Pete's Arboblog

So much idle chatter during the time leading up to LOI day!

We have lost Lane Kiffin to the NFL. There are a lot of Trojans who gave Lane a ton of grief over the play calling this year for a young team that went out and won 11 games, a 5th straight Pac-10 championship and the Rose Bowl, and came within a couple of feet of winning the national championship. All this while having to replace two Heisman Trophy winners, plus Lendale, Winston and others on his side of the ball.

The guy has football in his bloodlines to be sure, and the great pedigree and very strong resume at a very young age puts him on the fast track to become one of the best coaches in America for a long, long time.

I found him to be very smart, albeit a low-key sort of guy. Maybe it was the fact that he wasn't a big, loud, rah-rah kind of guy and wasn't, therefore found to be very "personable" that put so many people off. The play calling was geared towards what he thought our talent could handle at any given time. Keep in mind also the general youth of our running back corps and their injuries and overall talent level left us a bit hamstrung there, leaving Lane's options a bit spotty.

I wish him nothing but the best in Oakland, a thankless job right now if not for most years lately, and am thrilled to have Sark move up in the director's chair.

Brennan Carroll makes perfect sense for recruiting coordinator, although I, like many others thought Rocky would have been an excellent choice as well. In relative terms, they all do an awful lot of recruiting anyway, so the head of recruiting, as I see it, is just the general organizer of the missions that the coaches are assigned.

I see the NFL fined Reggie $5-grand for his taunting in the final game of his rookie season. I hope he learned the lesson. $5,000 for these guys is $5 for you and me. Still, he ought to be more humble as I said last week, and act like scoring a TD, even on a great play, is something he has done before. If anything, it makes one look even better to treat it as a good thing, one that helps your team, but nothing more than "doing my job".

As for the supposed "tapes", as far as I can see in this story so far, the judge, or whoever is running this thing, has said "IF there are any tapes, then you better find them and bring them to me!" So far, I have heard nothing. Let's wait until they show up, if ever, and be analyzed.

If Reggie did something and it can be proven, he should be penalized. If USC as an institution or the any of the coaches knew about it and did not report it, then they should be penalized. Until then, it's all a lot of talk.

I watched a lot of Aussie Open tennis in the past two weeks. It's one of those events that allows us to watch live sports at odd hours, and I'm all for that! PLUS—replays of last night's late, late matches at noon the following day. Serena was great in her return to glory. A Southern California girl all the way! Sharapova could have lost in the very first round, down 1-5 and a set down already she rallied to win in the stifling heat on Day Two.

Is Federer better than Sampras at the same age? I don't think so, mainly due to Pete's incredible size and wingspan.

I went out to watch a bit of the SC men's match vs. San Diego State, won by the Trojans at Marks Stadium 7-0. First person I see in the stands is Mike Garrett. He goes to just about every sporting event we have….and why not, as they are "his" teams competing. Still, I have to wonder how many AD's go to as many events as Mike. Not many, I'll bet.

**

I forgot to tell you a funny story. At the SC-Arizona men's game, I got a letter from a fan. This guy, a big Cal fan, had lost a bet with an SC fan about the football game, and was forced to pay the USC athletic Department as a result. He is a big fan of our broadcasts apparently and wrote to tell Paul and me that, while including his check….for $25.00! I gave it over to the Big Chief Fundraiser Don Winston, along with the letter. Every little bit helps!

Wednesday, I was the featured speaker at the Trojan Club meeting in Orange County. Met tons of you there, and had a fun time, not only answering questions and doing some reminiscing, but looking at the newly expanded Newport Sports Museum run by John Hamilton. John and the museum have opted to take my large game programs collection on loan and display it, and they are paying for the materials to house the collection, which I am working on presenting by summer's end.

Located at 100 Newport Center Dr in Fashion Island, it is free, and has to be one of the top collections in the Western U.S. Over 10-000 kids groups and individuals went through the doors last year alone. Athletes and others come to speak to them with great regularity on myriad subjects.

Go there if you have not been. Go Now!

***

The Trojan men's basketball team gets ranked, and lays an egg at Stanford. Ugh! At least it didn't look so bad when the Farm beat UCLA Sunday, one of those games where it might have actually helped SC if the Bruins had won.

I called the women's game against Washington State the next night, an easy win for coach Trakh, his 250th career victory. For that, he got to be our post game guest.

Saturday I hopped on a plane at LAX and flew to Oakland to call the SC men's game at Cal. My original flight was cancelled so I caught a 10 am bird without incident. Got to the campus about 12 for the 3 o'clock game, and the game started before you knew it.

It looks an awful lot like Harmon Gym. Whatever work they did on it, other than a new floor without all those badminton lines all over it is not terribly apparent. Same crowd and atmosphere…one of the top two loudest and craziest venues on the West Coast.

The Trojans got out big, but Cal rallied to tie it at the end. SC kept their poise and the young team held on for the bay area split, probably a "must" in their quest for a post-season trip to the NCAA tournament.

The broadcast was fine. It was scheduled for a 3:06 start, but being on TV up there (not here!) and butted up against the back end of the Washington game, they kept telling us they would be starting at 3:11. Right up until 3:02, when they said they were going to start at 3:06. We had elongated our pre game chat sessions to make up for the extra time, so had to dump an entire segment as all of a sudden time ran out on us. Oh well.

One pretty cool thing, I interviewed Hefner on the pre-game sow, not as color analyst, but as professor emeritus (unofficial) of USC basketball. He coached here for 12 years, was assistant AD for ten more and has been radio analyst for 9 more. That's 31 years of watching and being around and involved in USC basketball. We talked about the old days with Bob Boyd, watching the ups and downs of the program, and now the cusp of resurgence of USC men's hoops under Tim Floyd, and the new building, and how old players are being brought back and honored.

I remember Hefner as Assistant coach when I was in high school, sitting courtside calling the games into a cassette recorded to get better at being a play-by-play announcer. I used to talk to him then, and it was an honor to have him alongside for this game as my partner.

We hardly ever stepped on each other, which is quite an accomplishment for never having worked together before. The game broadcast was easy, as the game was so intense and good for such a long period of time, we just stuck to our game calls and didn't stray much into extemporaneous chatting you might hear in a blow out.

There were several times in the second half during a 15-20 minute stretch of some truly outstanding college basketball where I could actually not hear myself talk. Even with the headset on, and the earphones turned up to the highest possible setting. I knew I was saying something, as I touched my throat to feel the vibrations. I knew what I was thinking but could not be sure that it was the same thing coming out of my mouth. Some wags could argue that this is normal for me. It was a strange feeling.

I think the only big mistake I made was calling Daniel Hackett "Dwayne" a couple of times. It was a great win, and very fun to do another USC men's game after all this time. Even ran into coach and his beautiful wife Beverly at the airport and talked briefly with them before heading home.

By all accounts of the night Rory had helping give Vinny a lifetime achievement award at the Golden Mike's in Universal City, it sounds like it was a winning night all around.

Is there a more humble and gracious winner of awards than Vinny? To read about the night and his acceptance speech, go to www.laradio.com.

Speaking of Rory and Vinny, they for their baseball work and me for the work of our USC Football radio team have been given the nod as the top three finalists for the Southern California Sports Broadcasters Association radio play by play of the year award for the work done in 2006. Vinny is ineligible again after his three straight wins ending in 2008, and then after he retires.

Paul McDonald has won two in a row as best radio color analyst. There's no one better. Period. It's not even close. He is up against UCLA basketball's Don MacLean and the Dodgers' Fernando Valenzuela. Get the speech ready Paul!

One of the fun moments of the pre-luncheon is that legendary Kings announcer Bob Miller calls us to let us know we have made the finals. The lunch is Monday, February 5 at Lakeside CC in Toluca Lake at 11:30 a.m. Tickets are a pricey 75$, but if you are in to rubbing shoulders with So Cal's radio and TV sportscasters, this is definitely the time to do it!

Sunday, I ran a 5k race at my old home course in Griffith Park. I had prepared well, drove the course to revisit it, visualized the course the night before and right before the race, went out with a purpose and set a personal age group PR in 28:48. I know it's only 9:13 a mile, but baby, at age 52 and carrying about twenty pounds more than I need, I was working hard, and when you consider I knocked over 4 minutes off of my last 5k time (last July 4th), it feels pretty good.

Sunday afternoon, it was back to Galen to watch the women roll U-Dub. The girls shot 66% in the first half and beat a team they had lost to on the road by 16, by a full 20 points. USC should finish 4th or 5th and play the same Huskies in the Pac=10 quarters for a spot in the NCAA tournament, maybe at home. Imagine with Camille and Brynn and Jackie and Hailey how good this team might have been. Mark Trakh for Pac-10 coach of the year!

Fight On everybody.


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