O/NSO: Parade edition

As a parade of major announcements is just beginning to trumpet an exciting and new direction for WeAreSC.com, the opening salvo of the much-anticipated parade of college football magazines is hitting the stands, and the highly respected Lindy's national preview is first up and to the surprise of nobody, Pete Carroll's Trojans are ranked No. 1 in the country for 2007.

The Obvious – As a parade of major announcements is just beginning to trumpet an exciting and new direction for WeAreSC.com, the opening salvo of the much-anticipated parade of college football magazines is hitting the stands, and the highly respected Lindy's national preview is first up and to the surprise of nobody, Pete Carroll's Trojans are ranked No. 1 in the country for 2007.

The Not So Obvious – Yes, good subscribers, WeAreSC.com, like Carroll's Men of Troy, is on the move and while our staff knows exactly where we're going and is quite excited for the future, it's all about timing, as all parties involved are professionally wrapping up the past, present, and future. In the meantime, Lindy's writes "Unless you're a Trojan, you probably hope some NFL team dangles a monstrous enough carrot (Brinks truck full of cash, team ownership, full control…whatever) that finally lures away the King of L.A. because if Pete Carroll stays at Southern California for much longer, the annual race to the BCS championship game is going to become a yearly chase ‘to see who gets to play SC."

The Obvious – Most experts are in agreement that this year's Trojan defense should rank at or near the top as the best in the country.

The Not So Obvious – Lindy's defensive ranking of unit positions seems to second that notion. The 2007 Trojan defensive is Lindy's top ranked unit at defensive line, linebackers, AND defensive backs. In other words, opposing offenses would have a better chance of hitting home runs against Sandy Koufax, Nolan Ryan, and Roger Clemens combined than scoring touchdowns against Carroll's vaunted eleven.

The Obvious – There isn't a 2007 publication that will come out that won't present its All-America team.

The Not So Obvious – Lindy's first team All-America offense includes the Trojans' lone representative, Trojan All-America tackle Sam Baker, and there are no members of the Cardinal and Gold on the second team. Trojan quarterback John David Booty takes a backseat to Hawaii's Colt Brennan (first team) and Louisville's Brian Brohm (second team). Defense, of course, is another story. Trojans' senior defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis and senior linebacker Keith Rivers are first team selections, while junior linebacker Rey Maualuga is on the second All-American unit.

The Obvious – Most knowledgeable people believe that if the Trojans are to stub their toe along the 2007 way, it will be on the road.

The Not So Obvious –Lincoln, Seattle, South Bend, Eugene, Berkeley, and Tempe are all traditionally potential landmines. Before you smirk at the Huskies, remember old Ty Willingham's dogs gave the Trojans a heck of a scare last season in the Coliseum. For 2007, Lindy's believes that Nebraska will give the Trojans all they can handle. So where does Lindy's nationally rank the Trojans' road opponents? Lindy's says Cal (#12) Nebraska (#25), ASU (#30), Notre Dame (#36), Oregon (#47), and Washington (#66). And where does Lindy's nationally rank the home schedule opponents? In order of difficulty, Lindy's says UCLA (#22), Oregon St. (#32), Arizona (#46), Washington St. (#71), Stanford (#79), and Idaho (#110).

The Obvious – ESPN announced this week that it will be hosting and sponsoring the ESPN All-America High School Game, which will debut on Jan. 5, 2008 at Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

The Not So Obvious - Eighty of the top high school football players in the country will be selected, and the game will go head-to-head with the Army All-American Bowl, which will be played in San Antonio the same day. In an interview on Bucknuts.com, an ESPN Ohio St. web affiliate, ESPN recruiting coordinator Craig Haubert said, "It's going to be the first weekend of January and the game will be played on a Saturday. It's going to be down in Orlando and the whole week of festivities will be down there. We're going to have coverage of the game on ABC and we're also going to have coverage of the practices on ESPN U and coverage of the skills challenge on ESPN 2. There will be a lot of opportunities for not just the kids and coaches to get involved, but for the fans to follow these kids throughout the week on TV much like fans have done with the Senior Bowl."

The Obvious – The ESPN All-America Game and the U.S. Army Game is Jan 5 and the BCS championship is Jan 7 in New Orleans.

The Not So Obvious – Well, in a conversation with WeAreSC.com publisher Garry Paskwietz over the transitional state of affairs within our site, the O/NSO mentioned to the boss the possibility that some Trojan verbals could play in the ESPN game and some could participate the U.S. Army Game. Throw in the fact that the Men of Troy could be in New Orleans during the same week getting ready for another national championship game appearance, and we both chuckled loudly at the very real possibility that the WeAreSC.com staff could be spread across the country in the effort to bring you all the very best in Trojan coverage. We both agreed that it would be a true cardinal and gold labor of love.

The Obvious – Last weekend marked what would have been John Wayne's 100th birthday.

The Not So Obvious – It is well known that the "Duke" played some football on scholarship for legendary coach Howard Jones. What might not be known is that Wayne's Trojan football career ended with an off-field injury. Years later the Duke said he was too afraid to tell Jones that his Trojan ending injury was from body surfing at the "Wedge" in Newport Beach. And as they say, the rest is history.

The Obvious – It's always fun when one of our WeAreSC subscribers turns out to be a Trojan football player past, present, or future.

The Not So Obvious – One of the topics that many Trojan fans have great interest in is what are some of their heroes doing currently. Received a very nice email from former Trojan linebacker Kevin Bruce (1973, 1974, 1975), the former big hitter from La Canada St. Francis. Kevin wrote "Greg! Still got my hair (platinum highlights, I'm afraid but no skin!!), Trimmed to 205 but still banging the plates hard but with a trainer, as I had to rework all my entire routines after about 36-years-old. Shoulders are now shot, so I limit range of motion but still can get 6 reps on incline press with 405 and 10 reps with flat dumbbells with 120." Don't know about you, but it sure sounds like old Kevin could fit right in with Pete Carroll's parade of All-America linebackers.

The Obvious – Thanks to remarks concerning the future of Pete Carroll by new Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh, the Oct. 6 meeting in the Coliseum between the Trojans and the Cardinal figures to get the full attention of Trojan fans everywhere.

The Not So Obvious – Well, maybe not everywhere. While the Trojan fans will be anticipating a gridiron response to Harbaugh by the Cardinal and Gold, on the same Saturday in the Rose Bowl, Notre Dame is visiting the Westwooders for a prime time ABC nationally televised game at 5:00. With that in mind, what a tizzy and dizzy of a day it could be for a Trojan fan. October 6 is shaping up as a Cirque du Soleil of college football Trojan rivals in our fair city. It all could turn into one giant nirvana Saturday if the Stanford kickoff time allows for double viewing.

The Obvious – WeAreSC's Brian Mathews gave a fine overview of the depth of the Trojan secondary, which is needless to say, as deep as a baritone.

The Not So Obvious – Yes, there are stars galore, but the O/NSO is especially intrigued in following the continuing progress of former Colton star Shareece Wright, who not only brings the hammer to ball carriers but the wood and the nails. When you talk about pushing for playing time, don't turn your head for a second with this kid.

The Obvious – KSPN710 is the flagship station of Trojan football.

The Not So Obvious – As a sign of the countdown to kickoff, the Trojans' radio station is running daily commercials promoting the number of days until the opening kickoff against Idaho.

The Obvious – One of the more respected national college football writers is ESPN.com's Ivan Maisel.

The Not So Obvious – In a tasty little questionnaire entitled "Can't wait to see these things this fall," Maisel's No. 2 item of three read, "Once again, USC will begin the season as the consensus No. 1. The teams of the Leinart-Bush Era seemed infallible. This one doesn't. The defense will be good. The running game has got to prove itself and give quarterback John David Booty room to breathe."

The Obvious – It appears that if one is an assistant coach to Pete Carroll, one has the inside track to becoming a head coach in the future.

The Not So Obvious – ESPN.com's Bruce Feldman agrees by writing "Athletic directors love to hire guys who have been around winning programs and right now having the Pete Carroll-connection is as good as you can get." Feldman cites current Trojan coaches Steve Sarkisian, Ken Norton, and Rocky Seto as future head coaching candidates.

The Obvious – Earlier this week, Trojan safety Josh Pinkard and linebacker Kaluka Maiava made headlines with an alleged DUI arrest of Pinkard and Maiava's alledged involvement in a fight in Hawaii.

The Not So Obvious – Common, nobody has been any more disenchanted with some of the past off-season headlines than the O/NSO. But really, is this national headline material if these players played somewhere else other than USC? No, for the safety of himself and others, Josh should not have been behind the wheel if he was beyond the legal limit. As for Kaluka, it appears he was defending his brother in a real mismatch of numbers. Neither player has been labeled a past discipline problem and let's not turn them into one. Maybe there is more to it, but until there is, this appears to be the proverbial molehill into a mountain.

The Obvious – The Shrine Game, once the premier high school all-star football game in California, has finally been put to rest.

The Not So Obvious – The O/NSO touched on this possibility before, but the announced death of this game is truly a sad and unfortunate development. There were so many great players down through the decades when the game was Northern versus Southern California. We remember seeing the likes of NorCal stars like quarterback Jim Plunkett and even state politician John Garamendi. It would takes weeks to go over all the SoCal stars, but you could start with the likes of Sam Cunningham (photo) and just about every Trojan that mattered over the many decades. And don't forget John Elway. A sad day, indeed.

The Obvious – One of the arguments against summer high school all-star games is the potential for injury, especially in this day and age of increased freshman playing time.

The Not So Obvious – Now that most prep stars are now enrolled in the summer school of their signed letter of intent, the injury factor is almost a non-issue. It does recall the story of many, many, many years ago when a sensational running back named Mickey Cureton from Compton Centennial played in the Shrine Game, which at that time was played in a well attended Coliseum. As fate would have it, Cureton, who signed with UCLA after a fierce recruiting battle with the Trojans, brought the huge crowd to its feet when he broke loose in the Shrine Game with an electrifying long run only to be tackled from behind, which created a major knee injury. Even without freshman eligibility, Cureton was never the same. The perpetrator of the long come-from-behind-tackle? An original "Wild Bunch" Trojan by the name of Charlie Weaver from Richmond High, who eventually transferred from Arizona Western CC.

The Obvious – We are quickly reaching the point where college football fans are getting antsy for the start of the 2007 season.

The Not So Obvious – Okay, while most Trojans fans can't wait for the season opener against Idaho on Sept. 1, you can turn your attention to the first televised college game of the season when ESPN2 (5 p.m. PDT) opens with that highly anticipated Tulsa at Louisiana-Monroe clash. Need a carrot to watch? Trojan quarterback transfer Mitch Mustain's former high school coach and Arkansas offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn will make his debut as OC of the Golden Hurricanes.

The Obvious – USA Today ran a sports cover story early this week over the turmoil in the Arkansas football program and a sidebar story on Mitch Mustain's transfer to Troy.

The Not So Obvious – No new earth shattering news about the history of the Arkansas problems, but you know it was still difficult in some respects for Mitch to transfer out when his mother, Beck Campbell, an Arkansas graduate, in the story commented, "Mitchell would have been a fourth-generation graduate."

The Obvious – There has always been the perception that USC is the football school and UCLA is the basketball school.

The Not So Obvious –UCLA football coach Karl Dorrell must have been pleased to see that stereotype rear its ugly head as legendary center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will be the commencement speaker for the Westwooders' graduation.

The Obvious – Over the years, a large number of Trojan football fans have received a great deal of pleasure, both home and away, listening to well-produced CDs of Dr. Art Bartner's incomparable Trojan Marching Band.

The Not So Obvious – A new CD is available entitled "The Sound of Victory: The USC Trojan Marching Band" ($17.95). Hoping to capture the spirit of selected live pre-game and halftime performances beginning in 2002 and incorporating the public address voice of Dennis Packer, like the disappointment of the current Pirates of the Caribbean release, this CD unfortunately falls far short of its entertainment value. Packer's gifted voice is mostly inaudible, crowd noise overwhelms the performances, and even the beginning of Conquest in the fifth selection is cut off in its stirring opening. All in all, a good idea has been released as a bad production. As a lover of college bands, we have heard live CD arrangements, our friends in South Bend to name one, and they are very enjoyable from public announcers to musicians. No, we don't expect studio quality in a live stadium, but we don't expect something that sounds like somebody used a tape recorder from the stands, although The Sound of Victory CD liner notes say it was recorded in high-resolution, 24-bit studio quality digital recording. There is no bigger fan of the Trojan Marching Band than the O/NSO, but here's hoping future copies of The Sound of Victory can be revised and reproduced at the quality level that all Trojan and college football fans can enjoy.

The Obvious – Next Saturday, the Trojans Skills Camp will take place on campus.

The Not So Obvious – While everybody points to the prep players that did sign with the Trojans from these camps, there are some campers who went in different directions. Many of the WeAreSC staff members recall the day we saw current Oklahoma redshirt freshman running back DeMarco Murray on Howard Jones Field. In our opinion, Murray was by far the most electrifying back on the grass. Apparently his skills are still held in high regard in Norman as the former Las Vegas prep star reportedly ran the 40-yard dash in 4.43 seconds and had a 41-inch vertical leap during Oklahoma's off-season conditioning. During spring contact, Murray averaged 11.3 yards per carry. Of course, Trojan fans can't do too much wishful thinking when it comes to tailbacks, so help me Allen Bradford, Jordan Campbell, Hershel Dennis (photo), C.J. Gable, Broderick Green, Stanley Havili, Stafon Johnson, Joe McKnight, Emmanuel Moody, Desmond Reed, Marc Tyler, and Chauncey Washington.

The Obvious – Pre-season All-America linebacker candidate Keith Rivers wears jersey No. 55.

The Not So Obvious – A number of Trojan fans are curious as to whom will get the coveted No. 55 after Keith goes to the NFL. From the recent WeAreSC.com video, Marquis Simmons, the Trojan's junior-to-be verbal looks like a worthy candidate. The kid has a bit of a head start, considering he has worn No. 55 at Compton Dominguez. Senior-to-be brother Maurice Simmons, another Simmons factory verbal for the Trojans, looks to be in good shape for his Trojan jersey number. With no current Trojan defender wearing No. 1, it looks like Maurice has the perfect timing when he trades in his Dominguez No. 1 for a Trojan No. 1. Yes, we know wide receiver Patrick Turner wears No. 1, but Pete Carroll has no problem with a defensive player also wearing the same number. That's one way to double your chances of landing a recruit from either side of the ball.

The Obvious –, Lindy's 2007 national preview cover has a large photo of standout Arkansas running back Darren McFadden, considered by many, the lead candidate in the 2007 Heisman Trophy race.

The Not So Obvious –Hmm… For the record, in two years of competition against Pete Carroll's defense, McFadden, and, yes, you may factor in both the Razorbacks' freshman inexperience at the Coliseum and his highly publicized injury last season in Fayetteville, is a bottom-line 88 yards rushing in 2005 and 42 yards rushing in 2006. Just maybe that smaller Lindy's cover shot of Trojan linebacker Keith Rivers deserved a little larger recognition. One thing for certain, you won't hear McFadden or his fellow Hogs screaming for a third defensive meeting with the Cardinal and Gold, so help me John Heisman.

The Obvious – And finally, Ben Franklin once wrote, "Three may keep a secret if two of them are dead."

The Not So Obvious – Well, for the most part, WeAreSC's move from Scout.com was a pretty well kept secret. Sure there were a few privy to the business transaction, but mum was pretty much the word. Now comes the harder part. Will Franklin's little proverb maintain until the very near announcement of WeAreSC's future plans? For those that can't wait, as the O/NSO likes to say, "Tomorrow will be yesterday, the day after tomorrow."


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