O/NSO: Las Vegas edition

As Pete Carroll's 2007 Trojans conclude spring practice this Saturday, all rabid Trojan fans will be awaiting the release of the all-holy depth chart. However, Las Vegas isn't waiting for the final spring whistle as the Wynn Race and Sports Book has installed the Cardinal and Gold as a current 3-1 favorite to win the 2008 BCS Championship in Louisiana's Superdome on January 8th.

The Obvious – As Pete Carroll's 2007 Trojans conclude spring practice this Saturday, all rabid Trojan fans will be awaiting the release of the all-holy depth chart, which is scheduled to come out before Saturday morning's final scrimmage. However, Las Vegas isn't waiting for the final spring whistle as the Wynn Race and Sports Book has installed the Cardinal and Gold as a current 3-1 favorite to win the 2008 BCS Championship in Louisiana's Superdome on January 8th.

The Not So Obvious – Your humble scribe had the opportunity to spend the early part of this week at Wynn's opulent centerpiece hotel and reading the latest odds to win the 2008 title was encouraging for Trojan fans. While the Trojans originally opened at 5-2, Michigan was the next closest pursuer opening and currently installed at 6-1. Although we aren't a sports gambler, it was interesting to see where some of the Trojan opponents rate. Nebraska is currently 20-1 to win it all, while Notre Dame is 40-1. Cal is 50-1, and Oregon State is 75-1. Okay, for enquiring minds, the Westwooders are 100-1. Defending champs Florida are 8-1.

The Obvious – There are always plenty of Trojan fans to be seen in a trip to "Vegas."

The Not So Obvious – That was never more evident than when we took in "Love," the Beatles musical at the Mirage. There were all sorts of Trojan sweatshirts and fans giving the old two-fingered fight-on sign as they walked by each other. BTW, if you get a chance to see Love, which is like stepping into a living Sergeant Pepper album, it is well worth it. It is highly entertaining and if you're into the history of the Beatles and the music, it will blow you away. The large Beatles gift shop is a hoot and leaves you with a lot of yeah, yeah, yeah.

The Obvious – Reggie Bush visited practice on Tuesday.

The Not So Obvious – The Bush arrival was also big news in Las Vegas. Yes sir, news travels mighty fast on the old www. The Wynn provided the Internet with the usual $11 charge, so news travels fast and expensive. However, the news of Reggie's appearance was not as surprising as getting Wynn complementary his-and-her slippers (a $12 value) in room 1453 to go along with the plasma HD television in the main room to go along with the LCD in the bathroom and comp valet parking. Okay, so Reggie's run against Fresno State was better than the comp slippers. We admit that The Roadrunner's Fresno dagger run was as near entertaining as the Wynn hotel's hilarious Broadway hit Spamalot, the celebrated Monty Python spoof on King Author's search for the Holy Grail. Go see it, Trojan fans, you'll laugh your Don Imus off.

The Obvious – Due to potential opponent scouting, it is well known that Pete Carroll has no interest in televising such events as the Trojan Huddle, the Trojans spring public scrimmage in the Coliseum.

The Not So Obvious – From the Nebraska official athletic site, "Football fans throughout the United States will have an opportunity to watch Saturday's Nebraska's Red-White Game from Memorial Stadium. The Nebraska Athletic Department and NFL Network have reached an agreement for the game to be carried on a tape-delay basis on the network on Saturday evening at 8 p.m. CDT." Now you don't think old Pete will have the old recorder on for that one do you? Nah, just Pete and every other rabid Trojan fan. FYI, Greg Sharpe will call the play-by-play action for the NFL Network. Sharpe will be joined by Nebraska Head Coach Bill Callahan.

The Obvious – After all the younger tailbacks have been put on the injured shelf for the spring, Pete Carroll said, "It's hurting their chances. That's how it goes. It's unfortunate for them."

The Not So Obvious – Although it's true what the coach is saying, one can't help but feel that the comments may be setting in motion the reality that when it's all said and done, oldsters like Hershel Dennis, Chauncey Washington, and Desmond Reed may be logically being positioned to spearhead the Trojan running game in 2007. And, yes, we said Hershel Dennis. Further cementing that argument, Carroll said on Thursday that if the Trojans had a game on Saturday, the starter would be Chauncey Washington because C.J. Gable is injured.

The Obvious – Linebacker Keith Rivers and All-America offensive tackle Sam Baker are named to the 2007 Playboy All-America team.

The Not So Obvious – Are you surprised that All-Pac-10 junior middle linebacker Rey Maualuga wasn't invited? Are you surprised that All-Pac-10 quarterback John David Booty wasn't invited? Are you surprised that All-Pac-10 nose tackle Sedrick Ellis and Lawrence Jackson didn't get an invite? Considering the Trojans figure to be Playboy's No. 1 team, are you surprised that Pete Carroll wasn't invited? As they say at Playboy, get the picture?

The Obvious – Linebacker Anthony McDonald of Notre Dame High of Sherman Oaks commits to Notre Dame of South Bend.

The Not So Obvious – Daddy Mike, the former Trojan linebacker, says he is thrilled that his son will play for the Irish. Hey, if the Trojans feel Anthony is not in their plans, why shouldn't old Mike feel happy for his son? During Mike's time at Troy (1976-79), the Cardinal and Gold were 3-1, the lone win coming in South Bend.

The Obvious – After practice on Thursday, Pete Carroll announced that senior Drew Radovich had won the right tackle position.

The Not So Obvious – One of the interesting spring developments was the immediate placement of 2006 starting left guard Drew Radovich to right tackle, a position that also included rapidly developing sophomore Charles Brown. On Thursday, Charles told the O/NSO, " My expectations going into the spring was I was expecting to learn a lot at the right tackle spot because Drew and I were competing all spring for that spot. Turned out pretty good because I've gotten a lot better, but I am still with the "2's," so I am still not doing it." Was Charles initially surprised that Radovich was moved to the right tackle spot he thought he had the inside track? "I was a little surprised because I was working with the "1's, but it's not a problem, it's just something I have to work through." So what does Charles see as his position strength? "I think my strength is pass protecting. I am real good at pass protecting. Run blocking I can improve a little bit. There is a lot of technique and footwork, staying on the man, and getting your hands inside. It's more difficult than you think. I think our offense line is real good right now, solid. Compared to last year, I am not sure of our line is better than a year ago at this stage, but coach Ruel says it is."

The Obvious – In our O/NSO Huddle Review edition, we gave high marks to the 2007 schedule poster.

The Not So Obvious – One very important aspect of the poster that we unintentionally overlooked was the recognition tribute to the late Mario Danelo, the Trojans placekicker extraordinaire. In the upper right hand side of the poster above the helmet of offensive guard Chilo Rachal is a brown football with No. 19 and the name Mario Danelo. Just to the left of the football is Mario's favorite line of just "Living the Dream."

The Obvious – Stockton Lincoln offensive tackle Matt Meyers has announced he will graduate high school early so he can participate in the Trojans 2008 spring practice.

The Not So Obvious – After our interview of Matt at the Huddle, we aren't surprised at the announcement at all. It all bodes well in the future for Pat Ruel's offensive depth, especially with Martin Coleman, another mid-year high school grad completing his early entrance gridiron experience on Saturday.

The Obvious – Comedian Will Ferrell, the local product out of Irvine University High and USC alum, will be part of a Trojan swimming fundraiser at the McDonalds's Swim Stadium on campus following Saturday's final practice

The Not So Obvious – Ferrell will be part of the "Pete vs Will Challenge," and you can bet the celebrity status of Farrell and the celebrity status of Carroll will be entertainingly on display. When people ask the O/NSO what is the difference between John McKay and Pete Carroll from a public relations standout point, we often say, "John McKay is royalty and Pete Carroll is celebrity." Don't think we'd Saint John in a swim competition.

The Obvious – Canada is generally not considered a real fertile ground for college football talent

The Not So Obvious – The Trojans did find one Canadian nugget in their prep camps last spring in Vancouver, British Columbia talent Trey Henderson, who signed with Troy and is town not only to see his future team but also throw the hammer and the discus in the prestigious Mt. Sac Relays. Trey, who spent some time with the O/NSO after Thursday's practice, is chomping at the bit to get his Trojans career started. He said, " I love it here and I am dying to get out there. The fans back home are excited about me playing here and representing British Columbia. I will attend summer school here and coach Holt wants me to be at 265." Trey, who says he is currently 6-foot-3 1/2 and 267 pounds, informed the O/NSO that it hasn't been decided whether he will begin his career as a defensive end or defensive tackle. As for being a late rush recruit, Trey said, "When I left the (USC) spring camp last year, I knew this where I wanted to go."

The Obvious – Junior Jeff Byers is now getting the late promised look as the Trojan center.

The Not So Obvious – Byers, who is finally healthy but did not practice on Thursday due to illness, has shown a real talent for his left guard spot, and it would surprise us if he is the starting center when the depth chart comes out. However, stranger things have happened, especially if senior Matt Spanos doesn't heal from his high ankle sprain between now and August.

The Obvious – There is no better city rivalry in the country than USC and UCLA.

The Not So Obvious – And there are times when that rivalry is used for commercial purposes. Take for example the York advertisement in this week's Sports Illustrated. The ad features a husband and wife sitting atop their own cardinal and gold and blue and gold air conditioning units that are encased with each school's script With a small title reading "Marriage counseling sold separately, the ad says, "House divided? No problem. With York's Affinity Series Air Conditioners and Heat Pumps, you can pump school spirit straight into your home." The ad goes on to list the reasons you should buy their product and, no, we aren't giving a number. We've done enough free advertising as it is.

The Obvious – On Thursday, the rules oversight panel approved two major timing changes that would revert the rules to what they were in 2005 -- stopping the clock on possession changes and not starting it on kickoffs until the receiving team touches the ball.

The Not So Obvious – A rule that could really affect the Trojans is the one in which kickoffs will be made from the 30-yard line, like in the NFL, instead of the 35. With the success of C.J. Gable in kick returning and the expected contribution of incoming freshmen Joe McKnight and Ron Johnson, the change in rule couldn't have come at a better time for the Trojans.

The Obvious – The rules oversight panel will also begin considering a play clock that alternates between 40 seconds and 25 seconds, depending on whether the clock has stopped. The NFL uses that system, and the committee thinks it could speed up games.

The Not So Obvious – The new rule we like is the one which also begins the play at 15 seconds coming out of a television commercial. Most Trojan fans sitting in a stadium can almost go home, shower, eat a meal, and get back in time thanks to the endless minutes of commercials from a "media" timeout.

The Obvious – Former Trojan All-American receiver Keyshawn Johnson will be inducted into the 2007 Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame on April 17 at Cotton Bowl Plaza in Fair Park.

The Not So Obvious – Key, who was named 1995 Cotton Bowl Offensive MVP when he caught eight passes for game-records of 222 yards and three touchdown in the Trojans' 55-14 victory against Texas Tech, was the foreshadowing for big Trojan receivers to follow like Mike Williams and Dwayne Jarrett. Also included in the induction ceremony will be former Notre Dame coach Ara Parseghian, who probably cringed a little bit knowing he would have to share the podium with a Trojan but was probably relieved that Anthony Davis was not part of the festivities.

The Obvious – It has been documented the O/NSO aversion to heights.

The Not So Obvious – Even though we were on the comforts of the ground during Thursday's wind extravaganza, we have to tip our WeAreSC cap to the two men who defied nature and still went up on the "lift" to film practice from high up.

The Obvious – As reported by WeAreSC, New Jersey prep linebacker Brendan Beal was in attendance on Thursday.

The Not So Obvious – Standing next to Brian Cushing, the Trojans' standout linebacker from the Garden State, Brendan is taller and appears larger in size than Brian, but Brian has that Coach Carlisle "look," so it might be premature to say which player weights more. Brendan, who will stay through Sunday morning, was escorted around practice by former fullback Brandon Hancock, and both Brendan and Brandon have one thing in common despite their age. Both are carrying a high academic GPA and there is no better person to extol the virtues of academics at Troy than the cerebral Mr. Hancock.

The Obvious – And finally, Trojan fans display their loyalty in many ways such as clothing, car flags, and cell phone fight-on rings.

The Not So Obvious – One of the better signs of Trojan football fanaticism was displayed in one of the parking structures on campus. The license plate of one car read "We Ready," a reference to one of the chants Pete Carroll's team uses coming on to the field, home and away.


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