Pete's Arboblog - Friday edition

I had a lovely time meeting with and speaking to the West L.A. Trojan Club the other night at McCormick and Schmick's in Beverly Hills. They had such a large gathering that they had to wheel in two extra tables to accommodate the crowd. We had a spirited discussion of all things USC football, and everyone went home well fed, happy and better informed, not to mention ready for Saturday!

Thanks to the Board and Cliff Rowe for setting Jenny and me up.

Practice yesterday was good, but really short. It got called off at 5:25. I left feeling like I needed more of my daily fix. Oscar was running around, Ellison was not but said he will be when it matters. KeTho is out for this one, Moala and Mays seem ready to go in their starting roles, Perez is poised and ready too. I did the PC pre-game interview for the show tomorrow. He is always happy to seem, we chat a bit before we go to the live mike about nothing and everything, just personal fun stuff about working out, or families. He is what he seems to be to all of you, just a genuinely nice guy, and a regular guy who just happens to have this aptitude to coach young men in the game of football.

I hope that when people meet me, as they do him, they say "he seems so normal, just like a regular guy" I sure try to be that way to everyone, even if I stink at remembering people's names for more than about ten minutes.

**

There's plenty of hubbub surrounding the other shoe dropping in the Reggie Bush case. I am never sure how to feel about these things. Every player and fan and administrator knows the rules, especially the rules involving extra benefits, and rules about taking money, and rules about agents. None, none and not till your done!

If Reggie cheated these rules, he will have to pay whatever consequences the authorities can throw at him. If the coaches or University knew about the stuff they are talking about, that's a whole other problem. I don't believe it, not for a minute. And the reason I don't believe it is because of the way the coaches, from Pete all the way down, take such great care in delivering their message of abstinence in such times.

I am not so naïve as to think that college athletes, men and women, in many sports at many schools take advantage of their situations. I have been told by people who have played sports in college, some at USC, other across town, still others from all over, that cheating (gasp!) exists, that players take drugs, engage in underage drinking, takes risks, break the law, break the rules. Look, I don't want to know what happens behind the scenes. Sure, I want my players to be clean and do the right thing, and I want the to do it all the time. AND I want them to understand that if they do the WRONG thing, they will be punished for it. They need to be made to understand how it affects your friends, family, community, teammates and fans.

Still, players and young people (and old people) make bad decisions all the time. So stick it to ‘em if they do a bad thing.

A much larger issue is the environment which might lead them to do bad things---make bad decisions—one in which they feel invincible and are unaccountable.

The other is the way athletes are used as marketing tools for their Universities coffers, in return getting their free educations, room and board. Living wages for jobs are not allowed. They took this out because schools and their boosters cheated by giving kids jobs and paying them LOTS of money and the job was to sit around all day in some cases. Phantom jobs for athletes was a highly practices art. And the NCAA pulled the plug on that, and rightfully so. They have not, however, been able to come up with a way to help some of these kids out who need a few bucks now and then to go on a date with their girl, or go out with the guys for some pizza.

I'm not the genius or in charge; I don't have the answers, I only know that there must BE some answers and someone must be thinking about them who IS in charge, so we can figure this out in a way that allows there to be less of an incentive for cheating.

Bottom line on this one: if Reggie did this and knew about it and they can prove it, shame on him. Let's let the investigators figure it all out before we publicly try him, like so many other stories have done to so many kids in the past few years, rightly and (sadly) wrongly. I don't think SC knew about what was going on. That's my guess, personally.

I am always interested to read what Gary Klein and Dave Wharton have to say about anything surrounding SC football. They are two fine journalists, with no sensationalism on their minds. They both want to get the story, get it right and report the news, not MAKE the news.

The Times has always held its writers to the highest standards of excellence in all sections of its paper's pages, and the sports pages has always been one of the very best in the nation. From my earliest days of reading Jim Murray's often funny, often poignant columns, to Jack Smith, John Hall, Mal Florence to today's top flight guys like Bill Plaschke and T.J. Simers, I rush to the front door to digest the who thing, from headline to agate page every single day. Especially Friday with Larry Stewart's Radio-TV sports piece.

I remember the first time I ever appeared in it, was back in 1983, when I won the California Associated Press award for best play by play (division two!!) at KPRO in Riverside, and he put it in there. What a thrill. I felt like I had made it! He has interviewed me a few times for articles since, and we have become friends.

Yeah, even Simers, whom I find refreshingly funny with his caustic wit and interesting presentation. I know some of you feel otherwise, but I have to feel you just don't "get" him. He loves to peel away the layers of B.S. and get right the heart of the matter, while weaving in personal stories of family. No one is safe. He rides everyone the same way. And you can tell he's a writer, as every so often he'll get away from the daily grind and pop out a good in depth story to fill his page two column that makes you think.

Klein and Wharton, by the way, put out a fine book a year ago or so about SC football, much have Loel Schraeder and Steve Bisheff, which I have not read yet, but am looking forward to. Gary once drove me and Paul and Petros from Montgomery, Alabama to Auburn for the game in 2003 on that hot day, and we all had a very nice, fun (and with Petros in the car) raucous time. We have shared meals to together on the road, and I really enjoy talking to him. If I actually had any friends I hung out with, I think he'd be one of those I would choose.

Plaschke, quite simply put, is the best columnist in America. Period.

And no, I don't read any other paper in Southern California.

**

I am speaking tonight at the USC Trojan Force Track and Field Golf Tournament Banquet as Master of Ceremonies at Pacific Palms Resort in Industry Hills at 5:30, and then maybe on the way back I'll drop in and watch the end of the Dodgers-Padres biggie at the Stadium before heading home. Big day tomorrow..I sort of hate bye weeks, just after you get going you have to wait two weeks to go again…like a false start penalty on a touchdown. Ugh! Can't wait, I think I'm gonna head to the Coliseum about 1 pm!!

Fight On!!


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