O/NSO - Dust Settling edition

As the BCS dust has settled and frayed nerves begin to heal, the 2007 Rose Bowl game featuring the No. 7/8 USC Trojans (10-2, 7-2) and the No. 3 Michigan Wolverines (11-1, 7-1 Big Ten) promises to be an intense affair in which one team will rise above their depression while the other may need an entire bottle of Zoloft to make it through till spring practice.

The Obvious – As the BCS dust has settled and frayed nerves begin to heal, the 2007 Rose Bowl game featuring the No. 7/8 USC Trojans (10-2, 7-2) and the No. 3 Michigan Wolverines (11-1, 7-1 Big Ten) promises to be an intense affair in which one team will rise above their depression while the other may need an entire bottle of Zoloft to make it through till spring practice.

The Not So Obvious – Not a lot of interest in the game? Don't tell that to our friends at StubHub, who list current ticket options ranging from $279 to $2,972. Of course, it's still about supply and demand and we are told that a seller can change his price listing at any time. It figures that as the game approaches and the future ramifications are explained, the intensity will as well. The ramifications? How'bout both these teams will be mentioned as strong candidates to be No. 1 in 2007 and this game could be the nod to being ranked on top of the heap come next fall.

The Obvious – The Trojans are the five-time defending Pac-10 champions.

The Not So Obvious – Despite their championship status, the Trojans will wear the white away uniforms on Jan. 1. Because this is a BCS game, the higher seed gets the home uniforms and Michigan was ranked higher than the Trojans in the final BCS poll. As you may recall, the Men of Troy won their classic cardinal and gold uniforms against Texas because they were No. 1 at the time.

The Obvious – Contrary to earlier reports, results of the Trojans' Rose Bowl lottery came through the email late Monday.

The Not So Obvious – Some had posted that the Trojan Ticket Office would be announcing results next week, out came the results earlier this week. So did you read the second paragraph if you were a winner? If you didn't, you might not have parking for the game down in the bowl. In the second paragraph there is a short message that read "You are able to purchase Rose Bowl parking from us at this time based on availability. Parking is $25 and limited to one per order. A $5 handling fee will also be included." The handling fee is a little irritating, especially since it will be mailed in the same package as the tickets. Of course, based on the Rose Bowl parking snafu for the UCLA game last weekend, just look at it as a "true" convenience fee.

The Obvious – A number of Trojan season ticket holders who were allowed lottery privileges were not selected to get tickets for the Rose Bowl.

The Not So Obvious – So what did Michigan tell their fans? "Due to high demand for Rose Bowl tickets, ticket sales for alumni and Michigan fans are not available at this time. Ordering instructions have been e-mailed to Victors Club members and season ticket holders, who may order until Thursday at 5:00pm unless our allotment sells out earlier. Student football season tickets holders may also continue to order under the same guidelines. If available, tickets will go on sale Friday morning to alumni and other Michigan fans. Victor Club member, season ticket holders, and student football season ticket holders may order Rose Bowl tickets (limit of 8) at the price of $150 per ticket (includes $15 athletic department surcharge) until Thursday, December 7 at 5:00 p.m. unless our allotment sells out earlier."

The Obvious – USC will face Michigan in the Rose Bowl for the eighth time.

The Not So Obvious – So did it come as any surprise that when the final USA Today coaches poll came out Michigan coach Lloyd Carr had the Trojans ranked eighth in the country behind Ohio State, Michigan, Florida, Wisconsin, LSU, Oklahoma, and Louisville. Carr still had his team No. 2. Good for old Lloyd. but it should make for some bulletin board material under Heritage Hall. Carr, whose team pummeled the Irish in South Bend, had the Irish ranked No. 11.

The Obvious – The Trojans have a 5-2 record against the Wolverines in the Rose Bowl, including a 28-14 triumph three years ago that claimed an AP National Championship.

The Not So Obvious – As the O/NSO compares the difference between the last battle between the Trojans and Michigan, back then we saw a Trojan team that played with a high level of energy and consistency and got better each week. Pete Carroll's 2006 team that will face the Big Ten power has been a roller coaster of effort and consistency. There is no argument here that this will be the best team by far that the Trojans will have played this season.

The Obvious – The 118th Rose Parade precedes the Rose Bowl game.

The Not So Obvious – The Grand Marshall of the Rose Parade is film producer George Lucas, a graduate of USC.

The Obvious - Trojan junior wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett and junior offensive tackle Sam Baker were named All-American first teamers for the second year in a row, while senior wide receiver Steve Smith was named an All-American first teamer for the first time.

The Not So Obvious – Jarrett, the Trojans first 2-time All-American first-team wide receiver, was named by Walter Camp and SI.com, while Baker and Smith made the CBS Sportsline.com club, thus becoming the Trojans 142nd, 143rd and 144th first-team All-Americans. The O/NSO is always pleased to see new photo additions to the Trojan Walk under Heritage Hall, and we are especially pleased for Steve Smith. From the point of view of the O/NSO, Steve has been the best of the Trojan receivers this year and although Jarrett has had some recent All-America games, Smith has had an All-America season.

The Obvious – Some Trojan fans were annoyed at the comments of the UCLA football teams in which a number of Bruin players said the Trojans basically quit and were beaten by a team that wanted it more.

The Not So Obvious – Of course, some of the comments were an understandable release of testosterone after the emotional Bruin victory. However, the O/NSO raised an eyebrow when even the Trojan players said after the game the Bruins played so hard the entire game. We take that to mean that the Trojans wanted to win but weren't prepared to play at the fanatical level of their archrivals. Perhaps equally unsettling from the prospective of the O/NSO was that the Trojans took so long to get fired up. We saw this same attitude in the first three quarters of the heartbreaking loss at Oregon State. As for the Bruins, even ABC commentator Bob Davie said after the mini pep rally by both teams during at a timeout in the fourth quarter that the Bruins may have awakened the Trojans.

The Obvious – Trojan offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin continues to be a focal point of interest in all the local media and Internet message boards. In a Wednesday Times story by Gary Klein with a headline of "Criticism doesn't faze Kiffin," the 31-year-old offensive coordinator said, " When you get into this, if you want high-level jobs like this, it's going to happen (the criticism). You're going to get more credit that you deserve when you do well and you're going to get more criticism than you deserve when you don't."

The Not So Obvious – You have to admire Kiffin's public stance on the criticism. He seems to holding up quite well, but he is only human. Had the Trojans beaten Texas last year and UCLA this year, the heat on Kiffin would have been turned down immeasurably. Those staffers from WeAreSC that have had a direct working relationship with Lane, the son of Monte Kiffin, the Tampa Bay Buccaneer's defensive coordinator, will tell you the beleaguered coach has been open, helpful, informative, and professional.

The Obvious – Trojan head coach Pete Carroll turned over the reigns of his defensive coordinator's position to Nick Holt this season so Carroll could spend more time with the offense.

The Not So Obvious – It's amazing to the O/NSO that critics haven't turned their attention and "heat" upon Carroll, who said he was going to be more involved in the offense and is, of course, the ultimate decision-maker of the play-calling. It's doubtful that John McKay would have ever handed over his offensive coordinator's position to a young coach in the same manner, especially to an inexperience coach like Kiffin. "The Silver Fox" probably would have also decreed that one does not do their offensive coordinator apprenticeship at USC. Pete Carroll takes great pride in saying he does things differently and his selection of an inexperienced offensive coordinator is a solid example. It may turn out over time that Kiffin is the next Norm Chow, but for now, here's hoping that the Trojan offense, which certainly includes the accountability of the players, is running on all cylinders against Michigan or the heat on both Carroll and Kiffin will be hotter than the Sahara Desert in July, especially if there is only one touchdown executed against a tough Wolverine defense.

The Obvious – Trojan freshman safety Taylor Mays is selected to the Sporting News' Freshman All-American team.

The Not So Obvious - Competition is a major mantra of Pete Carroll and won't that be the ultimate case come spring practice if Josh Pinkard is ready to return to reclaim his safety position from Mays.

The Obvious – Trojan running back verbal Marc Tyler is selected the 2006 California Gatorade Player of the Year.

The Not So Obvious – Holy Jimmy Clausen, Batman. Did that big Notre Dame loss to the Trojans have that big of an effect on the Gatorade voting? Seriously, folks, there is real meaning behind the selection of Tyler. While Clausen was getting the well-deserved hype before the season and after his verbal extravaganza in South Bend, how ironic it was eventually Tyler who made the biggest impression during the season. Word to the O/NSO is that there was no ligament damage and doctors are saying that Marc should be as good as new. It would have been great to see him run in the U.S Army game, but most Trojan fans would agree it would be better to watch him run and catch next August if the ankle heals properly.

The Obvious – After the UCLA game, Trojan All-Pac-10 quarterback John David Booty said he, indeed, was overcome at times by the ferociousness of the Bruins pass rush.

The Not So Obvious – Shhhh, but we hate to break the news to John David that Michigan had 42 sacks this season, best in the Big Ten. One defensive end had 11 of those sacks and our lips are sealed but his initials are L.W. and, yes, he's a former Trojan recruit and turn out to be a consensus All-America as a junior. Okay, his name is Lamarr Woodley as if you didn't know.

The Obvious – In the final USA Today poll, which released the names of coaches and their order of selection in the final Top 25, it was no surprise that coaches from the Pac-10 had a bit of compassion for the Trojans' loss to UCLA.

The Not So Obvious – Washington's Ty Willingham had the Trojans ranked fourth, Washington State's Bill Doba had the Trojans ranked fifth, Oregon's Mike Bellotti had the Trojans ranked sixth, and Cal's Jeff Tedford and Oregon State's Mike Riley had the Trojans ranked seventh.

The Obvious – On Nov. 25, the Trojans destroyed Notre Dame 44-24 in the Coliseum.

The Not So Obvious – So how did Irish coach Charlie Weis rank the Trojans in the end? Big Tuna Jr. had Pete Carroll's boys ranked seventh followed by the Irish. Hmmm, ranked eighth right behind the Cardinal and Gold?

The Obvious – The Trojans are not scheduled to play the Purdue Boilermakers in any future dates.

The Not So Obvious – Maybe that is why Purdue coach Joe Tiller ranked the Trojans 12th in the country in his final ballot. If Pete Carroll is still around to guide the Trojans and that engineering school from West Lafayette, Indiana somehow makes the Trojans' schedule, Pete Carroll has a long memory.

The Obvious – There were no Trojans selected to the American Football Coaches Association 2006 All-America team

The Not So Obvious – A school-record three members of the University of Michigan football team were named to the American Football Coaches Association All-America Team, which included senior defensive end LaMarr Woodley, senior cornerback Leon Hall, and senior left tackle Jake Long. The team is selected by the nation's coaches.

The Obvious – Stanford fires Walt Harris as football coach.

The Not So Obvious – In our O/NSO "On The Road" at Stanford review, we wrote, "Meet a Stanford alum named Ted Lawson, an employee of nearby Citrix. We ask him if Stanford coach Walt Harris is history after this season and he says he's not sure so he asks his dad, a connected Stanford grad. Dad says, ‘ It's not like USC where they expect you to win every game. At Stanford, you don't have to win every game because we're tolerant. With the new stadium and going winless, I expect Harris to be fired.'" We can now say, Dad was, indeed, an insider.

The Obvious – A popular show for Trojan football is Trojan Rewind, which features a unique prospective of the game with on-field action and coaching reactions as the game unfolds.

The Not So Obvious – In the Trojan Rewind Show for the UCLA game, you get visual and audio evidence that the Trojan coaches felt their players were not performing at the intensity level of the Bruins when linebacker coach Ken Norton chastised his talented unit by saying, "We ain't going to win the game by showing up!"

The Obvious – Against UCLA, an obviously injured Chauncey Washington carried the ball five times for 9 yards and a 1.8 average.

The Not So Obvious – Even Pete Carroll acknowledged that CW was in bad shape, which begs the question on why he was even in the game in the first place? The fact that he was stopped for no gain twice in critical short yardage situations leaves one scratching one's head. If you watched the replay of the ABC telecast or Trojans Rewind, it is very, very clear that Washington was a shell of himself at the point of attack. Approaching the line of scrimmage, CW looked like he was running in a full body cast. Considering that No. 23 told the Times on Monday that "it feels better for sure. I can actually pick my knee up and bend it." Wouldn't it have been wiser to run Allen Bradford, given Washington's condition? Each time Chauncey was stopped, you could just feel "Mr. Mo" fueling the Bruins' intensity. Even radio commentator Paul McDonald said, "Chauncey is running timid."

The Obvious – It didn't take long after the official BCS announcement pairings for the Rose Bowl that the Trojans' marketing department sent out an e-mail for fans wishing to purchase Rose Bowl clothing.

The Not So Obvious – From what the O/NSO observed, we liked the cardinal shirt that featured a front of the team helmets from both schools that were resting upon a graphic football field. Cost of this item was $26.95.

The Obvious – The Trojans were allotted 33,000 for the Rose Bowl, according to Jim Muldoon, associate commissioner of the Pacific 10 Conference.

The Not So Obvious – The Trojan sections will be on the opposite sideline of the press box. Michigan will be located on the press box side of the field. If history is to be respected, most Trojan fan who do not belong to support groups figure to be sitting behind an end zone come kickoff time.

The ObviousMitch Doeger is a representative of the Tournament of Roses.

The Not So Obvious – In a radio interview this week, Doeger was asked what it means to have USC in the Rose Bowl. Mitch said that with the local school, there is less hand holding since the Trojans use their own facilities for practice and housing. Doeger also said the Men of Troy know the routine pretty well and the Tournament of Roses staff "is filled with alumni from USC."

The Obvious – Since the Trojans have not made a habit of losing, when an opponent does win, they try and take advantage of the victory to boost ticket sales and marketing plans.

The Not So Obvious – The following was out through e-mail by the UCLA maraketing department: "Fresh off a 13-9 victory over the #2 ranked USC Trojans last Saturday, join the Bruin Football family today. There is no better time! It's the perfect gift. Get the best available seats in the Rose Bowl now with a deposit. Plus, get your choice of a FREE ticket to the Emerald Bowl in San Francisco on December 27th or a FREE ticket to the upcoming UCLA vs. Arizona State Basketball game. And, if you order in the next 48 hours, earn the chance to win four sideline passes at the upcoming UCLA vs. Notre Dame game and a complimentary UCLA ball cap."

The Obvious – Trojan verbal and Orange Lutheran quarterback Aaron Corp is a focus story in Sports Illustrated's "SI Players."

The Not So Obvious – The story, written by former Daily Trojan writer Arash Markazi, focuses on Corp's play against Long Beach Poly last week and the sports background of his family. Of his quarterback, Orange Lutheran coach Jim Kunau says, "He has a rare combination of courage, toughness, and intelligence."

The Obvious – Orange Lutheran and Huntington Beach Edison will play for a CIF Pac-5 title on Saturday night at the Home Depot Center.

The Not So Obvious – The game will air on Fox Prime Ticket at 8:00 p.m. and will feature Orange Lutheran quarterback Aaron Corp and Lutheran's big and aggressive DE/OT Michael Reardon. Unfortunately, Trojan verbal and Edison mammoth offensive lineman Martin Coleman, who was to be matched against fellow Trojan-verbal Reardon, is out with a reported a fractured lower tibia near his ankle. Apparently Coleman stepped on a teammates' foot and rolled his right ankle during a drill on Tuesday. Although it may not happen due to Trojan scholarship limits, keep an eye on Edison WR/DB Hunter White, son of head coach Dave White, said to be the best player in Orange County and a poor man's Matt Grootegoed. The Trojans have shown interest in the underexposed White.

The Obvious- With California having multi-state championships the following week at the Home Depot Center, Fox Sports Net/Prime Ticket will have their prep version of the BCS selection show on Sunday at 3:00 p.m.

The Not So Obvious – The official news announcing the northern versus southern California match-ups will be provided on the "High School Spotlight:CIF State Championships Selection Show. What makes the show relevant for Trojan fans is the potential teams that will feature Trojan commitments. An advancement of Oaks Christian and Orange Lutheran will provide sweet cardinal and gold viewing pleasure. Of course, for the pure prep football fan, there is always Concord De La Salle, which is currently ranked No. 1 in the country.

The Obvious And finally, a number of national media are starting to turn their attention to the Rose Bowl and are proclaiming it could be on par in terms of the excitement generated in the the BCS championship featuring Florida and Ohio St.

The Not So Obvious – Why the sudden change of attitude? It's really quite elementary, my dear Watson. When the Trojans and the Wolverines have at it on New Year's Day, most educated observers agree that with all potential talent returning for 2007, the Rose Bowl could very well decide who starts next season as No. 1 and No. 2. If that isn't enough motivation for the players from both teams, then they really do deserve each other.

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