Thursday, August 31, 2006

USC: Just one tackle away

One more "missed it by this much" reference before we start the catharsis that is the promising 2006 USC Football Season ...

In an example of how actually paying attention can positively affect journalism, Kevin Baxter of the Miami Herald / McClatchy Newspapers, wrote one of the best pre-season articles* about our USC football team. I’m not sure what makes him better at capturing quality quotes and insight, but we haven’t seen either from many other writers, including those in Los Angeles.

Baxter leads with a look into Pete Carroll’s mindset as last season’s Rose Bowl slipped away:
The question was so ridiculous, so out of place, USC coach Pete Carroll answered it first with a laugh.

Carroll's Trojans were within 19 seconds of their third consecutive national championship in January when Texas' Vince Young scored to give the Longhorns a 41-38 win and the title. And now, nine months later, the coach was asked if that left him disappointed.

"What do you think?" Carroll asked back, more amused than angered. "It was horrible. We just needed to tackle him one more time. It was horrible to be that close and not to finish it."
Next, without conjecture or rumor, Baxter illustrates, with simple facts and quotes, the Trojans' prospects and approach to the upcoming season:
"We're in a transition," said Carroll, who is 48-4 with four BCS bowl appearances, four Pac 10 titles and two national championships in his past four seasons. … "We have enough flexibility and background in our system that we can adapt to any style player. But it's our job to uncover what it is they do best."
Baxter goes on to describe how we are in a position to reload rather than rebuild, quoting John David Booty and Dwayne Jarrett, before providing some insight that (while putting the religious reference in proper perspective) shows how much he’s paying attention:
Jarrett ... went on to quote the Book of Luke, For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required. And while it's clear Luke wasn't speaking directly of Jarrett or his team, the sentiments apply nonetheless. So don't expect either to complain about what has been lost when so much wealth remains.
The last is a nice quote from Carroll:
"We're at a point in our program where we should never be back to Square 1," he said. "We're trying to build a program where we have depth and continuity and all that, so we don't have to totally rebuild. ... But we don't talk about national championships around here. We really don't focus on that. We focus on performing really well."

Which means performing really well with who's there, not worrying about who’s left.
Nice job, Mr. Baxter. And from a southeast coaster, no less.

* You may have to 'subscribe' to this web site to see the linked article, but it's free.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

USC: Six points from 47-0

I picked up this column written by Matt Hayes of the Sporting News, and I must say, I like this guy!

Not only does he accept the east coast bias as fact … but he flies straight in the face of the “conventional wisdom” that USC won’t play in the national championship game this season because we’ve been there two years in a row and we lost two Heisman Trophy winners, blah, blah, blah.

Hayes gives us “five reasons why USC could run the table” including John David Booty’s athleticism, our new freshmen backfield, our O and D lines, and our defensive speed. But his last point is by far my favorite, and the one most overlooked:
5) East Coast motivation. This team is two plays away – Vince Young’s Superman touchdown in the Rose Bowl and [Hershel] Dennis’ fumble against Cal in 2003 – from a 47-game winning streak. And suddenly, experts say it’s human again?

I love it. He concludes:

A couple of weeks ago at Pac-10 media day, Carroll was peppered with questions about USC’s inevitable “step back.” After what must have seemed like a few hundred references, Carroll finally said, “You know, we’re going to be pretty good.”

Yep, I’m a believer.

No doubt. These days there’s no reason for us Trojans not to believe. Fight On!

It’s more fun when USC is No. 1 … sort of

I have an old USC button from the 70s that reads: “It’s more fun when we’re No. 1.”

As a true Trojan, can you think of any greater truth than that? I don’t think so …

From the 2004 Rose Bowl, when we beat Michigan to claim our AP national title … to the ear-splitting 2004 BCA Kickoff Classic vs. Virginia Tech … to the 2005 Orange Bowl pasting of the Boomer Schooner … to 4th-and-9 and the Bush Push in South Bend … to seven in a row vs. ugla … all the way up to 19 seconds left in the 2006 Rose Bowl … it was indeed historically more fun being No. 1.

But, according to some MIT nerd, the fun isn’t over yet. We are, in fact (and I use that term loosely), heading into the 2006 football season as the No. 1 team in the nation, according Jeff Sagarin. [Note: If you're reading this after the start of the season, the rankings on Sagarin's site may have changed.]

Who is Jeff Sagarin? Like I said, he’s an MIT nerd. But, he isn’t just any nerd. He’s the guy who created one of the first algorithms for computerized rankings, which as we know, eventually led the suits to create the BCS.

It’s ridiculous, no doubt. But, we can give this nerd a break and enjoy his No. 1 ranking for now, as we work our way back to the real thing.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Tell me USC is 'Southern Cal'

I don'’t care much about how anyone refers to USC. But, the same can't be said for Tim Tessalone, the seemingly been-there-forever USC Sports Information Director.

Every year he includes in the tome that is the USC Football Media Guide, the USC version of the Elements of Style, which insists that USC should not be referred to by members of the media as "Southern Cal."

It's Not 'Southern Cal'
Note to the media: In editorial references to athletic teams of the University of Southern California, the following are preferred: USC, Southern California, So. California, Troy and Trojans for men's or women's teams, and Women of Troy for women's teams. PLEASE do not use Southern Cal (it's like calling San Francisco "Frisco" or North Carolina "North Car.") The usage of "Southern Cal" on licensed apparel and merchandise is limited in scope and necessary to protect federal trademark rights.

Who cares? No one I know. Apparently no one outside Heritage Hall and practically no one in the Coliseum press box cares much, either. We hear "Southern Cal" all the time in the media, especially from closet Trojan haters like Beano Cook.

Still, that's not as messed up as the Buckeyes, who need to emphasize a definite article to give themselves a place in the world. "THE" Ohio State University.” What the hell is that?

And, unlike the Gamecocks, we'’re secure in the fact that, aside from twangers in the Palmetto State, everyone knows we're "THE"” USC on a national scale.

The idiots in the Midwest, East and South who don'’t get it --– and again, there are a lot of those people --– can call us whatever they want. The bottom line is We Are SC!

And according to Tessalone we are also USC ... and Southern California ... and So. California ... ... and Troy ... and Trojans ... and Women of Troy ... and the University of Southern California.

Call us "Southern Cal" ... As Michael Jordan once said: "I want you to."

Friday, August 18, 2006

Spreading the SI jinx

I got my copy of the SI college football preview yesterday and was immediately sickened. What’s up with this regional cover crap? Six different covers to “cover” six different regions of the U.S.? From a pure newsstand sales perspective we might be inclined to understand, but …

The ridiculous thing is that my cover had Ohio State on it, and I live in Connecticut! What the hell is that? I would actually have more respect for the distribution if I got the notre dame cover since there are so many domer "subway alumni" in the New York area … again, because there is an East Coast Bias and because there is no Division I football power in the Northeast. Sorry, B.C. Forget about it, UConn.

The other thing that doesn’t make sense is that at least half of the college football fans in any region don’t want to see the team chosen for the cover. You think ucla, Oregon or Cal want to see USC on the SI cover? I’m sure Texas A&M loves seeing Bevo on every newsstand in College Station.

It just doesn’t make sense. What happened to the old days when SI operated like a true national sports magazine. Remember Keyshawn on the cover in ’95? Of course USC wasn’t that good … mostly because John Robinson wanted to run the ball, and offensive "genius" Mike Riley didn’t figure out (until the second half of the Rose Bowl) that winning meant throwing the ball to Keyshawn. But, I digress ...

Obviously, SI is trying to hedge its bet. Or looking at it another way, maybe they simply want to spread the jinx.

Monday, August 14, 2006

West Coast is smarter ... ?

I caught this quote from Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times. As usual, he makes an interesting point, but then takes the argument a bit to far.

Yeah, there's clearly an East Coast Bias. It manifests itself when perception is more important than reality, such as in college football.

It took 21 years for a West Coast player to win a Heisman Trophy, before last year when [USC's] Carson Palmer won. And when he had his first press conference in Cincinnati, Palmer did everything he could to distance himself from L.A. His agent or somebody must've told him that he would come across better in the East.

West Coast fans are far more sophisticated, and much smarter than East Coast fans. We see everything. Our newspapers have every box score.

This was a sidebar to one of those Page 2 rants on It was a piece from Eric Neel that was part of an "east coast bias" series they did a few years back. Some interesting stuff, sort of.

I can't say the West Coast is smarter, but there may be something to the West having a different -- and perhaps more sophisticated -- view of sports that is less regionally biased. There certainly is something to perception versus reality.

Let's think about that for a little bit ...

Friday, August 11, 2006

Southern hospitality

I spent the day in Charlotte, North Carolina yesterday and got a taste of southern "hospitality."

The guy who told me he "went to the original USC," meaning South Carolina, was annoying enough. But then I met this other dude on the plane ...

He saw me reading SI and asked me if I follow football. I told him I was an 'SC alum, and the first thing he says is, "USC is over!" I asked him to clarify, and he continued: "They lost 90 percent of their team. They don't have Linehart [sic], Bush and that big running back."

Attempting to politely steer the discussion, I asked him, "Who do you follow?" But, he went on: "USC lost a bunch of lineman. What's that guy's name, Lucy? I don't like USC."

Of course, he was trying to refer to Deuce Lutui, but since he already identified himself as a less than educated fan, I decided he wasn't worth correcting. I asked again, "Who do you follow?"

"I'm an SEC guy," he said, proudly, as I held back a chuckle. "I like Auburn. And, in the Big East I like ... uh ... notre dame."

Again, as Reggie says in his ESPN commercial, "That's messed up." What an idiot.

Pete Carroll is no 'flake' ... He's just not dumb

Pete Carroll is a players coach, and true USC fans love him for it. The latest case in point from Scott Wolf's report in today's Daily News:
Going Hollywood: Actor Will Ferrell [a USC alum] made a surprise visit Thursday night during a team meeting dressed as the character from his current movie, "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby."

Perhaps more surprising, Carroll entered the meeting through a cloud of smoke and also dressed as a NASCAR driver before Ferrell entered from another part of the auditorium.

Of course Wolf writes for the Los Angeles Daily News at, a url that must drive the New York Daily News crazy ... LOL.

East coast media think Carroll is a flake for doing stuff like this, but they just don't get it. The man is brilliant. We've got people like Ferrell and Snoop Dogg, who appeal to college kids and 5-star recruits.

notre dame has idiots like Carson Daly and Regis Philbin at their pep rallies. As Reggie Bush says in his new ESPN Fantasy Football commercial: "That's dumb."

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Get ready for the 'East Coast Bias'

Make no mistake about it. There is an east coast bias among the national sports media. Part of this is really no one’s fault, since the epicenter of news media is and always will be in New York.

The fact is, the vast majority of the national managing editors, the news decision-makers, and many of the so-called experts are eastward. And, it’s only human to be influenced by regionalism. But, it’s still annoying to Trojan fans out east.

We see evidence of the “bias” every year, especially during the college football season. notre dame gets the hype from all the “subway fans” in New York -- which hasn’t had a major college football team to root for since … since … never.

Beano Cook predicts big things for the irish or some other team east of the Mississippi, while taking his sideways shots at USC by commenting on how much he loves our Song Girls.

And, as we’ve seen recently, some idiot like Michael Kay will talk and talk about how Pete Carroll was a lousy coach in the NFL, as if that means anything now.

The “bias” is sure to come out again this year. Just you watch …

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

What the hell ... ?

What the hell is this blog about?

It's quite simple. I am an alumnus of the University of Southern California. I graduated from the USC School of Journalism. My grandfather was an SC alum, so I have been part of the Trojan Family since birth. I grew up in California, lived in Los Angeles for 10 years, got married in Santa Monica, had my first kid there, and bought my first house in Westlake Village. I'm a Southern Cal Guy! Most of all, I'm a life-long fan of USC Trojan

But I have a little fly in my ointment ... I now live on the east coast! Still, thanks to the Internet, I get all the Trojan news I want from the Los Angeles Times or the Daily News or or, or other SC stuff out there.

However, being where I am, I also read and listen to the east coast media, the vast majority of whom just don't get it. So, this is my way of venting the frustration of dealing with the "east coast media bias" and perhaps finding other displaced Trojans through the Web. What the hell. It's worth a shot ...

Fight on!