Pete's Arboblog - Briefcase Blues

More exciting news, as preparations begin for the new season. My old briefcase broke during the off-season.

It's the one I put all of the press guides and notes and bag of pens and supplies and address book and spotter boards in to when I travel around. It has carrying handles, but because of its weight, if I try to carry it, my old neck/disk problem pops up, sending waves of pain down both sides into my elbows.

So, I don't carry it much. Instead, I use the one with the handy-dandy rollers and the long, pop-up neck. It's more like airport luggage than anything. But the roller arm broke in the winter. It was five years old, of course, just past the warranty date. I tried to super glue it back together, and it would hold for a while, but eventually break again and again, and finally it just gave up the ghost.

So I broke down and bought a new one. Hey, it's expensive, but it's a right-off. So, on a another of the days that marks the "beginning", I went to the local Staples and bought my supplies. When I worked at a radio station, they would generally buy the little stuff for me, but in any case, would not spring for something like this. It's a purchase just short of a car, and only slightly smaller than some hybrids.

It has to be a certain size inside so I can fit everything into it, of course. I need lots of little zippered pockets to put things into. Things I might not see again for months once placed inside. Reading glasses ( I got lasered a few years ago, but every once in awhile….), playing cards ( I like to play gin against scoreboard guy Mark Helmer before the pre-game show to relax), a refs whistle (??!!), Turtle Cards (are you a Turtle?), maybe my Pig Mania pigs. You know, the important stuff.

The pen bag is actually a transformed night deposit bag from the Porterville Bank of the Sierra. It's my second one from them since 1980. I worked up there in my early career. The time spent there was among the very best of my younger life. The bag contains virtually every imaginable color of pen, highlighter, sharpie, along with rubber bands, pencils, and any stationery store supplies I can jam into it. And a great picture of Jenny, so that every time I open it, I smile.

I got one with a really nice telescoping handle, and spent an hour or so examining it and putting things away. The old one is still sitting there next to it. I guess I'll throw it away. It's still quite functional, except you'd have to carry it by one of it's handles, cuz' you can't roll it any more as there is no handle to do so, as I explained. I'd give it to a homeless guy here in Venice, as I do with just about everything else I don't need or want, and some stuff I do, but I think they really don't have a use for it. I'll probably put it on top of the trash and hope one of them happens by at night like they do, and takes it for some secret reason.


Then, a really big moment!

During the first few practices, I take notes as to who is playing what position, who is backing them up, and who is injured a likely to play when they come back. I compare this with the official USC issued depth chart and compile my own. And then comes one of the moments I look forward to every season. I take out my 11 X 17 blank spotter board sheets and tape them to the matt board I buy from Aaron brothers, and putting cardinal and gold sharpies to work, begin the arduous process of getting ready.

The boards, as many of you have seen, contain the usual name and number, biographical and statistical data for every player and coach likely to be involved in the games. I refer to it during the broadcast. I use the SC board less and less as the season goes along, and rely more heavily on memory and anecdotal pieces. The opponent board gets used extensively every weekend. There is a third board for our statistician, Mark Hoppe, for every game. I like to begin work on the following opponent two Mondays prior to game day.

Last night I was up ‘till midnight putting in the obvious guys who will play, but leaving out some back ups until I am sure they will get playing time. Space on the boards, just like playing time, is competed for fiercely, and coveted completely. I copied some notes from last years board, and it joined the pile of old, retired SC boards of years-gone-by. In a box, in my closet.


Practice today gave me better indicators of some of the back up plans. But I'm not sold on who plays among our young backs and some receivers. Who are the back up tackles? No one stands out yet, they all seem to get beat in one on one drills regularly. So I wait, along with the coaches.

Bradford at tailback. He reminds me of Lendale some. HUGE thighs! Too big for safety? If Darnell had stayed would he be the starting tailback? I say perhaps yes! Lo-Jack's groin thingy has him walking like me. This is not a good thing. Jen and I sat with him and his family at the banquet last December. Funny guy, good family. Good player. I am told by Dr. Semmel that you can get a groin strain injected with cortisone. I thought about that for about a second, and backed away from him and the thought. My groin strain may have to heal itself naturally, thank you very much. Kevin Thomas needs to start practicing again, soon. Will Chauncey EVER play again? Fili Moala and his hair are playing really well. All the RB's are happy with the line play. Sanchez and Booty both release quickly. Is it my imagination, or is Sanchez very close to being more productive in practice?

It's JD's job to lose. He has to be, I think, totally ineffective or injured to let Sanchez in the door. But they'll get Mark as much PT as they can when and where they can, believe it! Good to see Thomas Williams at rush end. What a motor!

I spoke with David Newbury for a few minutes. He is going to be one of the studio hosts for the USC round table, this year's version of the USC Insider show, although he's never really been on radio before that I know of. These days you can get hired by a station in the #2 market in the United States without so much as ever learned a thing about interviewing, or microphone technique, or writing or editing, or producing, narrating, or even broadcasting. Used to be you had to start in Twin Falls, Idaho when you got out of school, playing country music in the middle of the night and LEARNING the business, and moving slowly up the food chain for ten years before you got your big break. But with owners trying to save a buck, all of the small town stations play syndicated national program, have little to no local programming, and there's no where left to learn, so major market stations just take what they can get and pay them commensurately. This is no slight to David, who is a good guy, and is looking forward to it. (And shy not!)

He wondered aloud why I wasn't the main host. I wondered the same thing a loud right back to him.

I spoke with Suzy Schuster, who takes over from Mark Willard, who is still stuck contractually back at 1540, and thus cannot stay on as pre-game and post-game call-in host. Suzy worked with us some in the last year's, is very capable, a big sports fan, and I think pretty enamored with the Trojans. We talked some shop and are looking forward to working together.

She will be on the sidelines, as John Jackson moves into the booth with me for the ND game in November, as Paul has a deep familial obligation to one of his daughters. You KNOW it has to be a big deal if Paul is missing the Notre Dame game!


More job hunting, bodysurfing and practice today, then the Dodgers and Giants. ‘Nuff said.

Previous editions of Pete's Arboblog:

(8/10) Thoughts from the Scrimmage
(8/9) First day in pads
(8/8) The Arboblog debuts! Top Stories