicity machine in his own right. Yes, the Irish were putting the "rush" on the kid and the Trojans now have provided more than a little Jimmy Clausen payback in the direction of South Bend. No doubt a lot can happen between now and signing day in 2008, but the kid says he has been a Trojan fan since he was 10-yers-old and that one will be hard to undo. For Trojan fans, it will be well worth the wait. If you can't wait, check out the WeAreSC Shoemate video highlights edited our Johnny Curren.
The Obvious – Huntington Beach Edison tackle Martin Coleman (6-6, 290) made a verbal commit on Tuesday.
The Not So Obvious – E-D-I-S-O-N has sent numerous players to the Trojans in the past, including tight end Vic Rakshani, corner Duaine Jackson, fullback Dave Geroux, and punter Troy Richardson, although never a stud lineman. The "beach" school has long been considered Trojan country dating back to "Rakshani in motion." Coleman, a native Tongan, who has only been playing football for a year, will be the first Charger recruit in some time to make his way to the Cardinal and Gold. Martin, who had discussed going to camps at Miami and Notre Dame, apparently found what he needed to know after attending Troy's Junior Day, which included a nice "field trip" to Pro Day. You don't think that inspired the kid, do you? Edison coach Dave White calls Coleman the best linemen in the past 20 years. Quite a compliment from a coach that both played and has coached at Edison.
The Obvious – Servite and Edison High have been major powers in talent- rich Orange County for decades.
The Not So Obvious – For those fans that like to plan ahead, here's a little O/NSO tip. You can watch both Servite's Shoemate and Edison's Coleman on the same evening on Friday, Sept. 22, when Edison plays Servite at CS Fullerton. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.
The Obvious – The popular Trojans Flashback Football Fantasy Camp is scheduled for June 14-16.
The Not So Obvious – Part of the experience for those that have the extra change to attend is a photograph with Pete Carroll, as well as an autograph. Campers will also get an official Nike Rose Bowl jersey, which will be framed with the photograph with Carroll. There has been no evidence thus far that enrollment has been stymied because campers don't want to be reminded because of the Rose Bowl outcome with those Longhorns. In fact, enrollment for the camp as already exceeded last year's count and with the final day of the three-day dream sequence, it figures this one could be the best yet. As if you needed added incentive, for those that can afford such camps as this one, we think the added bonus of a sideline pass for one of the Trojans home games is the real killer. Okay, those that want the sideline pass for Notre Dame, please raise your hands.
The Obvious – In the love affair that is the Trojans and our friends in Westwood, you can bet the Bruins have a Cheshire cat grin over the Trojans loss of Jimmy Clausen to the Irish.
The Not So Obvious – Before the Powder Blue and Gold becomes too giddy over the Clausen selection, it should be noted for the record that if Clausen's Notre Dame career goes as the kid plans, Jimmy will be the starting quarterback for the Irish when Notre Dame comes calling at the Rose Bowl in 2007. It could become even more uncomfortable if Clausen is joined by fellow Oaks Christian teammate, running back Marc Tyler, son of former UCLA running back great Wendell, who had the Trojans on top prior to his trip to South Bend. So who do you think the Bruins would want to see Tyler play for if the choice became a Trojan/Irish tug of war? We thought so.
The Obvious – Former Trojan All-American center Gil Kuhn, who captained the 1936 USC football team and earned a Distinguished Flying Cross during World War II, recently passed away at the age of 91.
The Not So Obvious – Kuhn was a graduate of Fullerton High and the Trojans have had a number of stars out of Fullerton High, including the likes of tight end Hoby Brenner and tackle Keith Van Horne, both of whom went on to the NFL. One of the most famous graduates of the Fullerton Indians is Clarence Leo Fender, creator of the famed Fender electric guitar. By the way, when is Junior going to return my Stratocaster? I need to strum a little Miserlou.
The Obvious – Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is pushing a Coliseum renovation, reducing the seating from 92,000 to 68,000.
The Not So Obvious – Apparently the mayor not only believes he can fix the public school system in Los Angeles by taking over the whole process himself, but figures getting the NFL into the Coliseum will make everything "whole" again. Well, perhaps the Mayor Villaraigosa is not aware that the Trojans are now "regularly" selling out the Grand Old Lady, but perhaps he will use his surplus of money to pay for the obvious Trojan "seat license" that will be needed to make up for the lost seating revenue. Something tells me this could get really nasty between Mr. Mayor, USC, and Trojan season ticket owners. With "normal" season ticket holders unable to gain access to Trojan away game tickets, this potentially new "supply and demand" is a pending powder keg. And please don't tell me about the revenue from the luxury boxes to offset ticket prices. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
The Obvious – The Scout Combine will be held next Sunday, May 7, at Citrus College in Glendora.
The Not So Obvious – Trojan fans hoping to get a good look at some future stars will be able to see Trojan linebacking verbal, Chris Galippo, who is scheduled to perform. With quarterback Clausen gone to Notre Dame, Trojan fans can get a look at potential newcomer, QB Sampson Szakacsy, also scheduled to attend. Long Beach Poly stud linemen, Kenny Rowe, will compete, too, along with Malcom Smith, brother of Trojan Steve.
The Obvious – The Trojans 2006 opener at Arkansas will remain on Saturday, Sept. 2.
The Not So Obvious – Apparently those public Internet polls on sites like WeAreSC made their point to Heritage hall not to move the original date of the Arkansas game. Let's also give a high-five to the Athletic Department for paying attention to their fan base that voted for either keeping or switching the date. It was a huge sigh of relief for Trojan fans who purchased airline tickets with restrictions attached.
The Obvious – And finally, legendary ABC sportscaster Keith Jackson has officially retired after 39 years of broadcasting college football.
The Not So Obvious – Calling many of the Trojans most famous televised football games, Jackson always had great respect for USC and the football program. After all, the former Washington State grad did send his offspring to Troy. He was the face and voice of college football from our youth to our adulthood. We agree with ESPN.com columnist Ivan Maisel, who called Jackson "the Walter Cronkite of college football" and we say, "That's the way it is."