O/NSO: Win-Win edition

Aside from the latest Reggie Bush melodrama, in what can only be described as a cardinal and gold win-win, Trojan associate head coach Steve Sarkisian has been given the lone set of keys to Pete Carroll's Maserati offense after former coordinator Lane Kiffin was stunningly named head coach of the Oakland Raiders, putting to rest Carroll's tri-offensive mastermind system.

The Obvious – Aside from the latest Reggie Bush melodrama, in what can only be described as a cardinal and gold win-win, Trojan associate head coach Steve Sarkisian has been given the lone set of keys to Pete Carroll's Maserati offense after former coordinator Lane Kiffin was stunningly named head coach of the Oakland Raiders, putting to rest Carroll's tri-offensive mastermind system

The Not So Obvious – Forget get about the public dog and pony show of words, the domino effect of this week's coaching carousel could be felt for seasons to come. Kiffin, who was more than ready to move on after a tumultuous two-season reign as offensive coordinator, probably needs to pinch himself 1.5 million times over the chain of Bay Area events. As for Sarkisian, he'll now solely run the Trojan offense and his tenure may be telltale to position himself as a future Trojan head football coach candidate. It's also a win-win situation for Carroll who no longer will feel the increasing fan and media heat of trying to defend the recently departed Kiffin.

The Obvious – According to Pete Carroll, associate head coach Steve Sarkisian will assume complete control of the Trojans' offense,

The Not So Obvious – The real question is whether Carroll will really allow "Sark" the freedom that he talked about this week. The O/NSO feeling is that Carroll will. For one reason, there will be no Lane Kiffin to absorb the hits and shield the head coach. Sarkisian will now be responsible for all the play calling, and the O/NSO believes that Sarkisian is much better suited coming into the OC position than was Kiffin. The fact that the players like and, more importantly, trust Sarkisian is a major inroad that Kiffin never seemed to enjoy. Carroll is one bright coach and the feeling here is that he will also trust Sarkisian to a higher level than Kiffin, although he will never say it. Of course, Carroll still has every right to make offensive suggestions to Sarkisian and no doubt will. After all, he is the head coach and CEO of the program.

The ObviousSteve Sarkisian has mentioned this week that one of his first orders of business will be to upgrade the Trojan running game with a return to a two-back set.

The Not So Obvious – Many Trojan fans figured his first order of business would be to hot-wire a more vertical passing game. However, with the return of sophomore fullbacks-to-be Stanley Havili and the mulit-talented Allen Bradford and the possible return of Brandon Hancock, who has been granted an extra year of eligibility, the foundation is there to run. There is also the perception that with Sarkisian, a number of Trojan players will feel a new lease on football life, and one of those players could be running back Stafon Johnson. There were player perceptions that once you were in Lane Kiffin's doghouse, it was hard to find your way out. Again, a win-win with a fresh beginning for all.

The Obvious – In last week's O/NSO, we wrote, "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."

The Not So Obvious – As has been mentioned previously, Kiffin was always helpful to WeAreSC and nobody debates his merits as a wide receivers coach, recruiter, and recruiting coordinator. He was handed the job of replacing legendary Trojan offensive coordinator Norm Chow without experience and because of it relished in highs like the classic 2005 Notre Dame victory and suffered the lows of the recent UCLA offensive debacle and the continuous Texas haunting. As receivers coach, the record speaks for itself, churning out All-Americans like Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith.

The ObviousLane Kiffin was a lightening rod amongst the masses of Trojan fans, boosters, media members, and Trojan players.

The Not So Obvious – The record also says that Kiffin wouldn't win a popularity contest amongst past and present team members, but does one know who their best high school teacher is until 10 years later? Give Kiffin credit for falling on the company perception sword a number of times, but he set himself up by rarely taking responsibility for botched offensive opportunities. Kiffin probably also fell on his "public perception sword" in terms of play-calling, as only the folks with the headsets on know how many plays were either changed by Pete Carroll, John David Booty, or the right play was called, but there was poor team execution. If Kiffin opened himself up to criticism, it was his sometimes brash and arrogant comments regarding some of his explanations for Trojan offensive failure. The marquee bulls eye was his comment months later after the Trojans had lost to Texas in the national title game and said he had watched the game film a million times and he still wouldn't have had Heisman winning tailback Reggie Bush in the game on that infamous fourth-and-2 call late in the fourth quarter. Not only did that light up the incinerator of Trojan fans, but respected football coaches gave off-the-record rolling of eye balls in disbelief. In the end, however, Kiffin gave the Trojan football program all he had, had his share of triumphs, and we wish him luck with the Raiders; he'll need it.

The ObviousPete Carroll has named his son, Brennan, Trojans' tight end coach, as new recruiting coordinator.

The Not So Obvious –Folks like Brennan, who is a hard worker with plenty of his dad's energy, and this year he seemed to have an increased role in the art of recruiting. With the Trojans' recruiting machine already in place and a brand name already second to none, the O/NSO sees no perspective drop off. The reality is that USC football is Pete Carroll and nobody in the nation is better at recruiting that the head man.

The Obvious – There is the perception by some that Trojan recruiting will be affected this season by Kiffin's loss.

The Not So Obvious – Forget about it. If anything, there have been confirmed credible rumblings that Steve Smith's brother, Malcolm, may be closer to being a Trojan with Kiffin's departure. Players don't go to colleges based on the recruiting coordinator. Players go for playing opportunities, their position coach, and the head coach. There is stability there for the Trojans' this recruiting season.

The Obvious Pete Carroll's selection of wide receivers coach will be critical, especially with the losses of All-Americans Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith.

The Not So Obvious – You can bet that Carroll will discuss his selection with Sarkisian. In fact, we wouldn't be too shocked if Sark gave his own recommendations. With the loss of Jarrett and Smith, Trojan fans will have a keen eye on the new coaching selection. The new coach will expected to get the likes of Patrick Turner, Vidal Hazelton (photo), Travon Patterson, and David Ausberry up and running. In a bit of irony, the new coach will be compared to the successes of Lane Kiffin, who left with thumbs up and respect by last season's unit. Should the Trojan receivers appear to be less than productive, the new coach will be under the lampshade.

The Obvious – The Trojans defeated Michigan in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1.

The Not So Obvious – It's been nearly three weeks since the Men of Troy pulled out their 2007 No. 1 calling card, and now all pre-game Rose Bowl gear through USC is being reduced by 25%. One of the items is John David Booty's No.10, which was selling for $55 and now is $41.95. There were some other items, but as an O/NSO public service message, we thought this was the best value that future use. Go to the official Trojan athletic site and click to the team store.

The Obvious – The NFL appears to be hiring younger coaches for a variety of reasons.

The Not So Obvious – At his Oakland press conference, Lane Kiffin said, "Players don't care about age. Players want to be coached. Great players want to get better, and that's what we're going to do. We will be up front with our players. We will be honest. We will have high standards for them, and that's what they want." Wonder if Randy Moss and Warren Sapp are in agreement with Kiffin.

The Obvious – WeAreSC held the first of two recruiting dinners in the southland with the first gathering at San Pedro's Papadakis Taverna on Wednesday night.

The Not So Obvious – It was a sold out restaurant complete with a steak dinner and on this night, two 5-star belly dancers. Their performers had more shake and bake than Emmanuel Moody. One of the lovelies tried to get WeAreSC publisher Garry P. and the O/NSO to do some simultaneous shaking and baking, but we both declined in the best interest of allowing the patrons to digest their food in a healthy manner.

The Obvious – Fox Sports John Jackson co-hosted the recruiting video commentary and answered questions about next year's Trojans.

The Not So Obvious – WeAreSC's George Young asked "J.J." about his assessment of the returning Trojan receivers. Jackson said that he felt that Patrick Turner "will be the man" and felt that Vidal Hazelton will play the part of Steve Smith, seeing a lot of one-on-one coverage thanks to Turner. J.J. also felt that a receiver to keep an eye on is freshman redshirt David Ausberry, who was a standout during Rose Bowl practices and "opened a lot of eyes."

The Obvious – Nobody was more competitive during his playing days than John Jackson as a receiver.

The Not So Obvious – J.J. also commented that he felt the receiver position would be the most competitive area in spring ball and for the success of next year's season, it is "vital" that this unit live up to previous years. Jackson also informed the Taverna audience that he felt that Chauncey Washington would be the No. 1 back. Jackson said, "Washington is the Trojans' most complete back who can run between the tackles."

The Obvious – The latest Yahoo report on Reggie Bush alleges the existence of taped conversations between Bush and members of his family and an investor in a failed sports marketing agency that could confirm that Bush received cash and gifts while playing for the Trojans.

The Not So Obvious – As all this unfolds and who knows what is truth and what is fiction, Trojan fans should remember that the alleged information shows no involvement with the University or its boosters, a major NCAA no-no. Also of importance will be proof that Bush actually is on the tapes. If the former No. 5 is on the tapes, this could send the investigation into a whole new galaxy.

The Obvious – Although the NFL draft is a couple of months away, the nation's national magazines are already giving their "takes" about the upcoming crop.

The Not So Obvious – Of Dwayne Jarrett, the Sporting News says, "When healthy this past season, he was the best receiver in college football. But there's this nagging issue: What USC receiver who played under coach Pete Carroll the past six years has become a star in the NFL? None. Not Kareem Kelly, Keary Colbert or Mike Williams. Jarrett's lack of deep speed (see Williams) will be a problem and he won't be able t use his lanky frame to shield NFL corners as he did in college."

The ObviousEric Wright is a former Trojan corner who has finished his career at UNLV.

The Not So Obvious – Of Eric Wright, the Sporting News says, " On character alone, he's a questionable pick. Wright left Southern California after having off-field issues and resurfaced at UNLV for the season. But he's fast and physical and was Southern California's best cover corner as a redshirt freshman in 2004, when he shut down Mark Clayton in the BCS title game. This forgotten star is a lock for the Pro Bowl if he stays out of trouble."

The ObviousAnd finally, a large number of media has taken exception to the post-play celebration by Reggie Bush after his 88-yard touchdown catch and run in the NFC championship.

The Not So Obvious – Hey, at least Reggie didn't attempt to lateral to Bears' linebacker Brian Urlacher.Wah, wah, wah, wahhhhhhhhhh.

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