The Not So Obvious – This Monday and Tuesday is a critical moment in the lives of a number of potential recruits as Pete Carroll's staff finishes their on-campus evaluation with the Rising Seniors Camp. With Orange Lutheran lineman Michael Reardon getting an offer and accepting thanks to the recent Trojans Linemen Camp, the stakes will be high next week for a number of high-valued targets like nationally acclaimed Arizona offensive lineman Kris O'Dowd (6-5, 305), who will attend only Tuesday's proceedings, Florida's James Wilson (6-5, 306), whose father lives in LA, to recently unknown and "diminutive" center Sean Enesi (5-11, 287) from Carson, who was "discovered" at Troy's one-day lineman camp and asked to return for further evaluation.
The Obvious – The Trojans Rising Seniors Camp will be the last chance for a number of skill and linemen types to strut their stuff before Pete Carroll and staff.
The Not So Obvious - As important as those that show up will be those who don't show, especially if a "rising senior" is specifically asked by the Trojan coaching staff to attend. If the Trojan coaching staff requests your presence, you'd better have your cleats ready to rumble or take a major cardinal and gold recruiting tumble.
The Obvious – Anytime Pete Carroll can make use of the Coliseum to wine and dine recruits, the modern day "Silver Fox" takes full advantage of the opportunity.
The Not So Obvious - The culmination of the Rising Senior Camp figures to be a Tuesday evening of Trojan ball under the lights in the Coliseum. If it's anything like last year, the video board will be showing Fight On, the 2005 highlight DVD. Last year, campers not on the field playing Trojan Ball got the rare opportunity to watch the festivities from the Coliseum press box. To add to the merriment at the Coliseum, the campers do a re-creation of a regular Trojan Saturday game day by arriving by charter bus and doing a "mini" Trojan Walk. Carroll leads the group through the peristyle end (Zack Heberer, photo, during 2005 camp) and down on the field where the campers go through the game day rituals, even going up the famed Coliseum tunnel before "kickoff" and returning chanting one of the selected "walk down the tunnel" hymns.
The Obvious – With this year considered a transition year for the Trojan program, teams around the Pac-10 feel a sense of hope against the four-time defending conference champions.
The Not So Obvious – There may be a sense of hope for Pac-10 opponents in 2006, but none were bold enough to schedule the Trojans for their homecoming game. FYI, here are the following Pac-10 teams with their homecoming opponent in parenthesis: Arizona (Cal), UCLA (Wash. St.), ASU (Stanford), Cal (Oregon), Stanford (Arizona), Oregon St. (ASU), Oregon (Washington), Washington (ASU), and Washington St. (Cal). The Trojans, of course, have scheduled their homecoming against Oregon on Nov. 11.
The Obvious – All-America wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett is ruled ineligible by the NCAA because of "extra benefits" and most now apply for reinstatement.
The Not So Obvious – Here we go again, so help me Mike Williams. Although Pete Carroll says he doesn't expect Dwayne to miss any games, the fact that the NCAA said the issue will be resolved in a "timely manner," brings wrinkled brows from Trojan fans who remember last time they experienced a "timely manner," resulting in Mike Williams being told he was done as a Trojan as the Cardinal and Gold were boarding a plane to open the 2004 season against Virginia Tech in Washington D.C.
The Obvious – One of the country's more popular regional football magazines now available nationally is Dave Campbell's Texas Football Magazine, which goes over 300 pages and covers everything from the pros, college, and in depth on the Texas high school scene.
The Not So Obvious – In its 2006 edition, Texas Football does a preseason national rankings and Trojan fans might be surprised to learn that Campbell's publication does not rank the Longhorns as No. 1. In fact, the Burnt Orange is ranked No. 5 while the Trojans are in the No. 3 slot. Auburn is Campbell's pick as No. 1.
The Obvious – Oaks Christian safety Marshall Jones (6-1, 190) has committed to the Trojans.
The Not So Obvious – The cardinal and gold recruiting floodgates are now wide open and the silent commitment for the class of 2007 seems to be a thing of the past, at least for this year. There are those close to the Oaks Christian program that swear this kid has the potential to be the best of the bunch. As the Trojans learned last season, you can never have enough secondary performers, so help me Kevin Ellison. As for keeping score of the Oaks Christian recruits, as Vince Scully might say, "At the end of three full innings of play, the Trojans 2, Everybody else 1."
The Obvious – The Trojans will host the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame on Saturday evening, Nov. 25, in the Coliseum.
The Not So Obvious – So you think tickets are going to be tough for this one, thanks to last season's classic in South Bend? Well, one Orange County member of the Notre Dame Alumni Club told the O/NSO, "It's unbelievable. Nobody has any tickets for this year's game, and I mean nobody. I have been a member for a number of years now, and we are being told there aren't any for us this year."
The Obvious – One of the lasting memories of last year's Trojan/Irish classic was when Irish safety Tom Zbikowski pushed Reggie Bush from behind as the Heisman Trophy winner was in the end zone.
The Not So Obvious – Zbikowski gained a lot of fame recently when he made his pro boxing debut in Madison Square Garden and registered a first-round knockout over some tomato can named Robert Bell. For his efforts, Zbikowski, who experts say is now a first-round draft pick, has been invited to sing the seventh- inning stretch at Wrigley Field on July 16 against the New York Mets. Don't expect Pete Carroll to invite to invite the young boxer to sing the national anthem on Nov. 25 in Los Angeles. And did we mention that Irish head coach Charlie Weis recently sang the seventh inning stretch, as well, at Wrigley?
The Obvious – Much has been made of the fact that Trojan verbal Marc Tyler's father is former UCLA running back great, Wendell Tyler.
The Not So Obvious – For the record, in Wendell's 1975 senior year in Westwood, he ran for 130 yards against one of the Troy's toughest defenses, helping defeat the Cardinal and Gold, 25-22, despite 11 Bruin fumbles. During his career, the elder Tyler, who played from 1972-75, was 1-3 against the Trojans.
The Obvious – One of the most underrated receivers in the past generation of Trojan football is former receiving great Keary Colbert, now with the Carolina Panthers
The Not So Obvious – Colbert, who has been attending summer school on campus and helping with the young Trojan receivers, will be a camp counselor for Carolina teammate and former UCLA running back star DeShaun Foster, who directs next week's youth football camp at Tustin High. Proceeds go to the Foster26 Foundation, which uses the proceeds to provide a scholarship and benefits the local Tustin area and Tustin High athletic department. There is no bigger crosstown football rivalry than the Trojans and the Bruins and who says we all can't get along?
The Obvious – The Trojans will finish the season against the Bruins at the Rose Bowl with kickoff set for the once traditional 1:30 p.m.
The Not So Obvious – However, go to the official UCLA Bruins athletic website and inquire about season ticket packages and they've got the Trojan game kickoff time set for 3:30 a.m. That's right, 3:30 in the morning. Wow, that's going to be some humdinger of a tailgater on the Arroyo Seco. Of course many of the other games are also listed at 3:30 a.m., as well.
The Obvious – The rumors of Whitney Lewis have been confirmed and the former prep All-American from St. Bonaventure is no longer a Trojan
The Not So Obvious – What a very sad state of affairs for all involved. Once considered among America's elite prep "ballers," Lewis is yet another example of the inexact science of football recruiting. One has to have some extended compassion for Whitney's mother, who has given her all to try and guide her son down the path to success - even stepping into to the recruiting fray by strongly pushing her son to Troy. Even the Trojan coaches did all they could, including the misguided decision of giving former quarterback Brandon Hance's number to Whitney in hopes of motivating the unmotivated. In the end, it all came down to desire and work ethic and Pete Carroll's program moved Lewis around the depth chart like a pinball in hopes of a positive solution. They tried; boy, did they try. Here's hoping that Whitney Lewis finds what he is looking for and all parties can move on in a new, positive direction.
The Obvious – In a recent Whitney Lewis article in the VenturaCountyStar.com, highly successful St. Bonaventure coach Jon Mack said, "Part of him (Lewis) is sad and disappointed. He really wanted to make it there (USC). For whatever reason, he was in Pete's doghouse and now he needs a new opportunity. I have to applaud him that he wants a chance to get back on the field and compete."
The Not So Obvious – Let's not take Mack to task. As Whitney's high school coach, who put in plenty of time with Lewis during a highly decorated career, Mack was simply doing what a head varsity high school coach does in a delicate situation for all concerned. He still protects his players. However, saying that Lewis was "for whatever reason in Pete's doghouse" gives the false impression that Whitney is a victim of circumstances. Whitney was a victim of Whitney and you have to say this kid got special treatment from all walks of the Trojan support apparatus.
The Obvious – There have been a number of Trojan recruits that have entered USC with envious honors and reputations and disappeared once the hitting and the reality took shape.
The Not So Obvious – Some would point out the name of injury ridden Los Alamitos prep All-America receiver Stan Guyness as an example of a Trojan who never panned out. However, the player we remember from many, many years ago was a tailback out of Texas named Paul Rice. John McKay had recruited this kid and even back then, Rice was on the cover of magazines as the best prep tailback in America – until he put on the pads at Troy. Sustaining a broken nose almost moments after donning pads, Rice left SoCal almost without a whimper. Many fans on our trendy message boards talk about the greatest Trojans of the them all, it would be interesting to hear which players have been the biggest disappointments of the last generation.
The Obvious – The Trojans have scheduled their Salute to Troy night for August 18th.
The Not So Obvious – Last year's Salute to Troy was more like a Hollywood gathering as the numerous Trojan superstars mingled amongst a large gathering of adoring fans. The food was good, the fans were joyous, and many of the players seemed to enjoy giving autographs and posing for photographs. Unlike last year when Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush were off limits for fear of a fan tsunami, it figures that All-Americans Dwayne Jarrett and Sam Baker, plus quarterbacks John David Booty and Mark Sanchez will be readily available. If last year's bash was more like a Hollywood happening, this year's is more like the premiere of a highly anticipated opening night.
The Obvious – The WeAreSC dinner this Wednesday evening at the Papadakis Taverna in San Pedro is an official sellout.
The Not So Obvious – StubHub can't help you either on this one. It's only June, but with summer workouts now in full swing, it looks like Trojan fans are chomping at the get-go to get going. From deep inside top security clearance, Garry P. plans to give an up date on the vital 7 on 7's and from the recruiting camps while former Trojan defensive back and radio personality Darrell Rideaux will be part of a question and answer session. Last one across the Vincent Thomas Bridge gets a delay of game flag.
The Obvious – A number of Trojan fans were concerned over the announcement that Arkansas was putting in new artificial turf for the season opener in Fayetteville on Sept. 2.
The Not So Obvious – Not to worry! The turf that is being put in is not for Fayetteville but for War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, the Razorbacks home away from home. The Hogs play two games in Little Rock against mighty Louisiana-Monroe on Oct. 28 and LSU on Nov. 25, the same date the Trojan play the Sons of Rockne in Los Angeles.
The Obvious – For the hardcore West Coast college football fan, it's never too early to make plans for a full day of television action, so if you aren't one of the lucky Trojan fans heading to Arkansas for the 2006 opener, here is the lineup for Sept 2.
The Not So Obvious – As an O/NSO public television service, here is the tentative West Coast television lineup on Sept 2, Stanford at Oregon, 12:30 pm, ABC; Utah at UCLA, 4:00 pm, FSN; BYU at Arizona, 7:15 pm, TBS; California at Tennessee, 2:30 pm, Washington State at Auburn, 4:45 pm, ESPN2, and, of course, Trojans at Arkansas, 5:45 pm, ESPN. All kickoffs are Pacific Daylight Time.
The Obvious – This Saturday night the 21st Inland Empire All-Star Football Classic will be played at Citrus Hill H.S. with kickoff slated for 6:00 p.m.
The Not So Obvious – A battle between San Bernardino and Riverside Counties, future Trojan defensive gems Allen Bradford and Shareece Wright of Colton will suit up as prep stars for the last time before they head to Troy on Monday. Fill the tank and travel to Perris and we don't mean Paris.
The Obvious – This Saturday night the Shrine Football Classic will also be played at Citrus College in Glendora with kickoff slated for 7:00 p.m.
The Not So Obvious – What was once a showcase for incoming Trojan starbrights and drawing crowds that once went over 50,000, this year's Shrine Game no longer features any scholarship Trojans as tailback C.J. Gable from Sylmar High and wide receiver Jamere Holland of Taft have withdrawn, according to a Shrine official on Thursday afternoon. See ya are the days of the Pat Hadens, Sam Cunninghams, and even the Josh Pinkards (photo). Saturday's game features the CIF vs the Private/City All-Stars. There is a cardinal and gold touch in the Shrine as kicker Thomas Hull, son of former Trojan fullback Mike Hull, will participate as a kicker for the Private All-Stars. The young Hull, who played at Santa Margarita Catholic, will attend Harvard.
The Obvious – Since the Rose Bowl and the NFL draft, the Trojans 2005 Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush has not had many strokes to the ongoing investigation of his off-field family living arrangements.
The Not So Obvious – In case you missed it, the former No. 5 made a big impact in the New Orleans area when he financially contributed to the rebuilding of Tad Gormley Stadium, home of many area football games. Reggie donated $50,000 from his relationship with Adidas to re-sod and manicure the field and reached into his pockets for an additional $36,000 for field maintenance during the season.
The Obvious – Former Trojan defensive end Frostee Rucker has been charged with two misdeameanor counts spousal battery and two counts of vandalism, according to the Los Angeles Times through a spokesperson from the LA City Attorney's office.
The Not So Obvious – The surprising revelation is that the alleged incidents occurred at a party last August and no media reported it, not even the usual diseminators of bad tiddings. So just when Trojan fans thought the worst was out of sight, out pops the Rucker news. It was like Godfather 3 when Al Pacino said, "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in." (Sigh)
The Obvious – And finally, Disneyland will celebrate the premiere of "Pirates of the Caribbean – Dead Man's Chest," Saturday evening in New Orleans Square along the banks of the Rivers of America.
The Not So Obvious – There will be a red carpet premiere down Main Street and a number of stars from the movie, perhaps you've heard of Johnny Depp, and celebs from our planet will be in attendance. There will even be a couple of Trojan notables walking the carpet as former quarterbacks Matt Leinart and Rodney Peete will be part of the festivities. And, no, we don't know if "you-know-who" is accompanying Lefty.