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May 2009 Archives

Storming the desert

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Coach Carroll (middle) and basketball coach Tim Floyd (right), along with moderator Lindsay Soto of FSN, conduct their USC-hosted Coaches Tour event at the Esmeralda Resort in Indian Wells on Friday night. Part informative Q&A session and part hilarious performance -- let's call it an "informance" -- Carroll and Floyd entertained the more than 300 guests at the second stop on the 2009 Coaches Tour tonight, with Pasadena up next on Monday.

Vacation in the desert

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The Palm Springs area is about the become Heritage Hall of the Desert.

Trojan coaches and their families are heading east today for a weekend-long staff retreat at a resort in Palm Desert. Coinciding with Friday's Coaches Tour stop in Indian Wells, the three-day, sans-work getaway provides the coaches and their wives and children a time of golfing, hanging out by the pool and other relaxing activities after a month of being on the recruiting trail.

All in the details

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0528capurromug.jpgDirector of football operations Matt Capurro is on top of his game.

Capurro, in his first year as the master of logistics for all things Trojan football, just put the finishing touches on all the transportation, lodging and minute-by-minute scheduling arrangements for each of USC's six road trips in the upcoming season. Planning for all the charter flights, buses and hotel rooms wrapped up this week, a full three months ahead of the first game of 2009.

"There will probably be some tweaking to the schedules in the fall, but for now it's looking good," said Capurro, who spent the last five years handling similar travel and game day logistics for the Oakland Raiders.

Dance dance revolution

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Check out this funny video from Upper Deck featuring some NFL rookies participating in a touchdown dance competition, including a familiar routine from Mark Sanchez. Thanks to the guys at the Zone Blitz blog for passing it along.

Study time

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It's the middle of the offseason, but safety Will Harris isn't taking it easy. While munching on his lunch, the senior watches film of San Jose State -- USC's first opponent of 2009 and a game that's more than three months away -- in the defensive staff room this morning.

Going to Pasadena

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Program-only tickets for Monday's Coaches Tour event in Pasadena are now available for just $25, so get yours before they're sold out!

Starting the Coaches Tour with a bang

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IRVINE -- Well that was fun.

And quite funny, too.

Coach Carroll and men's basketball coach Tim Floyd kicked off the 2009 Coaches Tour with an engaging and informative evening of Trojan football and hoops talk -- with some good-natured ribbing added in as well -- in front of nearly 600 fans at the Hyatt Regency Irvine on Wednesday night.

Moderated by FSN broadcaster and former Trojan wideout John Jackson (who will give way to TV personality Lindsay Soto for the six remaining Coaches Tour stops), the event featured a spine-tingling highlight video about the football and basketball teams' previous seasons, plenty of insightful commentary from Carroll and Floyd, even more playful banter between the two charismatic coaches and a 30-minute Q&A session with the fans.

Carroll talked about everything from Spring Practice to the new coaches and A Better LA, while Floyd chatted about everything from the upcoming season to his distaste with players leaving early and his exploration of the Arizona head coaching opportunity in April. The duo, sitting on director's chairs on a small stage in a festive hotel ballroom, even shared their thoughts on each other's sport and asked questions of the other, magnificently playing off one other as if they were old buddies.

They also spliced in plenty of humor throughout the night. Floyd and Carroll each pulled some surprising and hilarious video-based pranks on each other, while also cracking many jokes -- with no sacred cows. Floyd jabbed at Carroll's turquoise tie and old age (the hoops coach is three years younger than the football coach), and Carroll routinely teased Floyd, even saying that basketball has surpassed football as "the elite program at USC now."

Brilliantly orchestrated by assistant athletic director Jen Noriega and other development staffers, including Kathleen DeCristo, Sam Tulin, Teresa Verbeck and Elyssa Espinoza, the Coaches Tour, which now visits seven cities across California, dates back to the John Robinson era.

Six stops remain on the 2009 Coaches Tour, so register now to be a part of one of these can't-miss events. And if space is available, program-only tickets for $25 will open up 48 hours before each stop.

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Nearly 600 fans fill a hotel ballroom for the first stop of the 2009 Coaches Tour in Irvine on Wednesday night.

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FSN broadcaster John Jackson (left) moderates the talk between Coach Tim Floyd and Coach Carroll.

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The Trojan Marching Band and USC Song Girls perform at the Coaches Tour event in Irvine on Wednesday night.

And now it begins

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Tonight marks the first of seven stops on the 2009 Coaches Tour, with Coach Carroll and Coach Tim Floyd hosting a fun evening of Trojan talk at the Hyatt Regency Irvine starting at 6 p.m.

We'll have a full report, including pictures, from tonight's event first thing on Thursday.

Come on out

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Program-only tickets to Friday's Coaches Tour stop in Indian Wells are now available for only $25 each. Register now for USC's most entertaining offseason event!

Football in May

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Adjacent to Heritage Hall, the Galen Dining Center is packed with USC faculty, staff and students watching football during their lunch hour.

Football as in soccer, that is.

Barcelona and Manchester United are tussling in the UEFA Champions League title game, and all eyes are turned to the flat-screen TVs that are airing the match live. Barcelona currently leads 1-0 in the 60th minute.

Congrats

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Fresh off the program's first national title game appearance since 1991, USC men's volleyball coach Bill Ferguson has been named national coach of the year by the American Volleyball Coaches Association.

Never too early to prepare

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Defensive backs graduate assistant Kris Richard breaks down film of Ohio State's offense this morning as he completes wide receiver route analysis of the Buckeyes. The data he's accumulated over the past few days will be sorted and dissected so the coaches can start crystallizing a defensive game plan for the Sept. 12 game in Columbus. Coaches have already broken down San Jose State game film, leaving just Ohio State tape to examine before looking at conference foes.

Summer vacation

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It's a short work week for America, and it's an even shorter work week for the Trojan coaching staff.

The coaches conclude the week -- their final one on the recruiting trail before a two-month quiet period commences -- with their annual staff and family retreat in Indian Wells this weekend. Hosted by the Trojan Board of Directors and coinciding with Friday's Coaches Tour stop in the desert, the staff retreat begins with optional rounds of golf on Thursday and Friday and wraps up with relaxation around the resort with their wives and children on Saturday and Sunday.

Bescos passes away

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Julie Bescos, a legendary three-sport star at USC in the 1930s, passed away on Saturday in Long Beach. He was 97.

Inducted into the USC Athletic Hall of Fame earlier this month, Bescos earned eight letters while at USC: in football (1932-34), basketball (1932-34) and baseball (1932 and 1934). He also coached nine seasons for the USC football and basketball teams in the late '30s and early '40s.

A public memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. on June 3 at Grace First Presbyterian Church, 3955 N. Studebaker Rd., Long Beach 90808. In lieu of flowers, his family requests donations be made to the Long Beach Cancer League.

Marathon man

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Senior associate athletic director for football Mark Jackson ran the L.A. Marathon on Monday, completing the 26.2-mile course in 3 hours, 42 minutes.

"I'm glad I did it," said Jackson, who's slightly hobbling around the office today. "I'm glad it's over, too."

It was the second marathon for the 36-year-old Jackson, who trained for three months for Monday's race. He said he hopes to run more of them in the future, but asked if he likes the grueling distance, Jackson didn't hesitate.

"I like the first 18 miles," he said with a smile. "The last eight are a little tough though."

Coming to camp

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The slate of Trojan football summer camps begins next Friday with the Mario Danelo kicking camp, and five more camps for kids in third through 12th grades are set to occur over the next month. Space is limited, so sign up now!

June 5 • Mario Danelo kicking camp
June 13 • Skill position camp
June 14 • Offensive/defensive lineman camp
June 20-21 • 7-on-7 camp
June 22 • Trojans in Training Kids Camp (3rd-8th graders)
June 24-25 • Rising stars camp (overnight camp)

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Wonders of technology

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First-year quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates is back in the office today after spending the last three weeks traveling to recruit.

Mark that down in the record books -- Bates survived his rookie experience on the recruiting trail.

In his first stint as a college coach, the 32-year-old Bates traversed his new recruiting territory for much of the last month, often visiting up to 12 high schools a day.

But he couldn't have done it without the help of his trusty friend -- the in-dash GPS featuring voice navigation.

"I don't know how the old-school coaches did it without the lady telling you where to go," Bates joked.

Starting this week!

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The much-anticipated 2009 Coaches Tour kicks off Wednesday in Irvine for the first of seven nights of pure entertainment featuring Coach Carroll and Coach Tim Floyd. Program-only tickets are only $25 for tomorrow's stop, and $85 for dinner and the program at all seven events. Sign up now and don't miss out on this hilarious and enjoyable evening of Trojan football and basketball talk.

Wednesday • Irvine
Friday • Indian Wells
Monday, June 1 • Pasadena
Thursday, June 4 • Bay Area (Burlingame)
Monday, June 8 • San Diego
Wednesday, June 10 • Manhattan Beach
Thursday, June 11 • Westlake Village

One last week

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It's finish time for the Trojan coaching staff.

The month-long spring evaluation period has entered its final week -- the fourth quarter, if you will -- and coaches are racking up the frequent flier and rental car miles as they jump from high school to high school around the nation. They're making the most of this last week of recruiting, especially since they won't be on the road again until September.

Thinking Green

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Garrett Green has done it all on the football field.

Now he's doing it all in the classroom.

Green, who's played everything from quarterback to safety to wide receiver in his three seasons at USC, was recently accepted into the Marshall School of Business' MBA and Master's of Real Estate Development programs. That's undoubtedly a major accomplishment for anyone, much less someone who's about to enter his fourth year of college after earning an undergraduate degree in only three years.

Green has just one season of eligibility remaining, meaning he'll finish up the two master's programs after his playing career as a Trojan wraps up this fall. Other football players currently in graduate school while also competing for the Trojans are offensive linemen Jeff Byers (business) and Steve Gatena (communication).

Get it while you can

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Program-only tickets for the first stop of the 2009 Coaches Tour -- in Irvine on Wednesday -- are available for only $25. Register now!

Not much brewing

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The dog days of the offseason toil on, as the coaches are still on the recruiting trail through next week and the summer strength and conditioning session is still distant on the horizon. About the only activity in the football office this time of year is the twice-daily appearance of the mail carrier and the tireless, nose-to-the-grindstone work of USC football's administrative assistants.

Count them up

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We received several questions about where USC falls in the rankings of schools with the most national championships. Following the Trojans' national title in men's tennis on Tuesday, USC now has 110 national championships, which ties the program with Stanford for the second-most in the country. UCLA is tops with 125.

But since not all national titles are NCAA-sanctioned championships (like football and most women's sports before the 1980s), the rankings get re-sorted a little when considering only NCAA titles. Take a look the various breakdowns:

NCAA Men's Team Championships
1. USC 75
2. UCLA 71
3. Stanford 59

NCAA Total Team Championships
1. UCLA 104
2. Stanford 96
3. USC 88

And just for good measure, here's the list of the top football title-holders in Division I (for the record, these are not NCAA titles and are consequently up for serious debate):

1. Alabama 12
2. USC 11
2. Notre Dame 11

Watch out

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Center Kristofer O'Dowd has been named to the watch list for the 2009 Rimington Trophy, given annually to the nation's top center.

Fun fact

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USC's staff has a combined 45 years of coaching in the NFL, more than any other program in the Pac-10. In fact, the conference's other nine coaching staffs average only 16.4 seasons of NFL experience.

Back to school

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So much for a summer break.

Only a week after the spring semester's finals week wrapped up, summer school at USC is beginning today, with 60 players enrolled in the accelerated semester for the next six weeks. About two-thirds of scholarship players take summer school to expedite their progress toward a degree so they can put themselves in position to graduate either a semester or full year early. Summer school has also allowed players like Jeff Byers and Garrett Green the opportunity to complete their degrees and even enroll in graduate programs before their eligibility runs out.

Congrats to the national champs!

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The USC men's tennis team beat Ohio State, 4-1, this afternoon to become 2009 NCAA National Champions. It's the program's 17th national title and first since 2002.

USC now has 110 national team titles, the second-most in the nation. The Trojan athletic program owns a stunning 14 national team championships this decade.

Breaking from tradition

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Musical chairs might be no more at the Notre Dame game each fall.

Each time the Irish have played at the Coliseum, 2,000 season-ticket holders have been moved from their prime midfield location on the press box side to accommodate a longstanding agreement with Notre Dame, which placed Irish fans in those priority 50-yard line seats and bumped the Trojan supporters elsewhere in the stadium. Likewise, USC would get several sections of premier seats when the Trojans and Irish met at Notre Dame Stadium.

But, according to discussions within the athletic department, that agreement could be a thing of the past as early as this season. Nearly all of the 2,000 priority season tickets that have been moved in the past will remain as is for every Notre Dame game at the Coliseum in even years, while USC fans will sit in the usual visiting team location in the end zone at Notre Dame Stadium in the odd years.

Doing away with the long-term yet archaic tradition of trading prime seats for the annual USC-Notre Dame game will keep loyal Trojan season-ticket holders in their usual midfield locations for every home game each fall, regardless of the opponent.

In total, USC receives 7,000 tickets for its biennial trip to Notre Dame Stadium, while the Irish get 12,000 tickets for the rivalry matchup at the Coliseum every other year.

Summer fun

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For all high school players -- including one for elementary and junior high kids -- the annual Win Forever Trojan football camps will begin in about two weeks and carry on through the end of June. All camps are hosted by the USC coaching staff and take place on Howard Jones field. Look at the dates and sign up now!

June 5 • Mario Danelo kicking camp
June 13 • Skill position camp
June 14 • Offensive/defensive lineman camp
June 20-21 • 7-on-7 camp
June 22 • Trojans in Training Kids Camp (3rd-8th graders)
June 24-25 • Rising stars camp (overnight camp)

Title time is now

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The USC men's tennis team faces Ohio State for the NCAA championship beginning at noon today, so follow along here with live stats and streaming video from the match.

For a good read

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Here's a cool "Business Week" article written by USC professor and world-renowned author Warren Bennis, who mentions Coach Carroll in discussing the power of optimism in successful leadership. Thanks to reader Rob Asghar for sending the link.

Top dog

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Taylor Mays is the No. 1 "Workout Warrior" according to ESPN.com (thanks to reader Greg Hodge for passing the link along).

Only a week away

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The seven-city 2009 Coaches Tour kicks off next week, so check the schedule and sign up now for the stop nearest you! Here are the dates and locations of the Coaches Tour (and here's more info):

Wednesday, May 27 • Irvine
Friday, May 29 • Indian Wells
Monday, June 1 • Pasadena
Thursday, June 4 • Bay Area (Burlingame)
Monday, June 8 • San Diego
Wednesday, June 10 • Manhattan Beach
Thursday, June 11 • Westlake Village

Not suited for a weak stomach

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We mentioned this briefly last Wednesday, but here's full video and an interview surrounding Reggie Bush's insane ride in a stunt plane during the Red Bull Air Races last week in San Diego:

Aiming for the title

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The eighth-seeded USC men's tennis team continued it surprising run in the NCAA tournament by beating No. 12 Texas, 4-1, today in the national semifinals, which puts the Trojans in the NCAA championship match against No. 3 Ohio State on Tuesday afternoon in College Station, Texas.

The Trojans and Buckeyes will face off beginning at noon (Pacific) Tuesday, and you can watch video and see live stats from the match for free here on NCAA.com.

Project Trojan: Episode 2

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Episode 2 of the popular "Project Trojan: Making of the 2009 USC Football Team" has been posted online, so check out this sweet 10-minute feature that looks at the newest coaches and examines the walk-on experience.

The episode is only for paying All-Access members (sign up now for $9.95/month), but check out this teaser video about the latest installment in the "Project Trojan" series:



The third of six "Project Trojan" episodes will be released in two weeks, on June 1.

Quiet on the homefront

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The offseason appears to be bottoming out at its dullest point right now.

Heritage Hall is an abyss of activity today and for much of the next few weeks for a multitude of reasons. The spring semester ended last week and summer school doesn't start until Wednesday, the summer strength and conditioning session begins in three weeks and the coaches are out on the road recruiting during the third quarter of the spring evaluation period. It all adds up to the quietest days of the year -- by far -- at the headquarters of the Trojan football machine.

Don't believe it until you see it? Well, we've got you covered. Here are some pictures from a painfully calm Heritage Hall this morning:

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The weight room is quieter than quiet today, since the offseason strength and conditioning program doesn't get rolling until June 8.

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The football locker room in Heritage Hall couldn't be more tranquil today with players away from workouts and school at the start of this week.

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The student-athlete academic services office is empty as ever today as the spring semester ended last week and summer school doesn't start until Wednesday.

Return to form

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After being the site of a satellite graduation ceremony on Friday, Howard Jones field is back to its old self today -- with nary a major difference. Only some painted lines for the aisles and a little trampled grass where the 2,500 seats sat for the last week remain from the graduation festivities on the legendary practice field.

Getting close to a degree

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Following the 14 players who were honored Friday at commencement for graduating either last fall or this spring, a whopping 15 more are on track to earn their diplomas by the end of this coming fall semester. Check out the list of 15 players (including two master's candidates) who most likely will be college graduates by the end of the football season:

- Offensive lineman Charles Brown
- Linebacker Luthur Brown
- Offensive lineman Jeff Byers (Master's degree)
- Kicker Jordon Congdon
- Linebacker Nick Garratt
- Offensive lineman Steve Gatena (Master's degree)
- Fullback Adam Goodman
- Safety Will Harris
- Cornerback Justin Hart
- Offensive lineman Nick Howell
- Linebacker Michael Morgan
- Offensive lineman Garrett Nolan
- Defensive lineman Averell Spicer
- Cornerback Kevin Thomas
- Wide receiver Damian Williams

A tweet style of Q&A

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Coach Carroll did a "Twitterview" with the official Lakers Twitter page on Tuesday before Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals series against Houston, and you can see the amusing back-and-forth results in this post from the Lakers blog.

Worth a listen

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Here's the audio file of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's entertaining commencement address on Friday at USC.

USC's newest college graduates

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Here are some pictures from the graduation festivities today at USC:

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Quarterback Mark Sanchez, the fifth pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, poses for a picture with his diploma from the Annenberg School for Communication during a satellite commencement ceremony this morning.

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Defensive lineman Fili Moala, now a rookie on the Indianapolis Colts, shows his new sociology degree during this morning's commencement ceremonies.

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Defensive backs Kevin Thomas and Kevin Ellison (who's in between rookie minicamps for the San Diego Chargers) take part in this morning's commencement ceremonies. Thomas is on track to graduate in the fall, while Ellison graduated in fall 2008.

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Quarterback/wide receiver Garrett Green is all smiles during the commencement ceremony for the Marshall School of Business in the Galen Center this afternoon. After earning his undergraduate degree this spring, Green will enroll in graduate school in August and play his final season for the Trojans this fall.

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Punter Greg Woidneck poses for a picture during the business school's graduation ceremony in the Galen Center this afternoon.

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Defensive end Gerald Washington, who was signed as a free agent by the Buffalo Bills, participates in today's graduation ceremonies at USC. Washington earned a degree in sociology.

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Defensive end Andrew Weiss, who got a degree in business administration, takes part in the commencement ceremonies today on campus.

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The Galen Center was the site of the satellite commencement ceremony for the Marshall School of Business on Friday. Three former or current players were among the nearly 1,000 graduates from the business school today.

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A boy wears a Mark Sanchez Jets jersey during today's graduation ceremonies on USC's campus. Sanchez had fans everywhere on this day, as the attendees of the commencement for the Annenberg School for Communication broke out in raucous applause when Sanchez's name was called and he walked across the stage to pick up his diploma.

Congrats all around

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Besides the 14 football players earning degrees during today's commencement ceremonies, another member of the Trojan football family is also taking home a diploma.

Sabra Ruel, the daughter of offensive line coach Pat Ruel, earned her bachelor's degree from the USC School of Cinematic Arts today.

Pictures from commencement

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Check out some photos from this morning's main commencement ceremony in Alumni Park on USC's campus:

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Campus feels like a game day today as thousands of people fill the parks and walkways to celebrate USC's 126th commencement.

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The graduates file into Alumni Park at the start of the commencement ceremony.

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Around 4,500 graduates sit in Alumni Park during the main commencement ceremony.

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The newly conferred college graduates sing the USC Fight Song and wave their victory signs at the conclusion of the main graduation ceremony.

Hearing from the Governator

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Who said commencement addresses had to be dull and boring?

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger delivered a highly entertaining, very comedic speech during USC's main commencement ceremony this morning, earning several rounds of rousing cheers from the tens of thousands of people in attendance.

"I haven't heard applause like that since I decided to stop acting," Schwarzenegger joked to the crowd of 4,500 graduates and their friends and families in Alumni Park, one of the many times he elicited hearty laughter.

After being conferred with an honorary doctorate degree from President Steven B. Sample, California's 38th governor gave a crowd-pleasing speech that was more like a coach's halftime pep talk than a usually monotonous commencement address.

"I stand her now ... as a proud member of the Trojan Family," Schwarzenegger, whose daughter just completed her freshman year at USC, said at the beginning of his speech. "And now that I'm a doctor I can go back to Sacramento and maybe now the legislature will listen to me."

Schwarzenegger concluded his address with some words of advice -- half-jokingly entitled "Dr. Schwarzenegger's Six Rules of Success." They are, in order: Trust yourself; break the rules; don't be afraid to fail; don't listen to the naysayers; work your butt off; and give something back.

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Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (black robe with a white sash) delivers a highly entertaining commencement address during this morning's graduation ceremonies at USC.

In his own words

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Coach Carroll's thoughts on the 14 players being honored for earning their college degrees at today's commencement ceremonies:

"We're all extremely proud of the dedication and determination of these guys so they could earn their degrees and achieve this huge milestone in their lives," Carroll said. "It shows that they don't just compete on the field but in the classroom as well. It's an extraordinary statement for themselves personally and for this program as a whole."

Congratulations

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Here's a list of the 14 Trojan football players who are being honored during today's commencement ceremonies for earning their diplomas either last fall or this spring:

- Safety Kevin Ellison - Economics (graduated fall 2008)
- Linebacker Clay Matthews - International relations (graduated fall 2008)
- Defensive back Josh Pinkard - Political science (graduated fall 2008)
- Defensive end Gerald Washington - Sociology (graduated fall 2008)
- Kicker David Buehler - Public policy, management and planning
- Wideout/quarterback Garrett Green - Real estate development and business administration
- Cornerback Cary Harris - Health promotion and disease prevention
- Fullback Matt Hillier - Political science
- Cornerback Matt Jordan - Communication
- Tight end Jimmy Miller - Sociology
- Defensive tackle Fili Moala - Sociology
- Quarterback Mark Sanchez - Communication
- Defensive end Andrew Weiss - Business administration
- Punter Greg Woidneck - Business administration

A proud time to be a Trojan

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The pinnacle of all pinnacles at USC has come -- welcome to graduation day.

With pride swelling and goose bumps tingling, the energy, excitement and anticipation on campus today is at least equivalent to -- if not more than -- a game day in the fall. Cardinal-and-gold flowers garnish the grounds, 4,500 graduates don matching gowns and overjoyed family and friends -- Trojan fans in their own right -- fill the campus with a sweet aura of achievement and delight.

And it all adds up to one heck of a great day to be a Trojan.

Graduates and their families and friends are pouring onto campus now, as the 126th annual commencement will begin with a processional in less than an hour before the main ceremony, featuring speaker Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, starts at 9 a.m. Thirty-three satellite graduation ceremonies for the university's various schools and colleges follow throughout the day. You can watch the main ceremony through a live internet stream here.

We'll be updating the Blog throughout the day as we bring you pictures of the festivities, including some of the 14 football players being honored today for earning their undergraduate college degrees.

Closing in on the big day

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The USC campus undergoes final preparations for Friday's main commencement ceremony at 8:30 a.m. in Alumni Park. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will give the commencement address sometime after 9 a.m. from this spot, overlooking 8,000 degree candidates, tens of thousands of friends and family members in the park and thousands more online through a live stream of the festivities.

Rest in peace

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The mother of defensive line coach Jethro Franklin passed away on Sunday. Please join in sending the Trojan Family's sincerest condolences to Franklin and his six siblings as they mourn this heartbreaking loss.

A memorial service will be on Tuesday in Dallas.

Ahead of the class

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We received a question from loyal RipsIt reader Paul Blakely, who asks if players who are graduating Friday will have to take units in the fall so they can play next season.

The graduating players with remaining eligibility (this year, that's Garrett Green and Josh Pinkard) have two options. Some enroll in graduate school and begin working on a master's degree (which Jeff Byers did two years ago and Green plans on doing this fall), while others take a just a few elective undergrad units in the fall before leaving for the NFL after the season (ahem, like Matt Leinart and the notorious two-unit ballroom dancing class in 2005).

But the bottom line is that regardless of whether a player has a diploma or not, he's still a student-athlete and is required to fulfill the first part of that label if he wishes to remain eligible to play.

On the trail

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The football headquarters in Heritage Hall remains a ghost town as the assistant coaches are on the road recruiting. They're visiting high schools across the state and around the country as the month-long spring evaluation period nears its midpoint.

Walking the walk

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Graduation is less than 24 hours away, with commencement ceremonies kicking off at 8:30 a.m. Friday. Ten players are scheduled to earn their diplomas tomorrow, with four more eligible to take part in the day's festivities because they graduated last fall.

For those of you not planning on being a part of the 40,000 people in attendance on graduation day, you can watch a live stream of the main commencement ceremony online starting at 8:30 a.m.

Here's a list of the 14 graduating players who will be honored Friday, along with their majors:

- Safety Kevin Ellison - Economics (graduated fall 2008)
- Linebacker Clay Matthews - International relations (graduated fall 2008)
- Defensive back Josh Pinkard - Political science (graduated fall 2008)
- Defensive end Gerald Washington - Sociology (graduated fall 2008)
- Kicker David Buehler - Public policy, management and planning
- Wideout/quarterback Garrett Green - Real estate development and business administration
- Cornerback Cary Harris - Health promotion and disease prevention
- Fullback Matt Hillier - Political science
- Cornerback Matt Jordan - Communication
- Tight end Jimmy Miller - Sociology
- Defensive tackle Fili Moala - Sociology
- Quarterback Mark Sanchez - Communication
- Defensive end Andrew Weiss - Business administration
- Punter Greg Woidneck - Business administration

Cover star

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Freshman quarterback Matt Barkley is the center athlete on the cover of this week's edition of Sports Illustrated for Kids, which looks at "20 under 20," a list of teenagers who are "the next generation of superstar athletes."

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In shape

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You probably never expected a list like this, but Coach Carroll has been named one of the top five fittest college football coaches, thanks to the Orlando Sentinel.

Touching lives

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USC alum and Houston Texans first-round draft pick Brian Cushing took part in a touching moment this morning when he helped fulfill the dreams of a boy with cerebral palsy on "The Early Show" on CBS. Watch it here.

Midday break

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It's time for a lunch break in the USC football office.

Scratch that -- it's time for a workout break.

"Let's go boys, we've got to work out!" a giddy Coach Carroll yelled out while walking around the office just now. "How can we be in great shape if we don't work out? Practice is everything!"

As is the norm, the staffers spend their lunches working out or playing basketball, forsaking a meal to instead get their hearts pumping.

Beautification

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The USC campus continues to get spruced up for this week's commencement ceremonies, as workers prepare for roughly 40,000 people to attend various graduation events on Friday. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will give the commencement address.

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Cardinal and gold flowers adorn Alumni Park, where the main commencement ceremony will take place Friday morning.

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Thousands of folding white chairs have been placed in Alumni Park in preparation for USC's 126th commencement on Friday.

Checking in from the road

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Director of football operations Matt Capurro has sent in a dispatch from Columbus, Ohio, where he has been for the last 24 hours to finalize the logistics for USC's trip to play Ohio State in September. Capurro is now boarding a plane headed for South Bend, Ind., to work out arrangements for the Notre Dame game in October.

"It's been a great trip, the people here were very helpful," Capurro said as he traveled to the Columbus airport en route to South Bend. "I wore my SC gear proud on their campus and got a lot of bad looks. Their fans are already jacked up and looking for revenge."

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Photo of Ohio Stadium courtesy of director of football operations Matt Capurro, who is in Columbus finalizing logistics for USC's trip there in September.

Song of the day

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Today's the last day of finals week at USC, so Coach Carroll's song of the day is a shoutout to all the students finishing up school and beginning summer today. Here's "School Is Out" by Gary U.S. Bonds:

High-tech image

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We posted some photos of Howard Jones field on Tuesday, but here's one that takes the cake. It's a high dynamic range image, which is created by taking three separate pictures with different exposures and then splicing them together to produce a larger range of colors and values. It's courtesy of USC student Steve White, and you can click on the image to see it bigger:

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Photo courtesy of Steve White

Joy ride

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Reggie Bush made SportsCenter's Top 10 plays on Tuesday night for his high-flying antics.

But this time, he was off the football field.

Bush went up in a stunt plane Tuesday as part of the Red Bull Air Race week in San Diego, and his hilarious trip was caught on tape. Check it out:

Where amazing happens

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Coach Carroll was on celebrity row at the Laker game on Tuesday night, sitting courtside just a few feet from the bench.

And he's still relishing the experience and the win.

"It was a complete blast," a smiling Carroll said this morning. "The crowd was really cooking, there were big plays everywhere and Kobe was awesome. They were doing basically everything right -- it felt like the Orange Bowl for us a few years ago."

Carroll, who went to the game with his son Nate and got to shake Kobe's hand after the 118-78 victory, is heaping praises on Lakers coach Phil Jackson for his performance during the game.

"That game was a prime example of extraordinary coaching," Carroll said. "They totally took the Rockets apart. It was so clear what they were doing -- pounding the ball in to [Pau] Gasol, getting the Rockets in foul trouble early. You could see the plan, it was so clear. And afterward, even [Rockets coach Rick] Adelman said, 'I don't know what to do, they found our weakness.' All that credit goes to Phil and his staff."

Double the fun

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Take a closer look at two-sport athlete Jordan Cameron in the latest video feature from USCRipsIt, produced and edited by Mark Haas:

Spring bloomers

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Linebacker Chris Galippo, defensive back Josh Pinkard and tailback Curtis McNeal made Rivals.com's All-Spring Team.

Change up

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Howard Jones field just isn't the same this week.

The legendary practice field is being transformed into a location for a satellite graduation ceremony this Friday, with a 75-yard-long tent and more than 2,500 seats temporarily covering the turf for a satellite commencement ceremony for the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

Come Saturday, though, the field will be back to normal -- with very few aftereffects of the unusual week that was.

"It'll get trampled down and a little dried out, but it'll be alright," athletic fields supervisor Eric Warren said this afternoon while coordinating the placement of the folding chairs where the 30-yard line usually crosses the field.

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Howard Jones field is the site of a satellite graduation ceremony for the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences this Friday.

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Workers begin placing the more than 2,500 folding chairs underneath the massive white tent on Howard Jones field this afternoon.

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Though the iconic practice field has been transformed into a graduation ceremony location, Howard Jones field hasn't been stripped of all its football characteristics, as the goalposts and faded yard lines are still present.

School's (almost) out for the summer

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It's finish time at USC, as finals week wraps up Wednesday. All players are completing their remaining exams today and tomorrow before summer officially begins.

Graduation ceremonies will be all day Friday, with 10 Trojans set to earn their diplomas.

Taking an advance

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Exactly four months before the USC-Ohio State game, director of football operations Matt Capurro is taking care of the prep work.

Capurro left L.A. today for a three-day "advance trip" to Columbus, Ohio and South Bend, Ind., to prepare the way for the Trojans' road games this fall to play Ohio State and Notre Dame. Capurro will spend tonight and Wednesday setting up the team's hotel arrangements, visiting Ohio Stadium and working out other logistics in Columbus before spending Thursday in South Bend to finalize hotel and transportation issues for the Trojans' trip to play the Irish in mid-October.

Capurro's trip is routine for a staffer in preparation of out-of-conference road games. Last May, previous director of football operations Dennis Slutak and executive assistant Morgon Fraser visited Charlottesville, Va., to figure out the logistics of the Trojans' trip to play the Cavaliers last August.

Camp for kids

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Limited spots remain for the Trojan Football Summer Camps in June, so sign up now! All of the camps are conducted by the USC coaching staff on Howard Jones field:

June 5 • Mario Danelo kicking camp
June 13 • Skill position camp
June 14 • Offensive/defensive lineman camp
June 20-21 • 7-on-7 camp
June 22 • Trojans in Training Kids Camp (3rd-8th graders)
June 24-25 • Rising stars camp (overnight camp)

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Top 10

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Check out this neat video that looks at the Top 10 Trojans currently in the NFL, from NFL.com.

Tour time

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The 2009 Coaches Tour, featuring the entertaining antics of Coach Carroll and men's basketball coach Tim Floyd, kicks off in less than three weeks. The tour will make seven stops around California though mid-June, so get more info here. You can also sign up online here.

Here are the dates and locations of the 2009 Coaches Tour:

Wednesday, May 27 • Irvine
Friday, May 29 • Indian Wells
Monday, June 1 • Pasadena
Thursday, June 4 • Bay Area (Burlingame)
Monday, June 8 • San Diego
Wednesday, June 10 • Manhattan Beach
Thursday, June 11 • Westlake Village

A unique highlight package

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Check out this sweet, almost indescribable video piece that looks back at the 2002-06 seasons for USC football.

Stuck at home

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The spring evaluation period continues in earnest this week as coaches are flying from high school to high school on the recruiting trail.

Assistant coaches, that is.

Coach Carroll, meanwhile, is grounded in L.A. this month, restricted by a now two-year-old NCAA rule that limits a head coach's recruiting capabilities during the springtime.

And Carroll's ire hasn't subsided much since the regulation was passed in early 2008.

"It's a horrible rule," Carroll said.

But there is hope. Pac-10 coaches voted last week to explore changing the regulation back to the way it was, when head coaches could visit high schools throughout the April 15 through May 31 evaluation period.

In the meantime, Carroll will keep busy in Southern California as he waits out the suddenly more tortuous offseason.

"I've got to find things to do," Carroll said with a smile. "It's tough for me to sit around and do nothing for a month."

Big D

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Coach Carroll spent much of the morning going through film, once again, from the end-of-spring scrimmage two weeks ago, and his after-the-fact review has come down to three things.

Defense, defense, defense.

"The defense really stood out," said Carroll, who had last seen the tape 10 days ago. "It was probably their best day all spring. They gave up next to nothing on the ground and had a great day on pass coverage too."

Carroll was especially impressed with the play from the defensive line and linebackers.

"The front seven played so well," he said. "Taylor [Mays] had a ton of big hits and did a lot of good stuff. And we moved Malcolm [Smith] to outside backer and he played really well there."

Just how noteworthy was the defense? Even when Carroll talked about the offense's performance from the scrimmage, he immediately turned to discussing the defense.

"The offense really struggled because there was so much heat on the quarterback from the whole front defensive line," he said. "Everson [Griffen] and Averell [Spicer] were really big factors."

Surfing USA

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It's a little old, but here's an awesome video from Coach Carroll's visit with the U.S. Junior National Surf Team back in February:

Hard at work

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On a calm morning in the football office, Coach Carroll sits back and watches film from the end-of-spring scrimmage. Football isn't back in session for almost three months, but it's apparently always a good time to look at tape.

Playing 18

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The 41st annual Trojan Football Alumni Club Golf Classic is set for Friday, May 22 in Industry Hills. Limited spots remain, so sign up now for either the golf tournament or the post-golf awards gala.

Tough weekend

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The weekend wasn't very kind to Trojan athletics.

Both the men's volleyball team and women's water polo team lost in their respective NCAA championship matches in heart-breaking fashion, the men falling in the fifth and final set to UC Irvine on Saturday and the women dropping a 5-4 decision to UCLA on Sunday.

Then, the No. 7-seeded Women of Troy tennis team saw its 13-match win streak come to an end in the second round of the NCAA tournament, getting upset 4-3 by Washington at Marks Tennis Stadium on Sunday.

It wasn't all bad news for USC sports this weekend, though. The No. 8 men's tennis team swept Minnesota at home on Saturday to advance to the Round of 16 on Friday in College Station, Texas.

Heading into the Hall

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Twenty-two Trojan legends will be honored as the newest inductees into the USC Athletic Hall of Fame during a black-tie ceremony on Saturday night at the Galen Center. Among the newest members are Trojan football heroes John Robinson, Junior Seau and Rodney Peete.

Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Allen will emcee the biennial gala, with Coach Carroll and Ronnie Lott scheduled to be among the 400-plus guests.

Listen in

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Here's the audio from Coach Carroll's interview with Kirk Herbstreit and Chris Spielman on Columbus, Ohio's 97.1-FM "The Fan" on Thursday.

Song of the day

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Coach Carroll's song of the day today is "What It's Like" by Everlast:

Going for the crown

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The No. 1-ranked USC women's water polo team heads to Maryland this weekend to compete in the NCAA Championships. The Women of Troy face eighth-seeded Cal Lutheran today at 2 p.m., with the semifinals set for Saturday and the title game on Sunday at 4 p.m.

Diploma time

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USC's 126th annual commencement ceremonies will take place on campus one week from today, and the Trojan football team will be well-represented.

Ten players are graduating this spring, with many of them scheduled to participate in next Friday's commencement ceremonies. Additionally, four players graduated last fall and 15 more are on track to earn their diplomas by December, giving the football team 29 graduates in a one-year span.

Here's a list of the 10 Trojans who are receiving their college diplomas next week:

- Kicker David Buehler
- Wideout/quarterback Garrett Green
- Cornerback Cary Harris
- Fullback Matt Hillier
- Cornerback Matt Jordan
- Tight end Jimmy Miller
- Defensive tackle Fili Moala
- Quarterback Mark Sanchez
- Defensive end Andrew Weiss
- Punter Greg Woidneck

The main commencement ceremony starts at 8:30 a.m. next Friday, with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger giving the commencement address. 

Watching over

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The calm offseason couldn't be calmer for those behind the scenes in the USC football office.

For receptionist Irene Puentes, whose desk is the greeting point for all who enter the football headquarters in Heritage Hall, work is as boring as can be during the long days after Spring Practice ends and before Fall Camp opens in August.

But there is one caveat, one saving grace in the numbing stillness of the offseason.

"It's quiet, but realistically, nobody should or could be bored with Coach Carroll here," Puentes said with a chuckle.

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USC football receptionist Irene Puentes sits in the nearly vacant USC football office, though she says it's hard to be bored with Coach Carroll running the show.

Onward to the title bout

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The Cinderella story continues.

The USC men's volleyball team, presumed finished after losing four of six matches to end the regular season, has now advanced to the NCAA title game after a 3-1 win over defending national champion Penn State on Thursday night in Provo, Utah.

Now, top-ranked UC Irvine stands between the Trojans and their first NCAA crown since 1990, and the two conference foes will battle for the title on Saturday at 4 p.m. on ESPN2 and ESPN360.com.

Meet the press

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Coach Carroll tapes an interview with ESPN's Wendi Nix in Heritage Hall's Varsity Lounge this afternoon for a SportsCenter feature on former USC assistant and current Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin.

On the radio

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Coach Carroll will appear on a radio interview with Kirk Herbstreit and Chris Spielman around 2 p.m. on 97.1-FM in Columbus, Ohio. Listen live online here.

Getting ready to go

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Fall Camp 2009 opens three months from today, and one part of the Trojan football machine is already preparing for the future.

With Spring Practice duties complete, the USC equipment staff is deep into camp and season prep as they clean out the locker room and ready the pads, cleats, helmets, gloves and everything else for the start of preseason practices in 92 days.

"We're getting ready for camp," assistant football equipment coordinator Greg Allen said, "24-7."

National academic prestige

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Besides faring well in the Pac-10 conference rankings in terms of APR scores this year, USC also comes out nicely in the national picture. If you re-sort the final AP Top 25 rankings by APR score, the Trojans are slotted eighth. Here's the final AP poll following the 2008 season, re-ranked according to the latest APR scores, with their actual final AP ranking in parenthesis:

1. Penn State: 976 (8)
1. Georgia: 976 (13)
3. Ohio State: 968 (9)
4. Boise State: 966 (11)
5. Florida: 963 (1)
6. TCU: 962 (7)
7. Georgia Tech: 957 (22)
8. USC: 956 (3)
9. Alabama: 955 (6)
10. Utah: 954 (2)
11. Oklahoma: 952 (5)
12. Missouri: 951 (19)
13. Cincinnati: 947 (17)
14. Iowa: 946 (20)
15. Brigham Young: 942 (25)
16. West Virginia: 939 (23)
16. Oklahoma State: 939 (16)
16. Texas: 939 (4)
19. Oregon: 935 (10)
19. Texas Tech: 935 (10)
21. Virginia Tech: 932 (15)
21. Florida State: 932 (21)
23. Michigan State: 931 (24)
24. Oregon State: 930 (18)
25. Mississippi: 910 (14)

Touring the campus

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Now that it's the offseason, there's time to leave the football field and film room and see what life is like elsewhere.

So take a quick video tour of USC's beautiful campus in the latest video feature from USCRipsIt, produced and edited by Mark Haas, with special thanks going out to tour guide Peter Simones:

Scoring well in the classroom

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The NCAA released the latest Academic Progress Rate scores on Wednesday, and the USC football team came in with a 956 on the 1,000-point scale, well above the 941 national average for football teams.

The Trojans finished third in the Pac-10's ranking of APR scores for the second straight year. Check out the conference standings based on APR:

1. Stanford: 984
2. California: 970
3. USC: 956
4. Washington: 954
5. UCLA: 948
6. Arizona State: 945
7. Oregon: 935
8. Oregon State: 930
9. Arizona: 924
10. Washington State: 918

The APR, now in its fifth year, is a score, based on the previous four academic years, that calculates player retention, eligibility and progress toward graduation.

On the road

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Let the fun begin.

The coaches hit the recruiting trail today to open the May evaluation period, commencing a four-week stretch of visiting high schools to look at potential members of the upcoming freshmen classes. Minus weekends, the staffers will be spread out across the country every day for the rest of the month as they evaluate high school prospects and visit with their coaches.

Frequent flier miles, rental car fees and hotel bills will rack up over the next month, but it's all worth it come Signing Day each February.

Study buddies

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The weight room is empty, the training room is quiet and the locker room is vacant.

That can only mean one thing -- it's finals week at USC.

With football a secondary priority right now, players are spending more time studying their textbooks instead of the playbook as the university begins final exams today. The Student-Athlete Academic Services headquarters in the basement of Heritage Hall is the only bustling part of the building today -- and it will remain that way for the next week.

In the desert

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Coach Carroll is currently in the Phoenix area for the Pac-10's annual meeting of athletic directors and coaches. The two-day event concludes this afternoon.

Giving back

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USC student-athletes did more than 2,100 hours of community service over the last year, the athletic department announced Tuesday night during a ceremony prior to the Trojan baseball game.

Big Byrd

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Tight end Dominique Byrd, who was a mainstay on USC's 2004 and 2005 teams, was signed to a one-year contract by the Arizona Cardinals on Tuesday. He sat out of football in 2008 after two seasons with the St. Louis Rams.

For a good read

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Check out this cool feature on All-American safety Taylor Mays, from ESPN.com.

Volunteer effort

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The summer strength and conditioning program kicks off June 8, which gives the players more than a month to conduct voluntary workouts. They're also known as "discretionary workouts," as the strength and conditioning staff cannot oversee the sessions.

And some players aren't waiting around, as they have already hit the weights this morning to begin the more than five-week period of voluntary workouts.

Or, as offensive lineman Jeff Byers prefers to call it, he and his teammates are "discretionarily working out."

A slow Monday

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Heritage Hall is essentially dormant today as coaches are enjoying a four-day weekend and players are in the midst of USC's study days. The coaching staff will begin the month-long recruiting period by hitting the road on Wednesday, the same day players will commence finals before wrapping up the semester May 13. 

Project Trojan: Episode 1

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The first episode of "Project Trojan: Making of the 2009 USC Football Team" is here, and you don't want to miss this awesome debut. Go inside the program and see the importance of Spring Practice in these next eight minutes:



The next episode of "Project Trojan" will be posted in two weeks, and it will be available only to All-Access members. Sign up now for All-Access on USCTrojans.com.

For a good read

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Check out this interesting article on Mark Sanchez going into the crucible of Jets fans' opinions in New York, from today's L.A. Times.

Surviving a scare

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Fortunately, David Buehler is safe and sound.

The rookie kicker found himself in the midst of a horrifying building collapse Saturday during Dallas Cowboys' rookie minicamp in Irving, Texas, where a violent storm ripped through the team's indoor practice facility and injured dozens. Buehler escaped from the facility before it fell, but not without some consequences.

"I got a bit banged up but I'll be alright," Buehler said upon returning to Southern California on Sunday night.

He has three stitches in his right knee, a concussion and a few other bumps and bruises, but Buehler said he'll be good to go for the next Cowboys minicamp in two weeks.

"I should be fine by then," he said.

Read Buehler's initial comments after the collapse and check out some surreal photos of the collapsed practice facility, from the Dallas Morning News.

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Kicker David Buehler made it out of the Cowboys' practice facility collapse with a concussion and some other minor injuries.

Happy weekend

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It was an historic weekend for the USC athletic department.

First, both the men's and women's track and field teams beat UCLA in the dual meet on Saturday, an unprecedented feat in the 26-year history of the rivalry event.

Through that sweep and the women's rowing team's victory against the Bruins this weekend, USC won the Lexus Gauntlet for the second consecutive year and fifth time in the trophy's eight-year history.

And then on Saturday night, the USC men's volleyball team upset No. 2-ranked Pepperdine in the MPSF championship match to capture the conference title and earn a berth in the NCAA Final Four set for this weekend in Provo, Utah. The Trojans haven't appeared in the Final Four since 1991.

Schedule coming into clarity

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The times and TV arrangements for five more games on the 2009 schedule were announced today, giving the Trojans seven appearances on ABC/ESPN and one on NBC so far for 2009. The times and television arrangements for the four yet-to-be-determined games will be announced June 1. All times are Pacific:

Date • Opponent • Time • TV 
Sept. 5 • San Jose State • TBA • TBA
Sept. 12 • at Ohio State • 5 p.m. • ESPN
Sept. 19 • at Washington • 12:30 p.m. • ABC
Sept. 26 • Washington State • TBA • TBA
Oct. 3 • at California • 5 p.m. • ABC
Oct. 17 • at Notre Dame • 12:30 p.m. • NBC
Oct. 24 • Oregon State • 5 p.m. • ABC/ESPN (Parents' Weekend)
Oct. 31 • at Oregon • 5 p.m. • ABC/ESPN
Nov. 7 • at Arizona State • 5 p.m. • ABC/ESPN
Nov. 14 • Stanford • TBA • TBA (Homecoming)
Nov. 28 • UCLA • TBA • TBA
Dec. 5 • Arizona • 12:30 p.m. • ABC

Cooper named women's basketball coach

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Los Angeles Sparks head coach and former Los Angeles Lakers great Michael Cooper has been named head coach of the USC women's basketball team, USC athletic director Mike Garrett announced today.

Cooper's tenure at USC will be effective at the conclusion of the Sparks' season in late September or early October. In the meantime, Ervin Monier, a long-time assistant, will oversee the program as associate head coach.        

"We are absolutely thrilled to hire a coach of Michael Cooper's caliber," Garrett said in a release. "This is an exciting time for Women of Troy basketball. Between Michael's coaching experience and his playing background, he brings so much to the table. He has coached and played at the highest level and with the greatest players in the world. He'll be an excellent in-game coach, he'll do a great job preparing his teams and he'll wow the recruits."

Cooper, who has a nine-year history as the Sparks' head coach, will be making his debut in college coaching at USC.

"I'm very honored to have this opportunity to coach at a great university with such a rich tradition in women's basketball," Cooper said. "My philosophy has always been about winning championships, and at USC we want to do that as well as graduate our players and make sure they enjoy their basketball experience. I'm looking forward to working in a collegiate atmosphere and all that comes with it.
        
"But for the next few months, it's important to understand that my focus and commitment will be with the Los Angeles Sparks and winning a championship. I'm excited about the Sparks' upcoming season and I am totally devoted to them right now. After that, I'll switch gears and be equally excited about USC."

For a good read

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Check out this interesting feature on Rey Maualuga and his journey to the NFL, from the L.A. Times.

A good hair day

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Taylor Mays is sporting a new 'do.

And the reason for the cut will make you laugh.

Mays, who's the centerpiece of the new 2009 schedule poster, got his jersey number shaved into the side of his head this week. And why would he get this new hairstyle, especially when it's the offseason?

For one, he said he was bored with his old cut, and secondly, he's going to a sorority date event tonight and is trying to look his best -- and catch a few eyes.

"I want all the girls to know who No. 2 is on the new poster," Mays joked.

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Safety Taylor Mays got his jersey number buzzed into the side of his head this week so "all the girls [will] know who No. 2 is on the new poster."

Watch it live

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Saturday's USC-UCLA dual meet on Cromwell Field will be streamed live for free on USCTrojans.com. The event starts at 11 a.m. and will go until about 4 p.m., so tune in!

'Project Trojan'... Coming soon!

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In another exclusive behind-the-scenes feature from USCRipsIt and USCTrojans.com, we bring you "Project Trojan: Making of the 2009 USC Football Team," a series that brings you inside the development of the Trojans during Spring Practice 2009:



"Project Trojan" captures what it takes to make and play for one of the premiere college football teams in the country. Every other week, viewers will watch as players go through drills, competition, meetings and fun, while striving to prove they have what it takes to be a valuable part of the 2009 USC Football Team.

The first of six shows will air on Monday for FREE on USCTrojans.com. The remaining five shows, which will be released every other week, will be for All-Access members only. If you're not an All-Access member, sign up now!

In the fall, "Project Trojan" will pick up again with four more episodes during fall football camp to complete the "project" of building the 2009 team.

Song of the day

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Coach Carroll's song of the day today is "Catch a Wave" by the Beach Boys:

Making his Mark

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Today marks the first day for Mark Sanchez at the Jets minicamp, and check out this ESPN report that sings the quarterback's praises after one week in New York:

In other Trojan sports news

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The No. 4-ranked USC men's volleyball team upset No. 1 UC Irvine in a 3-0 sweep in the semifinals of the conference tournament on Thursday, pushing the Trojans into the finals against No. 2 Pepperdine on Saturday at 7 p.m. in Irvine.

The winner of the title match will earn an automatic bid into the four-team NCAA tournament May 7 and 9 at BYU. A four-time NCAA champion, USC last appeared in the Final Four in 1991.

Welcome to Green Bay

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USC alum Clay Matthews and fellow Packers first-round draft pick B.J. Raji hold up their new jerseys during Thursday's introductory press conference in Green Bay. [Photo courtesy of the Green Bay Packers]

Come together right now

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Coaches are currently in a staff meeting in the War Room to review the dos and don'ts of the May recruiting period, which will commence Wednesday for the USC coaches. This morning's meeting is the last time the staff will be together for more than four weeks, as the coaches will hit the recruiting trail next week and shift the evaluation process into fifth gear for all of May.