Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Boo! ... It's the East Coast Bias

Happy Halloween! In the spirit of the holiday, we look for something strange and peculiar in the college football blogosphere … the kind of stuff that gives us an eerie feeling that only idiot wackiness can deliver.

True, the loss to black and orange clad Oregon State … Oregon State … was paranormal enough. And, yes, we could probably find what we’re looking for in South Bend. But the “Irish” catch a break tonight from our post-loss frustration-venting Domer bashing. Instead, we look further east, where we find a frightening, bizarre strain of east coast bias in Ithaca, New York.

The post in question (and as you’ll see, I mean this quite literally) was written by a Mr. Kyle Sheahen of the Cornell Daily Sun, who delivers to us something truly mind-boggling. Seeking poignancy and irony by comparing the supposedly diverging paths of Matt Leinart and Kevin Boothe (who?), Sheahen adds a quote from Robert Frost to create something so confounding, it almost makes you wet your pants.

The highlights (or low lights) of Sheahen’s piece are abridged below. If you think I’m pulling this stuff out of context, dare to read the whole post if you like. But be warned, it may bewilder you to the point of no return.
USC, C.U. Alums Meet Up in NFL
The Ultimate Trip
By Kyle Sheahen

Hollywood has finally met the Ivy League.

As Robert Frost said, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

For the first time ever, Matt Leinart and Kevin Boothe ’06 were mentioned in the same game story. Boothe’s Raiders beat Leinart’s Cardinals last Sunday [10/22], 22-9.

The two could not have taken more different roads to the NFL. Leinart hails from the O.C. — the land of cash and cars, surf and sand, Coopers and Cohens. Boothe is from Queens.

Leinart was one of the most decorated college football players in history. An All-American Heisman winner and two-time national champion, he lost only twice in 39 career starts at USC. He was all-world and the most recognizable NCAA athlete in the country.

Boothe was also a decorated player — in the Ivy League. He was also an All-American — at the Division I-AA level, with guys from Hofstra and Sam Houston State. With Boothe on the offensive line, Cornell posted a 15-25 record. …

On campus, [Leinart] was a god. In football, he was already a legend.

Despite his colossal stature, fewer people recognized Boothe. In the subdued gloom of Ithaca, Boothe was just another guy on a perennially mediocre Ivy team. If he weren’t 6-5 and over 300 pounds, he would have been just like any other Cornell student. …

On Sunday, the two rookies who could not have taken more different roads met on the same NFL field.

Unfortunately for Leinart, Arizona does not have much in the way of an offensive line. The team managed only 50 rushing yards and Leinart was sacked three times.

Lying on the ground, bruised, battered and staring up at the Bay Area sky, Leinart looked like the kind of guy who would trade his firstborn for decent pass protection. He also looked like someone who would give an extra million of his own money to have a player like Boothe on his team.

As it is, most of Leinart’s extra cash will be going to child support payments. On Wednesday, the quarterback’s first son was born in Los Angeles. Once again, the cameras, talk shows and magazines all followed him there.

Meanwhile, Boothe was back in Oakland, doing what Cornell students do best — working. Far from the bright lights, off-the-field scandals and Hollywood glamour, Boothe was memorizing Pittsburgh rush schemes. For him, it is just another week as a Cornell grad and professional athlete.

And that has made all the difference.
As Charlie Weis said last week, “That befuddles me.” Evidently, the Domers aren’t the only ones living in an alternate Bizarro World inside their own minds. For the life of me, I can’t understand what’s going on here. I can’t decipher the logic, the connection from one reference to the other. And so I must chalk it all up to some supernatural Ivy League form of communication that is beyond our five earthly senses.

On the other hand, perhaps it’s just horrible journalism. Either way, like dumb teenagers in a horror flick, I am compelled to investigate. So, in comment form, I dare to engage:

I have a few questions for you ... Do Boothe and Matt Leinart know each other at all? Did they meet at some point prior to last Sunday? Did they shake hands or acknowledge each other after the game in any way whatsoever?

What is the relationship between the two, other than that they played on the same field on the same day, albeit never at the same time?

In order for "two roads" to diverge, shouldn't there be at least some evidence that they were heading in the same direction at some point? Is it Boothe or Leinart who you think has taken the road "less traveled"?

Do you really think that two players with completely disparate lives -- who neither started in the same place nor will likely ever end up in the same place -- are worthy of a Robert Frost quote?

Boothe and Leinart are from different worlds ... so what? What is the point of pointing out this difference?

"Hollywood has finally met the Ivy League"? Hmmm ... Have you heard of Jody Foster, Natalie Portman, Tommy Lee Jones, Brooke Shields, Ed Norton, Paul Giamatti, Sam Waterston, Mira Sorvino, Jack Lemmon, etc., etc., etc.? Not to mention all the Hollywood writers, producers, agents, and attorneys from the Ivy League?

And what about that record-setting Cornell running back turned actor Ed Marinaro? "Hollywood has finally met the Ivy League"? What the hell are you talking about?

Seriously, if you want to pull USC Football into an attempt at poignant comparison, please check yourself and deliver something better than the sorry attempt you've made here. Had you done so, it would have "made all the difference."

The Displaced Trojan
Whoa … Did I digress here? Where did that "venom" come from? Perhaps my post-loss frustration still needs venting. It’s amazing what losing to Oregon State … Oregon State … will do to a Trojan fan.

It’s also amazing what the Ivy League will do to a student sports writer. Like an M. Night Shyamalan movie, Sheahen's post spooks you for a while, but in the end you gain an understanding of a bigger picture. It’s like the poignancy Sheahen couldn’t find in his piece, but we can see it clearly.

This is where the east coast bias is born, where crappy football meets ignorance. Very scary.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Fat “Irish” Guy Smiling

I like the AP, if for no other reason than its Domer beat writer does a good job of capturing the stupid stuff that comes out of Charlie Weis’s mouth.

The latest spewage to expose his Domer Mind was recorded Sunday. The AP reported that Weis was smiling – supposedly the way “Irish” eyes smile – after his team’s “best game of the season” versus Navy … versus Navy.

The best part is Weis admitting that he enjoyed USC’s loss to Oregon State, even though it lessens ND’s slim chance to get to the national championship game.

Of course, real Trojan fans know this is stupid, and not just within the context of BCS rankings. We want the "Irish" to be undefeated when we beat them, because it would give our victory greater value and hurt the Domers that much more. But, I digress ...

According to the AP:
"Just watching the scoreboards, you'd like for them to win. But just like they're not rooting for Notre Dame to win, it's tough for me to sit there and say I'm rooting for them to win," Weis said Sunday.

Weis said his 13-year-old son, Charlie Jr., said of USC's loss: "Dad, that's not all bad."

"It might be prophetic," Weis said, laughing.
It's true that we don't actually root for ND. We hate them. But, why is it that no one heard Pete Carroll making similar comments after the Domers lost to Michigan by 26 at home? (Non-Domer fans know this is a rhetorical question.)

Don’t get me wrong. I like it when the fat guy says these things. It makes for billboard material inside Heritage Hall and helps us maintain a healthy level of hate for the Domer Hype Machine. But most of all, Weis’s big mouth stokes our sarcasm and gives us reason to blog.

Of course, some people don’t like what we write, but really, we’re not the ones letting loose with the stupid stuff.

So, keep it coming, Charlie. Let it all out. Test your son’s power of prophecy. We want you to.
east coast bias

Sunday, October 29, 2006

USC Post-Game: Another Writer We Like

Man, that SI jinx is fierce! You don’t even have to be on the cover to get bit now days. No sooner is USC Football featured in the current issue of SI* than the bubble bursts on the Trojans’ destiny-controlled road to the BCS championship game.

SI editors must feel badly about this. Less than an hour after USC’s failed two-point conversion in Corvallis – on yet another tipped pass on a slant with a three step drop, no less – cnnsi.com’s Stewart Mandel posted encouraging words for us.

“… If I were a USC fan, I wouldn’t feel entirely bad right now,” he wrote at 7:42 pm ET (4:42 Pacific). Mandel points out what some of us already knew and what others weren’t willing to admit: that with all the talent lost to the League and an unusual number of injuries, expecting an undefeated straight shot at the national championship was unrealistic. Sure, none of us ever expect three fumbles and crappy punt return coverage against Oregon State … Oregon State. But then Mandel delivers this comfort:
… right when it seemed USC was headed for an all-out meltdown, falling behind 33-10 with 4:51 left in the third quarter, John David Booty, Steve Smith and Co. went out and mounted a near-epic, Leinart-caliber comeback. Booty, after struggling much of the game, started hitting everything, Smith gave a performance for the ages (11 catches, 258 yards, two TDs) and the defense finally quieted Beavers QB Matt Moore. Ultimately, they fell two points short, but only after Booty (who threw for 405 yards and three TDs) drove them 80 yards in two minutes to score the potential game-tying touchdown with seven seconds left.

That, more than any of their wins over the past month, tell me the Trojans haven’t completely lost their swagger, and should serve as some solace to all those USC fans out there trying to cope with their first regular-season loss since September 2003. There will likely be at least one more loss before 2006 is over, but I’d be feeling a whole lot better about Booty’s chances of leading a potential title run in ’07.
We could come up with this stuff on our own, but for some reason it sounds a little better coming from outside the Trojan Family. Of course, any real Trojan fan won’t stoop to a “wait ‘till next year” attitude just yet, but Mandel’s piece is appreciated nonetheless.

For now, we’ll file him under “writers we like.” Besides, his post is the least he could do after SI put the inside jinx on us.

Fight On!

* You’ll need an SI print subscription to view this online.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

USC (Late) Game Day: Now What?

So, this is what it feels like. It’s been so long since USC Football lost a regular season game, it’s tough to remember. How are we supposed to feel? What are we supposed to do?

Should we chalk it up to injuries and youth, and relax our BCS expectations this season, knowing that we will have a fully loaded (and experienced) team next year? Or, should we hold on to hopes of Pete Carroll "Kool-Aid" inspired scenarios that will get us back to the national championship game?

I don’t know.

I do know that no team – not even the USC Trojans – deserves to win any game after putting the ball on the ground three times and giving up an easy punt return. I also know that the Trojans do deserve some credit after a hell of a comeback behind John David Booty’s 406 yards passing and Steve Smith’s clutch grabs for 258 yards.

Still, I’m not sure I know what it all means. The last two times USC lost at Oregon State the results of each season couldn’t have been more different.

In 2000, the year before Carroll was hired, the Trojans were No. 8 in the nation before losing to the Beavers 31-21. That team went on to lose six of its last eight games for last place in the Pac-10 and no bowl game, with a 5-6 overall record.

In 1967, No. 1 ranked USC, with O.J. Simpson at tailback, lost 3-0 in a mud game at Oregon State. Of course, the Trojans recovered the next week to beat ugla 21-20 in perhaps the most significant game in the history of the USC-ugla rivalry. Those Trojans went on to beat Indiana in the Rose Bowl to claim the national championship.

Usually, history adds perspective and context, but it does neither here. And as we’ve seen in recent weeks, looking for answers in past Carroll-era scenarios doesn’t help much either. Regardless, we will have our answers soon enough. It’s all about the next five games.

For now, like Carroll, I know what I believe: “It’s all about the ball.”

Friday, October 27, 2006

USC Football Pre-Game: Customer Service

As you know, we aim to please here. That is, we aim to please USC Football fans here. But if others like to read Displaced posts that’s fine, too. Even ugla and Domer fans are welcome. It’s all good.

If anyone wants to leave a comment about anything written here, that’s all good, too. There have been a few of those recently, some that are complimentary, some not so much. Supposedly, research has shown that for every comment received, there are at least 25 other people who feel the same way.

I’m not sure this principle actually applies here, since we already know there are thousands of Trojan fans who would agree with most, if not all Displaced posts – whether they actually read them or not. And conversely, we know there are thousands of ugla and Domer fans who would disagree with much of what’s written here. However, this idea might make sense when taking into account the ability (read: knowledge and intelligence) of those ugla and Domer fans who take the time to leave comments on this blog.

For instance, it might be tough to find 25 Domers who are capable of engaging in knowledgeable debate about USC vs. ND issues, without inadvertently exemplifying the various elements of the Domer Mind we like to expose.

A case in point is this comment left by “Anonymous” on a Displaced post from Wednesday about statements Charlie Weis made at his weekly press conference:
You obviously dislike the Irish, almost as much as Gallo. Can't quite understand the venom...other than the fact that ND stands for everything that USC does not - such as football players that actually graduate. Bottom line is you're simply jealous that USC cannot match ND in any category and therefore have no other resort than to cut them down. Go to church and beg God for mercy!
Now, I’m a relatively inexperienced blogger, so please excuse me if posting a reader’s comment from another post isn't kosher. Either way, here’s my response:


To the contrary, I have much respect for the “Irish.” Real USC Football fans feel the same way. We have respect for the greatest intersectional rivalry in college sports. We also have respect for the fact that USC victories over the Irish help add to our national stature, not to mention our Heisman Trophy collection. (Heisman Trophies, by the way, are one of several categories in which we do, in fact, match: USC 7, ND 7. Please get your facts straight.)

However, as a Trojan alum and fan, I enjoy pointing out examples that illustrate the dichotomy between the myth that Domers attempt to perpetuate and reality. It’s all just for fun and a way to exercise our brains while enjoying USC Football. It’s really not life or death. No reason to pull your God into it. I would hope He has other, more important things to worry about.

Still, if you don’t like what I post here, and you really want to make an impression on me, then come with a point of view supported by facts that refute what I write. At the very least, give us something more entertaining, if not intelligent, than the weak effort you’ve provided this time. Most of all, write something that doesn’t prove me right!

I know you don’t quite understand this, Anonymous. But it’s okay if you don’t get it. Trojan fans who read this blog understand, and that’s all that matters.

God bless you.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Thursday Twirl III

For the third straight Thursday in a row, we’re taking a Twirl. Again, no promises on how long we can keep this up, but since the demand has been so great, the request for repeated encores so overwhelming, we feel compelled to deliver. But first, we must digress …

What’s with all these southern schools calling themselves Tigers? A quick search of the Google, turned up this list of college nicknames, which shows that more than 45 schools are Tigers, no less than half of which are in the south. This includes Clemson, Memphis and even two in one conference: LSU and Auburn of the creatively challenged SEC. Maybe this is part of that population distribution thing, but it does make you wonder why so many schools fancy themselves as Tigers. Of course, USC Trojans know the story behind our nickname.

Another less trivial question: Where does Lou Holtz get his information? It seems as though Holtz’s brain is shoved pretty far up the Axis of East Coast Bias. Reading through last week’s ESPN The Magazine, a piece on college football’s overrated players included this curious quote from the lispy one.
Nobody’s more underrated than USC’s Rey Maualuga. He’s the next great Trojans linebacker – very physical, always lining up big hits. He reminds me of A.J. Hawk. Maualuga’s athletic ability is similar to Hawk’s, but the infectiousness of his free spirit make him even more valuable to his team.
Interesting how everyone in the west knows that Rey is the next Junior Seau, but Lou has no clue. Granted, Maualuga may also be known for being required to attend anger management classes, but he’s been getting more hype than anyone on USC’s defense. This includes accolades from various places in the blogosphere, among the voters of the Butkus Award, and in the preview issue of ESPN The Magazine, no less. In fact, at least some of those out west – including Pete Carroll, apparently – think Keith Rivers has performed best on defense so far this season.

Obviously, Holtz has been spending too much time with Beano Cook. Which reminds me …


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Weis Gets His Answers

It’s great when we encounter intelligent life out on the internets, and it’s even better when that intelligence comes from our “Fourth Branch” of government. We have found writers that we like before, but this DJ Gallo dude deserves some serious Displaced props.

In a recent espn.com Page 2 piece, Gallo rips into Charlie Weis like an Islandic whaler, taking the “Irish” coach to task for opening his mouth about the BCS rankings. The set-up piece is AP’s coverage of Weis’s Tuesday press conference, which showed that Weis may be less of a genius than he is a southern prophet. Let’s roll the tape (or just the AP coverage, if you’re lacking high bandwidth to see ESPN’s video) …
Charlie Weis isn't sure Notre Dame is a top 10-caliber team.

He's convinced, though, the 11th-ranked Fighting Irish didn't deserve to be jumped in the polls and the Bowl Championship Series Standings after a last-minute win over UCLA.
"One of the teams [Tennessee] that jumped us had the same game that we had. They're down, they're playing at home and they win by a field goal," Weis said Tuesday.

"Another team [Florida] that jumped us wasn't even playing. They were home eating cheeseburgers and they end up jumping us. That befuddles me."

Clemson jumped ahead of Notre Dame in The Associated Press Top 25 poll with a 31-7 victory over Georgia Tech, a team the Irish struggled to beat 14-10 in the season opener. The Irish dropped two spots to No. 10 in the coaches' poll after Florida, which had a bye, and Tennessee, which came back from seven points down to beat Alabama 16-13 with a touchdown with 3:28 left, moved ahead of the Irish.

Texas, which needed a 22-yard field goal to beat Nebraska 22-20 with 23 seconds left, passed the Irish in the BCS standings, dropping the Irish to No. 9.

"Tell me how that works?" Weis said. "Maybe I'm just stupid.”
Wow. Talk about putting himself on a huge tee for us non-believers to take a swing. Of course, any tee that would fit Weis would have to be huge given his girth, but he propped himself up pretty good nonetheless. Keeping with this golf metaphor, we’ll “let the big dog eat” …

Wrote Gallo:
Hey, care to know what befuddles me, Charlie? How the head coach of Notre Dame, a program which has consistently been overrated and ranked higher than it deserved to be for more than a decade -- and for most of the past century -- has the audacity to complain about polls. I mean … wow! That more than befuddles me.

And do you want to know what else befuddles me? How you were able to dupe Notre Dame into giving you a 10-year contract worth nearly $40 million after starting your career 5-2 without a single win against a team that finished the season ranked in the Top 25. That's a bit befuddling. As is the fact that you are regarded as some sort of football god even though the next good team your Fighting Irish beat will be the first. In your tenure you have played three good teams (so much for the perception that Notre Dame plays a brutal schedule, huh?): USC last October, Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl and Michigan five weeks ago. You were blown out in two of those three games. But, yeah, you almost beat USC. Congratulations. Heck of a moral victory there. That's exactly why you were hired. For moral victories.

Let's see … what else befuddles me? Oh, yeah: How you claim to hold everything about Notre Dame sacred, yet spend every Saturday afternoon on the sideline dropping F-bombs every other word and cussing out officials, all in the shadow of "Touchdown Jesus" and with a priest standing a few yards away. Sure, that's being a bit picky, I suppose, but I'm #^&*ing befuddled by it nonetheless.
Excellent. I just love how Gallo calls out multiple subjects here, including the Domer Hype Machine, the Domer desperation that drove Weis’s ludicrous contract extension, and the hyprocrisy of the Domer holier-than-thou attitude. Gallow goes on to dress Weis down – which we know takes tremendous effort given that Weis’s pants are as big as my pool cover – for his Bizarro World view of his team’s “accomplishments” and its “thrilling” win over ugla. Next, Gallo answers both of Weis’s questions directly …
Voters watch college football games and then at the end of every weekend rank the teams from best to worst as they see fit. Based on this week's polls, the average voter thinks your team is currently no better than 10th or 11th. Understand how it works? It's really quite simple. And, in all honesty, Notre Dame probably is not even deserving of being that high, but the polls are still adjusting to having your team ranked way too high to start the season -- which is sort of a rankings tradition.

And one more thing, since you asked -- no, you're not stupid. But you know you're not stupid. You just think everyone else is. That's why you are so incredibly condescending when you speak. It's part of your "charm."
Awesome! Again, exposing the holier-than-thou Domer Mind. Gallo finishes strong …
Yes, Charlie, I'd say there's a chance [for ND to play for the national championship]. I mean, geez, look at your schedule over the next month: at Navy, home versus North Carolina, at Air Force and home against Army. And maybe if you're lucky, you can even fit Temple in there somewhere on a Wednesday. So you should easily get through your next four games and be 10-1 and right in the thick of the national title hunt, with the voters leaving love letters outside your door again.

But wait … what's that I see at the end of your Division I-AA-esque stretch of games? Oooh, bummer. A game against USC. And on the road to boot. Too bad. Oh well -- so maybe there's not a chance that you'll play for the national championship this season. Not that you'd want to. Ohio State or Michigan would crush you. And that would be bad for your image.
Beautiful. It’s one thing if this stuff comes from someone in the USC corner of the blogoshere, but when it’s written by someone who actually writes for a living (albeit for SportsPickle, The Onion and Cracked) that’s just awesome.

Of course, Weis broke the first rule of the BCS Club: Don’t talk about BCS Club. But he just couldn’t help himself because he fuels the Domer Hype Machine, and is thus part of the collective Domer Mind that begets the “Irish” Bizarro World.

Luckily for us, people like DJ Gallo are around to help call it all out.

Fight On! Beat the Beavers!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Southern Inferiority Complex

What’s with these southerners and their big mouths?

Just when we start to think the silliness has subsided, up pops another example of the southern inferiority complex, which we must now recognize as a second cousin to the Domer Hype Machine, which is of course closely related to the east coast bias. Together these three subversive movements make up the larger Axis of East Coast Bias. But, I digress …

The latest “mouth from the south” without a brain, comes to us not from the SEC – which actually plays good football – but the ACC. You know, that “hoop dream” of a conference where Tar Heels and Blue Devils rule indoors.

Some kids named C.J. Spiller (pictured above) and James Davis, two running backs at Clemson, are declaring their arrival upon the college football scene. In fact, Spiller is employing some Tuberville-brand history and sense of self just eight games into his college football career. According to Mark Schlabach of espn.com:
Spiller, a Jacksonville, Fla., native who spurned Florida on national signing day to ink with the Tigers, believes he and Davis are as potent as Bush and LenDale White, who helped lead Southern California to the 2004 national title and the BCS title game again last season.

"That's where I see us right now," Spiller said. "We've got the same combination."
Mr. Spiller, we know Mr. Bush and Mr. White. We were there when “The President” was catching touchdowns on wheel routes out of the slot, and when Lendale scored TD, after TD, after TD … We know the authentic “Thunder and Lightning.” Mr. Spiller, you and Mr. Davis are no Thunder and Lightning.*

We don’t need to over-react here – this is after all just a teenager displaying his naïvete – but it is annoying nonetheless. When current Trojan players or coaches make such statements, we can accept it as simple aspiration. But for anyone else, particularly those trying to catch up in the south, it’s all just a little more complex.

* With mid-term elections coming up, I figured I could get away with a clichéd closing like this. If I was wrong, what the hell …

UPDATE: In Clemson's next game (Thursday 10/26/06), Spiller and Davis combined for 71 yards on 22 carries in a 24-7 loss to Virginia Tech. At this point, the duo has led Clemson to as many losses (two) in their first nine games as Bush and White had over three seasons.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Fool Carroll Once …

There is a lot to like about USC head coach Pete Carroll, but there are two things in particular that we have to love. One is that he is smart enough to learn from his mistakes. The other is that he has enough experience and brains not to screw up much in the first place.

Because of his high energy and enthusiasm, sometimes we forget that Carroll is in his 50s and has been coaching for more than 30 years. If any of us does something for that long we tend learn a lot of stuff, if we’re smart. As we know, Carroll is smart. In fact, unbeknownst to almost everyone except for Mike Garrett, he apparently became a genius prior to his hiring at USC. Still, he keeps learning.

We know this because we’ve seen Carroll and his staff make smart changes to what they do over the years. Not just adjustments at half time, but changes in game preparation and mental approach that help ensure certain outcomes … like wins.

One example of this is how USC handles its bye weeks. In 2003, with 14 days to prepare for Cal, Carroll used the extra time to rest starters and evaluate younger players. He still does this, but in ’03 there was apparently less emphasis on intensity and competition, which contributed to USC’s sluggish start in Berkeley and its eventual 34-31 loss to the Bears in OT.

A few days afterward, at a pre-game press conference for the following week’s trip to ASU, Carroll talked about what he learned:
After the game, it was obvious what occurred. It's counting on good preparation and working against each other and playing hard. We have to remember that the game is a full step faster. … Once we played the game and got up to game speed, we were fine. I hate to admit it, but that's what happened. We have to be aware of why that happened. I do think there are some circumstances that I understand why that happened. …The errors are the things we have to make go away.
Part of the circumstances to which Carroll referred was the precise timing of USC’s pre-game routine, which was messed up prior to the Cal game. The Trojans mistakenly arrived at the stadium 45 minutes early, which caused distraction. He said:
It's not the nicest [visitors] locker room in the world [at Cal] and so everybody's leaning on each other. I felt like we kind of lost our focus there. … We just sat around. I found myself standing on top of the stadium looking at Marin County. I'm waving at home and that kind of crazy stuff. I was just killing time. We kind of lost our edge.
Carroll learned from all this, which is why he makes a point of emphasizing intensity and tempo, especially during bye week practices, to maintain the Trojans’ “competitive edge.” And he is obsessive about USC’s pre-game routine, which is choreographed down to the minute, with basic procedures that are rehearsed during fall camp to indoctrinate freshmen.

An important element of this approach is characterizing road games as business travel rather than school field trips. Carroll learned this lesson after his first visit to Notre Dame in 2001, during which he took the team on a tour of South Bend and the College Football Hall of Fame. USC lost 27-16. Said Carroll: "Yeah, we went and did a big tour that we won't ever do again."

We all know smart people learn from their mistakes. Lucky for us, Carroll learns from his. Now, let’s hope his young coaching staff and players have learned enough during their 6-0 start to get them through the next six games unscathed.

UPDATE: Here's a post from Scott Wolf's Inside USC that lists all of USC's wins following a bye, since the Cal loss in '03.
east coast bias

Sunday, October 22, 2006

USC Post-Bye: Perspective

A mid-season bye is a very good thing. Of course, it gives USC Football a chance to rest, practice and recruit. But a bye also gives us regular Trojans a chance to run some errands or catch up on a few household chores left sitting since August.

A bye also lets us sit back – without the stress of our own game to worry about – and read a few more blogs and watch a few more games, all of which allow us to gain some perspective on things.

Certainly, this was true yesterday. We got to see that perhaps our “close” wins over U-Dub and Wazzu didn’t tell us everything we thought we were hearing. Maybe Cal’s OT escape from a Stanback-less Huskies and Oregon’s 11-point loss in the Palouse will put USC’s performance in better perspective.

Likewise, the USC “Rival Bowl” in South Bend showed us that perhaps ugla may actually have a good defense, albeit not quite good enough to beat the “Irish.” Or maybe it told us that the Domers are still not the swiftest afoot, regardless of how high their grass grows.

No doubt, John L. Smith got a huge dose of perspective after his Spartans’ record 35-point comeback win. Rutgers beating Pitt? Not so much.

I just hope that after a stress-free bye week, Trojans will remain calm when we see Michigan at No. 2 in the just released BCS rankings. Hopefully, we’ll all have enough perspective to remember that the Wolverines play current No.1 Ohio State, which means one of them will be eliminated from the BCS championship game by mid-November.

Maybe we should share some of our perspective with Auburn, which now finds itself behind West Virginia. LOL.

Still, the thing I read last night that brought it all together was a one-time blog post that really had nothing to do with college football, even though it showed up on espn.com. It was a post on Truthdig by Kevin Tillman, Pat Tillman’s younger brother who served as an Army Ranger with Pat in Iraq.

To be honest, I never liked Pat Tillman much. In the mid-‘90s when USC was struggling, Tillman was part of that 11-1 Jake Plummer ASU team that could have won a national championship, if not for a last minute 20-17 loss to Ohio State in the ‘97 Rose Bowl. In the NFL, he was one of those hustling white guys that all the commentators seem to like for no other reason than he was a hustling white guy. And when he volunteered to join the Army rather than sign a new multi-million-dollar contract with the Cardinals, it seemed more like a self-absorbed stunt than a noble thing to do.

But the more I read about why he did what he did, and the more I read about how he supposedly lived his life, the more I understand why he went to Iraq and the meaning he was trying to make for himself. Whether we agree with it all or not, I say we should certainly respect it.

So, when I read that Kevin Tillman was making a statement for the first time since his brother’s death in Iraq, I figured it would be worth the read. I was right. Regardless of your political point of view, it’s powerful stuff. Here’s a sample (ellipses in brackets are mine):
It is Pat’s birthday on November 6, and elections are the day after. It gets me thinking about a conversation I had with Pat before we joined the military. He spoke about the risks with signing the papers. How once we committed, we were at the mercy of the American leadership and the American people. How we could be thrown in a direction not of our volition. How fighting as a soldier would leave us without a voice… until we got out.

Much has happened since we handed over our voice: […]

Somehow the more soldiers that die, the more legitimate the illegal invasion becomes.

Somehow American leadership, whose only credit is lying to its people and illegally invading a nation, has been allowed to steal the courage, virtue and honor of its soldiers on the ground.

Somehow those afraid to fight an illegal invasion decades ago are allowed to send soldiers to die for an illegal invasion they started.

Somehow faking character, virtue and strength is tolerated.

Somehow profiting from tragedy and horror is tolerated.

Somehow the death of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people is tolerated.

Somehow subversion of the Bill of Rights and The Constitution is tolerated. […]

Luckily this country is still a democracy. People still have a voice. People still can take action. It can start after Pat’s birthday.

How’s that for perspective?

Perhaps it’s too much for a sports blog, but if what Kevin Tillman is trying to tell us has anything at all to do with our freedom to experience and enjoy USC Football, then it certainly is relevant here.

Come November, let’s take care of what we love. Fight On!

Saturday, October 21, 2006

USC Bye Day: BCS Mashup

For the last year or so we’ve seen the creation of new fangled things called mashups, which are Web applications that seamlessly combine content from more than one source to create an integrated experience. Now, I’m certainly not a computer geek, so if this Wikipedia definition flies over your head, I’m down here with you. But suffice it to say that just like a lot of stuff out on our internets, some mashups are worthless, others are kinda cool, and a few are very useful, depending on your point of view.

One mashup that can be fun and relevant to college football fans is Map Game Day, which we found by way of the Wiz. The site uses Google maps to provide directions and photos to every Division 1A football stadium and some 1AA venues. But this week Map Game Day also posted a map that shows the location of all the BCS ranked schools.* The interesting thing about this is the different ways in which people interpret what they see.

According to the Wiz, who has one of the best college football blogs around, the dearth of schools on the western half of this BCS map refutes the existence of an east coast bias. He says:
This map … shows locations of the teams in the first Bowl Championship Series standings. The next time somebody talks to you about a bias toward West Coast teams, explain to them that there is no bias. The reality is that [the] power base in college football currently resides in the Eastern half of the country. …
Of course, we must respectfully disagree with the Wiz. Map Game Day does not illustrate a “power base” driven by performance on the field. To the contrary, the map shows us something we already know … that there are simply more Division 1A football schools in the eastern half of the country than there are in the west.

This is particularly obvious within the context of the BCS rankings, since only one of the six BCS conferences is in the western half of the U.S. Broken down by individual conference, the current BCS rankings are essentially even among the six groups, especially considering the “super-conference” format of the Big-12 and SEC, which have 12 teams each.

Pac-10: USC, Cal, Oregon
Big-10: Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa
Big-12: Texas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Missouri
Big East: West Virginia, Louisville, Rutgers
ACC: Clemson, Georgia Tech, BC
SEC: Auburn, Florida, Tennessee, Arkansas, LSU

Add the independents (Notre Dame) and non-BCS conference schools in the south (Tulsa/CUSA) and the west (Boise State/WAC) and it really can’t be any more balanced than that.

In other words, this BCS map doesn’t say anything about the relative performance of conferences or regions. Rather it only depicts a kind of Division IA football population distribution that is heavily unbalanced toward the east.

With more total schools for sports media to cover in the eastern half of the country, common sense says the west gets less attention. But by virtue of this distribution, any “power base” will always be in the eastern half of the country, which actually supports rather than disputes the existence of the east coast bias.

It is true that there is more (read better) Division IA football in the west than in the northeast. (Stop with the Rutgers thing, already.) But in the midwest (Big 10), southwest (Big 12), and southeast (SEC, and most of the ACC and Big East) there aren’t just more teams, but a regional culture stretching from Texas through Florida that makes football a significant priority … and thus a priority for media outlets, including those based in the northeast.

However, it’s not just football population distribution or regional culture that drive the east coast bias, because time zones have a significant impact, as well. We said this before, but we’ll restate it here. Sunday editions of "national" newspapers like the New York Times have for years neglected to fully cover west coast games because many of them end long after the paper’s deadline. Even real time media outlets find it difficult to spread the word nationally when some games in the west aren’t finished until just before the 1:00 a.m. eastern time SportsCenter.

By contrast, all of the teams in the five conferences in the eastern half of the U.S. (except Colorado) reside in the central and eastern time zones, which means the media center in New York is awake to cover them.

There are a few other elements that make up the axis of the east coast bias, including its cousin, the Domer Hype Machine. But, I digress …

This mashup up stuff is pretty good. The next time I need directions to a football stadium I’ve never been to, I will use Map Game Day. As for this BCS map, I don’t see much use for it, since it doesn’t tell us anything we don’t already know. But again, as a USC Trojan that’s just the way I see it. The existence of the east coast bias, on the other hand … that’s just pure fact.

Fight On!

* It doesn’t look like Map Game Day is archiving each week’s map with static pages, so depending on when you read this post the map may have changed from it’s BCS Week 1 version.
east coast bias

Friday, October 20, 2006

USC Bye Week: Beware the Nice Weis

Let’s get back to this east coast bias thing. Last week the collective Domer Mind – a close cousin of the east coast bias – reared its ugly head (with a crewcut, no less) on WFAN-Radio’s “Mike and the Mad Dog” in New York.

During his bye week “Irish” head coach Charlie Weis was in town to plug his new book and pump up the “subway alumni” – you know, those east coast idiots who pretend that South Bend is somewhere in the tri-state area because there is no real Division I football anywhere near Manhattan.

If you don’t know these radio guys, “Mike” is Mike Francesa (right), a New York native who knows everything there is to know about sports, business and the entertainment industry in its entirety. Just ask him, he’ll tell you himself. The “Mad Dog” is Chris Russo (left), another true New Yorker who plays the not-so-smart-guy role to Francesa’s primadonna, ensuring that fans who call in don’t feel too stupid when Francesa tells them they’re stupid.

When I moved east and started listening to the FAN, Mike and the Mad Dog sounded strange to me. At first I thought it was some sort of cultural thing that I didn’t understand. But after a while, I realized that Francesa actually does think he’s smarter than Russo and anyone else who calls into the show. ESPNradio realized this too, and used this daily disrespect of callers against the FAN in ESPN's advertising. But, I digress …

Needless to say, Mike and the Mad Dog are quintessential east coast biased idiots, so it was no surprise to hear Charlie Crewcut on their show* to plug his new book, “No Excuses.” I really had no interest in hearing this segment, but as we’ve said, we must know thy enemy. So, I forced myself to listen to three of them.

Sure enough Francesa took what seemed like several minutes to show anyone who was listening how smart he is before actually asking Weis a question. As usual, Russo played along.

Weis started out kissing up to New York listeners by professing his love of the Yankees. Then covering his bases, he said he also roots for the Mets because he’s a Willie Randolph fan. Fair enough, I suppose. The guy grew up in Jersey after all.

Not to be outdone, Francesa and Russo actively fed the Domer hype machine, smooching Weis’s ample rear end to get the coach going … to get him talking, that is.

Weis spoke on cue about his career in the NFL, before discussing last year’s USC-ND game. He said he too would have asked any one of his players to execute the “Bush Push.” He praised Matt Leinart for calling the audible on fourth and nine. And he gave Pete Carroll a sideways compliment, calling the QB sneak a “brassy play.”

Said Weis: “I’ll forever be remembered as the losing coach in an epic game. … It was a heck of a game. … Unfortunately, they made one more play than we did.” All stuff we’ve heard before.

Weis goes on to talk about last season’s Fiesta Bowl and ND’s loss to Michigan this year, before making some careful comments about last Saturday’s games. He also made one last plug for his book.

Really, it was all fairly innocuous, which brings us to the most disturbing aspect of the segment: Listening to Weis, people who aren’t part of the east coast biased collective Domer Mind - that is, sane people like us - might end up actually liking him. Of this we must beware.

Certainly, Weis presents himself as a humble nice guy, and he plays this PR game very well. More than anything he is plain smart, and he deserves our respect.

But, most importantly, Weis is the leader of the “Irish” Bizarro World, which means we have no choice but to maintain a healthly, respectful hate for him and the football team he coaches.

As for Mike and the Mad Dog, the east coast bias sleeps soundly, knowing these two New Yorkers are on the case.

* There is no link directly to this stream. Look for the "Oct 13 ..." link in the list of segments on the WFAN page. Depending on when you ready this, you may have to scroll down and/or click to a connecting page. Real Player is required.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

USC Bye Week: Thursday Twirl

I don’t know if I can do this Thursday Twirl thing. Really, I was only half-serious last week. After all, USC Football is 6-0 and ranked No. 2 in the BCS. Even during a buy week, there is too much going on to waste this corner of the blogosphere posting random photos of Song Girls, right?

A few Trojans have suggested that posting Song Girl photos along with Beano Cook’s name might lure the old man here, so we could properly educate him about USC Football. That would be okay, I guess. But it’s not like reading any Displaced posts will undo 80 years of being an idiot. Besides, Beano (left) would only be coming here for the pictures anyway, right?

He wouldn’t bother to read our take on David Leon Moore’s piece in yesterday’s USA Today, which provides a strong dose of reality to address all the messed up perceptions about the Trojans. Of course, Leon Moore doesn’t point out much that USC blogs and beat writers haven’t already addressed, but it’s nice to know that at least a few keepers of the east coast bias – you know, the ones like Beano who fall asleep before 11:00 pm ET – will read and learn from Leon Moore’s piece.

Certainly, Beano wouldn’t see our reference to a nice article in the Daily Trojan written by Zain Shauk, a kid one-fifth Beano’s age (given that college kids are about 20 or so) and five times as smart. We know Shauk is bright, because he points out an aspect of John David Booty’s game that we’ve all noticed, but that no one has bothered to fully examine and write about. We’ll let the kid show his skills
Is it just me, or are a lot of John David Booty's passes being batted at the line of scrimmage?

Yes, you know you've noticed it too: those crowd-deflating plays that seem to leave everyone in the stands emotionless and confused.

It happened on the second play of Saturday's win over Arizona State, when Booty snapped the ball, then took three quick steps back before firing it off the arm of a defensive tackle.

You quietly turned to the person next to you, then shrugged and turned back to the silence on the field.

It happened later in the game too, when a ball glanced off the arm of ASU defensive end Dexter Davis and into the hands of cornerback Keno Walter-White, who scampered up the sideline for a frustrating touchdown.

You weren't as emotionless after that play.
Shauk goes on to illustrate how and why Booty’s passes seem to be batted down more than those of USC’s two previous quarterbacks. The kid does this through analysis and quotes from Trojan QB coach Steve Sarkisian and Seattle Seahawks QB coach Jim Zorn, as well as Booty himself. These sources break down the ins and outs of the issue, including the distance and quickness of Booty’s three-step drop, his height and release point, and his ability to find throwing lanes.

As a Daily Trojan veteran and a graduate of the USC School of Journalism (now part of the Annenberg Center for Communications), it makes me proud to see such fine work from young Shauk. This is an excellent little piece of journalism that could teach old man Beano a thing or two.

Lastly, it is possible that Beano would catch on his own yesterday’s Myrtle Beach Sun News, which had a column written by Steve Moore describing a blog that answers an amusing question, “If your favorite college football team were a superhero, which superhero would it be?” Moore wrote:
"The Church of Albert," a sports blog devoted to "analysis, commentary and humor on Florida Gators football and basketball," has some fun with the idea. The blog casts Michigan as Wolverine (obvious), Notre Dame as Superman (peaked in the 20th century) and Miami as Luke Cage (a thug who can wring some necks).

As for USC and UCLA, would you believe ... the Incredible Hulk and She Hulk?

The blog explains: "The Incredible Hulk is an unstoppable force of nature that you do not want to get angry. He sometimes turns into a meek little man that gets pushed around for a little while, but eventually the Hulk bursts out and separates arms from shoulders.

"USC often puts forward meek-scientist-type efforts for three quarters, followed by a city-destroying fourth quarter that puts opponents away."

Riffing on UCLA, the blog continues: "Lots of Superheroes have a female version of themselves that no one takes seriously. She Hulk fills that role for the Hulk, and since USC is the Hulk ..."
This is kind of funny in a nerdy way. But what’s not funny, and certainly not nerdy, is that Moore provides no hyperlink to the blog he describes. Even worse, a Google search on “church of albert” and a click on churchofalbert.blogspot.com reveals no such post.

I checked five times, clicking all over Albert's blog … nothing.* I know Moore doesn’t work for the New York Times, but perhaps he should read a post that can be found on Albert’s blog titled “It’s called Fact-Checking.”

Of course, without visiting us Beano would be completely lost, lacking the benefit of the warning we provided here. Perhaps without our help, he would lose his faith in these internets and never come back. Hmmm …

But, I digress …

* If Albert's site has changed since I published this post, or if you can find the super heroes, please let me know, and I’ll apologize to Mr. Moore. Until then, he’s an idiot.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

USC Bye Week: The Domer Hype Machine

We’ve always known the Domers live in their own reality. Like a clichéd movie trailer that starts out “In a world …” the ND Nation has created an alternate universe inside their own minds. Sort of like a Seinfeld Bizarro World.

If you don’t believe me, spend a few minutes with a Domer alum, or even an east coast “subway alumus” who’s never been to South Bend. Trust me, you’ll get an ear full of it.

They’ll tell you how the school is actually an Ivy League institution stuck in the midwest. You’ll hear that the football program has never compromised ethics or academic standards to get athletic talent on the field. They’ll rationalize ND priests asking God for an ND win, while cheering for “Irish” players with names like Raghib Ismail to do their Lord’s work.

In fact, if you talk to them long enough they’ll let it all out: “Notre Dame is God’s Team. That’s why they win so much.” Being from USC – an institution that understands the freedom of a non-denominational education – we find this kind of thinking limited, if not repressive.

However, this stuff has served the Domers well over the years. They have a national base of followers who share their belief in ND football. And, perhaps more to the hypocritical point, the Domers make it a priority to field a premier football team, which earns their institution millions of dollars from NBC and a special spot in the BCS.

For sure, this collective “Domer Mind” works well for their believers, allowing ND faithful to take liberties with the truth in order to motivate their masses and perpetuate the “reality” of their Bizarro World.

An example of Bizarro logic in action is a piece on ugla written by one Steve Wozniak, who unlike the Apple Computer co-founder of the same name, takes it upon himself to fuel the Domer hype machine as a Staff Writer for the South Bend Tribune. Wozniak wrote:
Chuck D of Public Enemy may have said it best: Don't believe the hype.

Or at least the hype surrounding this year's UCLA defense. When the Bruins march into South Bend this weekend for their matchup with Notre Dame, there will be much hullabaloo about how UCLA has rebuilt itself into a Pac-10 power by playing defense …
What? Yes, it’s Bizarro enough for a guy named Wozniak to be referencing Chuck D … but since when is ugla a defensive Pac-10 power? Not even bruins nation could come up with that.
Well, that's the hype. And now for the reason not to believe much of it: UCLA's schedule.

The Bruins registered four impressive victories this year over Rice, Utah, Stanford and Arizona. Not exactly a murderers row. Rice ranks 92nd in the country in offense, Utah 80th, Stanford 115th and Arizona 111th. If West Virginia's perfect record is tainted by its lackluster competition, so too must be the accolades being bestowed on UCLA's defense.

UCLA has faced two decent offenses, losing to 59th-ranked Washington, 29-19, and last Saturday to Oregon, the seventh best offense in the nation, by another 10-point margin, 30-20.

So is the defense really that good, or is it just a case of stat-padding against inferior foes? That will become clearer when the Bruins run into Notre Dame's offense, which is still ranked only 34th now, but has been clicking more and more since the embarrassment that was the Michigan game.
Again … what? Maybe Wozniak is just a bad journalist (obviously), but the thought process here is astounding. He creates "hullabaloo" where there is none, only to reassure ND Nation that they shouldn’t believe the hype … which he made up in the first place.

As we’ve observed, the mind is a powerful thing. But, the collective Domer Mind is flat out scary.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

USC Bye Week: Bruins in Need

Heading into our mid-season bye, this should be a fun and interesting week for USC Football. We are 6-0 and No. 2 in the season’s first BCS ranking. (Again, let’s breathe and let go of the angst for a week.) Even better, our two primary rivals play each other in South Bend, which allows us to kill two birds with one stone as we size them up.

Taking a look across town, we see the wagons are circling in Westwood … or maybe those are buzzards. Either way, poor Karl Dorrell is like a dead man walking according bruin nation. It is very sad …

Trust me. I’m not getting soft or complacent after seven straight wins versus ugla. (Remember, as much as we’d like to forget, we need one more W to even up the snowman ugla put on us from ’91 to ’98.) USC must keep its proverbial foot firmly on the bruin jugular, with force.

But the thing is we might enjoy the dominance more if there was some sign of life, maybe just a twitch, to let us know they still feel the pain. Right now it seems like baby blue is all numb and dumb.

A bruin nation “guest blogger” calling himself Bruin Blue wrote a 2,000-word essay – sort of like a Jerry Maguire manifesto – about ugla’s state of affairs. If you have a minute to waste, it’s amusing to read. There isn’t much in it that we don’t already know: Dorrell is not a great coach, ugla A.D. Dan Guerrero (right) is content with mediocrity, and bruin nation has no real commitment to football.

But the bruin diatribe does confirm that while ugla may be able to identify its problems, it has absolutely no clue how to fix them. bruin nation will have to be extremely lucky in order to even sniff the heights USC Football has achieved and seems poised to sustain. I mean extremely lucky … like winning the PowerBall lottery lucky. We know this because Mike Garrett actually won the lottery for us nearly six years ago.

ugla is so pathetically inept I couldn’t help but give them some condescending advice with a comment on Bruin Blue’s post*:
Almost there ...

As a slightly more than casual observer of UCLA football from a different perspective, I must commend Bruin Blue for a very nice piece. Seriously.

It's all about commitment and priorities, and it is obvious even to outsiders that having a "nice" football program is the extent of the priority for UCLA. Bruin Blue captures that aspect of the program very well.

However, in describing "the second part of the equation," this post only proves further a key element of the first part. Bruin Nation, let alone Dan Guerrero, wouldn't know a top-flight coach if one was standing in front of you ... unless he was wearing cardinal and gold on the opposite sideline.

Make no mistake, knowledgeable USC fans realize and readily admit that hiring Pete Carroll was pure Mike Garrett luck. But, look at a couple of programs that have attempted to imitate the Carroll model, and you'll see at least two schools that are doing better than the Bruins. Try Wannstedt/Pitt and Callahan/Nebraska.

Forget about hot college assistants. Those are too iffy. For every Stoops, Tedford and Meyer, there's Zook, Koetter and Chuck Long.

Forget about Tom O'Brien, for crissakes! Listen to yourself say "competed with the best, and come off very well ..." Sounds like Terry Donahue to me.

Butch Davis a "better person" than Carroll? Get real.

If you want a guy who won't be out-coached by someone like Pete Carroll or Charlie Weis, you gotta go where they learned to coach. You gotta go where recruits have automatic respect for someone who can get them to the next level. You gotta go to the League.

So, who fits this bill? Who won't be intimidated in the film room and on the recruiting trail by anyone? Who's available after being the scapegoat for a completely messed up situation in the NFL?

Steve Mariucci. Tell Guerrero to give him a call. You can probably get him for $1.5 million, plus incentives. Seriously, it would be the best choice the Bruins could make, if you could make that kind of commitment. Unfortunately for Bruin Nation, that's a big IF.
Of course, we know the “if” is not an “if,” but more like a “no way.” Again, the odds of winning the lottery are so very minute, and Guerrero isn’t even willing to buy a ticket. Simply put, lightning doesn’t strike twice.

Other than telling the “gutty little bruins” to stand in the middle of an open field holding a 1-iron in the air during the next thunderstorm, I can’t think of anything else to tell them.

Fight On!

* I know it’s at least a little obnoxious to quote myself on my own blog, but what the hell. It’s a bye week.

Monday, October 16, 2006

USC Post-Game II: The One True Idiot

My gosh! I was wrong. My apologies to Dirk Koetter and Tommy Tuberville. After a full Saturday of college football, I thought these guys were the idiots of the day. But, upon further review, by way of The Wiz, I must recant.

In fact, the biggest idiot of the day was Lamar Thomas, the former Hurricane turned broadcast analyst. Thomas, who worked (at least until yesterday) the tape-delayed broadcasts of Miami games for Comcast Sports Southeast, was apparently doing Saturday’s game live, with play-by-play partner Jason Solodkin. As is always the case in these situations, I’ll let Thomas speak for himself:

If you didn’t catch all that, here are the lowlights:
Now that’s what I’m talking about. You come into our house, you should get your behind kicked. You don’t come into the bowl O.B. [Orange Bowl] playin’ that stuff. You across the ocean over there. You across the city. You can’t come over to our place talking noise like that. You get your butt kicked. I was ‘bout to go down the elevator and get in that thang.

You know, I say why don’t they just meet outside in the tunnel, after the ball game, and get it on some more. You don’t come into the O.B., baby. We’ve had a down couple a years, but you don’t come in here talkin’ trash. Not at our house!
Of course, Solodkin was also an idiot, trying to play it straight, while Thomas ranted. He didn’t even acknowledge or try to temper Thomas’s outrageous comments. But then again, as a white guy who never played the game, he was probably frightened by Thomas. That’s how idiots think, right?

Obviously, Thomas is a proud Hurricane, having been part of two national championship teams in ’89 and ’91. Perhaps he’s less proud of his Federal indictment for being part of the financial aid scandal at Miami during Dennis Erickson’s shameful tenure as head coach. And, maybe he is embarrassed by his documented history of violence, having been arrested for three counts of battery, including two against his fiancé in 1997.

Maybe Solodkin was right to be afraid of Thomas. But, he’s still an idiot.

Thomas on Saturday night disgraced and insulted anyone who cares about college football. But, my guess is that he is so incredibly stupid he sees nothing wrong with what he said. And I’m guessing he lives by a set of rules and a code of honor that he would say I can’t fully understand. Fair enough. But, Thomas is still an idiot.

Yes, Tuberville and Koetter are idiots within the scope of sarcastic football commentary, but let's keep our perspective here. It goes without saying that these guys are no where near the shameful and dishonorable idiot jerks representing the University of Miami on the field and in the booth Saturday night. Let’s hope we never see or hear that kind of crap again.

Fight On!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

USC Football Post-Game: Idiots Galore

Man, that Tommy Tuberville really wants to prove his point. First, as the No. 2 team in the country last week, he has his War Damn Eagle lose to Arkansas at home. Then yesterday he knocks off SEC counterpart Florida, which replaced Auburn at No. 2. All this just to prove himself right, after predicting that no SEC team will earn a spot in the BCS championship game. Incredible!

No doubt about it. You have to be a very good coach to pull this off. Of course, you also have to be an idiot.

Now, what does all this say about Urban Meyer? The view here is that he is not an idiot, yet. Meyer (left) is just a good coach in his second season installing an offensive system using some other idiot’s players. He’ll be a full-fledged idiot if/when at some point next season, people in the SEC figure out that Tim Tebow can’t throw a football.

As for an entire team that proved itself to be idiots this season, look no further than the once proud and mighty Miami Hurricanes, who looked like that other SC last night. It’s one thing for emotions to run high in a rivalry game against Florida or Florida State, but to let emotions and actions get completely out of control in a blowout over a Florida International team led by Don Strock is simply embarrassing, sickening and absolutely disrespectful to the game we all love. Add swinging helmets and stomping on the backs of players’ legs, and it becomes literally criminal.

Funny how all this crap happens in the south, where football is supposed to mean so much. But, I digress …

Another idiot on Saturday was Arizona State’s head coach Dirk Koetter. Sure, he led the Sun Devils to a nice comeback after falling behind 21-0 to USC at the Coliseum last night. But when it came time to actually attempt to win or tie the game, Koetter showed his lack of brain cells.

After USC’s old school, smash-mouth 74-yard drive to take the 28-21 lead, Koetter’s crew had a little less than four and a half minutes left to answer. But it didn’t look like they even understood the question.

After penalizing themselves into a third and 24 from their own 21, the Sun Devils completed a two-yard pass. Then, with about 1:30 left in the game … they punted.

Koetter explains: "I felt we were better off to try to advance the ball 50 yards and try to come up with a turnover. The odds of converting on fourth and 30 are tough."

Perhaps he’s right. Comparing slim and none leaves no chance. But maybe those odds on fourth and long would’ve been better if the third down play gained more than two yards. And, just maybe ASU wouldn’t have been in that situation in the first place if the quarterback who Koetter chose … I mean, the QB he didn’t choose was more psychologically stable.

As for Carroll’s take on the win over ASU, we already called it earlier in the week. It’s like that line from Albert Brooks in the movie Broadcast News: “I say it here, it comes out there."

Said Carroll after the game: “Just win, baby. ”
I think we just need to keep getting better. … This is a different year, and this is a different team. I think we're fortunate to be 6-0. It's really hard to win. How many teams have won all their games? We're really, really young. I'm thrilled we're 6-0 and we feel okay about ourselves.
While Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times may overreact in an attempt to make us flinch, we should feel okay about USC Football, too. Halfway through this season, heading into a bye, we’re 6-0 and have a legitimate shot at another national championship.

Remember, our man Carroll is in this for the long haul, and we’re there with him.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

USC Football Game Day: Galen Center Opening

As a true and authentic USC Trojan, I don’t know a lick about basketball. I have attended a few games at the Sports Arena, and I followed the b-ball team in 1992 when we got a No. 2 seed in the tournament and lost to Georgia Tech on a miracle shot in the second round. (Whatever happened to Harold Miner, aka Baby Jordan, anyway?) But, I really don’t care much about Trojan hoops.

Admittedly, I’m probably a fair-weather basketball fan, because I did attend the 2001 Eastern Regional Finals in Philadelphia when we played Duke. The Blue Devils eventually won the Tournament that year with Jason (Jay) Williams, Shane Battier, Carlos Boozer, et al. My father-in-law declined to join me, so I drove down myself without a ticket and scalped a single (for face value 45 minutes before tip off) from some nerd in a Princeton sweatshirt.

The seat was great, about midway between center court and the baseline above the luxury boxes … smack dab in the middle of some 50-something, blue-blooded Blue Devils. Dressed like respectable southerners in blue polo shirts and loafers (wives done up and wearing pearls) these people took themselves and their basketball very seriously. They were polite and nice enough, but these Dukies were cold as ice with me, even when their team had the game well in hand.

My least favorite part of the experience was hearing the liberal use of the word “boy” in reference to the African-American players. All night I heard it from the Duke fans, with a drawl. After a Boozer turnover: “That boy better shape up. Come on, boy!” After Williams hit a three: “Man, that boy can shoot!” When Mike Dunleavy (a white kid) drove the lane: “Man, he knows how to play, don’t he?”

They seemed like proper people, but I got the impression these Dukies were talking at their players more than rooting for them. Maybe it was my own regional bias, having grown up in the West and living in the Northeast, but I got the feeling these people were using “boy” only to replace a more derogatory term.

But, I digress …

After what has been apparently more than a century in the making, USC’s Galen Center opened Thursday night. Again, being a real USC Football fan I’m ignorant about these issues, but this is supposedly a big deal. Our b-ball coach – some fat guy by the name of Rick Ma… what? Oh, okay … some guy named Tim Floyd – has been quoted as saying this Galen Center is so awesome it could win us a national championship. I’m not sure how that works, but it sounds good to me.

Mr. Floyd must know what he’s talking about, because the Galen Center has ugla circling in a typical defensive attack. Having been cornered into another “Dump Dorrell” movement, the baby blue is switching sports not even half way through this football season. I don’t really understand all the “cager” talk from Westwood, but if this new building puts ugla’s panties in a bunch, I’m all for it.

Then again, just how powerful is this new campus jewel if our No. 4-ranked women’s volleyball team lost to Stanford on the building’s opening night? Perhaps the Galen Center only works for basketball? Maybe there is more to winning a national championship in basketball than just building a new $100 million arena. But, who am I to question Mr. Floyd?

In any case, the Galen Center does look beautiful, and it will add much to the USC experience of students and alumni, as well as the stature of the campus. It certainly is a proud moment for our alma mater, and Mike Garrett in particular.

But, in fact, the most important benefit of the Galen Center is its abundance of new facilities for USC men’s and women’s volleyball and basketball. Their new offices, locker rooms and workout equipment at the Galen Center means there will be much more room for the USC Football program at Heritage Hall.

Now, that’s something to celebrate!

Beat the Sun Devils!
east coast bias