O/NSO: Camp Ducat edition

In southern California, when it rains it pours and in the case of the USC football program, this week brought forth a storm of activity commencing with the Trojans' off-season workouts at Camp Carlisle, packaged and individual ticket sales, the unveiling of additional kick-off times, all precluding this weekend's intensive high school skills and linemen camps on Brian Kennedy-Howard Jones Fields.

The Obvious – In southern California, when it rains it pours and in the case of the USC Trojan football program, this week brought forth a storm of activity commencing with the Trojans' off-season team workouts at Camp Carlisle, packaged and individual ticket sales, the unveiling of additional kick-off times, all precluding this weekend's intensive high school skills and linemen camps on Brian Kennedy-Howard Jones Fields.

The Not So Obvious – Whoa! When you add it all up, there's enough on-going activity to almost eliminate the term "off-season." First, for all those gridiron dreamers, there is the Trojan fantasy camp, but this past Monday, for Pete Carroll's pre-ranked No. 1 team it was a reality camp. You could tell by the looks on the eyes of Pete Carroll's troops this week that they understand just how high the bar has been set for 2007. Next, turn your head towards the main campus and the ticket office windows have reopened pre-sale records could again be in the offering. Then, of course, there is the "traveling" Trojan fan base that might have been caught by surprise by the announced noon kick-off time in Eugene, creating a frenzy of "landing" decisions between Portland and Eugene. All this and the exciting verbal possibilities of this weekend, as many of the nation's finest prep performers strut their stuff on Saturday and Sunday in front of the calculating, eyeballing Trojan coaching staff.

The Obvious – The Trojans have begun their Camp Carlisle workouts on campus.

The Not So Obvious – We are happy to report that All-America offensive tackle Sam Baker was good to his earlier word and has not shaved his beard. If there is another remake of the classic Gregory Peck motion picture Moby Dick, we nominate the Trojans friendly giant as Captain Ahab, captain of Herman Melville's fictional Pequod, in honor of his facial growth. Speaking of hair, that is defensive tackle Fili Moala with the new buzz cut, isn't it? Somebody is taking his starting tackle position and team ranking seriously.

The Obvious – Coach Chris Carlisle's summer workouts have the players in shirts and shorts and it allows spectators to see just how much many of these players have built up their body armor outside of their pads.

The Not So Obvious – If ever there is a poster boy for growth heading into one's senior year, just take a glance at senior linebacker Keith Rivers. You have to be impressed at how physical Keith is looking these days and much of it has to do with completing a four-year program. It will bode well for the pre-season All-America come the NFL draft next spring. Of course, everything may be become relative after seeing the physical specimen that is nose tackle Sedrick Ellis. Just wait till old Sed gets off that team bus in Lincoln and those Husker fans get a good look at the nation's premier nose tackle. Ellis is what the nose tackle for the No. 1 team in the country is supposed to look like. Somebody you'd like to introduce to your worst enemy.

The Obvious – One player to keep an eye on even in summer workouts is sophomore tailback Emmanuel Moody, who looks healed from his past medical issues.

The Not So Obvious – While many will be looking at the three entering freshmen superstar tailbacks, we kind of get an impression that Moody won't go quietly in the night when it comes time to compete. No one argues that Moody wasn't the Trojans most explosive back when healthy, and it figures that Emmanuel will not only be a healthy back but a more mature one with a season under his belt.

The Obvious – This week's ESPN magazine cover shot is of former Trojan All-America quarterback Matt Leinart.

The Not So Obvious – With a former ESPN magazine cover of himself in a Trojan home jersey, Matt is shown ripping an ESPN magazine in half. Don't get alarmed and send for the Blog Control, the mini caption says, "Matt Leinart Takes Charge." The story is essentially a diary in Matt's words of his fall in the draft and his new-found assignment of covering this year's NFL owners meetings as a reporter for ESPN The Magazine. In a revealing comments, Matt says, "I know some teams thought I was Hollywood. But the Titans knew better. Jeff Fisher is an SC guy, and they took Vince (Young). It still hurts."

The Obvious – Nobody in recent memory was more under the college spotlight in his Heisman career than Matt Leinart.

The Not So Obvious – Now working as a reporter for ESPN The Magazine, Lefty figured his first subject at the NFL owners meetings in Phoenix would be former Trojan coach Lane Kiffin, now the head man with the Raiders. In the article, Matt turns to Kiffin and tongue-in-cheek says, "Yo! Kiff! I'm working for ESPN The Magazine. I had to take such a pay cut after dropping in the draft. I needed a second job and I have a question for you." Leinart even asks Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher why he fell so far in the draft. Fisher tells Matt that Norm Chow, the Titans offensive coordinator, was not allowed in the Titans' draft room because "we wanted an objective approach." Say, if Leinart really gets good at this reporter schtick, he might even make it as a WeAreSC scribe (lol).

The Obvious – It was no surprise this week that when the USC Trojan ticket began accepting "mini" seasonal ticket and individual game ticket applications.

The Not So Obvious – There were plenty of takers, despite the fact that some of the Coliseum seats weren't exactly at mid-field. As a public service to those who care, the O/NSO did a quick survey of the individual tickets available and found whether it was the home opener against Idaho on Sept. 1 or the Homecoming revenge game against Oregon State on Nov.3, the peristyle end locations of the seats sent a powerful message that sellouts for a less than spectacular home slate are going to be par for the season. Trojan games under Pete Carroll have turned into a major Los Angeles happening, whether it's Idaho or Oregon State, it matters little. When you're the No. 1 team in the nation, it is an event.

The Obvious – The Trojans open the season by hosting Idaho on Sept. 1.

The Not So Obvious – In the O/NSO quick on-line ticket survey, a base priced $45 ticket from the official Trojan athletic site will get you into Section 2L, Row 65, Seat 21.

The Obvious – The Trojan host Oregon State for Homecoming on Nov.3.

The Not So Obvious – Another on-line "survey" showed that a $45 ticket for the Beavers places you in Section 29H, Row 90, Seat 121.

The Obvious – Father's Day will be next Sunday, June 17.

The Not So Obvious – Oh dear, what's a Trojan family to do for the cardinal and gold dad that has everything? Well, how about a remarkable replica of the Los Angeles Coliseum? We have mentioned it before but for a cool $75, you can have your own peristyle, Roman columns, and the legendary entrance player tunnel from DanburyMint.com. The model is dressed in "Trojan Game Day" and is 12 1/2" long by 10" wide. There is even one in the Trojan coaches reception office in Heritage Hall. Just go to DanburyMint.com and click on sports. Then click on "colleges" or "stadiums" and see for yourself. No, the O/NSO doesn't get a commission, but we can speak from first-hand experience; we've got one in our bedroom. In other words, honey, just shrink me and let the imagination fly.

The Obvious – ESPN.com has come out with its 2007 watch list of the top 150 prep seniors for next season and a good number of the locals listed are expected to participate this weekend's skills and linemen camps and/or the Rising Seniors Camp in two weeks.

The Not So Obvious – A number of Trojan verbals made the 150 cut including DE Wes Horton, OL Matt Kalil, RB Curtis McNeal, OL Matt Meyer, LB Maurice Simmons, and D.J. Shoemate, who was listed as a running back. Some of the locals to make ESPN's list include TE Blake Ayles, DT Jurrell Casey, OL Khaled Holmes, LB Lynn Katoa, ATH Gerrell Robinson, OL Tyron Smith, and OL Max Tuioti-Mariner. Trojan wide receiver verbal Chris Polk was not listed, but this list is fluid and ESPN is expected to have one its main recruiting writers in town this weekend, so that could change for Chris who is expected to perform on Saturday.

The Obvious – Servite offensive tackle Matt Kalil, considered the top offensive tackle in America, will participate during Sunday's linemen camp festivities.

The Not So Obvious – Kalil is certainly is the main headliner name for the linemen camp. Matt will again be a marked man on Sunday, and there will be those "contestants" that will beg to make a name of themselves at his expense. However, if the Scout.com combine is any indication, those standing in long line like the reopening of the Disneyland submarine ride, may live to regret their opportunity. One thing we do know, Matt takes on all comers and if you expect mercy, you better read the sign that says, " Caution, this is a high-speed, intense, physical, turbulent lineman ride. Those with heart conditions, back problems, and high blood pressure should reconsider this attraction."

The Obvious – ESPN recently announced they are inaugurating their own national (ABC) prep all-star football game on Jan 5 in Disney World.

The Not So Obvious – According to ESPN Scout Inc. correspondent Billy Tucker, ESPN's prep classic has gotten commitments from outside linebacker Jon Major (Parker, CO), tight end Jonathon Baldwin (Aliquippa, PA), and safety Dee Finley (Auburn, AL). Tucker says as of now, all three are No. 1 at their respective positions. It figures that a number of Trojan verbals will give the weeklong ESPN experience a good look.

The Obvious – The Trojan Nickel Package, a "mini" season ticket that includes all homes games with the exception of UCLA, went on sale this week.

The Not So Obvious – Judging by the long lines, it appears the market and ticket department have come up with a winner. Of course it doesn't hurt that many of the major college football magazines are hitting the stands proclaiming the Trojan No. 1 in the country.

The Obvious – The only 2007 kickoff not set for the Trojans is the Arizona home game on October 13.

The Not So Obvious – We are told the "windows" for television are a 12:30 p.m. (ABC), 4 p.m. (Versus), and 7:15 p.m. (FSN). The O/NSO crystal ball says if the Wildcats are undefeated it will be a 12:30 kickoff and if not, it'll be the 7:15 kickoff to capture the West Coast in prime time.

The Obvious – The Oct. 27 kickoff for the Trojans away game at Oregon has been set for noon.

The Not So Obvious – Don't know about you, but if you're planning on getting to Eugene from Portland in time for kickoff, you better leave plenty early, like 7 p.m. You could be fighting the fog and/or rain and it's at least a two-hour ride under "normal" conditions. Then there is the little obstacle of Oregon State playing it's Homecoming home against Stanford at 3:30 p.m. In Dick Enberg's best "Oh my!" the I-5 going south is going to be loads of fun if you elect to come down from Portland. Of course, you could cut corners like the old O/NSO and fly into Eugene on Friday morning and depart on Saturday night, thanks to that noon kickoff time. The rub is you'd have to do it out of LAX.

The Obvious – Reports out of the Tennessee Titans camp is that former Trojan running back LenDale White did not show up on time to a recent mini-camp and the Titans were not happy about it.

The Not So Obvious – Although there appeared to be an understandable misunderstanding, the future of LenDale appears to be cloudy. During the last day of spring ball, White was in attendance down at Brian Kennedy-Howard Jones Field and kept pretty much to himself. We saw old No. 21 and thought would ask him how life in the "Bigs" was doing. Our previous conversations with White were always cordial and he always seemed to have a happy demeanor. However, it was certainly a different LenDale we encountered on that last spring day. Maybe it was something he ate or something more remote like NFL-itis, but it was certainly not the amiable LenDale we have known in our cordial interactions.

The Obvious – One of the more recent interesting topics on the WeAreSC messages boards is which Trojan transfer over the years has been the most important.

The Not So Obvious – Well, nobody was more important than O.J. Simpson out of San Francisco City College. Wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson certainly was a tremendous impact player as was tailback Clarence Davis out of East Los Angeles JC. Three players overlooked in transfers were probably original Wild Bunch members DT Tody Smith, brother of Hall of Famer Bubba, who transferred to Troy from Michigan State, DE Charlie Weaver out of Arizona Western JC, and DT Al Cowlings out of San Francisco CC. Quarterback Brad Otton, a transfer from Weber State, took the Trojans to the 1996 Rose Bowl. Of course, one of the all-time transfers has to be All-America tight end Hal Bedsole, who transferred from Pierce JC. Okay, enough is enough, so help me Bill Bain, a great All-America offensive guard for John McKay by way of the U. of Colorado.

The Obvious – A growing number of Trojan fans are alarmed at the difficulty of getting viewable seats, and seats in general, for the six home games in the Coliseum.

The Not So Obvious – Did any of our more "vintage" Trojan fans ever think they would live to see the day that getting tickets for ALL home games would be an issue? Oh sure, there was always UCLA and Notre Dame at home, but in the PCE, Pete Carroll Era, tickets are getting tighter around here than a Charlie Weis waistline. The reality is that this is a good thing. A sold out Coliseum and a No. 1 Trojan team is the way Trojan fans think it should be, so help me Paul Hackett.

The Obvious – NCAA president Myles Brand said he isn't necessarily opposed to a recent proposal by the NCAA football issues committee that would extend player eligibility in the sport to five years…if it included the elimination of the practice of redshirting.

The Not So Obvious – Doesn't that amount to the same thing as redshirting by just avoiding the paper work. Yeah, we get it as long as they don't eliminate the opportunity for a "Hershel Dennis" medical request for an extra year. Most students we know generally take five years to get through the system and why should an athlete be restricted to four years? As long as the student-athlete is progressing towards a degree, that is what is important. Let's face it, it won't stop the likes of a Reggie Bush and Dwayne Jarrett from departing early to the NFL, but we like the big picture concept of the idea.

The Obvious – As of this week, Roxbury (N.J.) High linebacker Brendan Beal still looks like a battle between the Trojans and Florida.

The Not So Obvious – September will be a critical recruiting month for Beal as Brendan travels to Florida on the Sept. 15 and to Troy on Sept. 21. For those of you keeping score of impressive games for recruits to watch, Florida will be hosting Tennessee and the following week the Trojans will host Washington State. Assuming the Trojans are 2-0 after the Nebraska trip, the aura of being No. 1 in the country, a twilight kickoff, and a raucous, sold out Coliseum should allow Brendan to get the picture. And don't discount the Brian Cushing New Jersey connection. Cushing figures to be a host of Beal at some point and it all bodes well for a very positive experience.

The Obvious – There is growing controversy over the recent announcement that the Trojans home game against Stanford has been "farmed out" to a network called Versus.

The Not So Obvious – Versus was formally known as the Outdoor Life Network, but is now a cable television sports channel. OLN was originally launched in July of 2005 and now finds itself in sort of a mini sports telecasting revolution. Most of its programming has been concentrated on a combination of extreme sports, hunting, cycling, and ice hockey. Now the station as turned its attention to the big fish like the Pac-10 and the Trojans in particular. Of course, the Stanford telecast from the Coliseum figures to do a little better in the ratings than the National Lacrosse League "Game of the Week." So now the network that owns the cable rights for the NHL and the Tour de France has an opportunity. Hey, it's not like they're televising the Idaho opener, so help me FSN.

The Obvious – And finally, the USC Trojan home cardinal and gold uniforms are considered one of the most emblematic and revered in all of college football.

The Not So Obvious – This past week, SI.com listed its 10 worst looking college uniforms. In order of 10-to-1, the list included Utah, Notre Dame, Iowa St, Clemson, Air Force, Delaware, Syracuse, Rhode Island, Wyoming, and No. 1 (drum roll)…those Oregon Ducks and no description is necessary. BTW, we haven't seen any Nike Oregon posters across the street from the Trojan campus in some time, have we?


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