Thursday, November 30, 2006

Thursday Twirl: "Rivalry" Edition

It's Thursday ... and again I ask:

Where is the "rivalry"? ... Is there any dignity left?

I guess Beano has a point.

usc song girls

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

An Open Letter ... With 22 Links

Dear UCLA Jay,

Thank you for your comments on my "masterpiece." It's good to know your "nation" is alive and well. As you know, we had our doubts. Of course, I use the word "well" knowing it's a relative term, because we understand that the truth hurts ... and we know it drives you nuts.

While I appreciate your point of view, it was presented in disappointing fashion, frankly. I'm not talking about your poor grammar, misspellings, words in all caps, or even your offensive language. That's nothing new coming from your "nation."

I'm talking about your inability to accurately interpret and fully understand my post, and the way in which you inadvertantly illustrate my point for me: This isn't a real "rivalry" anymore.

I suppose showing mercy is appropriate here, but before I do, let's recap to let the Trojan Family in on the joke ...

Section: Diaries
Posted on Tue Nov 28, 2006 at 11:13:08 PM EST

I HATE them, I HATE them all, every single one of them. Especially all those "lifelong" fans they have now. You know, the ones that talk shit about UCLA because SC has won 7 in a row(even though they have only seen the last 3) that walk around town in their #8 "Free Rent", I mean Dwayne Jarrett jerseys that have never been to an SC game and are still trying to figure out why all the other SC "fans" keep giving the "peace sign" when the white donkey runs up and down the field at the Colliseum.

Here is a perfect example of the SCum, yes I'm starting to call people out, from The Displaced Trojan blog, by a poster by the name of "Boi From Troy"(I wouldn't use a name but one of the links breaks off to a post that our "Bruin Blue" posted over here, so all is fair). The copy and paste trick doesn't do this masterpiece justice. He has 21 links in his little writing, which link to everything from Dump, to a link about OJ Mayo, to the score of last years game, to even a couple of our posts here at BN. Go to (LINK REDACTED - N) to see this thing in it's full glory. Caution: you will need a barf bag.

So, N is for Nestor, who "redacted" your link to The Displaced Trojan, because he says I'm trolling for traffic. But, just like he wouldn't engage in a little back and forth with us at Conquest Chronicles, we know Nestor doesn't want anyone from your "nation" exposed to the truth. Again, we know the truth drives you nuts. But, I digress ...

These idiots have their heads so far up the "Humanitarian" ass it's disgusting. All these SC "lifers" are loving the 7 straight, it's unfortunate that they never knew SUCk even played football before Carson Palmer won a heisman. And I love the line about OJ Mayo "stealing the spotlight in LA" I know that drugs run freely around the University of South Central, but can they at least make a post while they aren't under the influence of some illegal substance? And wasn't it nice of him to show that SC is envious of UCLA approaching 100 National Championships? I dont expect anything less actually, times are rough over in South Central between the middle of January and the end of August. But lucky for them they can still have their wet dreams about Pete Carroll during the off-season.

And how's this for a "swear word with an asterik".


I should probably put an asterisk (notice the correct spelling) in your f-word here, but like my links to your site, it makes my point for me. Thanks to your "nation" and the World Wide Web, there is no need to "call people out" for being classless, vulgar and lacking enough knowledge to state a coherent argument. It's right here on record, for everyone to see. But, again, I digress ...

Seriously. Your "nation" should know me better, especially Nestor. You should know that Displaced posts and comments give all respect where respect is due. You should know that I am critical of USC basketball, but I readily admit to being a fair-weather fan.

And you should know that I have, in fact, followed USC Football my entire life, which even you can guess started more than three years ago. Sure, there are quite a few Trojan fans who don't know much about what happened before Carson Palmer won his Heisman in 2002. So what? That's what happens when you re-establish a college football dynasty.

Were you complaining when baby blue No. 18 jerseys were popping up everywhere in the late 90s? Where were you back then, Jay?

I would think you'd have the wherewithal to point out that USC still needs one more win to equal the snowman Terry Donahue hung around Paul Hackett's sorry neck. I'm surprised you didn't take the chance to tap into that history as a way to dull USC's euphoria in this Pete Carroll era. What kind of a fan are you, Jay?

Here's the mercy part (or is it pity?): To be perfectly honest, a win Saturday will be a catharsis of sorts to true Trojan fans (read: non-bandwagoneers) who suffered through eight straight losses to your team from '91-`98. We know exactly what your pain feels like, and deep down, I'll take Troy Aikman vs. Rodney Peete in '88 over Karl Dorrell vs. Pete Carroll in '05 any day of the week. Your "nation" has stated (many times over) that Dorrell is a disgrace, and he has made this once great rivalry a joke. I can't agree more.

That said, USC's own eighth straight win in this "rivalry" will soothe the memories of `98, along with the giddiness that comes with knowing that this USC streak has no end in sight. The Trojans will not look past this game, because our coach is too smart to allow it. But, I digress ...

I know some members of your "nation" are afraid of the 22 links in this post. I know this new fangled thing called the internets can be scary to them, but please encourage them to try it. Tell them to click a link. It's how normal bloggers support points and expand arguments. Besides, they may learn something ... perhaps something more than the emotional, non-factual nonsense you throw around amongst yourselves.

Come on out and play. Ask ND, it's just fun and games out here.

Oh, that's right. You'd rather hide during this "rivalry" week, because you know ...



The Displaced Trojan

Note: A slightly different version of this post is also up at Conquest Chronicles ... you know, so I can troll for hits. LOL.

USC's Real Rival Reviewed

We thought we’d have more to entertain us this week, since we’re supposed to have yet another “rivalry” game this Saturday. But, since that team’s “nation” took their proverbial ball and went home already, we’re free to direct our attention elsewhere.

It’s a good thing, too. While the usual suspects showed us their predictable east coast bias, it seems as though we missed a few examples of non-biased journalism popping up in surprising places on the internets.

Now, make no mistake, the game this Saturday is important in that it’s another stop along the Trojans’ march to continued greatness. A victory will guarantee USC a spot in its third BCS Championship Game in a row and our fourth consecutive shot at a national title. We trust our man Pete Carroll to ensure the focus necessary to deliver the win. But, I digress …

One of the most surprising places we found an objective take was at You know, the network that employs ND during every home game the “Irish” play. Apparently, the annual performance reviews are in, and the boss is not happy.

Using words like “appalling” and “outclassed” to describe ND’s 44-24 loss to the Trojans, John Walters of (who just might be a “writer we like”) let the “Irish” have it:
… Notre Dame is not an elite team. [...] Was it all a mirage or did we fail to see reality through the tall grass? Last October in South Bend most of these same Notre Dame players battled a more talented, more experienced Trojan team to within one play of victory. […]

The fundamental supposition of the 2006 season is that such a team, with almost everyone returning would only get better. The lasting question will be how come they failed to do so. […]

[ND’s] seniors will leave South Bend never knowing what it feels like to beat the Trojans (well, that’s not exactly true; they experienced the feeling for a few seconds last year in South Bend, until the public address announcer said, “Please leave the field. The game is not over.”)
Ouch.* Of course, we can address Walters’ “lasting question,” assuming it wasn’t rhetorical. The answer is simple: coaching.

In a separate article, also written by Walters, the job review gets harsher:
There’s a 10-2 religious-affiliated university out there with a senior quarterback whose touchdown-to-interception ratio is 5:1, who has passed for more than 10,000 yards in his career, and whose name is all over his school’s record book.

And that school is not Notre Dame.

Brigham Young senior John Beck […] is headed to the Las Vegas Bowl […]

BYU is just one of many one- or two-loss schools that must be wondering how many bowl blazers Pope Benedict XVI has in his closet. It’s time to face the choir, Domers. After two 20-plus point losses to their toughest opponents this season, and after eight consecutive bowl game defeats, the last thing that the Irish […] deserve next Sunday during the BCS Selection Show is this: The benefit of the doubt.

Instead, it’s time for Notre Dame to pull a Wayne and Garth, look directly into the blinding blazers of the Sugar (or Rose) Bowl officials, and declare, “We’re not worthy!” […]

The haters have it right this season.
Ouch.* And some people get on me for mentioned the “r” word (which I never actually do in any Displaced posts.) I guess the folks at NBC figure if they can’t get their money’s worth out of the “Irish” they don’t want anyone else to either.

Back on the USC sideline, there is a new candidate for “writer we like” status … none other than Ivan Maisel of Maisel gives much props to Pete Carroll, recognizing that perhaps it’s time to include his name in the same breath as coaches of college football’s greatest dynasties:
Pete Carroll is on the verge of achieving something that has not been done in many years, if ever. USC is one game away from playing for a national championship for the fourth consecutive season. […]

USC is 47-3 over these four seasons. The three losses have been by a total of eight points. One went to overtime. The other two, by three and two points respectively, came down to the final seconds.

USC has replaced two Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks and a Heisman-winning tailback. USC has replaced seven first-round draft choices. And still the Trojans win.

They have won five consecutive Pacific-10 Conference championships and 33 consecutive home games. Carroll has won with every type of team. He has built a winner. He has won with veterans. And this season, he has taken a team that most experts considered too young and beat-up to win and driven it to the brink of another national championship. […]

Carroll's four consecutive seasons are every bit as convincing as the best winning periods of coaches such as Bear Bryant of Alabama, Darrell Royal of Texas or Bobby Bowden of Florida State. [ …]

It wasn't that long ago that the power in college football seemed to have permanently shifted to the portion of the Sun Belt that stretches from Miami in the southeast to College Station in the southwest. Carroll has redrawn that map. He has made USC fashionable again.
No wonder the southern inferiority complex seems to be stronger than ever.

But, back to our real rival. In a sidebar that accompanied his piece on Carroll, Maisel also had a few words for ND:
Notre Dame is an inkblot and project on it what you will. The Irish finished 10-2, which is great. They played an easy schedule, which means they're phonies. They appear headed for a BCS bowl for the second consecutive year, which is great. They haven't beaten anyone they shouldn't have beaten in Charlie Weis' two seasons, which is not good. Two years in, Weis has turned around a program that appeared mired in mediocrity. Two years in, an athletic gap between the Notre Dames and the USC/Michigans of the world remains wide. We could go on like this all day.
Again, ouch.*

It’s almost not fair, extending this beat down on our real rival. But, what else are we to do with just one game left to play?


*I say “ouch” out of respect for ND, but inside I really mean “LOL.”
usc trojans vs. ucla bruins

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Together Again: Axis of East Coast Bias

If there is one time of the year when USC embraces the Domer Hype Machine, it’s the week leading up to our annual rivalry game versus the “Irish.” As we’ve said before, we don’t mind ND hyping itself through a biased east coast media if it means that our subsequent victory over the “Irish” is equally hyped.

And, like clockwork, the Grey Lady played its part yesterday, featuring USC prominently in a full-page spread about college football on page 2 of the Sports section, an ode to the Trojans’ 44-24 beat down of ND last Saturday.

Still, we’re beginning to see that this east coast bias thing isn’t as simple as it used to be. Sure, the photo of Pete Carroll making a double victory sign at the top of the page is nice, and the brief about Dwayne Jarrett being a late Heisman dark horse is pleasant enough. But the New York Times is giving USC its props grudgingly:
LOS ANGELES, Nov. 26 — Last year’s game between Notre Dame and Southern California reminded the college football world how much luck is involved in the chase for a national title.

That game, won by U.S.C., 34-31, had the Bush Push, Dwayne Jarrett’s seeing double on fourth-and-9 and Matt Leinart’s late fumble, which conveniently bounced out of bounds. As the contenders to face Ohio State this season for the national title are whittled in the wake of this year’s U.S.C. victory against Notre Dame, luck has once again reappeared in the race for the Bowl Championship Series title game.

This time, the fortunate circumstances for the Trojans happened off the field, thanks to their aggressive scheduling philosophy, which appears to be the deciding factor in the Trojans’ probably outlasting Michigan and Florida for the right to play in the national title game.
What the hell? USC Trojans know better this. We know the Bush Push was smart, the Leinart-Jarrett hook up was pure nerve and skill, and while Leinart’s fumble out of bounds may have been fortunate, USC’s re-emergence at No. 2 this season is due to Carroll’s voodoo and magic tennis book. Nothing lucky about that! But, I digress …

Since when is USC’s “play anybody, anywhere” philosophy equal to luck? Since when is it lucky to be the only school from the six major BCS conferences not to schedule a game against a school from outside a BCS conference?

Sure, the fact that two of those opponents turned out to be conference division champions – Arkansas won the SEC West at 10-2, Nebraska took the Big 12 North at 9-3 – and the other is a nationally ranked independent may be out of our hands, but there will never be a Division 1-AA school on USC’s schedule, which is purely a matter of choice.

I make this last point because Florida’s Urban Meyer – apparently stepping up onto the SEC soapbox to replace the self-fulfilled prognosticating idiot at Auburn – is trying to tell us his Gators have played a tough schedule … as if we don’t see 1-AA Western Carolina on their list … at 2-9, no less.

Of course, playing its usual role as a primary conduit of the east coast bias, which as we know is related to the southern inferiority complex, the Grey Lady gave Meyer some ink to state his case:
Florida’s argument will be that the strength of the SEC, widely regarded as the toughest in the country, should carry more weight. And it is an argument that will rage on across the South for years, just as it did when Auburn was left out of the national title game two years ago despite an undefeated regular season.

“The only thing I get concerned about is that Auburn wasn’t here, I think, two years ago,” Meyer said. “Once again, when I hear our league compared against other leagues, I kind of shake my head. I am one of those guys who coached against a lot of those other leagues. There is no finer league in the country than the SEC.”
And, in tow the New York Times – which claims to be a “national” newspaper, while still purposefully serving its subway alumni – had to give voice to its favored “Irish”:
When told before Saturday’s game that U.S.C. was the only B.C.S. team that did not play a non-B.C.S. university, White called the statistic “compelling.”

“You have to give them an A-plus in intent to schedule,” he said. “It’s very, very impressive.”
Impressive indeed, but remember White made this statement before USC embarrassed the “Irish” on national prime-time television. Ask him the same question today, and his answer would probably be a little different. Maybe something like, “Who gives a crap. We’re God’s Team, damn it!”

So, there you have it in plain view. The east coast media bias, the Domer Hype Machine and the southern inferiority complex – all closely related factions of the Axis of East Coast Bias – laid out neatly on page 2 in the Grey Lady.

And yet the fact remains: We win, we’re in.


Monday, November 27, 2006

They Don’t Want Any

So, we turn our attention now to USC’s crosstown “rival” … of course, we use quotes because we can’t be sure if that’s an accurate word to describe the relationship here. It just doesn’t seem appropriate.

Never mind that ESPN considers this Saturday’s game a foregone conclusion, having run a segment last night projecting and analyzing what an Ohio State vs. USC match up will look like in the BCS Championship Game.

Never mind Cal fans, who revel in their little sister school’s football failures, while claiming the Pac-10’s No. 2 spot (literally and figuratively) as USC’s true conference rival.

The thing is we know of real rivalry, and this isn’t it. We know because we experienced a real rivalry last week. Sure, the “Irish” didn’t put up much of a fight, but ND was ranked in the top-10 and the pre-game hype on a national scale was grand …

BCS implications for both schools … Quinn vs. Booty … McKnight/Samardzija vs. Jarrett/Smith … Zbikowski vs. Ellison … Walker vs. Gable … Weis vs. Carroll … Touchdown Jesus vs. Non-denominational Education … The after glow of last year's classic in South Bend.

This week we’ve got, what … 66-19, Karl Dorrell and “Southpaw Jesus”? Ugh.

Sure, we’ll hear all the usual crap from them this week. All the condom jokes, all the “spoiled children” and “second choice” stuff, along with a bunch of swear words with asterisks in them. But we know these are just feeble attempts to distract us – and perhaps more importantly distract themselves – from the reality of the situation.

Yes, their basketball team looks nice this year. But they can’t even enjoy that very much, with this O.J. Mayo kid coming to town to steal the spotlight in L.A.

Yes, they’ve been waiting for their 100th national team championship for a while now. But what does that really mean when 22 of those titles happened in volleyball and softball, most before half the country actually played those sports?

Even their corner of the blogosphere is in shambles, having been thoroughly confused and demoralized by Dorrell’s incompetence, A.D. Dan Guerrero’s indifference, and the shadow of the unprecedented success that is USC Football.

We know they threw in the towel long ago, but this week they’re grasping for something ... anything … even if it means disgracefully refusing to engage in a friendly “roundtable” with Conquest Chronicles (for which this Displaced Trojan has been guest-blogging for the last couple weeks.) You can almost see the shame in their eyes as they make up this cowardly excuse:
That's nice. But I think we are going to pass on it. We don't need any pity from the Trojans […] We have done four of these roundtables throughout this football season. And every time we did this roundtable exchanging Q&As bloggers from other teams - Washington, Oregon, Notre Dame and Cal - our Bruins lost all of those games. As much as we respect the work of Conquest Chronicles, we are not going to have any roundtable with Trojans this game week on BN. We haven't done these roundtables for 2 games in a row (rejecting the last bid from an ASU blogger) and no way we are going to jinx anything now.
As if luck, let alone whatever their blog does or doesn’t do, has any bearing on the issue at hand. For sure, the Trojans won't look past them. Our man Carroll takes care of that.

Still, we have to ask: Where is the rivalry? Are there any signs of life (let alone intelligence) over there? Is there any dignity left?

Just like ESPN, you know the answer already …

Fight On! WE ARE SC!

(Photo credit: Boi From Troy.)
ucla bruins vs. usc trojans

Sunday, November 26, 2006

USC-ND Post-Game: It’s In The Numbers

USC 44, ND 24. Let’s put up two fingers for victory. But perhaps we should put up five, as in five straight wins versus ND … and counting.

There are other numbers to count, as well:

33 – Consecutive home wins by USC
20 – Career wins by Pete Carroll in November, against zero losses
4 – Wins against BCS top-25 teams this season (Arkansas, Nebraska, Cal, and ND)
6 – Weeks that Charlie Weis had to prepare for USC
0 – Significant wins for ND in the Weis era

These last two numbers are telling, because not only was USC faster and stronger than Notre Dame last night, the Trojans were apparently smarter than the Domers. Our four straight stops when the “genius” Weis went for it on fourth down tell us so.

Another telling number: the Trojans have one senior starter on defense in Dallas Sartz, two if you count Oscar Lua. The “Irish” have 18 senior starters on both sides of the ball. As some “experts” have already pointed out, this was the year for ND to steal a win from USC. And with four of the nation’s top recruits (all rated No. 1 at their position) witnessing last night’s beat down first hand, who knows when ND will catch us.

Clearly, the numbers, let alone our own eyes, tell us the Trojans are the better team than ND.

Heck, Lou Holtz said it himself on ESPN last night: “There are some games when you say, we just got beat. ... Southern Cal was a better football team. ... Congratulations to Southern Cal.” Go ahead, Lou … call us “Southern Cal.” We want you to. But, I digress …

More importantly, USC showed the nation that it is by far the better football program, probably for years to come. That’s one hell of a feeling, isn’t it?

Before we forget, here are a few more "feel good" numbers:

2 – USC’s position in the new BCS rankings that come out later today
3 – Straight appearances in the BCS championship game
1 – Game left to complete our regular season and guarantee all of the above

ugla. We all know the key number here: Seven (7) straight wins and counting …

Make no mistake about it: WE ARE SC!

Fight On! Beat the bruins!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

USC-ND Game Day: It’s Special

Pete Carroll says every game is a championship game. It’s the approach he must take to ensure that the Trojans are ready to win each week. But as fans we know better. We know this one is special …

It’s here. I can’t wait … I can’t blog … I can’t wait …

(But, I’ll offer you with this funny photo via TrojanWire.)

We Are SC! Fight On!

Friday, November 24, 2006

USC-ND Pre-Game: Holier Than Who?

As a USC Trojan there are many things to hate about the Domers. Each of us has our personal favorites, but virtually all of the specific things we hate about ND point to one thing in particular: the “Irish” holier-than-thou self-righteousness.

It wouldn’t be so bad if the origins of this smugness were based only in football. Certainly, there is a lot to make ND feel competent in terms tradition on the gridiron. The football part of it deserves some respect, if for no other reason than our victories over the “Irish” help to propel USC’s national status. But it’s the other element of ND Nation that fully deserves our hate.

You know what I’m talking about … the self-absorbed arrogance, the pious ethics by convenience and the blind hypocrisy that make “Irish” fans believe that ND is “God’s Team.” It’s sickening, really.

Having benefited from the freedom of thought that comes from a non-denominational education at USC, Trojan alumni recognize and understand the psychology of ND’s self-importance, duplicity and belief system that fuel its holier-than-thou attitude.

We understand how a smug institutional philosophy enables fans to think that God plays favorites on the gridiron. We understand how “Irish” pomposity can beget the pseudo-ethics that result in miraculous “100 percent” graduation rates year after year. We understand how ND’s belief system, pervasive in other institutions throughout the U.S., can create a national following of vulgar “Irish” “fans” who don’t respect the game of college football and couldn’t identify South Bend on a map. (Please heed a language warning on these last two links.)

All this, as we already know, fuels the Domer Hype Machine, the subway alumni and the east coast bias that help to perpetuate the belief that ND is pre-ordained to win football games.

USC Trojans understand all this, and we see it for what it is …

We see Charlie Weis saying stupid stuff.

We see ND losing to Michigan at home by 26 and to Ohio State by 14 after preparing for more than a month.

We see Tyrone Willingham getting fired three years into a five year contract, while Weis gets a 10-year extension after seven games … with a 5-2 record, no less.

We see the “Irish” losing their last eight bowl games to produce an all-time losing record in bowl appearances at 13-14.

We see ND pretending that NCAA violations and criminal activity never happen in its glass house.

And the list goes on and on and on …

It is true that USC is not perfect, but we don’t claim to be or act like we are. We aren’t pompous, arrogant or sanctimonious enough to be that hypocritical. We aren’t stupid enough to insult our own intelligence or fool ourselves into believing half-truths. In other words, USC doesn’t have a holier-than-thou attitude.

Notre Dame on the other hand … well, this is where we profess our respect for the history and tradition of our inter-sectional rivalry and wish the “Irish” a good game.

Then again, ND stands between USC and a berth in the national championship game, which is more than enough reason to call out the “Irish” for all their self-righteous holier-than-thou smugness … and simply let the hate flow.

Fight On! Beat the “Irish”!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Give Thanks, Then Give Em' Hell!

Happy Thanksgiving, Trojans!

Let’s eat up, give thanks for our families and for USC Football … and get ready to give the “Irish” hell on Saturday night!

Here’s a little video for inspiration. Pete Carroll’s pounding speech at the end is priceless.

And lest we forget, Thanksgiving is always on a Thursday, isn’t it? Here's a special holiday edition, just for Beano.


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Welcome to Notre Dame!

Okay. Enough with the metaphorical sci-fi posts. Let’s take a break from the “Irish” bashing for a day. Tomorrow is a national holiday, after all …

The fact is, despite all the fun and games we have here, I have much respect for Notre Dame football. One of the best experiences I’ve ever had as a USC alum and college football fan happened in South Bend. No, it wasn’t last year’s epic game … long grass … fourth and nine … Bush Push. Sure, that was a classic. And for anyone who was there, it was a special privilege.

But the most fun I’ve ever had at a USC away game happened not one, but three years ago during my first trip to Notre Dame Stadium. I’ve been to our Rose Bowls and Orange Bowls. I’ve been to USC games all over the Pac-10. I’ve been to the Yale Bowl and other “historic” venues, too. And, of course, the Los Angeles Coliseum is our home and No. 1 in my heart by any criteria. But, something about Notre Dame Stadium is special, and as a Trojan, I have no problem saying so.

A lot has happened since the 2003 season. USC has won two national championships, two Heisman Trophies, and 41 games, to rattle off the obvious. But for USC fans without pre-ordained tickets to away games, perhaps the most important thing that’s happened is the increasing rarity of available tickets on site.

My buddy and I found this out three years ago. Like a lot of fans, we’d gone to many games without tickets, walked around the stadium with two fingers up, and found someone willing to unload a pair together. Simple and easy. In South Bend in ’03 … not so much.

With about 30-minutes before kick-off, when most available tickets usually start to emerge from scalpers, we were panicked to find ourselves wandering outside the stadium amongst what seemed like hundreds of other people with fingers in the air.

Luckily, we had a tailgating friend with mixed loyalties who happened to have a block of ND season tickets with him. He suggested that since the design on the tickets for each game looked very similar, maybe we could get in using two of his ND-Florida State tickets by passing them off as a pair for USC. “What?” I thought. But we were desperate, so we gave it a shot.

Sure enough, it worked … sort of. As we walked up to the gate, clad in our full USC game day gear (that is sweatshirts and hats, no face paint), we were met with a smile by a very nice man who looked like he’d come straight from the set of a Bartles & Jaymes commercial from back in the day.

“Welcome to South Bend!” he said, as he glanced at our Florida State tickets and let us through the turnstile. “You guys are wearing the wrong colors,” he added with a grin. “It’s gonna be a great game, don’t you think?” We nodded and smiled and walked on through.

Maybe it was our stress and panic that was just released as we strolled in, maybe it was guilt for having duped such a nice man, but at that moment, as we made our way in to view the field, a tremendous sense of “right with the world” warmth came over us. There was a sense of history and tradition and a kind of pageantry with purpose that was something to be appreciated. It was indeed the perfect place for a college football game, and my buddy and I understood. The clear sunny skies and temperature in the high 60s didn’t hurt either.

Our seats were great, too. On the five-yard line across from the press box about 10 rows up. So, we sat down to enjoy the game … until the people who were supposed to sit in our seats showed up. “Doh!” (Why didn’t our friend who gave us the FSU tickets not have corresponding USC tickets with the same seats? Why the hell didn’t we try to sit somewhere else, thinking that somebody, somewhere laid claim to the seats? I don’t know.)

We tried to play dumb with the usher, who had to look at our tickets three times for 10 seconds before he read “Florida State” on them. He took us back to the gate and kicked us out, but not before apologizing to us: “I’m really sorry about this, guys. These tickets are kind of confusing, huh? Have a great day!”

At this point, we were sunk and obviously more desperate than before. Still, I felt the glow of South Bend in my heart, and I had a sense that something good could still come out of the day. So, my buddy and I came up with another plan.

Faking as if our "wives" required us to leave the stadium to fetch something very, very important from the car, we scouted out the ticket takers and targeted the oldest, kindest looking man we could find. We went up to him, five minutes before game time, and said something like:

“We’re very, very sorry but we already went to our seats but my wife made us go back to the car to get something very, very important for her and we forgot our tickets with our wives at our seats and we know there are rules about re-entry into the stadium and all but we made a mistake. Is there any way you can let us back in? We came all this way and like we said we have tickets …”

To this, the kind, old ticket taker said: “Oh, you know I’m not supposed to do this, but you look like nice young men. Enjoy the game fellas. Welcome to Notre Dame!”

(Really, this is a true story.) So, my buddy and I went back into the stadium. But this time, having learned our lesson, we headed to the newer, upper part of the stands with less-defined bleacher seating. And, we did indeed enjoy the game …

It was a 45-14 route that included four TDs and 351 yards passing from Matt Leinart, scoring catches from Mike Williams and Keary Colbert, and one of the first displays of greatness by Reggie Bush, who ran for a scorching, ankle-breaking 58-yard touchown.

It was great fun, meeting my buddy in South Bend to see our Trojans trounce ND in the shadow of Touchdown Jesus. Thanks to some quick thinking, a little bit of chicanery (albeit borne out of desperation), and the warm kind hearts of some nice old ticket takers, we were able to enjoy it all. We remain indebted to the Football Gods and with much respect for South Bend and Notre Dame.

However, let's not get carried away here. The fact remains that Charlie Weis is a fat guy who says lots of stupid stuff. The Domer Hype Machine is a primary element of the Axis of East Coast Bias. And, our “anonymous” friend is, in fact, an idiot.

Safe travels to anyone going anywhere today. Have a great Thanksgiving!

Fight On!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Anonymity, Hate, Hypocrisy ... and Star Wars

I’m wondering why we haven’t heard from our anonymousIrish” friend lately. You know, the one who demands that I “cut the venom” and “beg God for mercy.” I seriously hope “anonymous” shows up soon, because I’m thinking that we need some “anonymous” wisdom this week …

I thought we would have heard from “anonymous” a couple weeks ago, when we were at a loss to describe the irony on top of ironies.

And, as we reveled in Pete Carroll’s divine intervention (aka, his voodoo and magic tennis book) during USC’s ascent back to where destiny is ours to control, I thought for sure our dear “anonymous” friend would have something to say.

But alas, nothing.

Well, if there was ever a time for this “anonymous” person to give us some guidance, this is it, what with God’s Team - having been so well prepared by their fat “Irish” leader - flying out west to do the Lord's work. What’s worse, the “Irish” will have to do their bidding in a stadium named after a place known for infamously violent and hedonistic acts … a place that actually hosted its own violence and hedonism just last Saturday.

Given all this you’d think “anonymous” would be imploring all Trojans to “go to church.” But then, out here in the blogosphere we came across some stupid stuff that throws a little monkey wrench into the righteousness of anonymity.

Once again, the Domer Mind – which as we’ve said before is a close cousin to the east coast bias and the southern inferiority complex – reared its holier-than-thou head yesterday over at a classy blog calling itself The House Rock Built.

Someone named “fightinamish” wrote a post titled: “If You Don't Hate Pete Carroll, There is Something Seriously, Seriously, Seriously Wrong With You”. At first, I laughed, as I promised our friend “anonymous” I would do when someone “Irish” pokes fun at USC. But then I started to read the thing …
God, I hate Pete Carroll. I hate his smug, dopey face. I hate his leg-humping chihuahua enthusiasm, I hate the way he jumps up and down like a ten year old on a Mountain Dew bender during the games. But mostly, I just hate Pete Carroll. There's some sort of intangible mojo, some sort of je ne sais quoi about him that fires up a deep and primitive hatred and causes an ordinarly normal and peace-loving individual to became engorged with an overpowering urge to rip the heads off of small furry mammals and push helpless children and infirm, elderly people into a meat freezer while gorging myself on the blood of my enemies.
… and I laughed harder. I love it! This guy fightinamish is brilliant. To incite his “engorged … overpowering urge” even more, he embedded Carroll’s Web site into his post. Then added this …
So keep in mind that I already felt that way before I saw... this. This... this... this... monstrosity. This brutal violation of all things good and merciful in the world. This soulless raping of the very conventions of decency in humanity. I got about halfway through it before I clawed my eyeballs out with quivvering [sic] and unquenchably violent fingernails. It's so, so, so awful, and it's such an embodiment of everything that is awful about Pete Carroll. If you watch this flash intro to his website in its entirity and still do not hate Pete Carroll, then you are a depraved husk of a human being who does not belong in society.
This is actually very funny! But then, it makes me think: Geez. Maybe this is what “anonymous” was talking about, when I was told to “beg God for mercy.” Am I really a “depraved husk” for professing my love for Pete Carroll and USC Football? Heck, perhaps I am worse than a depraved husk … although I can’t think of anything worser than what fightinamish describes here. For good measure, he wrote on …
Just for reference:
  • This is Pete Carroll's personal website. This is not a website made by somebody who hates Pete Carroll and wants to make him look like an idiot, although it's very easy to confuse it as one.
  • That flash intro is the splashscreen on his site. Pete is under the assumption you will watch this... this... this... thing in its entirity [sic] before you move onto the content of his website.
  • I am embedding it in this post, and there's no control on it to keep it from autoplaying. This means that every time you load up the House Rock Built, you will be immediately greeted by this music and that shit-eating grin from now until gameday. Why am I doing this? To get the hate flowing. Don't immediately mute it. Spend a few seconds listening to it and feeling the hatred boil inside of you. That hate will give you strength. Feel it flow through your body.
  • Let's beat the Trojans this Saturday and wipe that galling grin off of the Poodle's face. As soon as humanly possible.
… at which point things got a little silly.

After I got my face to un-cramp itself from all my laughter, it became obvious to me that fightinamish is a Star Wars fan, just like Charlie Weis. And in the way he encourages his “Irish” brethren to let the hate flow through self-torture, it’s quite evident that he has joined the Dark Side.

We know this because fightinamish's hate is a byproduct of his fear of Pete Carroll and USC Football. As Yoda said: “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

So, really there is no need for USC Trojans to respond to fightinamish in kind, because we know that (by process of elimination) we are on the good Light Side of the Force, and the evil “Irish” will soon be suffering … perhaps as earlier as this Saturday. What could be worse than that?

(This is why I love being a Star Wars nerd, because it always makes you feel better ... and righteous.)

Still, I’d like to know if our friend “anonymous” will be commenting on this post by fightinamish to demand that he too “go to church” and “beg God for mercy.” Or, does fightinamish get a free pass to let his venomous hate flow because he’s an “Irish” fan? Hmmm. Let us know “anonymous,” we’d like to hear your expert opinion. But, I digress …

We commend you, fightinamish. Nice post. Rest assured we take no offense, because unlike "anonymous" we know it’s all fun and games. We know how to take a joke ... You are joking, right?

Fight On! Beat the “Irish”!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Charlie Weis: Stalking USC

As we’ve mentioned before, it is very important to know thy enemy. This is a primary theme in all the great war manuals, including Sun Tzu’s classic The Art of War. I don’t know if Pete Carroll’s magic tennis book encourages knowledge about an opponent, because I haven’t read it yet, but we can be pretty sure it does.

Now, we know that the leader of our enemy, Domer coach Charlie Weis, seems to have taken this principal to its reciprocal extreme. We saw evidence of this in a creepy, obsessed kind of display at his regular “Sunday wrap up” with the media yesterday.

Weis spewed nearly 2,600 words worth of disturbing detail about USC’s football team, including names, stats, injuries, etc. Seems like he could have told us what size jock each of the Trojans wear, but he refrained. Make no mistake about it, Weis wants USC, badly.

It’s true that he goes through a similar recital for every opponent. But given that Weis was looking ahead to USC even as his team practiced to play Army last week, you know this diatribe was longer and more detailed than usual.

When you think about it, Weis has had plenty of opportunity to prepare for USC over the last six weeks, as the Wizard of Odds pointed out earlier today. Since defeating Purdue (which is now 8-4) on the last Saturday of September, the Domers have played scrimmage games against teams with a combined record of 24-41: Stanford (1-10), ugla (6-5), Navy (8-3), North Carolina (2-9), Air Force (4-6), and Army (3-8).

No wonder the “Irish” leader has the time to break down every single play USC has run this year, while memorizing the Trojans names, numbers, family histories, etc. Weis wants USC, badly.

Really, his obsession is kind of weird. Here’s a sample of the depths to which Weis has gone:
This [USC] team is probably as complete a team as we go against on offense and defense. They're giving up 14 points a game, three yards per rush, 92 yards rushing a game, 196 and a half passing per game for a total of 288.6. They have 23 sacks. They're 39 percent on 3rd down. The teams getting in the red zone only score a touchdown 50 percent of the time, and I think that's pretty good statistically when teams can hold them to scoring touchdowns 50 percent of the time. […]

Brian Cushing, he actually is playing like a standup end for them. They call it 3-4 but he's really playing like an end. He's a Will or end for them and their 3-4 personnel grouping. He's played and started in all ten games this year, and he is a lot like Shaw from Penn State. When we went against Penn State, they used him virtually almost identically in what they do with him because he can drop and cover or he can rush. He gives them the versatility to go in and out of packages, and he's the guy that gives them a lot of flexibility in their defense.

Now, when they want to take Brian out they'll either put in Kyle Moore, or last night I saw Alex Morrow a little bit. They'll put in a bigger body if they want to just put in a true defensive end and go to a 4-3 defense, they have the capability of doing that with either Kyle Moore or Alex Morrow, and the other thing, you'll also see Tofi inside as a backup tackle.

Other linebackers, I'd say this is - just like I talked about their wide receivers before, I'd say their linebackers really make this team go. They are fast and they are athletic and they are aggressive, okay, and I'll work my way from strong side to middle to weak side.

Let's start with Sartz. In this season he's played and started in ten games, he's fourth on the team in tackles, 50 tackles, five and a half for loss, four sacks, forced fumble, two fumble recoveries, three pass breakups. This is a guy in 2005, again the season starting the first two games but dislocated his shoulder missed the rest of the season. He's playing very well. Last night he had four tackles and a pass breakup.

Maualuga in the middle, he's played ten games this year and started nine. He's their second leading tackler on the team with 66 tackles, four for loss, a sack, a pick and a forced fumble. He's a good player, he runs well, he's physical and he flies around to the ball. Last night he had four tackles and a half a tackle for a loss.

And then you've got Keith Rivers, their Will. He's played and started in all ten games this season. He's their leading tackler, 67 tackles, five and a half for loss, two sacks, two pass breakups, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery. He's another guy who runs well, he makes some plays, athletic.

I'll tell you what, when you watch these guys blitz, you better be ready because whether it's Rivers or Maualuga coming inside or whether it's Sartz or Cushing or those guys coming outside, you'd better be ready because they bring it when they bring it. I'll bring up the safeties here in a second because they bring it, too.
Now, that’s only 578 of the nearly 2,600 words he had for us yesterday. Weis’s verbiage is incredible because it leaves no doubt that he is a freakin’ Trojan stalker.

On the surface he seems like a nice family guy, but open that trap door in his house (the one under the carpet in his living room), and I bet you find, pasted up all over the walls, hundreds of photos and news clippings and maybe a few things he stole from USC’s locker room last year … everything and anything to feed his obsession with USC Football. He wants USC, badly.

But like all obsessed stalkers, Weis wants you to believe he knows more about USC than he actually does. It’s all part of that “genius” crap “Irish” fans are so desperate to believe. Sure, he can recite stats, but he isn’t telling us anything we don’t already know. Maybe he’s come up with a solid plan that he’s holding close the vest (or the Belichick sweatshirt he wears), but all this surface detail isn’t fooling anyone, except the members of the collective Domer Mind.

Still, just because he’s obsessed, that doesn’t mean that Weis isn’t smart, at least relative to the idiots who gave him a 10-year contract extension midway through his first season last year. He knows that if he doesn’t beat USC, the “Irish” fathers who run ND may fall off the “genius” bandwagon. Weis wants to beat USC, badly.

Certainly, he has a shot. Like all the supposed experts say after a bye week, which is essentially what ND got playing Army: “Give Charlie Weis two weeks to prepare, and the ‘Irish’ will have an advantage.” (Remember, ND had two weeks to let the grass grow in South Bend last year before the Trojans came to town, and the “Irish” almost pulled off a win.)

But, give an obsessed Weis six weeks … six weeks … to prepare for USC, and …

Well, we’ll see what happens Saturday. I’m thinking a restraining order will be in place by then.

Fight On! Beat the “Irish”!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

USC Post-Game: Now Here Comes ND ...

I got some grief over the last few days from Cal bloggers and blog readers who took exception to my posts about USC’s history and heritage, relative to Cal’s lack there of. Not that anyone thought one Pac-10 Championship and one Rose Bowl berth would change anything for Cal, but USC’s 23-9 win last night showed how far the Bears still have to go.

Sure, USC-Cal has become somewhat of a modern rivalry between two very well-coached teams. But, history ain’t changin’ for the Bears. USC, on the other hand, continues to build its dynasty!

A few quick (Displaced) takes about last night:

Hit in the mouth …
I’m sure anyone who enjoyed my posts about DeSean Jackson’s mouth this past week was fired up to see him get smacked hard* early in the game last night. As for those who didn’t like my posts … I guess they were right. No need for us to pick on the kid: 2 catches and 1 run for 50 total yards, and no TDs. Man, did he put on a hell of a “show for [his] hometown” or what? LOL …

Stat of the night ...
Apparently, the last two times Cal won a Pac-10 championship (1958, 1975) the Bears lost their first game of the season. ABC put up this stat, supposedly because Cal lost its first game this season to Tennessee and someone saw this as foreshadowing. But, when I saw this I had to chuckle - like when you read a Jack Handey Deep Thoughts poem - because what about all the other seasons Cal lost its first game? This season must be like one of those.

This is tradition …
One of the best scenes of the night was ABC’s tight shot of the USC Song Girls wearing strings of roses around their necks with about 1:30 left in the game. Is there anything better than that double pompom over the head waving thing they do? (A non-rose example is at right.) Of course, the ABC camera man was smart enough to know that the pompoms needn’t be in the shot, if you know what I mean.

Jersey State of mind …
Did you hear all those thumps and bumps coming from the Jersey Turnpike last night? That was the sound of all the Tri-State Region idiots jumping off the Rutgers bandwagon after the Scarlet Knights’ choke against Cincinnati, 30-11. Did you hear that shuffling underneath the streets of New York? That’s right, the "Irish" “subway alumni” are making their way to South Bend … via their television sets.

Now, on to the real rivalry …
Why did the Domers break out the green jerseys for their game versus Army? Isn’t the green for special occasions only? How can a game versus an Army team that should be playing Ivy League schools in Division 1-AA be considered worthy of the green? The answer lies with Charlie Weis’ kid, apparently.
The victory [over Army, 41-9] ended a four-game losing streak for the green jerseys. The Irish lost 34-31 to top-ranked USC last October; 14-7 to Boston College in 2002; 35-28 to Georgia Tech in the 1999 Gator Bowl; and 41-24 to Colorado in the 1995 Fiesta Bowl.

"At least I got that stigma out of the way," Weis said.

Weis said Thursday night his 13-year-old son, Charlie Jr., suggested wearing the green. Weis resisted at first, telling his son Notre Dame has an unwritten rule that the jerseys are saved for highly ranked opponents.

"He goes, 'Dad you tell me how special this senior class is. It just doesn't seem right that they don't get an opportunity to be honored as seniors going out," he said. Weis agreed […]
Turns out the Fat “Irish” Guy may have thought he was playing USC a week early. After pummeling Army, Weis admitted (or perhaps more accurately, bragged) that he’s already studied every offensive and defensive play USC has run this year, and two-thirds of the plays ND practiced in preparation for Army were actually designed to prepare for USC …

Oh, I almost forgot …
The ROSE BOWL, Baby! You know life as a Trojan is good when a trip to Pasadena is the worst case scenario for USC Football. Indeed ... We Are SC!

Fight On! Beat the “Irish”!
* We would never want any player to be seriously hurt, and Jackson wasn't.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

USC Football Game Day: Tennis, Anyone?

As we’ve mentioned before, perhaps the best thing about Pete Carroll is that he’s a life long learner. The result is a coaching philosophy that continues to evolve and prove itself every time USC wins a football game.

We learned this week from Scott Wolf of the L.A. Daily News that the basis for Carroll’s philosophy is a book written in 1974 that is partially titled The Inner Game. I say partially for effect here, because the rest of the title is … of Tennis.

That’s right. A book called The Inner Game of Tennistennis … is responsible for teaching our man Carroll how to build a modern day USC Football dynasty.

Actually, it gets better. This book, The Inner Game of Tennis … tennis … written by W. Timothy Gallwey, apparently works as well as Carroll’s other spooky magic methods. Read it, believe it and good things happen.

Carson Palmer read The Inner Game of Tennis and he won the Heisman Trophy. Matt Leinart read it, and he also won the Heisman Trophy, not to mention two national championships. Heisman winner Reggie Bush also subscribed to The Inner Game of Tennis. The latest example is Lawrence Jackson who read the book last week before recording three sacks and 10 tackles against Oregon, after putting up goose eggs for sacks during USC’s first 8 games.
One of Carroll's prime philosophies is that in big games, teams that win don't play better, the losing team usually plays worse. It stems from Gallwey's book, which tries to eliminate fear, overthinking, overjudging and overadapting from athletic performance.

"It's an extraordinary philosophy and easy to understand," Carroll said. "It's a poignant read. I've espoused it since I read it. I met Gallwey in graduate school. I live with that philosophy." [...]

Coincidentally, about a year before Carroll came to USC, he met former Trojans tennis player Sean Brawley, one of the few who learned under Gallwey, to further discuss the philosophy. [...]

"When athletes don't perform, they think too much about what they are doing, or react harshly to making mistakes," Brawley said. "We all have a tremendous amount of potential to perform optimally and it's true we get in our own way."

As an example, Brawley said he worked with former USC tailback Reggie Bush, who experienced problems fumbling kickoffs one year.

"He was always thinking, `Don't fumble, don't fumble,"' Brawley said. "I got him to count from when the kicker kicked off to when he caught the ball to take his mind off fumbling."
Leave it to Carroll to create a culture of winning, based on a book about tennis … tennis. Not Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. Not L. Ron Hubbard’s Scientology. Not Tony Robbins. That stuff may work for other people, but USC Football plays a different game ... tennis.

Let’s just hope the whole team read The Inner Game of Tennis this week. We may need it.

Once again … Fight On! Beat the Bears!

Friday, November 17, 2006

USC Football Pre-Game: Hail to Schembechler

Very sad news from Michigan today as the Wolverines prepare for this year’s “Game of the Millennium.” Bo Schembechler, the iconic Michigan head coach from 1969 to 1989, died last night after taping a television segment about tomorrow’s Michigan-Ohio State game.

Wow! Talk about your ultimate motivation tactics.

Seriously, by all accounts Schembechler was not only a legendary coach in the Midwest, but a good man. We’ll let the coming deluge of traditional media coverage provide the details. But as a life-long USC fan and alum, there are at least two memories of Schembechler that come to mind whenever I hear his name.

The first is of Schembechler celebrating a win with his team in the locker room. He was fired up as he told his team that they fought like men. Then he led them in singing what he proudly called “the greatest fight song ever written!”

What’s striking is that he wasn’t just saying this stuff to inspire his team. It was in his blood. I wish I could find a clip of that scene online somewhere (I've seen it radomly on TV a couple times), because it really captures the passion and love Schembechler had for his players and his school.

The second thing that comes to mind is a memory from the 1990 Rose Bowl, Schembechler’s last game as head coach. As we know USC beat the Wolverines 17-10. I was at that game and remember feeling so relieved that USC finally won a Rose Bowl after losing the previous two.

Ricky Ervins’ 14-yard run was brilliant, but I think Todd Marinovich’s performance - besides a talent-laden defense that included Mark Carrier and Junior Seau - actually won the game for us. That night I could have never guessed that USC Football would suffer through 11+ years of mediocrity (save 1995 and Keyshawn Johnson), before our man Carroll resurrected the program. But I digress …

Immediately after that ‘90 Rose Bowl, one of Schembechler’s players was crying during an interview, not so much because Michigan lost the game, but because he knew he wouldn’t be coached by Schembechler again.

Even as I enjoyed our Rose Bowl victory, I felt for the player and appreciated how much love and respect Shembechler’s players had for him. That more than anything tells us how much Schembechler meant to this sport we all love and how much Michigan fans will miss him.

Fight On!

Note: Once again, I'm double-dipping with a "guest blogger" version of this post on Conquest Chronicles.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Mayo: The One Year Wonder

As we’ve established previously, I don’t know squat about basketball. Frankly, I’m proud to admit it, even if some people give me a hard time. USC has no significant history or heritage of success in basketball, so why as a true and honest Trojan would I, or any other USC fan, give one hoot about hoops?

When it comes to intercollegiate athletics, USC is a football school. Sure we have great history in baseball, track, volleyball … but football is king.

Admittedly, I am a bandwagoneer when it comes to Trojan round ball or anything non-football. But when the Galen Center opened last month, I was at least somewhat excited because the new offices and locker rooms there mean that there is now more room for the football team in Heritage Hall.

Then, I hear that fat guy we hired to coach our basketball team (who by the way, seems to have lost a lot of weight and picked up a slight southern accent) says that the Galen Center will bring us a national championship. Even I know we’re a long way from that … right?

Apparently, not so much. This because some kid who calls himself O.J. and wears No. 32, wants to come play in the Galen Center and take USC to the "promised land." He thinks he can do for USC basketball what Patrick Ewing did for Georgetown back in the day.

This sounds well and good, but I can’t help but remain skeptical. Does this Mayo kid realize that Patrick Ewing built the Georgetown program over the entire four years of his eligibility, including an Olympic gold medal in between? Apparently not, since Mayo is supposedly “one and done.”

I have to ask: Is this how we’re supposed to build a basketball program? It feels kind of cheap to me.

Again, I don’t know jack about hoops, but I’ll believe the hype about this young man when I see it. (I use the term “young man” loosely because I have seen video of him, and he looks like a 30-year-old.)

In the meantime, we’ve got USC Football and all the history and heritage - and winning - that goes with it.

Fight On! Beat the Bears!

Note: Again, I plagiarized myself here, having posted a "guest blogger" version of this post on Conquest Chronicles.

Comparing Comparisons

It’s funny to see what happens to fans of good college football teams with no tradition of success. People get all excited and start to over-analyze stuff. We’re seeing a lot of that in the northeast with Jersey State undefeated. But, Cal fans are getting a little loopy, too.

There’s a post on a good Cal blog called “Tightwad Hill” that attempts to build some mojo for the Bears by making connections between this year’s Cal team and another from 1975. Here’s the list
  • Cal was led by a highly-regarded QB in his first year as the starter (Joe Roth)
  • Cal featured a dominant running back who received Heisman attention (Chuck Muncie)
  • Cal was an offense-first, big-play team with a suspect defense
  • The Bears were led by a young, innovative coach who had come to Berkeley from an assistant job with a conference rival (Mike White - Stanford)
  • Cal was coming off a disappointing road loss in the prior game (UCLA)
  • Cal had lost its season opener to a non-conference power (Colorado)
  • USC was a three-time defending conference champion
  • The Trojans were led by a head coach who had won multiple national championships, and was the subject of constant rumors that he was heading for the pros (John McKay) [above]
  • USC was rated in the Top 5 (#4), but had been somewhat inconsistent in its play
  • Despite that inconsistency, SC was coming off a big, reassuring victory (at Notre Dame)
  • USC was the clear favorite in the game
  • (just for fun) Ohio State was the consensus #1 team in the nation, and a Buckeye was the odds-on favorite to win the Heisman Trophy (Archie Griffin)
We could go on - Tom Newton is Byron Storer, Wesley Walker is DeSean, but you get the point. […] We'll be channeling 1975 this week and we encourage you to do the same.
That’s a nice list if you like stretching stuff out of proportion a little. (Who’s Joe Roth?) But, I guess if you have no tradition, history or heritage of football success, you do what you gotta do to give yourself something … anything … to hold on to.

USC on the other hand, needn’t look so far back … or with as much obscurity. At the beginning of this season, many sports writers looking for an angle compared this year’s Trojans to 2003, when USC opened with a convincing win at an SEC school with a first-year starter at QB, who was replacing a Heisman Trophy winner, and a backfield full of freshmen ... etc.

After a few games the comparisons faded, but since the loss to Oregon State things have gotten a little funny … and by “funny” I mean spooky funny.’s Arash Markazi looked into very interesting aspects about the comparison earlier this week, and the stuff he pointed out is uncanny. So much so that I’m starting to think our man Carroll does indeed know a lot more than even we ever thought he could.
USC's leap back up to the No. 3 spot in the BCS standings within 14 days shouldn't be shocking to those who have followed the Trojans in recent years. It's almost as if Carroll has voodoo dolls for each team sitting in front of him in the polls and after he suffers a loss, poking each one off week by week. […]

Consider this: When USC lost to unranked Cal on Sept. 27, 2003, the Trojans were ranked No. 3 in the polls and subsequently dropped to No. 10 behind seven undefeated teams. Within two weeks of the Trojans' loss to Cal, six teams above them lost, returning USC right back to where it was in the polls. During the course of the next nine weeks after the Trojans' loss, every team above them lost at least once, giving USC the No. 1 ranking by season's end.

Fast forward three years and Carroll is enjoying the same kind of luck. Within two weeks of USC's loss to Oregon State, six teams above the Trojans in the polls have lost, and one more will fall next week when Ohio State and Michigan face off. Combine that with Florida's unimpressively narrow win against South Carolina this past Saturday and the Trojans find themselves right back in the 3 spot in the BCS standings and in prime position to earn a trip to the BCS Championship Game in Glendale, Ariz. on Jan. 8 if they win out.
Now that’s a comparison on which to build some serious mojo.

Certainly, none of this has anything at all to do with what happens this Saturday. It just helps our respective fan bases deal with the stress of anticipation and pre-game hype. Of course, if history and tradition could win ball games, very few football programs could beat USC. We’ll just have see what happens on Saturday.

Fight On!

Oh … that’s right. It’s Thursday. Well, while we’re at it, let’s compare 2003 with 2006. It's great to have tradition, right Beano?



east coast bias

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Revisionist History: We’ll Take 2002

Of course, Cal is the focus this week. But I couldn’t help but take my eye off DeSean Jackson’s mouth piece when Stewart Mandel’s Power Rankings popped up on yesterday.

Just a little more than two weeks ago, we gave Mandel props for making us feel better after the loss to Oregon State … Oregon State. But this week he’s thinking Arkansas - which USC annihilated 50-14 in Fayetteville - should be ranked No. 3 … although he says he picks USC to play in the National Championship Game.

I’m confused. Mr. Mandel, will you please fill us in here…
[…] These days, fans don't particularly care who I or anyone else thinks are the best teams in the country -- not when there's a berth in the national championship game at stake. All anyone wants to talk about is who's "most deserving." […]

To me, there's little question the Razorbacks are playing the best football of any team in the country right now outside of the Big Two, which is why I have them third in this week's rankings. Not only have the Hogs won nine straight games, but they also seem to be getting better each week. […]

People seem to think college football is played in a vacuum, where the teams are all exactly the same on Nov. 14 as they were on Sept. 2. Anyone who's watched Arkansas realizes it's not remotely the team that lost 50-14. […]

USC, meanwhile, is just two weeks removed from a 33-31 loss at 6-4 Oregon State and a slew of sluggish performances before that. While the Trojans have certainly looked better since, if the two teams met today, I would take the Razorbacks in a heartbeat. Therefore, I have them ranked higher.

That said, if for some reason I was handed the responsibility of choosing the teams for the national championship game tomorrow, and it came down to one-loss Arkansas against one-loss USC for the second spot, of course I would give it to the Trojans. Why? Because USC would be ... say it with me now ... more deserving. Fortunately, I don't have that responsibility, so I'm free to fill out my ballot based on a more quaint set of criteria: Who I think is better.
Actually, I do understand where Mandel is coming from, I think.

Arkansas is playing very, very well (if the supposed quality of the SEC is to be believed) and perhaps they have performed better than USC over the last few weeks. On the other hand, if USC were to get through this gauntlet of Cal, Notre Dame, and ugla, the Trojans would have a better "resume" than the Razorbacks, regardless of who was playing better at the time.

My apologies if you already understood this, but Mandel’s thought process required a double take for me. Still, I like it, I think. By virtue of Mandel’s playing-best-now thinking, USC would have won three National Championships in a row:’02, ’03 and ’04. That’s right. As all Trojans know, USC with Carson Palmer and Troy Polamalu was the best college football team in the country at the end of the 2002 season.

We closed out that year on an eight-game win streak, having beaten seven top-25 teams (by far the nation’s toughest schedule), including a 38-17 shellacking of No. 3 Iowa at the Orange Bowl. All this while averaging 400+ yards, and 30+ points of offense a game.

So, crown us National Champs for 2002 right now, Mr. Mandel. As for this year, if … IF … we can get through the next three games, we’ll certainly possess a worthy resume and no doubt the 2006 “Playing Best Now” Trophy.

But again, first things first …

Fight On! Beat the Bears!