For college football fans, it's more of a Christmas Day sort of feel when it finally gets here! It looks obvious that we'll have another fantastic class, with four or five more big names ready to "fax ‘em in" on LOI morning, making it one of the top five for sure, maybe even the best.
I look forward to the dinner and show on Recruiting Night with all of our family at Town and Gown. I hope I get an invite again this year.
I got the awful stomach flu thing that's been going around. Got it last Wednesday night after running over at Venice High. After my run, I ducked in to see about a minute of the Venice-Hamilton boy's varsity basketball game. I had not been inside that gym since early 1965, when I went with my grandpa to watch the LA City playoffs first round, which in those days was 16 teams, 8 games, all played on one floor all day long. Marshall had finished 2nd in the Northern and played top ranked Taft. The Barristers were led by All-City forward Loren Bracci, who later became the all time leading scorer at Valley State (now CSUN) before joining Hal Uplinger as the only Barristers to ever play professionally in the United States, as he went on the ABA. Marshall's center was 6-8 Rich Hoppe, a future Trojan grad, and whose brother is my keen-eyed stats man for USC football on radio, Mark. Marshall was down by one with a second to go in a thriller, when Onik Arian, a little guard, heaved up a ¾ court shot that went around the rim twice before falling out.
I spent most of the weekend in bed; this flu comes with not only the barfs, but also aches and pains and fever of the regular flu. Nice. Today is the first day I have felt remotely like normal since then.
I did, however, feel vaguely good enough to attend the SC-UCLA basketball game with my son KC, Jenny and her son Leo. There's almost nothing worse than losing by one. To "them". One play sticks out in my mind (other than choking off three front ends of one-and-ones and gacking on so very many early layups) a mid second half foul on SC. The ref on top and on the bottom of the key BOTH signaled no shot and the foul was on the floor…both of ‘em said the same thing with vocal and arm signals. Yet, when it came time for the Bruins to take the ball out of bounds, they ended up shooting two free throws. Made one. At the time, Tim and his staff went nuts. After the make, I commented to KC that the Bruins just got a gift point. Looks like it mattered.
When a guy is fouled on his way to the basket in high school, he has to be up in the air or in the actual act of shooting to get shots. In college you get NO dribbles, but if you can make your way to the hoop with an additional step, you get two shots. In the pros, you can get fouled at mid court and if no one tackles you on the way to the basket, you can score and shoot a free throw.
The Bruin in question was above the free throw line on the wing when fouled on a slap going by. Disgraceful.
We lost to WSU by three (choked) and UCLA by 1 (ugh) or USC would be in first place alone in the Pac-10---------in basketball!
I was looking forward to chanting TO the UCLA fans had SC won "just like football"—as in: the underdog just beat the mighty team and it was an accident!
I think the Pac-10 tournament might be one outstanding event this year.
On the way home I listened to the SC-UCLA women's game on radio. The people who scheduled these two great events on the same day with seemingly no thought of people who might actually like to WATCH both games ought to be given and stern talking-to. Men's game at SC at 11:30 a.m., women at UCLA at 2. Just wait two more hours, and you might get 3,000 more fans to show up for the second one. Head Coach Mark Trakh was visible at courtside at 11:30 a.m. for tipoff before jumping on his team's bus. Wow, is he doing a tremendous job with what he has this year. Imagine if he ever has a full roster to work with!
I felt just awful about missing Mario's funeral, but Jenny had to do something, which required me to drive her home afterwards, and it could not be rescheduled. My thoughts were with all of his family and my team, and all of you who mourn with me.
I felt particularly badly for AC Sam Anno. Sammy is a good friend of mine on and off the field. A huge man with a huge heart and great sprit. The Big Bear looked totally down though all of this, and that's no way for a man of Sam's spirits to be. Sam's just finishing his second year of being a graduate assistant. The first year, you could tell he was just learning the ropes a little bit, but this year he came into his own and worked really hard to make the SC special teams much better. He has slimmed down himself, and you can tell that he is a coach at heart, one who is well liked by his players, fans and other coaches. He is working on his master's degree, which means, I think, under NCAA rules he could remain a GA for another year. Then, PC has to hire him full time or try to help him get hooked up with another program. It should not be all that tough.
Dwayne Jarrett is leaving. Didn't he replace some guy named Mike Williams? Best of luck to the best #8 in Los Angeles sports this past year. Make us proud. We ought to have quite the "spirited" competition at WR this spring and summer, eh?
Great to see good friend Matt Cassell holding PATs for the PATS. And on the game winning field goal. Not bad for a guy who never played basically at SC. Kids: go to special teams camp and learn to snap or hold!!
Reggie looks ok too, huh? Gotta be rooting for the Saints to make the Super Bowl. You think the Beavers or Bruins beat us if Reggie (or Lendale) stays?
I'll talk about this more in my next blog, but a note to warm you up…on Jan 25 at John Hamilton's Newport Sports Museum; I will be the featured speaker at the Orange County Trojan Guild. Tickets are on sale, limited seating. During the night we will be auctioning off to the highest bidder a chance to sit in the broadcast booth for at least some of a USC home football game (not UCLA) next season. I thought that might get your attention. You might want that (it's good for two people) or buy it for the special person in your life.
The next night I call the SC-Washington State women's game at Galen, then hop on a plane to call the SC at Cal men's game the next day. Not sure why, but Rory can't make it, so I'm glad to be a help and honored to be asked.
A long time ago, someone said I would never call another USC men's basketball game. Never is really not very long apparently. Long lives the Tabloid!
You want to rub shoulders with LA's sportscasters? The annual Southern California Sportscasters awards luncheon is Monday, February 5, 2007 at Lakeside CC in Toluca Lake. Tickets, a bit pricy, are on sale for $75.00. Just about everyone is there, if you love is as much as we do!