O/NSO Cardinal Thoughts edition

Now that the barrage of college football magazines are now firmly entrenched on newsstands and all the cable companies seem to be showing a relentless but entertaining replay of Trojan games from the 2005 season, many of the USC faithful are now deep in thought over the coming season, a campaign that leaves no lack of opinion over the future of 2006.

The Obvious – Now that the barrage of college football magazines are now firmly entrenched on newsstands and all the cable companies seem to be showing a relentless but entertaining replay of Trojan games from the 2005 season, many of the USC faithful are now deep in thought over the coming season, a campaign that leaves no lack of opinion over the future of 2006.

The Not So Obvious – With opening of practice just two weeks away, the O/NSO went into deep cardinal thought, if that's even possible at our advanced age, and decided to just throw realities, conjecture, and ideas and see what sticks on a cardinal and gold dart board. Combined with the usual tasty Trojan tidbits, here are some conscious ponderings we have been tossing about in our Coliseum make-believe backyard.

The Obvious – A sure sign that the 2006 season is on the horizon is the annual Pac-10 Media Day.

The Not So Obvious – Keep that finger off the excitement button, but the Pac-10 Media Day is next Thursday, July 27, at the Gateway Hotel by LAX. "Kick off" for the onslaught of the Pac-10 Coaches Mutual Admiration Society is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Last year's event drew one of the biggest media turnouts ever, thanks to the aura of the then two-time defending national champion Trojans and that long winning streak. This year's love fest figures to show some usual optimism amongst Pac-10 coaches, but you can bet they will all say that until the Four-Time Pac-10 Champion USC Trojans are dethroned, the Cardinal and Gold should be the favorite.

The Obvious – Each coach at the media day will put on their best "recruiting" face and praise each other like blood brothers.

The Not So Obvious – However, the real action begins when each team presents their "star" player, and sometimes the competitive responses eventually make those opposing bulletin boards, a Pac-10 coach's nightmare. Last year, graduated super receiver Mike Hass of Oregon State boldly predicted the Trojans were beatable. Of course the 2005 Biletnikoff Award winner's Beavers drew a bye last season against the Trojans. Shows what a Trojan bye can do for one's testosterone and bragadocio.

The Obvious – Most inside observers expect that junior Chauncey Washington will be the starting tailback at Arkansas on Sept. 2.

The Not So Obvious – What may be the untold story is that Washington may get more carries as "The Man" than did Reggie Bush or LenDale White combined and on a consistent basis. We base this observation on the fact that Washington is built along the lines of White and is as tough as nails. Coach John McKay would be drooling at the prospect of Mr. Chauncey at tailback. Come to think of it, pass a bib to Pete Carroll, as well.

The Obvious – This is the week that the Trojan Ticket Department was expected to release the results of the non-donor season ticket away game lottery.

The Not So Obvious – As of Thursday evening, it was all quiet along the e-mail front as calls began to infiltrate the ticket office on campus on the delay. Okay, do you really think you are going to be a winner for the Arkansas game? Ah, cautiously optimistic, huh? Okay, last one to eBay and StubHub is a Notre Dame season ticket holder.

The ObviousBud Furillo, a longtime southern California newspaper and media icon and unabashed Trojan fan, has passed away at the age of 80.

The Not So Obvious – We first met "The Steamer" (photo, left, with radio partner Lee Marshall) when we were the director of publicity for the Southern California Pro Basketball Summer League back in the late 1970s when the league, currently at Long Beach State, was played at Cal State Los Angeles. We remember taking former Laker players like Brad Davis and James Edwards, when they were draft selections out of Maryland and Washington, to be interviewed on the "Steamers" KIIS radio talk show. As was true to his legend, you never really knew how Furillo's mood would be from appearance to appearance, but he sure knew his stuff. He could be very, very funny or very, very agitated. One thing he was and that was a great newspaper reporter and editor. His Herald Examiner sports sections were the best of the best. His son, Andy Furillo, a wonderful person whom we met during our youthful days at the Summer League, has followed in daddy's footsteps, a reporter for the Sacramento Bee. We think Bud would have found great humor in knowing that his obituary in Wednesday's Times was placed next to the passing of Robert Brooks, CEO of Hooters Restaurants.

The Obvious – One of the stories concerning Bud Furillo was the credit he received for dressing up the original Wild Bunch, the famed 1969 Trojan defense line, in western garb for that famous photo shoot.

The Not So Obvious - According to former Daily Trojan Sports Editor and WeAreSC contributing writer Paul Morantz, "Unfortunately Notre Dame made a comeback of its own in South Bend and tied USC 14-14, costing a national championship for what was clearly the number one team. And stupidly it was after that game I ran by McKay my great idea---take a photo for Pigskin Review of the Wild Bunch in the Coliseum wearing cowboy outfits with guns drawn. McKay nixed it saying, ‘They are football players not cowboys.' I mentioned the turn down to my friend Hal Lancaster who told it to sportswriter Steve Harvey who relayed it to Herald Examiner Sports Editior Bud Furrillo. Bud, liked the idea, and asked McKay for permission for the same photo after a USC win and McKay, in a more jovial mood and forgetting I asked first, gave it. So I picked up the Examiner one day to see my idea and the now famous Wild Bunch cowboy photo. Every time it is shown on TV I cringe as it is credited to Furillo." Who knew?

The Obvious – The Trojans will be having an open public scrimmage at the Coliseum on Sunday evening, Aug. 20.

The Not So Obvious – According to Dennis Slutak, director of football operations for the Trojans, kick-off time for the off-Broadway performance will be 7:45 p.m. "to mirror the start time of the Arkansas game." Slutak also relayed to the O/NSO that the 7:45 time was "as of today." For those without a handy calendar, Aug. 20 is a Sunday. As a public service, we know what you're thinking, "Monday is a work day," but hey, Mr. Trojan fan, the kids are still on vacation and do you really want to feel guilty that you aren't doing your part in helping prepare the 2006 club for Arkansas? We'll see ya there.

The Obvious – Even the least knowledgeable Trojan fan is intrigued by the potential quarterback competition throughout the season.

The Not So Obvious – Has the little woman started to impress you with her questions about Booty and Sanchez? Well, for our money, the most interesting competition during the season will be at middle linebacker between senior Oscar Lua and sophomore Rey Maualuga. For our appreciated lady readers of the O/NSO, you can score some big cardinal and gold points by making Lua and Maualuga the focus of the nightly Trojan dinner conversation.

The Obvious – A number of Trojan fans will get ready for a trip to the South with a pre-trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando.

The Not So Obvious – If you are going to WDW in mid-August, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be in open public training sessions at the Disney World Sports Complex. If you need a break from Epcot, you can check out Brian Kelly, the former Trojan defensive back, who is now in his 9th season in the Sunday League. Yes, we know. If Brian hadn't dropped a sure interception against Florida State at the Coliseum, the Trojans might have upset the Seminoles. Common now, Trojan fans, let it go. As a travel note, if you plan to go to WDW, consider Disney's Wilderness Lodge/Villas. We highly recommend it.

The Obvious – There is the prevailing though that the play of junior defensive tackle Chris Barrett will be a major key to the success of new defensive coordinator Nick Holt's defense.

The Not So Obvious – Did you ever think you'd read in print that in the Pete Carroll era that the defense would be referred to the Nick Holt defense? Of course it's still Carroll's defense but the last time somebody referred to a Trojan coach as "his" was Norm Chow, former Trojan offensive coordinator, who now draws a paycheck with the Tennessee Titans.

The Obvious – You've got to just giggle at the "anonymous" Pac-10 coaches that are "leaking" opinions on the 2006 Trojans to a number of national and local columnists.

The Not So Obvious – While some of it is certainly entertaining and perhaps even accurate, there is no doubt in the mind of the O/NSO that these clandestine coaches are ultimately trying to get into the heads of Trojan players and even coaches. Are you listening, Pete Carroll?

The Obvious – It's beginning to look as if $4 a gallon for gas could be a real possibility in the future.

The Not So Obvious – The last time we saw a sellout at the Coliseum, it was UCLA in December, and the private parking sharks along Figueroa were charging $100 a car. With a high potential for six home sellouts, the combination of $4 a gallon and $100 per parked car looks to be a future norm in a world that is becoming more abnormal by the week.

The Obvious – If you had the means and the time to do so, is there a Trojan fan alive who wouldn't want to attend all games this 2006 season?

The Not So Obvious – Perhaps a better question would be if the O/NSO gave you the means and time to attend just one game this season in the best of 50-yard line seats, which game would it be? C'mon, you can't all select Notre Dame, can you?

The Obvious – A sure sign that Trojan fans are gearing up for the season opener in Fayetteville is the amount of traffic on the WeAreSC message boards.

The Not So Obvious – One of the leading discussions is what to do once you are in the Fayetteville area? Well, you might want to start checking out Dickson Street, a hub of fandom interaction. A favorite of the local crowd and college scene in general, Dickson Street is a strip of boutiques, restaurants, galleries, and clubs. Throw in live music and some good eats and it appears Trojan fans have something to build upon.

The Obvious – The next WeAreSC monthly dinner is scheduled for Aug. 30 and the guest speakers are OC Register columnist Steve Bisheff and legendary columnist Loel Schrader.

The Not So Obvious – Bisheff is Trojan alum, who is married to a UCLA graduate. While Schrader is a graduate of neither university, his relationship with the Trojans merits him honorary cardinal and gold status. Fans in attendance at the Papadakis Taverna will get a real rush in hearing Schrader discuss his relationship with John McKay. Hopefully, Loel will treat those dinner guests on how he got John Robinson to release those very private recruiting lists when even the CIA wasn't given such privilege. No, we aren't going to spill the beans, but it is a highly entertaining story.

The Obvious – A number of issues and questions have surrounded probable Trojan starting quarterback John David Booty.

The Not So Obvious – While a number of folks have a "prove it" mentality to the intellectual capacity of Booty to run the Trojan offense and make the proper adjustments, hallmarks of the Matt Leinart era, the O/NSO thinks the jury is still on vacation whether John David can remain as healthy as did Leinart through his three years at the helm of the nation's most potent offense.

The Obvious – The countdown is on for the announcement of offensive lineman James Wilson of Florida, who says he will make his verbal commitment between the Trojan and the Irish on August 1.

The Not So Obvious – Although we felt the last time we talked the Irish had a slight edge, it appears that the latest rumor winds could be blowing in the Trojans favor with one of the main factors being the recruiting efforts of Trojans offensive line coach Pat Ruel and his individual battle with Irish OL coach John Latina. You just know that Ruel has heard the whispers questioning his offensive line recruiting prowess, but it looks to the O/NSO that if Pat can indeed corral Wilson to add to an impressive verbal from Huntington Beach Edison tackle Martin Coleman, it will be hard for anybody to question his cardinal and gold persuasive abilities. And did we mention Arizona's Kris O'Dowd as another strong possibility? Hmm, a future guard tandem of Wilson and O'Doyle could be nearly as good as it gets, and we've since we've seen these two studs perform in person, we say, "They be good; they be real good."

The Obvious – Freshman wide receiver Vidal Hazelton finally made his appearance on campus and has began summer drills.

The Not So Obvious – That large sigh of relief was the Trojan faithful, many of whom were still concerned about Hazelton's MIA through the early part of summer. Of course the worrying is not over until the Trojan faithful officially hear that Vidal has officially cleared the NCAA Clearinghouse. Hazelton, of course, is not the only Trojan freshman awaiting word. There are others in what has become an uncomfortable right of summer for Trojan fans.

The Obvious – With most of the Trojan home games being slated for 5:00 p.m. or later, it can really limit the post-game eating habits and options.

The Not So Obvious – The O/NSO is somewhat surprised that somebody hasn't built a post-game establishment like Julies, the now deceased and legendary hangout of Trojan coaches and fanatics. A favorite of the late John McKay, Julies was thee place of Trojan watering holes. We have heard, however, through the grapevine that some former players have thought about establishing a local eatery, a no-brainer to us considering the nearby Galen Events Center and its many future events.

The Obvious – Much is being made over the amount of freshmen running back talent waiting in the wings.

The Not So Obvious – For our money, a key could very well be sophomore running back Michael Coleman, who showed flashes last season before going down to a medical scalpel. If Coleman can finally get a full recovery going, he very well could be in the "big back" mix. Don't know why, but we could see a future position switch to fullback to get this physical athlete in the rotation.

The Obvious – There have been a number of Trojan video replays both on Prime Ticket and ESPN Classic.

The Not So Obvious – One thing that is quite apparent watching some of the Prime Ticket replays from last season is the painful reminder that running back Desmond Reed was one heck of a back…until that trip to South Bend. While some have said sayonara to Reed's return, it won't shock us at all if Desmond makes his way out the Coliseum tunnel in the home opener against Nebraska. We'll even take it one step further and say we will be less shocked if somehow Reed is one of the team captains for the Notre Dame game on Nov. 25 in the Coliseum. The kid may not come back as the Desmond of old, but the fact he comes back it a real tribute to the former Temple City High superstar.

The Obvious – It is expected that Dan Fouts is the new play-by-play voice of the Pac-10 on ABC.

The Not So Obvious – The Fouts' family does have a USC connection. Dan's father, Bob Fouts, once did television replays of Trojan football games. Bob is well known for his outstanding broadcasting diversity in the Bay Area. Although son, Dan, attended Oregon and went on to a Hall of Fame career with the Chargers, Bob went to St. Mary's on a journalism scholarship and actually helped start the student radio station there. Dad also did play-by-play for 13 years, mostly with the San Francisco 49ers.

The Obvious – One of the more difficult things to secure in the final season of Reggie Bush's and Matt Leinart's career was autographs from the two Trojans Heisman winning superstars.

The Not So Obvious – Fear not if you have extra cash to spend and you still want to get up close and personal with Reggie and Matt. Both will appear on opening night, July 26, at the best sports collectibles convention on the planet, The National Sports Collectors Convention, at the Anaheim Convention Center. Bush will appear on July 26 only while Leinart will appear on both July 26 and 27. On Wednesday, both Trojan legends will sign everything for a price at 4:30 p.m.

The Obvious – It figures that since Reggie Bush is the latest Heisman winner, the cost of an autograph on some surface would be steep.

The Not So Obvious – Okay, so you want a Reggie signing do you? Bush will sign flats (pictures) for $99, mini helmets for $109, footballs for $119, a photo op for $129, and a full-sized helmet or jersey for $149.

The ObviousMatt Leinart's signing stock is a bit more reasonable, but then again, he is two years removed from being named Mr. Heisman.

The Not So Obvious – Now, get out that charge card for a No. 11 signing party either July 26 or July 27 (12:00 p.m.). Here is the Leinart monetary menu. A "flat" signing will be $89, mini helmets $99, footballs or photo op $109, and full-size helmet or jersey is $129.

The Obvious – The nice thing about getting an autograph in person, is that you can actually see the celebrity actually writing to you.

The Not So Obvious – Well, in this day and age, times have changed in the autograph world. We love "The National" and encourage you to go and take the family. However, in the case of many "signers," including Bush and Leinart, there is now an extra fee to personalize (up to five words) the autograph (i.e. – To Mr. O/NSO). The cost for a "personalization" from Bush or Leinart is an extra $39 dollars. Pass the smelling salts and let me assure you, good readers, that should the O/NSO ever be asked to participate in The National autograph sessions, we will waive the $39 dollar personalization fee (yuck, yuck, yuck, yuck).

The Obvious – And finally, many Trojan fans are beginning to get antsy in anticipation of season tickets being mailed out.

The Not So Obvious – Upon receiving your season ticket package through the mail, just how many of you cardinal and gold paranoia cases out there slowly open the package and even slower look at the ticket location to see if your section, row, or seat numbers has been changed? Oh, the worry of being a Trojan season ticket holder these sellout days and please pass the Advil.

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