The Not So Obvious – It sure looks like that Oakland Raiders and San Diego Chargers pro football rivalry just added a heavy cardinal and gold flavor as former Trojan assistant Norv Turner was named head coach of the San Diego Chargers earlier in the week and that should peak the interest of the locals, considering the recent naming of former Trojan assistant Lane Kiffin as the Raiders head man. With Turner and Kiffin being former Trojan offensive coordinators, it should be noted that Norv started his coaching career in 1975 with the Oregon Ducks, the same year that Lane was born. To add a little more Tommy Trojan seasoning, Norv commenced a nine year career as a Trojan assistant (1976–1984) under John Robinson on Lane's first birthday.
The Obvious – Former Trojan offensive coordinator and recently named head coach of the Oakland Raiders Lane Kiffin is the youngest head coach in Raiders history at 31-years-old.
The Not So Obvious – Kiffin has assembled his first-year Raiders' coaching staff and some names are familiar, but most all have one thing in common, a youthful dynamic. The staff includes OC Greg Knapp, 43, formerly of the Falcons; DC Rob Ryan, 42, son of the legendary Buddy; OL coach Tom Cable, 42, formerly of the Falcons and once UCLA OC; LB coach Don Martindale, 43, returning Raiders coach; DL coach Keith Millard, 42, returning Raiders coach; RB coach Tom Rathman, 44, formerly of the Lions; Assist OL coach Kelly Skipper, 39, former UCLA coach; DB coach Darren Perry, 38, formerly of Pittsburgh; special teams coach Brian Schneider, 36, former UCLA coach; and grizzled, old Raider veteran coach Willie Brown, 66, assistant DB coach.
The Obvious – Norv Turner, 54, figured to hire a staff of coaches that was a little more "AARP' oriented to mirror his own age.
The Not So Obvious – Norv sure did by first bringing in 59-year-old veteran NFL defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell and later adding defensive backfield coach Bill Bradley, 59, the former Texas quarterback great under legendary Darryl Royal. Adding a little more Trojan flavor to the Chargers along with age, Turner retained former Trojan running back coach Clarence Shelman (1987-90), 54, and elevated him to offensive coordinator of the Bolts.
The Obvious – There will be a mandatory meeting for all USC football spring walk-on candidates on March 1st at 4:00 p.m. in Heritage Hall.
The Not So Obvious – The tryout invitation reminds us of a story many years ago when a young friend of ours named Gary Fowler, a tight end from Mark Keppel High, decided he would attempt to make the team as a walk-on to find out if the Trojans players were as good as advertised. Well, Fowler learned first hand that the Trojan players were indeed THAT good. Now middle aged, we are told by a family member that he is having back surgery directed related to his practice days on Howard Jones Field. Okay you non-believers, if you still have visions of running down that Coliseum tunnel, call the USC football office at 213-740-4204, and a reminder that you must attend this meeting in order to be granted a tryout. Last one there is a Walter Mitty.
The Obvious – The NFL combine has begun in Indianapolis and a number of Trojans are hoping to make an impression in front of the pro scouts.
The Not So Obvious – One Trojan who is not in Indianapolis is senior offensive tackle Kyle Williams, who was spotted at UC Irvine's Bren Events Center on Thursday evening taking in the men's basketball game featuring the host Anteaters and visiting UC Davis. Kyle was sitting behind the UC Davis bench and looking as relaxed as can be as he bounced his pretty young daughter Kylie on his knee. Likely to have other opportunities to exhibit his professional potential like USC's Pro Day on March 28, Williams deserves a little relaxation after a tense, roller coaster of a season that saw him in tears after a gusty, productive, and courageous performance in the Trojans' Rose Bowl victory over Michigan.
The Obvious – Only current students may try out as Trojan walk-on candidates for spring practices.
The Obvious – One of the Trojan football feel good stories of the Pete Carroll era has been the remarkable NFL career of former Trojan backup quarterback Matt Cassel, now with the New England Patriots.
The Not So Obvious – When potential Arkansas quarterback transfer Mitch Mustain was out here on his recruiting trip last week, he told the Times how impressed he was with Coach Steve Sarkisian's work with Trojan quarterbacks and said, "even their backups are successful," certainly a reference to Matt Cassel. The O/NSO found this particular comment very enlightening on Mustain's future plans. We would be mildly surprised if Mustain doesn't announce in May that he is joining former Razorback and Springdale (Ark.) High teammate Damian Williams at Troy. We asked SuperPrep's and Scout.com's Allen Wallace recently if the addition of Mustain would change his recruiting rankings and Allen didn't feel, due to Florida's greater numbers, that it would change his order of the Gators No. 1 and the Trojans No. 2.
The Obvious – Last week ESPN magazine did a recruiting profile history of incoming Trojan tailback Joe McKnight.
The Not So Obvious – The story, written by writer Bruce Feldman and entitled "Near miss," begins in June 2002 and follows McKnight right up to signing day. The focus is on the relationship of Ed Orgeron's Ole Miss program and their pursuit of the Parade magazine's Co-Player of the Year from Louisiana. The story tells of Orgeron's running back coach Frank Wilson and his journey trying to out-recruit the Trojans. On the night of Pete Carroll's final home visit with McKnight in Louisiana, Orgeron tells his assistants, I'm worried. Pete is really good in the home. Really good." The rest, of course, is history as Orgeron's comments proved truly prophetic.
The Obvious – The Trojan Marching Band appears in this year's Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition.
The Not So Obvious – Called "A Battle of the Bands," models Julie Leviderson and Jessica White alternate posing with the Trojan and Grambling State marching bands. For those with little patience, just turn to Page 192 and begin your musical fantasies. The TMB is in full uniform and, yes, Art Bartner's musical celebrities are attired in their trademark sunglasses as well. As they say, the rich get richer and posing with girls in scanty bikinis ain't a bad way to spend a day on Cromwell Field.
The Obvious – Gary Klein is the Trojan football beat writer for the Los Angeles Times.
The Not So Obvious – FYI, he is not the same Gary Klein who lettered as a safety for the Trojans in 1984-85. The Times' Klein attended Mark Keppel High and played baseball while the Trojans' Klein played his prep ball at La Habra High. As an added note, Mark Keppel High also produced former Times lead columnist Scott Ostler, who is now a regular columnist with the San Francisco Chronicle.
The Obvious – Former Trojan All-America guard Bruce Mathews is voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The Obvious - Rocky Seto is the Trojans secondary coach.
The Not So Obvious – Seto, whose name has been mentioned in the past for NFL coaching vacancies, also attended Arcadia High where he was on the Apache football and track teams.
The Obvious – "Turning of the Tide: Diversity and College Athletics," a panel discussion moderated by Pete Carroll along with former Trojan players Sam Cunningham and John Papadakis and USC professor Todd Boyd, was held last Tuesday in Bovard Auditorium.
The Not So Obvious – The theme of the discussion was based on the book "Turning of the Tide: How One Game Changed the South," which gave the account and impact of the Trojans visit to Alabama during racially explosive times. The O/NSO has had a chance recently to skim through the book and one of the interesting facets was to see the starting offensive and defensive lineups of both teams. Although he is best remembered for his dominant performance in that historical 1970 game, Trojan sophomore fullback Sam Cunningham (135 yards and 2 touchdowns) wasn't even a starter for coach John McKay. Bear Bryant's Crimson Tide featured Hall of Fame offensive guard John Hannah. The quarterback for the Trojans was Jimmy Jones, a prep All-America recruited out of Harrisburg, Pa., much to the displeasure of a younger Joe Paterno. BTW,the QB for the Tide? Scott Hunter.
The Obvious – Paul McDonald, the Trojans 1979 All-American quarterback who has spent the past nine years as the color commentator on the Trojans' football radio broadcasts, was recently named the area's 2006 Best Radio Analyst by the Southern California Sports Broadcasters Association.
The Not So Obvious – For the never aging wonder, it was the third consecutive year that Paul has been honored and the fourth time overall. Okay, since we are talking about where they came from, the O/NSO also remembers when we were tipped to go see McDonald play when he was a senior at Bishop Amat. So, we decided to go see him play at Horrell Field, now Robinson Stadium, on the campus of Pasadena City College for a CIF playoff game, and Lefty was incredibly poised and accurate in all this throws. You knew he was going to be special the way he stood in the pocket and showed no fear. It may sound like a reach, but this guy still maintains that preppy look. He must be drinking from the Clay Mathews Sr. Fountain of Youth. Like Mathews, McDonald still looks like he could suit up and throw it around the Coliseum turf. Both were also teammates on the Cleveland Browns in the early 80s.
The Obvious – There were never more popular autograph targets than Heisman twins Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush when they wore the cardinal and gold.
The Not So Obvious – Who can forget the days when both needed security to get out of daily practices as hordes of autograph seekers, both amateur and professional, were stalking Brian Kennedy-Howard Jones Field? On a recent trip to the Irvine Spectrum, the O/NSO walked into one of those sports memorabilia stores and there was a special glass case of pictures and a football signed by Leinart or Bush and in some cases, both signed the same items. How much were autographed photos and footballs by either or both stars? Try between $299 and $399. Yikes! As a side note, a Junior Seau signing was considerably lower than Leinart and Bush.
The Obvious – Pasadena City College has sent a number of players to the Trojans through the years like receiver Rod Sherman, the old Notre Dame killer.
The Not So Obvious – The Trojans have also sent some of their own to Pasadena CC such as current Lancers offensive line coach Faaesea Mailo, who started on the Trojans offensive line during the Paul Hackett era.
The Obvious – Arkansas Athletic Director Frank Broyles announced his retirement last Saturday, completing 50 years in the Razorback family.
The Not So Obvious – Broyles, who was a successful ABC color analyst after his coaching days, had a 1-2 record against John McKay and the Trojans. In his first game against the Trojans in 1972 at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, his Razorback club was the first-game victim of what many consider the greatest football team in college history, John McKay's 1972 national champions. The 31-10 Trojan victory put the rest of the country on notice that this was going to be a special year for the Men of Troy.
The Obvious – Pete Carroll is on record as saying he would like to return to a format where both the Trojans and UCLA wear their home uniforms in their annual clash.
The Not So Obvious – Carroll even said he is willing to give up a time out if UCLA coach Karl Dorrell would agree to in the future as well. No doubt this subject will be revisited after watching the recent basketball game between UCLA at Arizona, a game in which the Wildcats were given permission to wear their "red' road uniform in an appreciation day. Now common, if basketball can do it and UCLA didn't mind it for hoops, shouldn't football be just a formality? For the record, it was the second straight season that UA wore their road uniforms for the last home game and the second straight season they have lost in their "reds."
The Not So Obvious –-New Arizona State recruiting coordinator Matt Lubick is the son of Colorado State head coach Sonny Lubick.
The Obvious – Steve Sarkisian is the new Trojan's offensive coordinator, replacing Lane Kiffin.
The Not So Obvious – New Arizona State offensive coordinator is Rich Olson, who in 1977 was an assistant offensive line coach under John Robinson and had a small hand in the development of Trojan Hall of Famer Anthony Munoz. However, don't give Olson too much credit, as the former Montebello Oilers' quarterback is best known for his signal-calling instructions. Olson spent 2006 as OC of the Miami Hurricanes.
The Obvious – And finally, wouldn't USC football fans like to purchase the informative Trojan football media guide at 50% off?
The Not So Obvious – Okay, good readers, here is your chance. Check out the Trojan Bookstore on campus and/or the South Coast Plaza Trojan store for 50% off the media guide of 2006. Yes, yes, we know it's the past season, but if you haven't seen the media guide and want some informative reading before spring ball, why not? This has been yet another public service of the O/NSO.