O/NSO Novocaine edition

While USC Trojan head coach Pete Carroll vehemently defended his program this week and a painted a cardinal and gold picture of optimism, if nothing else, his relentless recruiting prowess remained in tact with two verbals from prized SoCal prep quarterbacks, temporarily providing novocaine of sorts to dull the pain of the daily headlines of alleged Trojan misdeeds, oversights, and parental misguidance.

The Obvious – While USC Trojan head coach Pete Carroll vehemently defended his program this week and a painted a cardinal and gold picture of optimism, if nothing else, his relentless recruiting prowess remained in tact with two verbals from prized SoCal prep quarterbacks, temporarily providing novocaine of sorts to dull the pain of the daily headlines of alleged Trojan misdeeds, oversights, and parental misguidance.

The Not So Obvious – Trojan fans believe they have the finest college football coach in the land in Pete Carroll and they also are hoping he is also the finest prognosticator as well when he says he expects all allegations will be cardinal and gold rainbows when it's all said and done. While all Trojan fans took comfort in the coach defending his program and the continued recruiting haul from the major recruiting artery of southern California, it remains to be seen if the NCAA and Pac-10 share the same kind of Carroll confidence.

The Obvious - There are many Trojan fans that wondered why Carroll hadn't come earlier and defended his program.

The Not So Obvious - After a preliminary gathering of facts, Carroll emphatically rejected punishments of any kind this week, claiming, "With the little bits (facts) I have, no. I'm not concerned about that one bit; I'm confidant that's not where this is going. The information that I have thus far, I don't think that's going to happen at all." Well, the O/NSO can tell you one thing, there still are plenty of Trojan fans that more than a little concerned and none of them are named Chicken Little. For Trojan AARP-sters who have gone down this path before with the great ticket snafu and academic undoings of yesteryear, there is a huge chunk of trepidation that understandably exists.

The Obvious – Orange Lutheran quarterback Aaron Corp (6-4, 185, 4.65) has made a verbal commitment to the Trojans.

The Not So Obvious – If you saw film of Jimmy Clausen and Aaron Corp and didn't know who was who, you might be inclined to guess that Corp was Clausen. We really like what we've seen on film of Corp. He is probably the tallest pass/run combo quarterback we have seen come to Troy since, well, the departed Rocky Hinds. He comes from a great program and an excellent coach in 13-year head coach Jim Kunau. The fact that he runs a form of the veer and is an effective quarterback says he is quite an athlete. Let's see now, respected talent scout Randy Taylor, a former UCLA coach who runs a evaluation service, says Corp is currently the second best quarterback in the state and he has a chance to be the best, Jimmy Clausen or no Jimmy Clausen. Hmmmm, the last two Trojan quarterbacks that came out of the OC were, if we recall, named Leinart (Santa Ana Mater Dei) and Palmer (Santa Margarita Catholic). And, no, we didn't forget current signal callers Mark Sanchez (Mission Viejo) and Mike McDonald (Newport Harbor). Oh, and the kid wears No. 3 so he must be pretty good, so help me Carson Palmer.

The Obvious – The Trojans receive a verbal from Camarillo Adolfo quarterback Samson Szakacsy (6-5, 195,4.69).

The Not So Obvious – Okay, we'll cool the Bible references for another time, but at the time we saw Samson in person at spring practice, his biblical name was appropriate to his flowing hair. We like the fact that he isn't afraid to compete, knowing full well that Aaron Corp had committed earlier in the evening. Anytime you can get a quarterback away from Stanford, it's a feather in anybody's cap or should we say helmet. This kid comes from a program that runs both the shotgun and T-formation. In our opinion, Szakacsy is not yet at the level of Aaron Corp. Some of that is basic ability and some of it is the fact that Corp plays on a superior team in a superior league. However, you've again got to like Szakacsy's fearless attitude to compete. The kid wears No. 10, a number worn by some Trojan named Booty.

The Obvious – The Scout combine is this Sunday at Citrus College beginning at 10:00 a.m.

The Not So Obvious – Trojan fans can get a sneak peak at Samson Szakacsy at the Scout Combine on Sunday, however, Aaron Corp is not scheduled to participate.

The Obvious – The NFL draft proceedings of eleven Trojans was a great diversion from the current maelstrom of events.

The Not So Obvious – The Trojans and their list of superstars was so intriguing that even Howard and Anita Katz, your humble columnist's parents, called on separate occasions last Saturday to try and understand why Matt Leinart had fallen to the tenth spot in the draft and how much money it might have cost the former Trojan All-American quarterback. Even The Cheesehead, the University of Wisconsin half of our marriage, had a pained look watching an equally pained look on LenDale White, who became the ESPN focal point of passed-on selections. Such was the curiosity of following Trojan gridders in the draft, whose names became the recent tapestry of college football.

The Obvious – Pete Carroll addressed the issue this week of Reggie Bush's money trail when Carroll said, "To me, it looks like somebody's out to get Reggie's money, a classic case of people trying to create some kind of opportunity based on another guy's good fortune."

The Not So Obvious – Well, coach, to the O/NSO it looks like LaMar Griffin was out to get Reggie's money fast and furious and didn't have the patience his son had in letting a "play" develop. Griffin appeared to go from Minister of Religion to Minister of Finance. All Griffin's family had to do was the right thing (duh), which was to do all this financial maneuvering after Reggie decided to go pro and they would have had all the houses, cars, and money anyone would ever need. When you deal with reputed individuals that have a history of being wrong doers, as my late grandfather, Abe Katz, used to say, "The way you make your bed is the way you sleep in it." And these must be sleepless nights at the Griffin household.

The Obvious – It seems like we have heard from a number of those individuals that are part of the ongoing investigations, the most recent being Trojan coach Pete Carroll.

The Not So Obvious – Until his brief comments in the Times on Friday, Mike Garrett, the Trojans' athletic director, had been noticeably silent on the current state of negative football affairs. There had been nary a pep from the former Heisman Trophy winner. Friday, he told the Times, "Kids are not perfect and we understand this. That's why they're in college, to grow and make mistakes…. Our biggest job is to put them back together and mend them so they learn from their mistakes and also learn from their successes." You can bet that Garrett has probably said a lot behind those proverbial closed doors, and he's not happy about the embarrassment of those "mistakes." While the Trojan administration has put on a unified face, one can't help but wonder if these events will have some "post game" repercussions.

The Obvious – Former Trojan quarterback, Matt Leinart, "slipped" to No. 10 in the first round of the NFL draft and was selected by Phoenix.

The Not So Obvious – Paris Hilton and Lefty??? Oy, let's not go there. Manhattan Matt won't get to replace Broadway Joe, in the Big Apple and it's probably just as well. Of course, according to Las Vegas reports, it doesn't appear to have slowed down the "perception is wrong" kid from the reserve neighborhood of conservative west Santa Ana. We think Phoenix might do Leinart some good by avoiding the bright lights and fast lanes of both coasts, even though the Valley of the Sun is a diet Coke and some Southwest pretzels to the Valley of the Dolls. You just knew the Titans of Tennessee weren't going to take two Trojans (Leinart and LenDale White) in one day. After all, the Titans' general manager is Floyd Reese, a former star defensive tackle for UCLA in the 1960s.

The Obvious – Reggie Bush was selected No. 2 by New Orleans and the Associated Press reported Monday that Reebok has received a record 15,000 orders for Saints' jerseys with Bush's name on the back.

The Not So Obvious – The only questions seems to be if Bush will be allowed to wear No. 5 in the NFL due to number rules for running backs. A bigger question: Will Trojan fans be wearing Reggie's No. 5 to the Coliseum next year, especially if the road turns down Forfeit Avenue. For the record, backup New Orleans quarterback Adrian McPherson wore No. 5 for the Saints last season.

The Obvious – Former Trojan running back LenDale White was selected by the Tennessee in the second round.

The Not So Obvious – It was starting to get painful watching the expressions on LenDale's face as the draft when along. However, the selection of White, in our humble opinion, was perhaps the best selection for a Trojan in the draft. Former Trojan offensive coordinator Norm Chow came to LenDale's defense immediately and that is worth some major props from our viewpoint. White will do fine once he gets to Tennessee and the trust factor is already there between No. 21, Dr.Chow, and head coach Jeff Fisher, the former star Trojan defensive back. Lendale might just get the last laugh over everybody before it's all said and done. Of course, there is little room for error now that Thunder is getting paid.

The Obvious – LenDale White and his agent may be getting ready to sue the Daily News for reporting that White failed an NFL combine drug test.

The Not So Obvious – Sources are always a sensitive subject when it comes to breaking a story and the Daily News reports "multiple sources" in dispensing the White news. However, this one gets tricky as the Tennessee Titians, namely head coach Jeff Fisher, say they saw no report of any wrong doing by White. One thing is for sure, "if" the Daily News has been fed some erroneous information, and that remains to be determined, LenDale White will be receiving an unexpected "signing bonus" courtesy of the LANG (Los Angeles Newspaper Group).

The Obvious – Former Trojan All-America guard Deuce Lutui was selected in the second round by Phoenix.

The Not So Obvious – If LenDale White was given a second football life by Tennessee after a unproductive Pro Day at USC, then Deuce Latui was given the best Arizona off-the-field life in being able to return to his hometown of Phoenix and the high school in which he graduated. Add the fact that Deuce will eventually be blocking for Matt Leinart and the big Tongan should have a smile from here to the Pacific Rim. He was also a good interview and extremely courteous and friendly. He will be a fine ambassador for the Trojans in the Phoenix area, especially when it comes to within the rules recruiting.

The Obvious – With the Trojan program going through the process of unraveling truth from fiction in terms of Reggie Bush, Mark Sanchez, Dwayne Jarrett, and what next, rival fans across the country are taking great joy in watching the nation's preeminent superpower being put up to intense public scrutiny.

The Not So Obvious – Certainly Irish fans have had a good month with the announcement of Jimmy Clausen, the All-World prep quarterback from Oaks Christian, to Notre Dame. However, before those Irish fans get to caught up in the Trojan agony and the Clausen euphoria, they might want to re-read Under The Tarnished Dome, a painful portrait of their glorious program under Lou Holtz, who will never be confused with any of the saints that adore ND's beautiful campus. How quickly we forget.

The Obvious – Former Trojan defensive end Frostee Rucker was selected in the third round of the NFL draft by Cincinnati.

The Not So Obvious – Okay, Mama Melba, you can relax now, your son with the holiday name is going to the league. That draft day tension wasn't so bad, was it? Oh, it was? Worse than the final tense moments of the ND game at South Bend? You'll like Cincinnati, which means "seven hills," in late November. We don't want you to relax too much, not with the Bengals' rookie mini-camp schedule for May 13-15 and the vets reporting June 15-17.

The Obvious – A partial list of ABC televised Trojan games were released and to the surprise of no one, the home games against Nebraska and Notre Dame will kickoff at 5 p.m. while the road game at UCLA will start at 1:30 p.m., all West Coast times.

The Not So Obvious – If you add the Trojans' nationally televised game at Arkansas, they all have the possibility of big numbers. Naturally the country will want to see what these Trojans are going to look like and with a win in Fayetteville, there will be the curiosity factor for Nebraska and a "redemption" home game. If the Trojans survive their first three games, the rating skies could be the limit heading into November, assuming the current headlines don't play a factor in the process.

The Obvious - Former offensive guard Fred Matua was selected in the 7th round by Detroit.

The Not So Obvious – Okay, so your impressive USC Pro Day didn't translate to the actual draft order. That's the bad news. The good news is that your switch to offensive early in your Trojan career allowed you to be drafted at a position most felt would be your best if you wanted to play on Sundays. The best news is you're a standout competitor who will be given a chance to prove the "experts" wrong. Former Trojans and current Lions, Shaun Cody and Mike Williams, will be there to be your biggest cheerleaders and your best guidance counselors. Don't forget that former Trojan assistant Rod Marinelli is your new head coach, so that's got to count for something.

The Obvious – As you may have read this week, former Trojan All-America quarterback Pat Haden and receiver John "J.K." McKay were probably as great a prep passing combination at La Puente Bishop Amat High as any in SoCal prep history and continued their exploits at USC.

The Not So Obvious – McKay and his wife Kim on Tuesday became the parents of a 7-pound 15-ounce boy and named him Haden McKay, to which Haden suggested that the boy's middle name be "To". All of which got the O/NSO to be thinking about future Trojans like Leinart Jarrett, Palmer Williams, or maybe in honor of next season's club, Booty Smith.

The Obvious – Former Trojan fullback David Kirtman was selected in the 5th round by Seattle.

The Not So Obvious – This kid will always be one of our favorites. He will go down in the same in the same breath as other workmanlike fullbacks like David Farmer and combo fullback-tailback Scott Lockwood. His ace in the hole for the NFL is he can catch and that reception in the Rose Bowl against Texas on the sidelines was as tough as they come. The fact that he is returning to his hometown Seattle area for a shot in the pros makes it sweeter. If he doesn't make the roster, he has a bright future in business.

The Obvious – Trojan linebacker Rey Maualuga has agreed to perform community service and attend anger management classes as a result of an off-campus fight last fall.

The Not So Obvious – As his punishment, Maualuga must attend 24 hours of anger management, 26 meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous, perform 100 hours of community service and stay in good academic standing at school as part of an "arraignment diversion program." The kid must also make full restitution to the victim and make a formal apology to both the victim and the USC. Without question that is a lot of meetings and responsibilities, but we are curious about the restitution and generally that doesn't come cheap.

The Obvious – Pete Carroll is renowned for loving competition on all levels, both on and off the field.

The Not So Obvious – So it should give the coach great pleasure to watching the competition between Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush I the shoe industry. Bush, who recently signed with Adidas, now has some competition in the footwear and apparel department with Leinart, who has signed with Nike in a similar marketing venture.

The Obvious – Recently your columnist and publisher, Garry P., went to the Trojan Marching Band office to drop off some copies of WeAreSC magazine, which featured a cover shot and story on legendary director, Dr. Arthur C. Bartner.

The Not So Obvious – Dr.Bartner's office is a true museum of Trojan artifacts and pictures featuring the good doctor and various moments of glory for the best marching band on the planet. The one artifact, however, that caught our attention was a clock attached to a 1974 Coliseum scoreboard picture of the legendary 55-24 second half comeback of the Trojans over the Irish. To the good fortune of many Trojan fans, the photo clock, produced and photographed by Arnold Frankel, is a reminder of one of Troy's all-time great victories. As for the unlucky folks that once had the clock on their wall and somehow misplaced it, like your nostalgic author, it is a moment frozen in cardinal and gold time. Indeed, it was like seeing an old friend.


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