O/NSO: Switch-A-Roo edition

An important recommitment, a de-commitment, and a Thanksgiving Day schedule slicing headlined another interesting switch-a-roo week in the trials and tribulations of the USC Trojan football off-season, a season that has become as fascinating as watching the stocks rise and fall on Wall Street.

The Obvious – An important recommitment, a de-commitment, and a Thanksgiving Day schedule slicing headlined another interesting switch-a-roo week in the trials and tribulations of the USC Trojan football off-season, a season that has become as fascinating as watching the stocks rise and fall on Wall Street.

The Not So Obvious – While the loss of powerful prep offensive lineman James Wilson to Florida was indeed stinging, the announcement by associate head coach Steve Sarkisian that he would be returning to Troy after a strong flirtation with the Oakland Raiders head job was probably of more important value to the program. Now if you can just get the little woman to sign off on a trip to Tempe on Thanksgiving Day, all will be right in yet another interesting week of news out of Heritage Hall. Let's also not forget this past weekend's excitement generated by Louisiana superstar tailback Joe McKnight, who was in the City of Angels on his official recruiting visit.

The Obvious – Trojan associate head coach Steve Sarkisian has done a switch-a-roo and withdrawn his name for consideration as the next head coach of the Oakland Raiders.

The Not So Obvious – Sarkisian is the man, no he isn't, yes he is, no he isn't. Ironically, it appears the coach they call "Sark" could be now in a better position to be the Trojans' future leader if that opening should arise. No doubt the publicity and interviews with Al Davis increases the profile of Sarkisian and perhaps even in the eyes of Trojan athletic director Mike Garrett. Although it's said that the Trojans in the past would prefer to go with a proven head coach, it would seem that if and when Carroll goes, why not the aspiring and well respected assistant? Even the legendary John McKay came to SC as a former Oregon assistant. In fact, the Trojans probably made a big picture mistake when they didn't hire McKay assistant Dave Levy when Saint John headed to the NFL, instead opting for John Robinson, who was successful in his own right in his first tour of duty. Nebraska didn't do too badly when they hired a young assistant named Tom Osborn.

The Obvious – The Raiders of Al Davis appear to have pulled their own Sarkisian switch-a-roo and are now reportedly interviewing Lane Kiffin, the Trojans offensive coordinator, for the Oakland head coaching position.

The Not So Obvious – One would think that Kiffin, who was bypassed for the University of Minnesota head job, would be a long shot for the Raiders' head position, but, hey, it's Al Davis, a former Trojan assistant, for goodness sakes. What does become quite clear is that Sarkisian thought highly enough of Kiffin to have included him in his own Oakland vision. This seems to back the theory that Kiffin took far too much heat in the Trojans' offensive philosophy and play-calling, which seemed to deflect any responsibility from Pete Carroll. All of which makes 2007 all the more interesting between Carroll, Sarkisian, and probably Kiffin.

The Obvious – Florida All-America prep offensive guard James Wilson pulls a switch-a-roo, de-committing from the Trojans to verbaling with the Florida Gators.

The Not So Obvious – Sure there was the local champion Gators, the influence former prep teammate Tim Tebow, Tebow's minister father who has been a major player in the Wilson family, and Wilson's fear of homesickness (although his father lives in Los Angeles). Wilson has given all of these reasons for his change of heart. Recruiting is such a fickle game and it doesn't take much to create a gridiron courtroom version of "reasonable doubt." Anybody who doesn't think that the hubris caused by the recent Pete Carroll-to-the-NFL odyssey didn't at least help jar loose Wilson's once solid commitment is smoking them funny cigarettes.

The Obvious – Previous to James Wilson's change of heart, the Trojans seemed to have penciled in prized Tucson prep offensive lineman Kris O'Dowd as the offensive center of the future.

The Not So Obvious – With the departure of Wilson to the Gators, the O/NSO wouldn't be the least shocked to see O'Dowd given a switch-a-roo "look" at a guard position. This kid is so coachable, and it wouldn't make a bit of difference to him where he played along the offensive line. A bigger question might be who takes the future center position? The wildcard in the whole deal is versatile Orange Lutheran stud lineman Michael Reardon, who was still a defensive end candidate until Wilson's move to Florida. Reardon was earlier mentioned as a possible center but more likely a left tackle candidate. Of course, that was before the Wilson defection and in the latest Scout.com report, Reardon, who has just returned from a Trojan recruiting visit, said the Trojans are now also including him as a potential center prospect.

The Obvious – A number of Trojan fans are concerned about filling the offensive line recruiting vacancy left by James Wilson.

The Not So Obvious – Don't to worry Trojan fans or have you forgot the commitment from Servite All-State junior tackle Matt Kalil? Kalil is one of a number of highly regarded seniors-to-be in the SoCal area that will more than fill your appetite for offensive line recruits. While he certainly isn't considered a pure offensive line recruit, the Trojan staff is salivating over Orange Lutheran tight end Blake Ayles, who figures to be one of the nation's elite and a white hot Trojan prospect for freshman playing time. The kid is that good and if you saw Blake perform in the state final against Palo Alto High, you truly understand why.

The Obvious – It's Thanksgiving Day switch-a-roo date for the Trojans at Arizona State, and it'll be a 6 p.m. (5 p.m. PT) kickoff in Tempe, shown live nationally on ESPN.

The Not So Obvious – It will be the Trojans first Thanksgiving game since 1938, and there is already mixed feelings amongst the cardinal and gold masses. Certainly the game will generate a massive national television audience, especially if the Trojans are undefeated and newly named Sun Devil coach Dennis Erickson is again the miracle worker. However, unless there are a lot of Trojan families in Phoenix or your family is ultra cardinal and gold, this holiday travel game decision could spark more marital friction than the newest husband/wife argument, the great HD television purchase debate.

The Obvious – The UCLA switch-a-roo date in the Coliseum is now Dec. 1 with the nationally televised kickoff set for 1:30 p.m. PT.

The Not So Obvious – Other than the Apple Cup on Nov. 24, (Washington/Washington State), all the Pac-10 rivals will have at it on Dec. 1. For the good of the conference and public interest on the West Coast, the O/NSO likes it better this way. Thanks to television and the Pac-10, it should be one donnybrook of a day for Pac-10 lovers.

The Obvious – UCLA coach Karl Dorrell has fired offensive coordinator Jim Svoboda.

The Not So Obvious – Unlike Pete Carroll, Dorrell is reportedly thinking of becoming his own offensive coordinator after dumping the first-year OC Svoboda. And Lane Kiffin thinks he had a challenging season? Just goes to show you that a win over the Trojans doesn't ensure employment in Westwood. If Dorrell assumes the offensive coordinators position, what happens if the vaunted Trojan defense shuts Dorrell down on Dec.1. It could be bad timing for Karl's future, considering the Trojans figure to be very "up" for next season's "revenge" game in the Coliseum.

The Obvious – Kickoff time for the Trojans' Oct. 20 game at Notre Dame has been set for 3:30 p.m. EDT (12:30 p.m. PDT). The game will be shown live nationally on NBC-TV.

The Not So Obvious – Here we go again for all those Trojan fans making the trip back to the Midwest. Just what time will it be in South Bend for the kickoff? As a public service of the O/NSO, there is no time difference between Chicago and South Bend during this October time slot, so it all means that the blocking and tackling will begin at 2:30 p.m. NBC is no dummy and cherishes the opportunity for a 12:30 PT start to battle rival ABC's traditional Pac-10's television window. And you thought the big rivalry was confined to the Trojans and the Irish?

The Obvious – No matter how the other is doing, the Trojans and the Irish are always comparing each other's plights.

The Not So Obvious – In the latest edition of Blue and Gold, the respected publication devoted to Notre Dame football, columnist Todd Burlage attempted to explain the latest Irish bowl embarrassment. Burlage wrote, "Most troubling were the performances of both the (Notre Dame) players and the coaches. Surprisingly, this senior-heavy group hoped to win, it didn't expect to win – and it seemed unprepared to win with either mindset. Meanwhile, rival USC used a bunch of feisty freshmen and sophomore to make Michigan look like an NAIA team in the Rose Bowl."

The Obvious – The Trojans have won 33 consecutive home games.

The Not So Obvious – With Steve Sarkisian returning and Lane Kiffin expected to return, the offense should be ready for that first home game against mighty Idaho. Yes, that home schedule is pretty sweet for any offensive coordinator, especially when one considers visitations from Idaho, Washington State, Stanford, Arizona, Oregon State, and UCLA. It's those away games that grab any offensive coordinators attention when it comes to championship aspirations – at Nebraska, Washington, Notre Dame, Oregon, Cal, and ASU. Whoa Nellie!

The Obvious – The Trojans are slated to open the season on Sept. 1 against Idaho in the Coliseum.

The Not So Obvious – Considering the importance of what the Arkansas victory meant during various times of last season in the BCS rankings, it's certainly understandable why Trojans are looking for a power replacement for Idaho to open the 2007 season. It wouldn't be hard to imagine that if the Trojans took a loss in next season's schedule, the Idaho game and the strength of schedule issue could have serious repercussions.

The Obvious – There has been a lot of open debate about the positives and negatives of an early signing period for college football.

The Not So Obvious – Basketball does it in November and it appears to be successful. Football, however, is another matter. If players were allowed to sign in the late summer, what happens after the season is over and the head coach gets canned? The O/NSO strongly believes that a summer early signing period would only be good if a letter of intent becomes invalid if the head coach of that particular school is fired and the player wants to go in another direction. There is way too much time between summer and the end of the season for things to go south. Of course, one could argue for a prep player not to take advantage of that signing period and just wait to February.

The Obvious – The West beat the East, 21-3, in the 82nd East-West Shrine Game played in Houston on Saturday.

The Not So Obvious – ESPN televised the game and if you ever wondered about the star power of the Trojans, the opening billboard led with linebacker Dallas Sartz and reference to the fabled Trojans. Sartz was visually displayed early as a "defensive difference maker," and Dallas went on to give a good account of himself throughout the game.

The Obvious – The New Orleans Saints may have broken the hearts of America with their lopsided 39-14 loss in snowy Chicago, but former Trojan tailback Reggie Bush again displayed his Heisman skills with an electrifying 88-yard scoring catch and run.

The Not So Obvious –Don't feel too sorry for Reggie. He'll will have plenty of home in which to recuperate. According to Sunday's Times, the former No. 5 has purchased a Hollywood Hills home for nearly $5 million. The residence is described as a "tri-level house, high above the Sunset Strip, has views of Long Beach, Malibu, and Catalina Island. There are four bedrooms in its 4,800 square feet, serviced by an elevator." The house also includes glass entry doors, which opens to a 23-foot-high living-room ceiling and a penthouse master bedroom suite. Oh, Reggie's new pad also includes a home theatre, playroom with a pool table, spa, and a library with a glass floor and guest suite.

The Obvious – Prior to Sunday's NFC championship, much was made on how New Orleans running back Deuce McAllister and former Trojan Reggie Bush have been able to coexist during the Saints successful season.

The Not So Obvious – Well, it comes as no shock to Trojan fans, who watched Bush get along with LenDale White, as both found they were highly successful as Thunder and Lightening. Bush can appreciate McAllister like he did with White (photo). One thing about playing on a Trojan team with so much talent, the players learn how to turn potential jealousy into a positive, competing experience.

The Obvious – There will be a Miami Super Bowl in two weeks between the NFC champion Chicago Bears and the AFC champion Indianapolis Colts.

The Not So Obvious – In a usual quirk, there are no Trojan players on the active rosters of the Bears and Colts. However, both teams will have a coaching Trojan flavor, as the Bears' offensive coordinator is a former Trojan offensive coordinator, Ron Turner (1985-87), while the Colts will feature special teams coach Russ Purnell (1982-84).

The ObviousAnd finally, a member of the California legislative branch has proposed a bill against parental spanking of children.

The Not So Obvious – If the bill had been passed prior to last November 25, would the Trojans been allowed to administer that 44-24 spanking of the Fighting Irish in the Coliseum?


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