O/NSO - Information edition

With the fresh aroma of barbeque, the celebratory fragrance of pyrotechnics, and the summer warmth of July pointing towards the horizon of August practice, the 2006 USC Media Guide's on-line debut trumpets the arrival of a new season.

The Obvious – With the fresh aroma of barbeque, the celebratory fragrance of pyrotechnics, and the summer warmth of July pointing towards the horizon of August practice, the 2006 USC Trojans Football Media Guide's on-line debut trumpets the arrival of a new season, and the cover contains four Trojans, all of whom figure to play a prominent role in Pete Carroll's sixth season as the head mentor of the nation's most dominant college football program over the past four years.

The Not So Obvious – For those that want to start forming a mental picture of the front cover, junior All-America wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett is featured significantly and is joined by junior All-America offensive tackle Sam Baker along with senior All-America candidates center Ryan Kalil and wide receiver Steve Smith, and junior defensive end Lawrence Jackson. While Trojan fans can access the on-line version of the media guide on the official USC Athletic Department website (www.usctrojans.com and then click on "football"), the print version is available to the public by sending a $20 check (made out to USC) to: USC Sports Information Office, HER 103, USC, Los Angeles, Calif. 90089-0601.

The Obvious – The media guide reminds us on the inside front cover that no coach has controlled college football in current times like Troy's Pete Carroll.

The Not So Obvious – One of the most impressive stats listed under a picture of Carroll is that his five-year winning percentage is 84.4% (54-10). Throw in two national championships, four consecutive Pac-10 titles, four AP Top-4 finishes, four BCS bowl appearances (3-1), and a national-record 33 consecutive weeks as AP's No. 1 ranked team, and it's certainly understandable why Carroll is well on his way to legendary Trojan status, having gotten to 50 wins in five years faster than any other Trojan coach in history. Should he elect to remain at Troy and continue his torrid pace, a future College Football Hall of Fame coronation could be in his future.

The Obvious – Pete Carroll is considered one of the highest paid coaches in the country, if not the highest paid, after proving to be the "find" of the century by Mike Garrett, the Trojans' athletic director.

The Not So Obvious – The 2006 Trojans Football Media Guide reminds us that Carroll has the second highest winning percentage of any current Division 1 coach with at least five years of experience. Add to the fact that last year the Trojans averaged 90,000 fans per home game, unheard of in the annals of Trojan football, and you could argue that he is underpaid.

The Obvious – The media guide includes the usual assortment of player photos and information concerning the "veteran bios."

The Not So Obvious – However, the O/NSO continues to lobby for photos of the incoming freshmen, as well. Again, no freshman mugs (sigh). We were, however, thrown a Tirebiter bone as freshmen spring enrollees Walker Lee Ashley (photo), DT from Minnesota, and Antwine Perez, safety from New Jersey, did get their mugs with their bios in the veteran section.

The Obvious – Trojan fans are scrambling for away game tickets, which have become harder to get than some of those toughies at South Bend.

The Not So Obvious – Speaking of the Irish, according to the South Bend Tribune, the Nov. 25 Thanksgiving weekend game in the Coliseum between the visiting Irish and the Trojans is the most-requested road game in Notre Dame ticket history.

The Obvious – The Trojans' athletic department has announced there will be a road games ticket lottery for the non-donor season ticket holders.

The Not So Obvious – The non-donor folks, AKA – the little people, should be grateful for it's better than no chance at all, so help me Fayetteville and Pasadena. Ticket prices for Trojan away games are as follows: Arkansas ($35), Arizona ($25), Washington St. ($40), Oregon St. ($60), and UCLA ($67). Does the rare economy cost of the ticket at Arizona include rights for a NASA air-conditioned suit?

The Obvious – The first challenge to the USC Trojans national and Pac-10 supremacy has been fired off the starboard bow of the 2006 Street & Smith's College Football Yearbook. The historical annual predicts a Pac-10 title for the California Bears and nationally pre-ranks Pete Carroll's boys No. 7 in the land behind No. 6 Cal.

The Not So Obvious – The Pac-10 rivals won't meet until Nov. 18 for an ABC nationally televised affair, but it's never too early to predict how much that Coliseum ducat is going to be worth if both teams can maintain a spotless record. A quick check of our favorite Trojan ticket slide rule, StubHub, lists a financial range of $599 for Section 7, Row 2, and a low end of $36 for the mysterious, unnamed section and row. Can you say peristyle end?

The Obvious – Junior receiver Dwayne Jarrett has been the general cover boy for most of the preseason college football magazines now on newsstands.

The Not So Obvious – Just hold your Trojan horses, maestro. Senior wide receiver Steve Smith gets the star treatment from the just released Street & Smith's College Football Yearbook, which captions the Smith cover with "What will Steve Smith and the ultra-explosive USC offense do for an encore?" If Street & Smith believe their own Trojan hype on offense, why did they rank the Men of Troy second in the Pac-10 behind Cal?

The Obvious – Street & Smith is the first publication to predict that Jeff Tedford's boys from Berkeley will end the four-year reign of the Trojans.

The Not So Obvious – What is interesting in the prediction is the fact that both teams have quarterback questions. After deep analysis by the O/NSO, we have come to the conclusion that S&S is basically saying junior Trojan quarterback John David Booty (photo) and freshman Mark Sanchez rank below Cal's duo of sophomore Nate Longshore and senior Joe Ayoob. Amazing isn't it that "poor" John David, The Bayou Bomber, has been reduced to second-team status after being a near unanimous pick out of as the top gun in high school. Gee, wasn't Sanchez once the Parade Magazine National Player of the Year?

The Obvious – Street & Smith, like many other publications for the 2006 season, has some tasty tidbits of questions.

The Not So Obvious – In their Pac-10 Five Things to Watch sidebar, S&S says of the Trojans, "Is USC quarterback John David Booty ready for prime time? Booty is expected to replace Matt Lineart at the helm of the Trojan offense. If he's not ready, USC might actually lose more than one game." Of the Cal Bears, S & S writes, "Who's going to direct Cal's attack? Nate Longshore and Joe Ayoob will compete for the starting quarterback job in training camp. If either emerges as an elite passer, the Bears could win the league." Okay, and if Booty or Sanchez emerge as elite passers, the O/NSO sidebar says it's San Diego or El Paso for the Tedford twins.

The Obvious – Trojan running back verbal Marc Tyler of Oaks Christian did not participate in the past week's Rising Seniors Camp.

The Not So Obvious – Tyler, however, did "participate" in Street & Smith's preseason All-America team, being named to the prestigious Top 50 players as a "utility player." Trojan linebacker verbal Chris Galippo of Servite also made the team along with other California Trojan recruits Marques Simas, WR of San Diego Mira Mesa and Donovan Warren, DB from Long Beach Poly. The other Californians named were Chris Forcier, QB from San Deigo St. Augustine (UCLA), and, yes, some QB kid named Jimmy Clausen from Oaks Christian (Notre Dame).

The Obvious – The Trojans have already secured a verbal from junior WR D.J. Shoemate from Servite.

The Not So Obvious – Californian Shoemate is joined in the Street & Smith 50 Juniors to Watch by future Trojan lineman recruit Khaled Holmes from Santa Ana Mater Dei, the brother of former Cardinal and Gold tight end standout Alex Holmes, who now draws a nice paycheck from that Sunday league. And will somebody please tell the O/NSO why Matt Kalil, brother of preseason All-America center Ryan, wasn't considered for the list or was he?

The Obvious – Last Wednesday's WeAreSC.com dinner at the Papadakis Taverna in San Pedro was another sellout.

The Not So Obvious – First, let's get this off our plate. The biggest news at the Papadakis Taverna may have been the premiere of a new, exotic belly dancer, a 5-star in the Scout.com belly dancer profile. Secondly, O/NSO has said here that the key to the 2006 defense may very well be the play of defensive tackle Chris Barrett (photo). Former Trojans standouts and now media talking heads, WR John Jackson and DB Darrell Rideaux, echoed the same feeling. You know the O/NSO must have been right with our call when you can get both an offensive and defensive guy to agree on the same thing.

The Obvious – Darrell Rideaux, a former diminutive Trojan defensive back, is an engaging personality, and his vocal talents will be exhibited on Trojan game day broadcasts.

The Not So Obvious – We had the opportunity to sit with Darrell and his buddy Eric Reese, the former Trojan RB/DB out of Long Beach St. Anthony, during the Papadakis dinner. Rideaux was relating to our dinner table how playing at Long Beach Poly and being on Fox Sports Net during his Jackrabbit playing days stayed with him during his brief flirtation with the NFL. Rideaux told the O/NSO, "One time I was warming up with Indianapolis and coach Tony Dungy walked up and said, ‘I use to watch you on television when you played at Long Beach Poly. With all that talent, how did you ever lose?" Rideaux found out the power of television and the notoriety of playing at Poly.

The Obvious – John Jackson is one of the few athletics that has successfully made the transition from the playing field to the broadcast booth, having recently done work with the Arena Football League on NBC.

The Not So Obvious – Jackson, who showcased his Papadakis Taverna belly dancing skills with the new "5-star" performer and believe me, there was a lot of "shake and bake" going on, is convinced that Arizona in Tucson will be best team the Trojans will face the first three games. However, J.J. also believes that Arkansas may be the biggest threat for an upset. He based it on the fact that quarterback John David Booty will be starting his first game in extremely hostile territory and that the Razorbacks will throw every defensive scheme they have at the inexperienced Trojan signal-caller. Jackson added, "There will be no comfort zone for Booty." Jackson said his biggest fear for the Trojans may be the punting game, since the Trojans will probably have to punt five or six times during a game. With no Tom Malone, punting is certainly an unknown for the 2006 Trojans.

The Obvious – The Trojans recently concluded Rising Seniors Camp brought out most of the entire WeAreSC.com staff.

The Not So Obvious – During a break on Tuesday as the heat and humidity was in Arkansas form, we posed the question to our team of "experts," if you had to choose just one of the prep superstars from the two-day camp, whom would you select? Florida offensive tackle James Wilson? Arizona offensive lineman Kris O'Dowd? Arizona defensive lineman Everson Griffen? By unanimous vote and with no less regard for the other two, the WeAreSC staff voted for DE Everson Griffen. Yes, he is that powerful, that fast, that intense, and that athletic. It's only July, but the Trojan are looking pretty good for Griffen at this point. If pictures are a thousand words, just look again at Griffen coming out of the Coliseum tunnel on Tuesday evening (photo).

The Obvious – There is no question that Florida offensive tackle James Wilson was near as good as it gets on the offensive side.

The Not So Obvious – While it appears that Wilson, whose father lives in LA, may be still filled with some South Bend blarney, Trojan offensive line coach Pat Ruel was as animated as we have seen him and you could tell Wilson had the coach's full attention. This recruiting battle could very well get down to Ruel and Notre Dame offensive line coach John Latina, a disciple of the late, great Joe Moore, the legendary offensive line coach during the Lou Holtz era at ND. If the Trojans don't get Wilson, a truly great talent, it won't be for lack of coaching effort.

The Obvious – Arizona offensive lineman Kris O'Dowd participated in Tuesday morning's session only, before breaking a finger on his left hand.

The Not So Obvious – The O/NSO had a chance to talk with O'Dowd after he watched the "real" Trojan do their 7-on-7 drills, and the kid faked a lot of Trojan fans out by wearing trunks that were cardinal and gold and had the letters SC on the bottom pant leg. SC stood for Salpointe Catholic, the personable O'Dowd's prep team in Tucson.

The Obvious - If the Trojan can close the deal with Kris O'Dowd, and coach Pat Ruel is right there with this kid, it will be a major inroad for a big offensive line recruiting class.

The Not So Obvious – Big Kris told the O/NSO that "this trip really gave me a feel for what the SC experience is like. I broke my finger, but the coaches told me 20 minutes was enough to show what I can do. Before coming to the SC camp, I have been to the U of Arizona team camp. I plan on taking unofficial visits to UCLA and Ohio State. I am really not sure when I will commit. "

The Obvious – If starting Trojan guard Jeff Byers has his way, O'Dowd will be a freshman a Trojan in the future as Big Jeff was all over O'Dowd on Tuesday trying to help the Pat Ruel cause.

The Not So Obvious – Despite attending Junior Day and Tuesday's Rising Senior Camp, O'Dowd has yet to visit the Coliseum, so the official trip in the fall could be quite a "closer."

The Obvious – There are always players in the Rising Seniors Camp that catch your eye and make you review their status.

The Not So Obvious – The O/NSO and venerable WeAreSC staffer George Young agree, one such player was Crespi defensive end D.J. Holt. It may be a numbers game or simply a case of size, but Holt was the second best DE behind Everson Griffen. In a 5-2 defense, D.J., a CIF Player of the Year, would be a standup outside backer (remember Jimmy Gunn?). We love this kid. He and Long Beach Poly star Kenny Rowe may be in the same line when it comes to the Trojans recruiting list. Holt, who is shorter but stronger than Rowe, is going to make somebody at the collegiate level a fine player. Our fear is that he will go to another Pac-10 school and become all-conference simply because the Trojans don't have a spot for him.

The Obvious – Defensive lineman Tonio Celotto, son of former Trojan linebacker Mario Celotto (1974-77), was a camp competitor.

The Not So Obvious – Although the young Celotto, who has given a verbal to Oregon and is rumored to be a potential transfer to Concord De La Salle for his senior year, doesn't appear to be near the front of the Trojans' recruiting line, Big Daddy Mario was in intense form watching his son try to impress the Trojan coaching staff. Still flashing those jet-blue eyes, Mario, who is married to Julia, a former Trojan track athlete was in playing form in aggressively encouraging his son to lay it on the line. With hands and arms in intense motion and dashing onto Howard Jones Field, the former Raider still has those competitive juices flowing.

The Obvious – Monte Kiffin is the defensive coordinator of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Not So Obvious – Old Monte (photo), father of Trojans' offensive coordinator Lane, showed plenty of counselor spunk during the Rising Seniors Camp, working with a number of the prepsters. During one very intense battle between offensive tackle and Trojan verbal Martin Coleman and all-world defensive end Everson Griffen, Kiffin was asked to judge a winner. Monte simply said, " Too close to call. Let'em go again," much to the delight of the coaching staff and entertained spectators. For an encore at night in the Coliseum, Monte impressed the youngsters that an "old man" could still be in shape as he ran laps around the 100-yard Coliseum field for an evening workout

The Obvious – Without a Trojan recruit on either roster, the Public School All-Stars defeated the Private/City School All-Stars, 17-14, in the 55th annual Al Malaikah Shrine game, before an announced crowd of 3,500 at Citrus College last Saturday night.

The Not So Obvious – While incoming freshman Trojan tailback C.J. Gable's name was on the roster for the Private/City All-Stars, perhaps some Trojan fans didn't get the word that the promising tailback had withdrawn earlier in the week. Still, there was a good number of cardinal and gold in attendance for the Shrine tailgater. According to Shrine officials in the Citrus College press box, expect some big changes next year as the game appears set to return to the old Northern versus Southern California format. As big a move could also be that Shrine officials would like to strongly discuss a move from the traditional summer classic to a winter game. Word is that there is heavy support from up north from Concord De La Salle's legendary coach Bob Ladouceur, who could help with financial connections. Special kudos goes to publicist Sandy Erickson, a former Trojan, who helped pull things together for the Shriners.

The Obvious – The Trojans will open at the 2006 season at the University of Arkansas, first time since 1971.

The Not So Obvious – For those that would like a refresher course on the Razerbacks, a new book, Hogs, is showing up in southland bookstores. It does the usual history of UA football and has some nice pictures.

The Obvious – Local sports fans are mourning the passing of Thomas G. Arthur, "father" of the famous Dodger Dog and respected food vendor for some of the most renowned sports facilities, both locally and nationally.

The Not So Obvious –Arthur attended the USC School of Architecture and will always be remembered for creating a food and drink vending business that brought satisfaction to taste buds of LA sports fans everywhere. Arthur creator presented his idea of a Dodger Dog, that ten-inch long hot dog, to the O'Malleys and was enthusiastically granted innovative permission by the former Dodger ownership. Arthur's vending business was part of the Coliseum for years and the late Trojans' vending business once branched out to the Sports Arena and as far east as Chicago's Wrigley Field. BTW, what did the Dodgers ever do with the huge left field screen that was once called the "Chinese Wall" when the Dodgers played in the Coliseum? The left field line was only 257 from home plate to foul poll.

The Obvious – A number of Trojan fans received e-mail info on purchasing "A Perfect Season," a framed season ticket sheet signed by either Matt Leinart or Reggie Bush.

The Not So Obvious – Produced by the Upper Deck Authenticated Sport Memorabilia Store with only 250 to be sold, the ticket sheet, which contains all home game tickets from the 2005 season, has a pre-sale cost of $399.99 and will eventually price at $449.99. Wow, what a deal! Here's an O/NSO summer saver idea, how about you saved your 2005 ticket stubs from last season, throw in your Notre Dame ticket stub if you were one of the fortunates, and purchase a frame of your own. Okay, so you don't have one of the Heisman duo, but it sure saves in the pocket book, and it is your own tickets stubs. And how many of you had that ticket frame idea as the 2005 season went along? BTW, there is no Rose Bowl ticket included in Upper Deck "deal."

The Obvious – The never ending chance to own Trojan memorabilia also includes a new auction offer to purchase actual game jerseys worn by your heroes during both the 2004 national championship season and the 2005 undefeated regular season.

The Not So Obvious – Here's the catch; it's all done on line through a bidding process. You can do your bidding to purchase the jerseys of Mike Williams, Scott Ware, Collin Ashton, John Zilka, Jason Leach, Deuce Lutui, Alex Holmes, LaJuan Ramsey, Fred Matua, and William Buchanon. Currently Mike Williams' No. 1 jersey is the highest bid jersey item, going for $750. We hear that John Zilka's immortal No. 80 could be the most valuable down the memorabilia road. Show me the auctioneer!

The Obvious – Danbury Mint is a leading producer of sports memorabilia, especially those miniature stadium replicas.

The Not So Obvious – Danbury Mint has come up with a new, attractive Trojan product. The new offering is a celebration of Troy's 11 national championships, 28 bowl game victories, College Football Hall of Fame Trojan members, and Heisman winners, all placed on a cardinal and gold football called the "USC Trojans Dynasty Trophy." Made with glazed porcelain, genuine platinum "lacing," a Trojan helmet, and the locked SC, this piece of spirit goes for $99. Oh, and did we tell you the "football" is placed on a football tee plated in genuine 18kt gold? For more info, just go to www.danburymint.com.

The Obvious – Former Trojan running back Delon Washington will always be remembered for his 15-yard Coliseum scoring jaunt with 1:50 to go in regulation, which eventually led to the classic 1996 SC overtime victory over Notre Dame, thus helping end an excruciating Irish winning streak and sending Lou Hotz out of his Irish job in painful fashion.

The Not So Obvious – Washington was seen walking across campus after Tuesday's Rising Seniors Camp and said, " Just back trying to get through school." The Trojans are very good about trying to make sure that players eventually get their degree if they don't do so in a timely manner.

The Obvious – The Trojans continue to work on "volunteer" 7-on-7 passing drills inside the track stadium.

The Not So Obvious – Nobody was happier to watch the festivities last week than Nick Sanchez, the father of quarterback Mark, whose legal issues are now apparently behind him. For Nick, he was very grateful to be able to watch his son workout and extremely thankful for all that came to his son's support. For Mark, there seemed to be an edge of subdued serious about his early week performance, Hopefully in time, this family will be able to return to some sense of normalcy.

The Obvious – Pick up any magazine and you're liable to see senior Ryan Powdrell listed as the starting running tailback for the Trojans.

The Not So Obvious – While it doesn't figure that Powdrell will be the starting tailback at Arkansas, you know the former linebacker now has that tailback/fullback lust for attention when he walked by the volunteer workouts early last week and remarked, " We've got a little bit of a crowd," an obvious reference to a number of Rising Senior Campers and their parents, who watched the passing workout. It figures that Powdrell (photo) will be used near the goal line and in short yardage and you know how that worked for a kid named LenDale White.

The Obvious – Tuesday will be July 4th and our country, the United States of America, will celebrate the greatest nation on earth.

The Not So Obvious – To all of you that have been so kind to the O/NSO over the past several years, may you have a wonderful holiday, enjoy your BBQ, and may your fireworks celebration be a blast, a 23blast (wink). Happy 4th, everybody.

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