Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Judge Says: Pass the Mayo

Although we’ve had our gripes about east coast bias and the Gray Lady in particular, it’s clear that the New York media know their basketball.

Rather than jump the gun on this O.J. Mayo matter, the New York Times waited for the story to develop and, as we did here earlier, allowed the inevitable video evidence to appear, in an effort to ensure accuracy in its reporting.

Even better, Pete Thamel provided the proper context in the lead of his story on Mayo in yesterday’s Times, along with some quotes from people who actually know what they’re talking about:
O. J. Mayo, a West Virginia high school senior considered the country’s best guard prospect since LeBron James, has been suspended and is not expected to play tonight in a national showdown game.

Mayo’s team, Huntington High School, ranked No. 2 in the country by USA Today, will play No. 11 Artesia High School of Lakewood, Calif., in the Hoophall Classic in Durham, N.C.

More than 5,000 fans are expected at [Duke's] Cameron Indoor Stadium. The game is part of a tripleheader featuring some of the best high school teams in the country. […]

“It’s an amazingly bizarre story,” said Dave Elkins, the director of marketing partnerships for the Basketball Hall of Fame, which is putting on today’s event. “This is the team that’s making so much history in that region.

“To have something like this come up, it’s intriguing.”
Most importantly, Thamel relies on his own eyes, rather than second-hand accounts, using the video to help provide an objective interpretation of what happened.
Mayo picked up his first technical foul for taunting after a dunk late in the second half of Friday’s victory against Charleston’s Capital High School, the No. 2-ranked team in the state. Mayo caught the ball after it went through the net and strutted toward the free-throw line still holding the ball.

After being whistled for the technical, he walked to midcourt, where players from both teams had gathered and were jawing. Mayo then walked away, tucking in his shirt and looking at the sky.

The second technical was called after Mayo walked back toward the players gathered at halfcourt. On the video, he did not appear to say or do anything.

But when the official Mike Lazo walked over to the scorer’s table to report the technical, Mayo followed him. Mayo appeared to make subtle contact with Lazo, his shoulder brushing up against Lazo’s back. Lazo then dropped suddenly to the ground. On the video, it appears that little contact was made and that Lazo’s fall was exaggerated.
Apparently, Thamel isn’t the only one who thinks the ref’s fall was “exaggerated,” as a circuit court judge in West Virginia yesterday ordered an injunction that allowed Mayo to play in the HoopHall Classic at Duke.

According to USA Today’s Christopher Lawlor, Mayo, “considered the nation’s top player,” drove with a family friend for six hours to get to Durham, just in time to “spark” his team to a 73-66 win. Combined with a loss yesterday by the nation’s current No. 1 team (St. Benedict’s of Newark, N.J.) the win should give Mayo’s Huntington High the No. 1 spot next week.

The funny thing is Mayo fouled out of last night’s game with 2:40 left and the score tied at 63. So, we can’t be sure what Lawlor means by “spark,” but I’d say Mayo must be one helluva good player if he can “spark” his team to a win against another nationally ranked team without even playing in the game.

Then again, I don’t know a lick about hoops.

Fight On!

UPDATE: Insomniac's Lounge has yet another take, not to mention a second and third camera angle, pulled from ESPN's PTI. The best part of the clip is Michael Wilbon's comments about Mayo's behavior. Again, we'll see for ourselves soon enough.

Monday, January 29, 2007

O.J. Mayo: Not So Fast My Friend

As we concluded yesterday, none of us really know what the hell happened when USC's top-ranked basketball recruit O.J. Mayo was ejected from a high school game last Friday night.

But now we have video -- worthy of another Zapruder film reference -- which brings into question the "thug" label being placed on Mayo by those who are supposed to know their hoops.

Take a good look at the clip, from WSAZ Channel 3, the local Huntington, W.Va., TV news station.

Do you see Mayo taunting and jawing excessively with the opposing team and their fans? And, how in the world does a grown man fall to the ground as a result of the supposed contact Mayo made with the ref?

Judging from what we see in this clip -- and again, we don't know what was said or what else happened at this game -- it appears that Mayo may have a right to be upset about the double-technical called on him. In fact, one might conclude from this video that Mayo showed restraint, given all that was going on around him, and that perhaps he deserves the benefit of some doubt.

Make no mistake. The the opinion here remains that Mayo could be coming to USC for the wrong reasons, but perhaps everyone should step back and see this kid first-hand, in action on and off the court, before we fully form our conclusions.

In the meantime, we've got this highlight clip of the game in question, which shows us what all the on-court hype is about.

I guess they don't play much defense in West Virginia.

Fight On!

Hat Tip: AO via Conquest Chronicles.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

USC Hoops: One Year Wondering

Again, I have to ask: Is this how we're supposed to build a basketball program?

Apparently, USC's prized basketball recruit O.J. Mayo got himself caught up in a little on-court, two-technical foul incident that may put him on his high school team's bench for a couple games.

Here's the second-hand account in today's Los Angeles Times:
USC signee O.J. Mayo faces a two-game suspension after being ejected from a game Friday night involving his Huntington (W.Va.) High team in which he received two technical fouls and reportedly initiated contact with an official.

Mayo received one technical foul for taunting after scoring on a breakaway dunk, then a second technical for a verbal confrontation with players from the opposing team.

Mayo reportedly followed an official to the scorer's table to dispute the call and made contact, after which the official dropped to the court.
The opposing team's local paper has a slighly different account, but the The Huntington Herald-Dispatch (W. Va.) reported this:
Mayo received the first technical foul for taunting Capital player Tyrone Goard after a breakaway dunk that gave Huntington a 61-43 lead with 5:15 left in the game. Mayo did not react to the call and walked to the opposite end of the court but was followed by Capital players. A verbal confrontation escalated between Mayo and Capital players before Lazo assessed the second technical foul to Mayo but none to a Capital player. After the second technical foul, Mayo followed Lazo to the scorer's table to object. When the referee stopped, Mayo bumped into him from behind, and then Lazo fell to the ground.
Whatever. We weren't there, and the newspaper and radio accounts of what actually happened are supposedly varied, so who's to say what actually happened. We don't know whether or not Mayo had a legitimate reason to jaw with the opposing players and fans, and we don't know to what extent he made contact with the official.

What we do know is that Mayo will most likely be one-and-done after next season ... a year in which he supposedly thinks he can bring USC to national prominenance the way Patrick Ewing did at Georgetown.

We also know that USC head coach Tim Floyd didn't actually recruit Mayo. The kid decided that he wanted to become a Trojan, thinking that Los Angeles would be a good place to market himself for his entry into the League.

As Tom Purfield of the Pueblo (Colo.) Chieftan pointed out recently, Mayo appears to be a basketball mercenary.
Scanning the wire every working day in this profession reveals many eyebrow-raising stories. But every once in awhile, something small emerges that sheds light on a larger issue in the world of sport.

When Mayo signed his letter of intent to attend USC in November, his comments in an Associated Press story were striking, not so much for their arrogance but for the role he expects USC to play in his life.

"Coach (Tim) Floyd has been an NBA coach and the city of Los Angeles is a great marketing city," Mayo said. "Hopefully if everything goes well, I can market myself for the next level.

"I plan on making a living at this," Mayo said in another AP story. "I feel that's why I was born and put on this Earth, to be a leader, to be one of the greatest basketball players to ever play and to be a great example and role model for the kids and for different people out there who look up toward me."

[...] No excitement about becoming a part of the Southern Cal community. Not even a hint of plans to major in political science or economics.

It's all about making this one year of exclusion from the millionaire club of the NBA as productive as possible - not for the Trojans, mind you, but for O.J. Mayo's pro hoops future.
Leave it to someone who "scans the wire" for news because there is none in his own town to point out what many of us seem to be missing ... this Mayo kid may not be worthy of our Trojan Family.

Remember when Harold Miner (aka Baby Jordan) left USC early to begin his ill-fated career in the NBA? Remember Dwayne Jarrett's presser a few weeks ago announcing his early entry into the NFL?

They were crying, torn up emotionally because they were leaving USC. And we've seen it in other Trojans who understood what it meant to be part of the Trojan Family, what it means to be a Trojan for life.

We'll see what Mayo does, if and when he gets to USC. We don't know him well enough to pass judgement on him just yet. But something ... a few things actually ... tell us Mayo won't be crying when he leaves.

Fight On!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Yahoo Report: Trust in Reggie, Part III

We've been critical of Scott Wolf here in the recent past, but the Los Angeles Daily News' USC beat writer showed his non-hack chops yesterday.

First, Wolf didn't bother to file a story about the new Yahoo! report. Then, he posted this on his "blog":
There's a lot of focus on the Reggie Bush investigation right now. But what does it mean? The existence of tapes does not necessarily hurt USC because the university could challenge the veracity of them if the NCAA used it to punish the football program. Not to mention that taping conversations like that is illegal.

Even if the tapes are correct, without USC's knowledge or complicity, it would be hard to hold the university liable. That doesn't mean USC is off the hook regarding the chance of getting stripped of a national championship, but we're referring more to probation for the program.

Also, in response to a few emails I received about yesterday's Displaced take on Reggie, I'll again reiterate the position here regarding the validity of the Yahoo! "reporting."
Yahoo! Sports is trying to make a name for itself. It sees this “story” as its Woodward and Bernstein moment.

The problem with [commenting on the Reggie Bush issue] is that [doing so] inadvertently gives too much credit to the Yahoo! reporting. As Kirk Herbstreit and Lee Corso [...] said on College GameDay outside the Coliseum [in September]: “IF … IF … IF.”

One of the reasons why none of the established, reputable news outlets are investigating this story is that many of the sources involved are scheming sleaze balls, several of whom have already been convicted of white collar crimes.

The other aspect of the story is that all the parties involved are in some form of litigation against each other, which brings into question whatever statements they make. Never mind what that says about the judgment of Reggie and his family in picking their associates, but no real news outlet is going to push this story … unless it is seeking to make a name for itself.
To say it another way, we go to TrojanWire's Rory MacDonald, who further illustrates the point:
[...] the Keystone Kops of investigative journalism continue to treat the testimony of known extortionists as perennial fact, conjuring up retroactive repercussions for USC [...]

Back to those jokers at Yahoo! [...] may we suggest refocusing your efforts on I don't know, technology? Congratulations on finally getting your much-delayed ad targeting software (Panama) done. It's probably every bit as good as Google's (heh), making your stock well worth paying over 2 times growth for (YHOO currently has a PEG Ratio of 2.10).

(Full disclosure: dumped all my YHOO stock yesterday.)

Perhaps someone should investigate the journalism skills (if not the ethical practices) of Yahoo! Sports and its reporters. We've seen the ugla "nation" do as much, when Yahoo! ran a story the bruins didn't like.

Funny how ugla's belief in the reporting at Yahoo! Sports is a matter of convenience. I suppose that's typical of Nestor. (Again, I will not post Nestor's real name, no matter how many times you ask.) But, I digress ...

Regardless of the motive and journalistic quality of the Yahoo! hacks, the fact is that neither the would-be agents involved nor Reggie Bush's family have shown us much in the way of quality, either.

A comment on yesterday's Displaced post from Jonathan Tu of 82 Sluggo Win, sums it all up:
I put my faith in Reggie back in April. An entire season later I feel that my trust can now be withdrawn as the evidence mounts. I don't consider the evidence in the area of "completely, utterly damning" yet, but I do consider it pretty overwhelmingly in favor of the Griffins doing bad things. I'm not sure where I stand on Reggie but it appears he had knowledge.

It's pretty obvious to me that USC had nothing to do with it. The Griffins may be that dumb to cavort with a guy named Michael Michaels (wearing a bolo tie, no less) but Carroll, Garrett and the rest are definitely not. In that sense I'm not worried about sanctions. Some idiots (i.e., Bruins Nation) will probably toss around terms like Death Penalty but if Alabama of the late nineties/early millenium wasn't hit with the Death Penalty no one will be. I doubt USC even gets a slap on the wrist unless the Todd McNair connection has more meat to it.

Frankly, the worst thing about this whole ugly ugliness is thinking back to Reggie's acceptance speech at the Heisman ceremony. He pointed out LaMar and thanked him (LaMar) for teaching him (Bush) how to be a man. I won't lie: that got me a little teary eyed. To think that these infractions were going on at the same time as this speech makes me want to throw up.

Now, let's move on ... or rather, Fight On!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Yahoo Report: Trust in Reggie, Part II

Once again Yahoo! Sports breaks a bit of “news” about supposed Reggie Bush improprieties, and the majority of USC bloggers hesitate to comment, let alone acknowledge the piece. We’re quick to jump all over the “good news,” but bad news … not so much.

As I wrote back in September, this less than punctual response is understandable. And, really, when you read the new Yahoo! “story” there isn’t much to say in response, except to assess the actual impact this may have on USC Football, all of which was stated several months back. For a quick re-take on this we’ll try a less partial source in the blogosphere, The Wizard of Odds:
What does this mean to USC? The NCAA would have to show USC either knew or should have known about the alleged wrongdoings. At the moment, that's a longshot.
A “longshot.” Not reassuring enough you? Me neither.

Perhaps the most telling element of the Yahoo! piece is the last two paragraphs, which includes quotes from a radio interview Pete Carroll did with T.J. Simers one day after the Rose Bowl.
According to a report first published by, Bush requested a sideline pass from his alma mater for the 2007 Rose Bowl but USC declined, stating that it had already distributed its allotment of VIP passes.

USC coach Pete Carroll was questioned about Bush's absence from the Rose Bowl on a Los Angeles radio program on Jan. 2, the morning after the game. Radio host and Los Angeles Times columnist T.J. Simers asked Carroll: "You saw the reports that Reggie was told not to come to the Rose Bowl, to stay away from USC. Do you buy that? Do you have anything to do with that?"

Responded Carroll: "No. I know that through this investigation, because he's not cooperating the way they'd like it, there's some issues about that. Reggie gets to do whatever he wants to do. He's not part of us anymore and we can't control any of that. But there's some, I think some opinions from the NCAA that they're mad at Reggie. And, you know, they would not like him to be associated with us. But I don't know what's going on with all that. But there is some stuff.

"I did call Reggie and he didn't hear from anybody about any of that kind of stuff. We're just going to keep working along the best we can and try to keep our head above water and do the right thing and stay out of that stuff. But that stuff, it is kind of nasty. You just don't know where it's coming from and people are out to get you. It can get kind of hard."
“Reggie gets to do whatever he wants to do. He’s not a part of us anymore.” Now, let’s not take this out of context or over-examine the words, but these two sentences say a lot.

Indeed, it is hard. Hard to get to the truth. Hard to know what it all means for USC Football. Hard to trust those allegedly involved, including Reggie.

But, until this thing plays out fully, what else can we do? What else can we say that hasn't already be said …
We can over-think this thing and convince ourselves that it doesn’t matter. Or, we can circle the wagons and trust in Reggie:
I'm not worried about any of these allegations or anything like that, because I know what the truth is, like I said from day one. Once the smoke clears, everybody's going to see we did nothing wrong.

Obviously it does affect you just because it is out there. But at the same time I know there's nothing to worry about. It makes you want to go out there right away and tell your side of the story. Show everybody the facts, the truth. But you can't do that. That wouldn't be the right way to do it

I told [USC] the same thing, don't worry about anything. If there was something to worry about, then I would tell you. But there's nothing to worry about.

Okay, Reggie. We’ll trust you. Just like we did at South Bend last year. Just like we did versus Fresno State in the Coliseum. Just like we did when you pitched a lateral to no one in the Rose Bowl … ?
We’ll trust you, Reggie. We’ll trust you ...
... but we have to admit, it may be harder to do so today.

Fight On!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Lane Kiffin to Raiders

Steve Sarkisian turned down the opportunity to be the Raiders head coach last week, so crazy Al Davis took the next best thing ... Lane Kiffin (left). Just saw this "scoop" on an ESPN update.

The early take here: USC got ... or rather kept ... the better coach.

Fight On!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

USC Song Girls vs. 'Every Man, Woman and Child'

If you’ve ever had the misfortune of sitting too close to the ugla alumni section during a bruin football game, you’ve seen him. His name is Geoff Strand, and he’s an idiot.

Strand is the annoying guy (if you can call him a guy) dressed like an ugla clown, commanding the bruin alumni (“every man, woman and child”) to cheer on his cue, as if ugla grads are too stupid to know when to make noise for their team. I’m certainly willing to give bruin alums more credit than that, I suppose.

As for the fact that Strand is a fool, the evidence is irrefutable:

The funny thing is this video was posted on the “nation” in reaction to a post by Orson at EDSBS, who used Strand as evidence that ugla fans are apathetic Republicans … or did he really mean Nationalists? I’m not sure what to make of Orson’s point, but the comments it spurred are hilarious (and telling), and the cannibalistic thread that followed the “nation” post illustrates the nature of the ugla fan. Rather than defend their man Strand, the bruins give us this:
If I didn't go to UCLA or was not a Bruin football fan, I'd be clowning that freakinsh show too.

And I would also hurl all kinds of insults.

This is just pathetic. I can see some arguments about having a juggler as part of the band show. But this dude is just a clown. He doesn't belong in a college football game.

Go Bruins!
Never mind the comedic value of comparing a “freakinsh show” to a “juggler” at your own college football game, the irony in this post by “bluestreet” is classic. He says his bruiness prevents him from insulting and making fun of Strand, and yet that’s exactly what he does.

Anyway, “MIMBruin” led off the comments with this:
Do we need some new blood? Abso-freakin-lutely. Student yell leaders of recent years haven't been all that creative or distinctive in their style. I think the last good shtick I saw was the crew that brought a toilet lid with the words "FLUSH 'EM!" or "FLUSH IT!" to spur the crowd onto noise.
Hmmm … I don’t know about you, but toilet humor never got me to cheer at a college football game. Then again, I didn’t attend ugla. Someone else who presumably did is “razksig,” who restored my understanding that at least a few people with brains call themselves bruin fans.
Strand bugs the hell out of me
I just think that the crowd is somewhat apathetic anyway, but having a guy up there saying "don't cheer now, wait till I say to cheer" is so bush league. Fans should be on their feet screaming the entire time our defense is on the field, not just after the opposing team's offense breaks its huddle. Football is one sport in which the home crowd can have the greatest effect on the outcome of a game, and this geriatric clown is one thing holding back an already tame crowd. […] I hardly remember Strand leading our section during the SUC game, which was not the case for every other home game I attended. I appreciate his intentions, but he is terrible.
“Bush league” … “terrible” … that’s a good way to put it. But “bluestreet” was even more to the point in his second go around.
[Strand] is a nice guy and all. I am sure he is a good guy.

But he dresses like a freak. He looks creepy along the sidelines. Frankly I think its kind of embarrassing.

He should limit his little routine to alumni gatherings. But even then, his routine is just silly and embarrassing.
“Freak” … “creepy” … “silly” … “embarrassing” … LOL. Of course, you can’t have a thread at the “nation” without some Trojan bashing, and “babyblue98” delivers on cue:
That guy [Strand] has always kind of annoyed me. i've always said who's to say he gets to be the voice who represents the bruin fan? but whenever that guy gets on my nerves, which is every game i attend, i just think that at least he's not as gay as that trojan wearing a skirt riding that white horse around the coliseum.
We know being gay has nothing to do with this, but really, who is this “babyblue” trying to kid? Anyway, “abby8065” gets the thread back on track, attempting to kill two birds with one stone … or tomato, as it were.
I am sorry but that guy is pathetic! I don't need someone to tell me when to cheer or not; and I never cheer when someone tells me to!

He looks like a circus clown and his voice is too damn annoying. I couldn't even watch the entire video, because I wanted throw something at him.

Now he could definitely get the crowd excited if he wore a Trojan t-shirt and let people throw tomatoes at him!

I would just go to the games to get a chance to peg him.
The fun goes on for a few more comments, until the aptly named “True Blue and Gold” points out the truth (if not correct spelling) to fellow ugla fans …
It's really embarassing the way you go after your own. Geoff hasn't done any harm to anyone. If anything he promotes spirit and entusiasm. I don't know if you've noticed but he manages to get the press box side to yell Bruins while the student yell crew doesn't even tell us that it's going on.
Whether or not Strand “hasn’t done any harm” is certainly up for debate, but it is interesting to see how these bruins turn on one of their own.

USC Trojans, on the other hand, don’t have such issues. We’ll have fun here at the expense of our spirit section any day of the week, especially Thursdays.

But rather than use words like pathetic and freak and creepy when presented with video evidence, USC fans use words like lovely and hot … and wedgy.

Fight On!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

USC: We're No. 1 (Early 2007 Edition)

Being true to my fair-weather fandom of USC “basketball,” I’ve been making an effort to learn more about college hoops in preparation for our impending Trojan Uprising. One thing I don’t quite understand is why everybody cares so much about mid-season rankings.

Nestor of the “nation” tried to explain to me the importance of ugla’s recent No. 1 ranking in basketball. “Exposure” … “recruiting” … blah, blah, blah, he said. But common sense tells us that rankings really don’t mean a damn thing in hoops, especially when a 5th place team out of the Pac-10 can win a championship.

Regardless of this season’s rankings, ugla already has its big recruit secured, as does USC and virtually every other program. And ultimately, everything will be played out on the court. So, what does it matter?

In college football on the other hand, rankings are everything. And lucky for us, USC Football is once again top-ranked.

Just ask ESPN, Sports Illustrated,, and … We’re No. 1.

You can also ask’s John Walters, another writer we like, who has USC ranked No. 1 for an important aspect of USC Football that also matters: the Trojans’ play-anybody-anywhere attitude when it comes to scheduling non-conference games.
Thank you, USC. […] While most head coaches and athletic directors concur (be it privately or publicly) with Florida's Urban Meyer, who last week said that he considers a 60-0 win against a I-AA opponent "fun", you […] made a date or two with danger on your schedule. Your non-conference, free-to-date-whomever-you-please schedule. […]

As a college football fan, I say thanks. Thanks […] to always fearless USC, who this year travel to Lincoln, Neb, and South Bend, Ind., to face two of the three winningest programs of all-time (having just smacked around the winningest, Michigan, two weeks ago).
Walters goes on to rank the top 10 non-conference games for 2007, and again, we’re No. 1.
1. USC (11-2) at Nebraska (9-5), Sept. 15
Carroll's Conundrum: The Trojans return ten starters on defense, and that's before Pete figures out how to get super stud freshmen Chris Galippo (LB) and Everson Griffin (DE) into the rotation. Nice problem to have. The Maze Unsheathers will likely toss Pac-10 party boy transplant Sam Keller behind center. It's like "Tommy Lee Goes To College" without the horticulture tutoring sessions. In 2005, while the QB at Arizona State, Keller led the Sun Devils to a 21-3 halftime lead versus the Trojans before imploding in the second half.
While we’re at it, USC is also currently No. 1 in several rankings for football recruiting, having already received verbal commitments from 10 of’s revised Top 100 high school players (including nine 5-Star studs in the top 50), with a few more who could commit by Signing Day.

The best part of all this is that we don’t play a single snap against any team until September 1. That’s more than seven full months of unadulterated “USC is No. 1” hype, including the covers of season preview publications, features on ESPN, and all sorts of props throughout these internets. How’s that for an impact on exposure, recruiting, blah, blah, blah? Sweet!

No doubt the only rankings that really matter are at the end of the season. But it’s still more fun when we’re No. 1.

Fight On!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

USC Hoops: It's Getting Funny

Took a few days off, figuring that things were once again back to normal in the world of USC Football … that is, by all accounts, the Trojans are No. 1 heading into next season. Then, I realized that perhaps there was something strange (maybe even funny) going on.

It seems as if people who call themselves basketball fans … as well as some who cover the sport for a living … can't wait for this b-ball thing at USC to get going. Last I heard, we were supposed to wait until next season for some one-year wonder to make people notice USC hoops. Apparently, that’s not the case

Even after the bruins earned a 65-64 victory Saturday, it appears all anyone wants to talk about is how the Trojans “basketball” program is improving … or how USC’s new Galen Center is a great venue that gives the Trojans a boost … or how the perennially presumed basketball gap between USC and ugla – whose position, as we know, is pre-ordained by history – is supposedly closing.
Beating USC in basketball always is a Bruins priority. If not an expectation.

But the stakes have gotten higher. The task is getting tougher.

USC finally has a serious coach in Tim Floyd, who took New Orleans and Iowa State to the NCAA Tournament, and coached both the Chicago Bulls and New Orleans Hornets.

Floyd is making inroads into recruiting blue-chippers. The sort of players USC used to go decades without landing.

In two years at Troy, Floyd has added 6-9 center Taj Gibson and a pair of athletic, 6-5 guards, Dwight Lewis and Daniel Hackett. Three of his top six players, that is.

The Trojans already look like better athletes than the Bruins. And that's before uber-recruit O.J. Mayo joins the USC show next season.

UCLA can hear the footsteps. The challenge to its SoCal hoops hegemony is overt.

Suddenly, Pauley Pavilion seems less like a basketball cathedral ... and more like an old, primitive facility. (What, no luxury boxes? Galen Center has 'em.)

What once seemed a huge talent gap in UCLA's favor ... now it's more like Ben Howland and the Bruins winning on guile, character and institutional memory.

USC certainly can't be penciled in as a pair of "Ws" on the UCLA schedule.

Their game Saturday could have been a tipping point.
Even sports media out here in New York, the mecca of basketball and the birthplace of one Lewis Alcindor, are eager to see the Trojans challenge the bruins’ hegemony in Los Angeles. Dick “Hoops” Weiss, a columnist for the New York Daily News, wrote last week about a “Trojan Uprising” …
[Tim Floyd] inherited a major rebuilding project from Henry Bibby, who was fired at midseason in 2005, but Floyd won 17 games his first year and beat three ranked teams - UCLA, Arizona and North Carolina. This season, he has transformed the Trojans (13-4, 3-1 Pac-10) into a major player in the best league in the country. Expect USC to make the NCAA Tournament and eventually make a run at competing with the Bruins on an equal basis in Los Angeles within three years. […]

The Trojans might not be ready to make a run at Florida and UCLA this season, but Gibson is right - the battle is on. Floyd has signatures and commitments from enough blue-chip prospects in the next two classes to make the Trojans a Final Four contender. In addition to Mayo, Floyd has signed Davon Jefferson, an athletic 6-8 forward from Los Angeles who is taking a prep year in North Carolina. Floyd also inked 6-8 forward Leonard Washington, the best prospect in Louisiana.
Final Four contender … blue-chip prospects … making the Tournament … And, what’s this about USC beating Arizona, North Carolina and ugla last year … in hoops? I find that incredibly difficult to believe. But, I digress …

Certainly, unlike the state of USC Football, this “basketball” stuff is not normal. But it’s funny, nonetheless. And, like other things we’ve found “funny” recently, all this attention being paid to USC “basketball” has the bruins’ proverbial panties in a bunch.

True to form, the “nation” showed its colors after sweating out ugla's one-point win. Attempting to draw parallels with lies told about “WMDs Found In Iraq” of all inappropriate things, Nestor [no, I won’t reveal his real name again no matter how many times you ask] worked himself into a lather, posting one of his grammatically lacking rants to complain about the Los Angeles Times:
Today it is Robyn Norwood's turn to pimp a basketball program, which hasn't sniffed the NCAA tourney in half a decade an elevate it to the level of Duke, North Carolinas of the world. Ms. Norwood writes up an article saying somehow the gap between UCLA and Southern California basketball program is closing despite the fact this year Trojan lost to UCLA in their brand new gym against a Bruin squad that was playing without its second leading scorer. Riddle me this. How can you claim a program is closing gap with the defending champion of the conference after it loses to the same program it beat on its home floor last year?
“hasn't sniffed the NCAA tourney in half a decade an elevate it” … ? “despite the fact this year Trojan lost to UCLA” … ? “a program is closing gap with the defending champion” …?

"Riddle me this." What’s with the broken English?

Anyway, as if on cue, “Tydides” went out of his way to stroke himself with this:
Here's the bottom line (addressed to the excuse-making whiners):
We won. We are UCLA. We are relevant, you are not. We beat you on YOUR homecourt, in front of YOUR fans, WITHOUT one of our best players. You might think you played well enough to win, perhaps even think you "outplayed" the Bruins, but you know what? You didn't, and the scoreboard shows it. It hurts to have to actually have to care about basketball, doesn't it? Will you still care about it now? I doubt it. You are losers. Thank you and good night.
Not surprisingly, “Tydides” still doesn’t get it. There’s no need to hate. Even if real USC fans actually did care about basketball, he needn't waste his limited capacities to write (if you can call it writing) something like this, all full of misplaced anger.

Why isn’t a bruin win on USC’s shiny new floor enough for the “nation”?

I suppose “Tydides” is trying to put USC “basketball” in its place, where new arenas and top recruits and supposedly good coaching don’t threaten to threaten the righteous present and history of ugla basketball. But why address USC fans in this way … unless the threat is real?

I wouldn’t know. As a tried and true traditional USC Football fan, I honestly couldn’t care less about USC “basketball.”

Obviously, the same can’t be said for ugla. They know their basketball … and they know USC is coming. Funny isn’t it?

Fight On!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

USC Song Girls: The Afterglow

So, I guess we're back to the normal routine.

The stress and confusion of Pete Carroll's future has apparently subsided. All of our 2006 juniors are supposedly accounted for, and we're free now to turn our attention fully to the 2007 recruiting class.

Oh ... and now that the blogosphere is smoking its proverbial cigarette, after a few days of Song Girl insanity came to a climax last week -- although some bloggers are a little slow to the take -- we can return to our usual fare ...

Fight On!

ADD: In case you missed it among all the actual football coverage, Austin Murphy of SI spent some time with our lovely Song Girls for a Q&A that outlines their hectic New Year's Day schedule and other "interesting" details. Surely, if any of us had to wake up at 3:00 am to start curling our hair, before marching in the Rose Parade and fronting the USC Trojan Marching Band with dance routines for something like 10 straight hours, we'd end up with a wedgy at some point during the day, too. Thank goodness Megan could handle it all.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Pete Carroll Going or Staying ... You Decide

As we’ve stated before, this multimedia stuff on these internets are a wonderful thing. It used to be that sports fans were at the mercy of journalists telling them what’s what, but the Internet and the blogosphere has changed all that.

These days, with everything online, we can easily compare and contrast the difference in perception and interpretation from one writer to another, one paper to another, one region to another. Back when newspapers were purely cellulose this comparative insight was nearly impossible.

More importantly, today we are able to see how quotes can be recorded not quite accurately and presented out of context … how a journalist with supposed “professional” standards can (sub-consciously or otherwise) allow a personal agenda to get in the way of objectivity.

Still, most journalists are capable of presenting a balanced take on an issue. But rather than trust that a reporter is recording and presenting information in context, fans now have the opportunity to hear a story from the source in full. Of course, we too apply our own biased filters, serve our own agendas, and make up our own opinions about stuff for posting on the blogosphere. But we don’t pretend to possess the professional objectivity of a traditional journalist.

Obviously, all this is a set up for Pete Carroll’s statements upon his return from Costa Rica yesterday. We see the usual suspect(s) are playing their roles.

Luckily, AM-570 has the wherewithal to post in its entirety Carroll’s press conference* and what he said about his meeting with Miami Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga.

And, again, for the multimedia challenged, here are the key statements, transcribed verbatim …

Question: “Would you leave [USC] if [Huizenga] offered you the job?”
I’ve never even come close to thinking that. I’ve never come close to thinking that for every year I’ve been here, every opportunity that’s come along, the stuff you know about, and the stuff you don’t know about. I’ve never been close to doing that, and I’m not close to that right now. […]

I think what’s really important is what I do, and it will speak volumes. You’ll all see. I love this place, and I’ve given everything that I have to this program, and I will continue to do that. And I think, if anything, if anybody can understand it this way, that kind of an interaction for me [meeting Huizenga], only strengthens my resolve about being here and knowing what I have and how lucky I am to be in the situation that I’m in. […] I know how it’s going to end. [...]

I absolutely expect to be here next year.
Question: “Coach, you do understand the tremendous amount of interest now, because this is the very first time that you have even admitted talking to someone in the NFL?”
Yeah, well, I think it’s because it’s the only time I ever have. It’s the right thing to do. I’m not going to hide from the fact that I talked to those guys. […] I had a chance to figure something out and understand something further with greater depth. […] For anybody that’s interested in me staying at USC it’s a good thing.
Carroll said that he didn’t think there would ever be a situation in which an NFL owner would allow a head coach to have full control of an organization, like he has at USC. Apparently, Huizenga is willing to grant that level of responsibility to Carroll, which prompted the last question at the presser:

“So, all things being equal, full control there, full control here, you’d stay here?”
I love the Trojans. Yep. I love being here. I love everything about what we’re doing here. I love being in California. We’re in the middle of something that’s really special. We’ve got a bunch of direction that we’ve got going here, with great kids coming in, great kids part of this program, with a commitment to something really special, and I don’t want to take any steps away from that. I think this is an awesome opportunity for me and for everybody that’s involved with our program to keep charging forward and do things that are very, very unique and that we’ll all take great pride in and feel great about our efforts.
That’s it. Listen to it. Decide for yourself if you think Carroll is seriously considering a move, or if he’s jockeying for a pay raise, or if his statements should be taken purely at face value.

I’ve decided to trust our man Carroll for now. He hasn’t given us a reason not to, so far.

Too bad the same can’t be said for every “professional” journalist who covers the Trojans.

Fight On!

* Download the audio recording of the press conference.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

USC Football: You’re Welcome Florida

The way I see it, the Gators owe us one … make that two. First, USC laid an egg (with a tail) during a 13-9 anomaly to put Florida in the BCS Championship game, albeit controversially over Michigan.

Then, the Trojans dismantled the Wolverines in the Rose Bowl to erase any doubt that the Gators should have been in Glendale, Ariz., for the chance to play Ohio State.

You’re welcome, Gator Nation.

Of course, Florida did a pretty good job erasing any doubt all by themselves last night, but the Gators can thank USC for the opportunity.

One plus resulting from the Trojans’ favor to Florida is that ugla can now stop waxing un-poetically about the bruins’ supposed missed opportunities to hold simultaneous national championships in football and basketball … way back in the 1960s.

Listen to ugla fans, and they’ll tell you they would have done it, if not for USC beating the bruins on the gridiron in ‘67 and ’69 when John Wooden and his partner in crime were stacking hoops talent at ugla:
While there are not exact parallels between the current college football landscape and the previous setup (expecially in the 1960s), it is fairly certain that had UCLA defeated USC in the 1967 Cross-Town Rivalry (a game billed as "The Game of the Century" at the time), Tommy Protho [ugla’s head coach] would have successfully completed the unthinkable: UCLA, that 'basketball-only' school, would have held both the football and basketball men's national titles in 1967. Additionally, UCLA had much the same chance again in 1969 - again losing to USC in the Battle for the Victory Bell. […]

So, just in case you're curious about an earlier team that had just as close a chance as Florida as holding both the basketball and football titles in a given year, that team was UCLA.
We know now that Florida didn’t just come close; it closed the deal last night. Although the Gators didn’t accomplish the feat in the same school year, they did get it done in the same calendar year (sorta), giving the media a chance to crown Florida as the first to take the dual titles. And it’s all thanks to USC.

Maybe the Trojans can be second to pull off the feat next year. (Ha!) I laugh, but with the if-we-build-it-Mayo-will-come Galen Center up and running, who knows? Certainly, ugla won’t have to worry about getting “as close a chance” any time soon. But, I digress …

It was nice to see Chris Leak (above) get his due. I’ve made it a semi-point to follow his career since the time he was a major recruit for USC. He had a diary on ESPN of his recruiting process, and he described in one entry his official visit to Los Angeles:
The thing that stood out the most is how so many different USC players pulled me aside to explain to me what a joy it is to play for Coach Carroll. That really stuck with me. […]

Overall, the visit to USC was great. Though I visited California for Elite 11, this was my first time in L.A. And I have to be honest: It was my best visit. I saw the Staples Center, the Hollywood sign, Beverly Hills and the neighborhood where Shaq lives.

Add to that the positive things that so many had to say about Coach Carroll and Coach Chow, as well as the fact that Coach Chow has flown twice from California to visit me in Charlotte and I must say, USC is quickly becoming a very inviting option.
Too bad Leak thought L.A. was too far from home, but when he committed to Ron Zook and Florida, the Trojans turned attention to John David Booty, and that was that. Leak got to play right away, but apparently a black drop-back passer is a concept for which the south isn’t ready, and Leak never got the love he deserved.

After adjusting to Urban Meyer’s “spread option” offense last year, Leak was supposed to be a Heisman candidate in 2006, but when his Bizarro World twin Tim Tebow – a running QB who is white – was inserted to run for first downs and TDs in short yardage, Leak’s role and perceived stature was reduced.

Still, Leak handled the immediate and fervent endorsement of Tebow by Gator fans and the subseqent media-created controversy with class. As Leak said at the post-game presser last night, “When you work hard and you do the right things … eventually your time will come. We’ve been very blessed.”

Blessed, indeed. The Gators got their “dual championship” and Leak’s time came last night … thanks to a rare slip by the Trojans.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Finally ... 2006 Ends Tonight

Wait a minute … it’s still college football season?

With all the media hype anointing USC Football No. 1 for 2007, after the Trojans’ dismantling of Michigan in the Rose Bowl one week ago, it’s easy to forget that the 2006 season didn’t end on Jan. 1. It’s been an interesting week …

As predictable as the Sugar Bowl was – what with the “Irish” losing their record ninth straight bowl game – the GMAC and International “bowls” this weekend were not predictable at all … like a tree falling in the forest, how can we make a prediction about something no one saw, let alone cared about in the first place.

Perhaps we were distracted from this last part of the bowl season by our lovely Song Girls … that is, one in particular who had every blogger’s panties in a bunch, so to speak.

Maybe we’ve been pre-occupied trying to get our heads around Boise State … Boise State … playing David to Oklahoma’s Goliath in one of the most exciting and imaginative bowl games in recent memory.

It could be that USC fans have been anticipating another No. 1 recruiting class, with at least eight Trojan commits playing (and shining) in the high school U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Saturday.

And even I know it’s possible that USC Basketball took our attention away from the bowl season? I hear the team is worth watching, even as we wait for this O.J. Mayo kid.

Of course, I can’t be sure about that, since again I don’t know jack about round ball. But, any time the basketball Trojans win two games, while historically tainted ugla is forced to explain away a loss, that’s got to be good, right?

Whatever. One game left, before USC Football can officially move on to 2007. As for me, I’m already there …

Fight On! Beat the Vandals!

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Mario Danelo Found Dead

Shocking news that rocks the Trojan Family tonight, according to News Service, just posted about half an hour ago ...
Mario Danelo, a kicker for the USC football team, was found dead Saturday in San Pedro, Calif.

Danelo's body was found at the bottom of White Point Cliff in San Pedro, according for a spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department. Police did not release further details.

Danelo, a redshirt junior, walked on with the Trojans in 2003 and earned a scholarship in 2005, according to the USC athletic department's Web site.

He was 15-for-16 on field goals this season and made 44 of 48 PATs, leading the team in scoring with 89 points.

Danelo is the son of former NFL kicker Joe Danelo.

All condolences to the Danelo Family.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Sugar Bowl: What Can ND Say?

So, we gave the domers a break yesterday. Instead of making note (or fun) of their 41-14 embarrassment versus LSU in the Sugar Bowl, we decided to comment further on USC’s statement in the Rose Bowl and continue our fun with “Wedgygate.” It was a simple choice, actually.

It’s all old news for the “Irish.” A humiliating 27-point loss on national television. Nine … nine … straight bowl game losses – a new NCAA high (or low). An all-time losing record in bowl games, 13-15.

Perhaps worse, ND’s 10 victories in 2006 came against teams with a combined record of 57-70. In its three losses (Michigan, USC, LSU – the only good teams on the schedule) the “Irish” were outscored 132-69. And still, Charlie Weis has no significant wins in two years as “Irish” head coach.

In a backward way, ND’s season also reminds us of Pete Carroll’s second year as our man at USC. As we mentioned, he ended 2002 with a Heisman-winning QB and a BCS Orange Bowl win.

Of course, "Irish" QB Brady Quinn didn’t win the Heisman, and the domers didn’t win a BCS bowl game. But more to the point, while USC was “just getting started” entering Carroll’s third season in 2003, ND and Weis appear to be just starting over in 2007 …

ND is heading into a re-building year, having to replace at least six starters on defense and seven on offense, including Quinn, the team’s best player. Even worse ND will probably start the over-hyped incoming freshman Jimmy Clausen at quarterback.

To be honest, watching the Sugar Bowl, I almost felt sorry for the “Irish” … almost. But posting about their sorry loss seemed like piling on … not that there’s anything wrong with that when it comes to debunking the work of the Domer Hype Machine.

Still, there really is no need to take shots at the second-class state of ND football, since even the east coast biased media is doing that already. As for, a sarcastic and caustic Mark Schlabach wrote this:
Even after Notre Dame lost its ninth consecutive bowl game Wednesday night -- yet another one in ugly fashion with a 41-14 loss to No. 4 LSU in the Allstate Sugar Bowl -- there is hope for Fighting Irish fans.

Even without record-setting quarterback Brady Quinn, receiver Jeff Samardzija and many more of its best players next season, Notre Dame will finally end its postseason drought, now the longest in NCAA history.

The Fighting Irish will end the postseason losing streak that dates back to 1994 because next season they'll be playing in some second-tier bowl game in a nondescript place like Shreveport, La., which is where they should have been playing during much of the last two decades.
Against LSU, Notre Dame once again proved it doesn't deserve to play in BCS bowl games, which have become its birthright because of the school's national stature and ability to draw high TV ratings.

And by shutting out the Fighting Irish in the second half and erupting for 577 yards of offense in the game, the Tigers again proved Notre Dame is no longer capable of beating teams like LSU. Or Ohio State, Michigan and Southern California, which also handed the Fighting Irish lopsided losses in the past 12 months.
Ugh. Talk about piling on. Before the Sugar Bowl, Schlabach quoted Quinn:
"I get tired of hearing how bad we are," Quinn said. "I mean, that's all people seem to be saying sometimes. Notre Dame is one of those universities where it's kind of like either you love it or you hate it. It's tough because you've got to deal with the criticism all the time. So [if] we win a big game against a great team like [LSU], you can't really say a whole lot."
And if you don’t win … which ND hasn’t … there really isn’t much to say, either.

Fight On! Beat the Vandals!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

USC Football: Video Says It All

Whether we’re on the internets, the ebays or the google we’ve all noted the majesty of video in the blogosphere. At no time was this more evident to us college football geeks than over these last few days of “Wedgygate” at the expense of the lovely USC Song Girls.

But the multimedia aspects of the Internet can also enhance and provide context for the written word as it is captured on blogs and in traditional newspapers. A case in point is Pete Carroll’s post-Rose Bowl comments about the importance of USC’s New Year’s Day win versus Michigan.

As we’ve seen and read, Carroll’s press conference statements are like streams of his consciousness, thick with run-on sentences and multiple thoughts within a single breath that can make it difficult to capture in written words the depth and meaning of what he says.

Reading three different newspaper accounts of his post-game presser, we see one of his statements quoted three different ways. Sure, each account records the essence of what Carroll says, but none do so with the emphasis and inflexion that captures his statements completely.

Video from NBC Sports on the other hand, does just that. You can see the relief, determination and pleasure in Carroll’s eyes as he rambles. You can see the energy and charisma that gets his players and recruits excited about the future of USC Football. You can fully understand what he is telling us. It’s subtle, but it’s there.

(For those video-challenged readers, here’s the transcript, which is the third best thing, audio being the second.):
"This is very important. You know, a young team wondering about what it feels like to be a great team and what that sense is. We’ve had that sense over the years at times, and when you feel that strong about your teammates and what we’re doing and the program, you’re really hard to beat. And we almost captured it. You know we almost had it this season. We didn’t quite get it done, and we missed our opportunity to take it all the way to the top. But it doesn’t matter. It’s all over with, you know. We won a Rose Bowl, had a great night, and did capture the feeling as we go into the off-season.

"The fact that we had our issue the last time we were here, our guys know that wasn’t us. That was the game out of the last 65 games that stood out because it was so unusual and so different, and we put it there for that reason and left it behind us. And charged on and started this, really, this is an opportunity – I don’t mind telling you – this was an opportunity to kick start what’s going on for this football team for the future, and I think we captured the night."
And, this exchange with a reporter:
“Pete you alluded to next season a little bit on the field. Is there any question where you’re going to be next season?”

“No. There’s no question. I have no question.”
No question. Video on the Internet is a wonderful thing.

Kind of like there was no question that our wonderful Song Girl "in question" is the lovely Megan. Although we already featured her yesterday, as did virtually every other college football blog, Beano tells me we have a tradition to uphold here.

So, true to this post and today being Thursday, we go to the video* …

Not sure what I like better … the free-form dancing or the standard not-quite-precisely-coordinated choreographed numbers. Then again, it doesn’t really matter.

*Hat Tip: The Wizard of Odds.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Rose Bowl Twirl: Third Time's the Charm (Sorta)

Last week, the “twirl” was a day late. This week it’s a day early, for no other reason than the post-Rose Bowl blogosphere yesterday was awash in Song Girl lovin’ … actually it’s more like Song Girl objectifyin’, but either way …

As we mentioned earlier, USC’s last two appearances at the Rose Bowl were rather embarrassing for our darling Song Girls, and we were dreading a “three-peat.” But the third time was the charm: The Trojans came away with a meaningful victory in our “second home,” and there was no “double pompom over the head waving thing” (which we all like) happening at the wrong time.

And yet, lo and behold:

More importantly, our lovely Song Girls (one in particular) put a smile on the face of more than a few Michigan fans who didn’t have much to smile about following USC’s Rose Bowl win. And, if there are fans of college football who deserve a pick-me-up after a loss, it’s the Wolverines. I’ve now been to four USC-Michigan Rose Bowl games, and once again the maize and blue showed their knowledge, class and general respect for USC and the game.

Apparently, the sentiment is mutual:
Since I was at the game, I have a few things to add...

First off, all the credit in the world goes to USC. They won the game. Plain and simple. This wasn't about a call, a play or a bad bounce. This was a good old fashioned ass-whipping.

Also, SC fans were nothing but class. And, not surprisingly, they were loud, making the game sound like it was at the Coliseum at times.
And this from another Michigan fan: "USC fans... thanks for your hospitality. Great game... see you next year."

Now that’s what college football is supposed to be about. But, I digress …

One thing’s for sure: When our precious Song Girls twirl, college football bloggers pay attention. Some of them, maybe too much … like “Yost” and “Benny” at the MZone, who received props here last month for a particularly excellent production of “Song Girl: The Sequel.”

They were at it again yesterday, this time with some excellent (over)analysis:
Returning from the Rose Bowl, I was feeling pretty bad about the game...until we got emails […] with the picture of the USC Song Girl […] Needless to say, I smiled for the first time all day...and haven't stopped.

And the pic's the real deal. We checked.

Since Benny had the game on TiVo, he went to the 4:09 mark in the 2nd quarter to make sure the picture above was authentic and not Photoshopped. Because that's what we do, folks. We study (closely) the pictures of naked women so you can count on the MZone Seal of Authenticity.
Of course, sometime afterward the guys received an HD image of the shot, which showed our dear Song Girl was in fact wearing underwear, albeit tucked away thong-style, presumably after a Rockette-like kick.

This apparently ruined the fantasy (or supposed reality) for many a reader, not to mention Yost himself: “If that's what HD TV does -- spit on a man's fantasies - then I'd rather live in an analog world.”

The funny thing is our classy Song Girls not only wear their modest version of “tighty whiteys,” they also wear “nude” stockings, which surely ruin the mood even further. Somehow, a wedgy jammed between pantyhose just doesn’t have the same appeal, I suppose.

Either way, it doesn’t matter. I’m just thankful that our beloved Song Girls kept themselves in line long enough to ensure a win for USC at the Rose Bowl.

Just three days in and 2007 is looking so good … especially in HD.

UPDATE: The "analysis" and "research" continues ...
NOTE: The Song Girl in question is definitely Megan.
ADD: Megan (left, top photo) and Alli were already identified as suspects here.

UPDATE II: Boi From Troy has the definitive answer:
An anonymous, but well-informed source writes us with the most convincing evidence:
It’s Megan….here’s how I know. Alison and Ali are first years so they wouldn’t be second in the ’step-off’ line that’s reserved for older members…kim and natalie (the two song girls behind the twirlers are the captains. Also I know know them all, and from the pics I know who it is…


Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Rose Bowl Post-Game: USC is Back!

We’re back …

Four weeks is all we needed. To repair broken psyches with the Magic Tennis Book and to realize that maintaining an emotional peak through a “rivalry month” gauntlet of Oregon, Cal, ND, and ugla is perhaps too much to ask of a developing young team.

This is how we do it. A defensive struggle in the first half, turned into a second-half blow out by smart adjustments on offense and an aggressive Trojan defense that forced the opponent into a one-dimensional game plan. We imposed our will, and we didn't let up until a 32-18 Rose Bowl victory was secured.

Order is restored. USC brought home a BCS Rose Bowl trophy on its way to securing another ridiculously talented recruiting class and an off-season of anticipation and hype.

In many ways this win felt like the 2003 Orange Bowl championship: USC playing like the best team in the nation, fighting through the first half of what was billed as the second-best bowl match-up of the season, followed by a dominant offensive explosion in the second half. And Pete Carroll at the post-game celebration yelling to all of us: “We’re just getting started!”

Indeed, it feels like we’re just getting started … again.

Stewart Mandel of captured the new, new conventional wisdom:
Mostly, the Rose Bowl was the culmination of a season-long maturation process for the Trojans. If anything, it was more indicative of what's to come than what just passed.

"We talked about that in the locker room [afterward], that this is the start of [2007]," said Carroll. "We're grateful for the guys that helped us, the seniors that leave, but really excited about the young guys coming back to get this thing going again."
So, the aberration is truly over. It was more like an anomaly, really. A freak accident exposed by the pathetic performance of an ugla team (not to mention an uglanation”) that couldn’t handle a miracle win. But more importantly, it was proven emphatically on the first day of 2007 by the genius of a coach who knows how to lead his team through think and thin.

Said Carroll: "It was important for us to reconnect with who we are and what our program is all about."