O/NSO - Encompassing edition

A BCS national championship game that left Trojan fans feeling melancholy, more Pete Carroll NFL rumors, All-America prep performances, and tragedy were all encompassing and all within earshot of the Trojans blistering of the Michigan Wolverines in the 2007 Rose Bowl.

The Obvious – A BCS national championship game that left Trojan fans feeling melancholy, more Pete Carroll NFL rumors, All-America prep performances, and tragedy were all encompassing and all within earshot of the Trojans blistering of the Michigan Wolverines in the 2007 Rose Bowl.

The Not So Obvious – Yes, Florida's stunning 41-14 trouncing over Ohio State in Arizona left Trojan players and fans romancing over what might have been. However, it's been more than a roller coaster of emotions the past several days in the lives of the Men of Troy. The incredibly sad passing of placekicker Mario Danelo certainly overshadows what had been a complete week of celebration, especially when you add the standout performances of the Trojan verbals in the U.S. Army All-America Bowl in San Antonio and the Offense-Defense All-America Bowl in Florida. Then there was the late word about the Miami Dolphins making contact with Pete Carroll. What off-season? What celebration?? What is going on???

The Obvious – In identical season ending polls by AP and USA Today polls, the Trojans finished No. 4 behind Florida, Ohio State, and LSU.

The Not So Obvious – One has to wonder how Ohio State remained No. 2 after the trashing by the Gators, especially after the convincing performances by the Trojans over Michigan and LSU over Notre Dame.

The Obvious – Trojan junior placekicker Mario Danelo is found dead Saturday near Point Fermin lighthouse in San Pedro.

The Not So Obvious – There are no words that describe the grief that all Trojans are feeling in regards to this unexplained tragedy. Mario, who converted two field goals in the Rose Bowl to assist in the Trojans 32-18 in whipping of Michigan, was always delight to the media and the O/NSO and certainly a credit to his team and the Trojan family. From a walk-on player to a Saturday gridiron hero, our thoughts and prayers are with his family. No. 19 will truly be missed.

The Obvious – Los Angeles and Miami media report that representatives of the Miami Dolphins flew down to Costa Rica this weekend to meet with Pete Carroll.

The Not So Obvious – Well, using the words of the coach himself, "We're just getting started." It appears that the NFL is ‘just getting started" as in the continued pursuit of the Trojans' head coach. As we said when the rumors of Carroll to the Cardinals became white hot, all the coach had to say was, "Don't even bother flying down here to Costa Rica; I am on vacation and I am not interested." It certainly leads to smoke when both Carroll and his agent aren't returning media phone calls to deny Pete's interest. And please, don't tell the O/NSO that its good business to send a message to your current employer for future negotiations. Carroll, by his won admission, is paid very handsomely for a job well done at Troy.

The ObviousNick Saban leaves the Miami Dolphins and accepts the head coaching position at Alabama.

The Not So Obvious – A couple of former Trojan coaches who served on Saban's Miami staff were caught off guard by the announcement. Legendary former Trojan offensive line coach Hudson Houck and former Pete Carroll assistant Tim Davis, were victims of Saban's departure. So if Carroll did take the job with the Fins, it would be interesting see if the two former Trojans assists would be retained, but, of course, we are getting ahead of ourselves and most expect this too shall pass. While it would be somewhat shocking and disappointing if Carroll actually took the Dolphins' job, can you imagine how the Los Angeles media would react? Remember last week's Carroll comment on leaving Troy in the Times, "No, it won't change. I expect 1,000 percent to be here." Hide the women and children, Mortimer, if this rings false.

The Obvious – The Trojan trounced the Oklahoma Sooners in the 2005 Orange Bowl to capture the BCS National Championship.

The Not So Obvious – Last time the O/NSO saw Nick Saban in person was that glorious victory evening in Miami. Saban had just accepted the Dolphin job and was seen smiling and shaking hands with Trojan coach Pete Carroll during pre-game warm-ups. What a small time frame between the Orange Bowl of 2005 and the 2007 Rose Bowl. Our memories were how both coaches were in great spirits in huge smiles. My, my, my, how things have changed and "Roll Tide."

The Obvious – One of the keys to Florida's stomping of Ohio State was the play of freshman receiver Percy Harvin, a former Trojan recruit.

The Not So Obvious –Yep, the Trojans nearly had Harvin in the Coliseum this past season, so what happened, according to Percy? In an interview with Yahoo sports, Harvin said, "It came down between USC and Florida. USC wanted me to fill the spot of Reggie Bush and Florida wanted another playmaker. When I came on my (Florida) recruiting trip the coaches were real up front. They were one of the only coaches that told me I wasn't going to start and I was going have to come in and work. It was kind of neat because I don't like things to be handed to me. I want to feel like I have to work for it because if it is handed to me I won't work as hard."

The Obvious – Wide receiver Damian Williams, who played in 2006 as a freshman at Arkansas and had four receptions for 61 against the Trojans back in early September, enrolled in classes at Trojanville on Monday for the spring semester.

The Not So Obvious – Once an Urban Meyer Florida Gator verbal, Williams was impressive when the O/NSO viewed him during our roadie to Fayetteville. According to the Arkansas Morning News, "Before leaving, Williams was tied with fullback Peyton Hillis for second on the team with 19 catches, and the freshman had caught a pair of touchdown passes. ‘He's an exceptional player, there is no doubt,' (Offensive coordinator Gus) Malzahn said of Williams, whom he coached last year at Springdale High. ‘He's young, and he'll get better and better.'"

The Obvious – Trojan verbal and Anaheim Servite middle linebacker Chris Galippo was named most valuable player Saturday in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas.

The Not So Obvious – Galippo received the Pete Dawkins MVP as the game's best performer with eight tackles and that award carries a lot of prestige when you consider previous winners Dominic Robinson, Vince Young, Chris Leak, Teddy Ginn Jr., DeSean Jackson and Chris Wells. Watching Chris patrol the West's defense from sideline to sideline and execute his almost flawless fundamentals and technique leads the O/NSO to believe he will be a factor for playing time next season (duh). Learning the proper depth in various pass defenses will be a challenge, but this kid has the leadership skills that many felt were lacking at times on last season's Trojan defense. How do you spell Chris Galippo? Try L-o-f-a T-a-t-u-p-u. The O/NSO will take it one step further by saying if there is a better player in the country at any position, we did not see it on Saturday's telecast. Our vote as best player in the United States goes to one Mr. Galippo.

The Obvious – Trojan verbal and Arizona defensive end recruit Everson Griffen was a terror in the U.S. Army All-America Bowl.

The Not So Obvious – If Galippo was the superstar, Griffen was certainly a shining star. It took only the first defensive series by Everson to get a sack of East QB Matt Simms, son of former NFLer Phil. While it would have been intriguing to see Griffen go up against East offensive tackle Anthony Davis, who announced for Rutgers, the kid ate up all the available challengers, although he was double-teamed some of the time. Everson also may have given a little recruiting incite when he told Scout.com that on his Trojan recruiting visit, "I got to hang out with players like Chris Galippo, Donovan Warren, Joe McKnight, Kristofer O'Dowd, and James Wilson. We all became like brothers." The significance? This may give some additional insight to why there is all the optimism Joe McKnight becoming a Trojan.

The Obvious – Running back Joe McKnight, the New Orleans flash who is in a major recruiting tug of war, certainly did his best in the U.S. Army All-American Game to look like Reggie Bush.

The Not So Obvious – Even McKnight said after the game comparing him to Bush is a bit of exaggeration, but the kid is electric and while he doesn't have Reggie incomparable speed, he does possess the same quick feet and change of direction and he's fast enough. After hearing about basically being an orphan at the age of ten, it's now completely understandable why his John Curtis High coach, who took Joe into his family, is reportedly not thrilled with seeing his project leave the Bayou area. On the other hand, McKnight has suffered such tragedy from his family life and Hurricane Katrina; he wants to get out of the area to erase the nightmares. They don't call Los Angeles the City of Angels for nothing and the O/NSO feeling is McKnight currently believes the Coliseum is the closest thing to heaven.

The Obvious – Perhaps the most interesting battle in the U.S. Army Game may have been the battle between Trojan verbal Kris O'Dowd, who was making his debut at center, and his battle with heralded East defensive tackle Marvin Austin.

The Not So Obvious – One thing we learned on Saturday, O'Dowd doesn't back down to nobody and anybody and he gave Austin, whom many considered the nation's finest defensive lineman, all he could handle. Callers to the O/NSO all couldn't stop gushing over O'Dowd's scuffle with Austin near the end of the game. The O/NSO wasn't shocked that Kris held his own since we had seen him do the same thing in previous camps. My oh my, Trojans' OL coach Pat Ruel must have been doing back flips watching O'Dowd perform. As for Austin, he certainly has the talent but we were a little disappointed to hear from TV commentary and on-site San Antonio observers that he tends to take plays off and needs to work on his consistency.

The Obvious – It is agreed by most in the national media that with the big victory over Michigan, the Trojans figure to be the No. 1 team in the nation in those 2007 pre-season polls.

The Not So Obvious – While there is no argument here, the gridiron graduation of All-America receiver Steve Smith and the probable loss of Rose Bowl MVP Dwayne Jarrett, who was absent at Monday's team meeting to start the second semester, is to a lesser degree like the loss of Reggie Bush and LenDale White from the previous season. It ain't going to be easy, folks, and just remember how the Trojan offense performed when Smith and/or Jarrett were unavailable this season.

The Obvious – The WeAreSC team of Garry P., Scott Schrader, and Brian Mathews did a superlative job of keeping Trojan fans informed on the events and happening at the U.S. Army All-America Game in San Antonio.

The Not So Obvious – Hope y'all got to hear the watch and hear the interview with talent scout Randy Taylor. If you did, did you catch it when Taylor said he thought that Trojan commit Everson Griffen, the super "freak" defensive end from Arizona, was the best player in the country? The final Scout.com ranking should be mighty interesting.

The Obvious – USC-bound Orange Lutheran quarterback Aaron Corp has been selected as the Mr. Football California State Player of the Year by Cal-Hi Sports.

The Not So Obvious – It's quote an honor for the lanky signal-caller, who beat out the like of the "legendary" Jimmy Clausen of Oaks Christian and Canyon running back J.J. DiLuigi. There were a number of "experts" who felt that at the end of the season, Corp would be on par with the more publicized Clausen. Each has some very unique qualities, but the O/NSO had been one of those that felt that Corp and Clausen were inseparable at the start of the season, except for the publicity factor.

The Obvious – The East defeated the West 28-14 in the inaugural Offense-Defense All-America Bowl in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Last Thursday.

The Not So Obvious – Although his team was on the short end of the scoreboard, Aaron Corp completed six of 13 passes for 70 yards and no interceptions. The heralded incoming Trojan did lead is team to a late first half touchdown drive culminating with a 10-yard TD strike to LSU-bound wide receiver Dez Bryant. The better news was the announcement by Serra High defensive tackle Da'John Harris (6-4, 260), who made his presence felt in Ft. Lauderdale, that he was publicly a Trojan verbal. Another kid we have seen in person in camps and if anything, Da'John might be under publicized. One thing we also know about Harris is confidence won't be an issue and neither is his "motor." You're going like this kid.

The Obvious – The Trojans are very high on Arkansas prep running back Broderick Greene, who has remained solid in his commitment to the Cardinal and Gold.

The Not So Obvious – The Orlando Sentinel, which is a standard barer in prep recruiting info in the South, named Greene to its All-Arkansas team. Offensive guard James Wilson, another highly publicized Trojan verbal, who participated in the U.S. Army game, was selected to the All-Florida team and was ranked the No.3 prospect in the Sunshine State. FYI, lineman Lee Ziemba (6-7, 290) of Rogers High was selected Arkansas Player of the Year, and, yes, Ziemba did attend the Trojans thrashing at Arkansas.

The Obvious – The Trojans feel they are in very good position to land Louisiana superstar athlete Joe McKnight, who is now the No. 1 player in the country according to the ESPN Top 150.

The Not So Obvious – McKnight was selected by the Orlando Sentinel as the Louisiana Player of the Year. FYI, Trojan recruit Chad Jones, a safety from Baton Rouge, also made the all-state team.

The Obvious – The Orlando Sentinel, located near the magical happenings of Disney World, is considered one of the South's leading authorities in prep recruiting coverage.

The Not So Obvious – So how does a local paper in Florida decide who is the best in neighboring states? They selected a panel of experts, which included Bill Buchalter, Buddy Collings, Orlando Sentinel; Bill Bumgarner, New Orleans Times-Picayune; Jody Demling, Louisville (Ky.) Courier-Journal; and Bill Spencer, Jackson (Miss.) Clarion-Ledger.

The Obvious – According to WeAreSC's Scott Schrader at the U.S. Army All-America game, a conversation with a coach of a Notre Dame recruit may indicate that the Trojans are in the fast lane for Florida wide receiver Deonte Thompson, D.C. defensive tackle Marvin Austin, and, of course, Louisiana running back Joe McKnight (photo).

The Not So Obvious – As in prep basketball and its massive amount of all-star games, when you get this many ‘five-stars" near signing day, nobody recruits better than the athletes themselves. If the report is accurate from the coach of a Notre Dame verbal, don't underestimate what the victory over Michigan in the Rose Bowl has meant. More than a couple of times the ABC broadcasting crew agreed that the winner of the Rose Bowl would be the pre-season No. 1 team in the country for 2007. In this age of instant identity and gratification, there is nothing like the zeal of knowing you are committing to the big cardinal and gold dog in 2007. Nothing like knowing you are on the nation's No. 1 team as a freshman and it doesn't hurt when all the neighbors are treating you like a Hollywood celebrity. In the written words of Scott Schrader's legendary sports columnist father, Loel, "Them that has, gits," but then again, if Marvin Austin has indeed suddenly made a U-turn to Florida State, it's really all speculation and promises until that letter of intent is signed next month.

The Obvious – Trojan associate head coach Steve Sarkisian is expected to be a candidate for the Oakland Raider head coaching position.

The Not So Obvious – Sarkisian, who spent time with the Silver and Black in 2004, but the O/NSO would be mightily surprised if he did get the position. Although it could be said that nothing should be surprising under the Raiders' helmet. It doesn't hurt that Raiders' owner Al Davis is a former Trojan assistant.

The Obvious – The University of Minnesota contacted Pete Carroll in regard to Lane Kiffin, Trojans' offensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator for the past two seasons.

The Not So Obvious – With Kiffin having attended Bloomington Jefferson High, where he played football, basketball, and baseball, this would seem to make sense. How ironic would it be if Kiffin got the job and Trojan freshman defensive lineman Walker Lee Ashley, an Eden Prairie (MN) native, did transfer back to the University of Minnesota?

The Obvious – Trojan fans were a little disappointed that Trojan verbal running back Broderick Greene, the powerful one from Arkansas, was limited in the number of East carries he received.

The Not So Obvious – Reports out of San Antonio said that Greene was also none too happy either with his lack of carries. Speaking of getting an opportunity, did you see future Trojan running back Marc Tyler, who didn't play because of his recovering surgery, mugging for the NBC cameras with 1:35 remaining in the game?

The Obvious – A large number of Trojan fans were annoyed that at the end of U.S. Army All-America Bowl that the entire future Notre Dame collection of players were interviewed.

The Not So Obvious – Well, the O/NSO thinks it must have just been interviewing "coincidence" that those future "Domers"got so much air time on the same network that televises Notre Dame football. Isn't that called NBC cross marketing?

The Obvious – Following the Rose Bowl game, there were a couple of local channels that had extensive post-game coverage.

The Not So Obvious – ABC's Rob Fukuzaki hosted one of those shows and during the course of the telecast, he threw it over to Curt Sandoval, who interviewed senior tackle Kyle Williams. Kyle, who was very emotional on the Rose Bowl turf, was composed and very humble in knowing he had exorcised his demons with a grand performance in the Granddaddy of Them All. Williams told Sandoval he satisfied his biggest critic, "me."

The Obvious – Former Trojan Heisman winning tailback Reggie Bush was denied a field pass for the 2007 Rose Bowl.

The Not So Obvious – It cracks up the O/NSO to hear media around the country come to Reggie's defense on this issue. Common, even Pete Carroll said publicly that the NCAA is not happy with Bush not talking with them. Common, Reggie, you can't really blame the University that provided you the national stage to become a Heisman Trophy winner to swoon at your cleats after the alleged allegations and NCAA anger. That's like the student blaming the teacher for alleged truancies. In other words, consider old No. 5 as radioactive till proper vindication.

The ObviousAnd finally, the debate for the rest of the winter into spring ball will be just how would the Trojans have matched up with the Florida Gators.

The Not So Obvious – We know the Trojans would have negated the speed of the Gainesville boys, and we all know that Pete Carroll would have loved to take his blitzing shots against senior quarterback Chris Leak and freshman Tim Tebow, both one-time Trojan recruits. Don't know what Carroll told Leak and Tebow after they headed to Florida, but if it was anything like what he told Michigan's LaMarr Woodley when he opted for Ann Arbor, we would have liked the Trojans' chances in Arizona. For Tebow, maybe in New Orleans next January, and what Trojan wouldn't like that opportunity?

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