O/NSO: Reservations edition

There is no greater away game experience for a Trojan fan than the Notre Dame Weekender, which takes place Oct. 19 –21. However, there is no worse experience, other than securing game tickets, than trying to find a decent priced hotel in downtown Chicago.

The Obvious – With no better example than the Notre Dame Weekender, Trojan fans are beginning to scramble for away game hotels and plane reservations for 2007, while Pete Carroll and staff are proving once again that when it comes to examples of 2008 preemptive recruiting lightening strikes in California, the latest being Compton Dominguez linebacker Maurice Simmons, they are the Pac-10's corporate recruiting office version of the Edison Company.

The Not So Obvious – There is no greater away game experience for a Trojan fan than the Notre Dame Weekender, which takes place Oct. 19 –21. However, there is no worse experience, other than securing game tickets, than trying to find a decent priced hotel in downtown Chicago. For those hoping to stay at the Trojans' official weekender hotel, the Sheraton Hotel and Towers, the place is booked. Most everything around the Miracle Mile is hovering around $300, so if you were one of the lucky ones to get into the Sheraton ($219), you were, excuse the expression, feeling the luck of the Irish.

The Obvious – Many Trojan fans try to defray the cost of traveling with their cardinal and gold darlings by using those valuable air mileage programs.

The Not So Obvious – For those hoping to cash in their miles with American for a non-stop flight back to Chicago, you'll find the pickings already slim. For example, if you're planning for the traditional Thursday departure out of Orange County, there is currently no non-stop American to O'Hare. Most everything is a stop in Dallas and the arrival times are turning a three-hour flight into an all day journey. And if you don't have enough challenges with the ND Weekender, those Lincoln hotel vacancies in Nebraska are also becoming an issue. WeAreSC subscriber Doug, Mr. Room Reservations, said he felt fortunate that he was able to secure a couple of rooms for the Nebraska game and this was some time ago.

The Obvious – Interesting news was made out of South Bend when Irish coach Charlie Weis announced that former Irish coaching legends Lou Holtz and Ara Parseghian will coach against each other in Notre Dame's annual Blue-Gold spring game.

The Not So Obvious – There is no rumor confirmation that Pete Carroll will do something similar at the Trojan Huddle (April 7) by naming former Trojan coaching legends Paul Hackett and Ted Tollner as honorary coaches, although Tollner did lead the Cardinal and Gold to a 1985 Rose Bowl victory over Ohio State.

The Obvious – Allen Wallace is the publisher of SuperPrep magazine.

The Not So Obvious – Wallace, who will be the subject of an upcoming story in the recruiting edition of WeAreSC Magazine, played running back and defensive back for Newport Harbor High way back when. In fact, Allen's head coach for the Sailors at the time was Wade Watts, who was once the high school coach of Lou Holtz.

The Obvious – Tim Floyd's Trojan basketball team opened up Pac-10 Tournament play on Thursday evening with an exhilarating 83-79 overtime victory over the Stanford Cardinal.

The Not So Obvious – Last time these two teams met during the conference season at the Galen Center, Pete Carroll gave the pre-game pep talk. After that game, Nick Young, who had a game-high 26 points and five rebounds on Thursday night at Staples, said, "Pete Carroll came in, got us pumped up and we fed off that energy. We went out there and tried to play like the football team." With the Trojan football team expected to start the season as No. 1, might Coach Floyd enlist Carroll again for Friday night's late semi-final game against Washington State and/or possibly the championship on Saturday?

The Obvious – The Trojans receive a verbal from Redlands East Valley WR/DB Chris Polk (5-11, 190, 4.45).

The Not So Obvious – So we are all told that the only person needed convincing was Mama Polk. Nobody knows Pete Carroll's power of charismatic mother persuasion better than former Trojan coach Ed Orgeron, who lost Louisiana running back Joe McKnight for his Ole Miss program when Carroll sealed it with his final home visit. As Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback-turned-broadcaster Steve Young says about Carroll, "If he walked into my living room and recruited me, there's no way I could turn him down."

The Obvious – Congrats to Trojan supporters Jerry MacLeith, Michale Noll, and Timothy Fanto, who have won the drawing for special USC football prizes based on their involvement in the Touchdown Club.

The Not So Obvious – We love the idea of a plane trip with the team, a Coliseum field pass for next season, and certainly who wouldn't be happy with a trip to Hawaii? However, if given the opportunity, the O/NSO would chose a chance to ride the team bus from the team hotel to the Coliseum. Guess we just love the idea of a police escort.

The Obvious – Nolan Owen from Temescal Canyon has accepted a priority walk-on position with the Trojans as a long snapper.

The Not So Obvious – The kid is another product of the Trojan football camps and it didn't hurt that he use to work out with former punter Tom Malone, consider by many to be the best punter in Trojan history.

The Obvious – Steve Smith runs a 4.3 at the Indianapolis NFL combine.

The Not So Obvious – Anybody, perhaps even Steve Smith himself, shocked at his 40 time? As they say, time is money and Smith has positioned himself to make plenty of it. However, it will be interesting to see if he can duplicate his time at the Trojans' Pro Day, if he elects to run. Although he is quite a competitor, would Steve pass on the 40? Perhaps of greater interest will be Dwayne Jarrett's 40 time, which the two-time All-America politely declined to run in Indianapolis. We will be surprised if Dwayne's time doesn't reach the acceptable level.

The Obvious – We'll find out in June, but how many college football magazine covers will grace the photo of quarterback John David Booty, being billed as a Heisman candidate?

The Not So Obvious – Perhaps a bigger question will be which Trojans, and there are plenty of candidates if you judge the cover of the Spring Football Media Guide, will also be on a cover. Expect to see Trojan All-America offensive tackle Sam Baker and linebacker Rey Maualuga as lead candidates.

The Obvious – The Trojans receive a verbal from Stockton Lincoln massive offensive tackle Matt Meyer (6-8, 285), who committed to the Trojans after a recent visit to campus.

The Not So Obvious – Considered by many to be as good an OL as there is in NorCal, Matt gave all the obvious reasons for wanting to play at Troy. However, what caught the eye of the O/NSO was the fact that he grew up a Notre Dame fan and his grandpa played for Irish and you can just hear the screams of Irish fans all the way back to South Bend. Did the Irish really have a shot against the Trojans? Probably not when you consider that Meyer plays for the Lincoln Trojans. BTW, if you think the UCLA upset hurt the Trojans budding recruiting for 2008, know that Meyer attended the Trojans' upset at the Rose Bowl.

The Obvious – ESPN has announced it will begin a daily afternoon live college football show, which will begin broadcasting in July.

The Not So Obvious – The show, scheduled to kickoff on July 23, will be modeled after the ESPN's daily NFL Live. The network announced that the host will generally be Rece Davis and the format will include breaking stories, features, and commentary. The usual cast of ESPN college talking heads will make appearances, so you will be happy to know that Lou Holtz will have plenty of time to advise Trojan fans the vulnerability of Troy's pre-season No. 1 ranking. Unfortunately for West Coast fans, the new ESPN college football show will air at 12:30 p.m. PT.

The Obvious – ABC received positive rating for their venture into Saturday Night College Football last fall.

The Not So Obvious – What that means is that Trojan fans can expect some more 5:00 p.m. Coliseum or West Coast starts, depending where the Trojans play on the "Left Coast." It won't shock us if the Nebraska game in Lincoln manages the 5:00 PDT window. That, of course, would mean a 7:00 kickoff in the land of the Cornhuskers.

The Obvious – Incoming Trojan running back Joe McKnight is the first recipient of the Frank Gifford Endowed Football Scholarship, which goes annually to an incoming freshman running back, quarterback or wide receiver who best emulates Gifford's life, success and spirit.

The Not So Obvious – "It is fitting that the nation's best high school running back be awarded the first Frank Gifford Scholarship," said USC head coach Pete Carroll. Quite an endorsement, but it figures that Marc Tyler and Broderick Green will request scrimmage rebuttal time.

The Obvious – The fourth annual USC Football and Nike Coach of the Year Southern California Coaches Clinic, offering expertise for football coaches on all levels, will be held March 23 and 24 on campus.

The Not So Obvious – Besides observing Trojan spring football practice, hearing from Pete Carroll and staff, and a slew of respected speakers including Arizona's Mike Stoops, UTEP's Mike Price, Syracuse's Greg Robinson, New Mexico's Rocky Long, the highlight of the clinic might be El Segundo national championship youth level coach Dean Pliaconis. No truth to the rumor that he has a sixth grade backfield that Scout.com has already identified as the best quarterback and tailback in the country.

The Obvious – When it comes to ranking players, fans tend to take it personal when their "favorite" recruit doesn't fill the recruiting galaxy with the appropriate twinkle, twinkle little stars.

The Not So Obvious – In a recent WeAreSC chat with incoming fullback Jordan Campbell, Campbell gave as good an eye witness account for all the recruiting Galileo's out there. Jordan said, " I played against 3 stars that were better then a lot of 4 and 5 no names, and I went 2 a lot of camps and played against every one."

The Obvious – The Trojans are recruiting Edgewater High's Michael Brewster (6-6, 305), a rather manly offensive tackle out of the Orlando area.

The Not So Obvious – If you think that Florida is not concerned about the Trojans interest in Brewster, then you have underestimated the fear that Pete Carroll brings into the Sunshine State. Brewster, who says he will announce in October so he'll be ready to enroll for spring ball, told our Brian Mathews in a recent WeAreSC interview, "I've never been to California, but SC is a school you dream about playing for and getting an offer from." One thing is for certain, considering the current terrain of college football, if Brewster, who has no family connections in SoCal, does come to the West, it will be a Trojan fan's dream and a Florida fan's ultimate nightmare. The Trojans, Ohio State, and Florida are the current leaders, but common sense says this one figures to be Florida's to lose.

The Obvious – The leading prep football magazine in Florida is aptly called Florida Football.

The Not So Obvious – In the 2006 preview edition of Florida Football, Trojan offensive line recruit Michael Brewster was listed as the 13th best underclass prospect, regardless of position. At the time, Michael was listed at 6-4, 275 with a 40 time of 5.5. Naturally, he has grown considerably (6-6, 305) since last fall and has increased his speed (5.1), according to Scout.com.

The Obvious – One of the greatest players patrolling a Trojan secondary is former Trojan All-America safety Charles Phillips, a key member on the national championships of 1972 and 1974.

The Not So Obvious – In last Saturday CIF Boys' championship, Phillips son, Torey, was a starting forward on the Pasadena High CIF basketball champions. Torey, a 6-4 senior (Charles was 6-3), scored 17 points last Saturday in the Bulldogs victory. FYI, Charles attended Pasadena Blair and was the quarterback of one of SoCal's greatest backfields, which included running backs James McAlister and Kermit Johnson, both of whom attended that school in Westwood.

The Obvious – Defensive end Wes Horton (6-5, 236) from Notre Dame High in Sherman Oaks (CA) has verbally committed to the Trojans.

The Not So Obvious – Let's get out the important stuff; the kid wears No. 56. Suddenly, that UCLA upset of the Trojans is sinking faster than Karl Dorrell can hold on to legacy recruits. For the second time within a year, the Trojan snatched the son of a former Bruins, Marc Tyler, son of former UCLA running back great Wendell, and now Horton, son of former UCLA lineman Myke Horton (73&74). UCLA fans will point to the Bruins Justin Hickman, son of former Trojan guard Donnie, as earlier sweet revenge, but the legacy scorecard now reads USC 2, UCLA 1, and the Ken Norton curse on the boys from Westwood continues. So much for the Dwayne Walker factor, as well.

The Obvious –Trojan fans have seen the attention that UCLA fans have placed on their 13-9 football victory over the Men of Troy.

The Not So Obvious – So it shouldn't come as too much of a surprise that the official UCLA Athletic Department website is advertising the sale of a 13"x28" limited lithograph edition of game action from last December's Bruin victory. With one large ground level shot and six smaller photos below, this little Bruin gridiron aphrodisiac is selling for $29.99. Among the photo shots are Eric McNeil's interception of John David Booty and Justin Hickman's sacking of John David. This looks like the perfect picture to hang down in the locker area of Heritage Hall during Bruin week next season. You know the old O/NSO feels it is our duty to keep the Cardinal and Gold focused for rivalry week. Oh, and in the lithograph advertisement, it is mentioned that the these are ‘some of the Bruin highlights that ended the Trojans' hopes for a berth in the BCS title game." And you wonder, among other things, why the current recruiting war against the Bruins has escalated?

The Obvious – The committee that directs the Cotton Bowl has voted to move the traditional game to the new Dallas Cowboys stadium in Arlington beginning in 2010.

The Not So Obvious - It is always a sad moment in sports when one of its cathedrals is put out to pasture. Most believe the eventual goal of the move is get the "new" Cotton Bowl as part of the BCS equation and a national championship game visit. The Trojans lone appearance in the Cotton Bowl was in 1995 as quarterback Rob Johnson and wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson lead the Men of Troy to a resounding 55-14 victory before a sellout crowd of 70,218.

The Obvious – Pat Haden is a former Trojan All-America quarterback and truly one of the greatest quarterbacks in Southern California prep history.

The Not So Obvious – The more the O/NSO watches Mater Dei junior-to-be quarterback Matt Barkley (6-3, 222), the more strikingly he is starting to resemble a much bigger version of Pat Haden at the same stage. Some may make the Carson Palmer comparison, but we see more Haden than Palmer. Not only is the kid a reported Trojan lean already, he'll have the benefit of putting some years between himself and current young Trojan quarterbacks like Aaron Corp by the time he graduates. As they say, timing is everything.

The Obvious – When it comes to spring practice, many Trojan fans are frothing with excitement over the wide receiver competition to replace All-Americans Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith.

The Not So Obvious – As for the O/NSO, we don't necessarily disagree that the fight to replace Jarrett and Smith won't be interesting, but for our money, there will be no better competition of interest than the candidates to replace All-Everything center Ryan Kalil. Just viewing those snapshots of junior Jeff Byers and sophomore Nick Howell snapping balls to John David Booty and Mark Sanchez reminds us why spring ball should be a real competitive hoot.

The Obvious – And finally, Gene Chizik, once defensive coordinator for consecutive undefeated clubs at Auburn and Texas, is the new head coach at Iowa State.

The Not So Obvious – Trojan fans remember the guru anointment of Chizik's defensive ability during the weeks leading up to the national championship tilt with the Texas Longhorns in the Rose Bowl. Yep, the Longhorn's won, which only goes to show in an interview or job application, a win over a Pete Carroll team certainly doesn't hurt, even when your defense gives up 38 points.

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