June 2009 Archives

Out for the summer

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Coaches just broke from their afternoon staff meeting in triumphant joy.

It's now summer break.

They're now off for all of July and don't have to report back until a staff meeting until Aug. 5, giving them much-deserved time to spend with their families and go on vacation. They might sprinkle in a few in-office days during the next month, but for the most part, they're good as gone until the first week of August.

"It's been a long haul, these 11 months," Coach Carroll told his assistants today. "Let's enjoy this time off. We've got to get mentally right and charged up."

Getting it done early

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The offensive and defensive playbooks for Fall Camp have been completed, printed and are ready to go for the start of training camp on Aug. 7.

Set your TiVo

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USC alum Keyshawn Johnson's "Tackling Design" TV show on A&E will premiere July 11 at 12 noon, so learn more about it on the show's website.

A legend passing through Heritage

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Legendary NFL quarterback Randall Cunningham stopped by the USC football office this afternoon to say hi to the Trojan coaching staff.

Cunningham, the quarterback, and Coach Carroll, a longtime assistant, have a history of facing each other in the NFL along with at the college level, when Cunningham's UNLV team beat Carroll's Pacific squad, 28-7, in 1983.

"He hurdled a guy who was standing straight up in that game," Carroll said with disbelief, even 26 years after the fact. "Wow."

Sharing their beliefs

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Coaches spent more than two hours this morning discussing the team's root philosophies and values during their final staff meeting before a month-long vacation period, with Coach Carroll deconstructing his belief systems for the program in typically empowering fashion.

"It makes us strong when the message is strong," Carroll told his assistants while huddled together in the War Room. "It makes us better."

Carroll and the assistants talked about the foundational principles for the team -- competition, practice, focus, trust, confidence, respect -- in a discussion that looked more like a philosophical dialogue than a football meeting.

Coach Carroll and his assistants talk about the team's philosophies during this morning's staff meeting in the War Room.

For a good read

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Check out this great feature on sixth-year senior offensive lineman Jeff Byers, from

Getting to the heart of the issue

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USC is once again on the cutting edge.

Athletic trainers and strength coaches have been working together this summer to take proactive measures against a potentially life-threatening condition among football players. High-tech heart-rate monitors have been placed on certain athletes identified to have asthma or "sickle cell trait," a condition that has led to sudden deaths in several football players in recent years.

"It's another example of how we're out in front of the problem," head strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle said.

For the dozen or so players identified to potentially be at risk, a chest transmitter sends info to a watch device, with the data then transferred to a computer for team cardiologist Mark Lurie to examine.

"We've got to understand what they're going through before we can improve it," head athletic trainer Russ Romano said. "It's a positive thing because now we're learning more."

The data gives doctors and trainers a better idea of the athletes' reaction to increased heart activity, shedding light on certain patterns that could be hazardous to their health and lead to major injury.

"It gives us a fingerprint of the athlete's heart," Romano said. "We can now get a feel for what they're really going through in their workouts."

Even though all the players have been medically cleared to participate in workouts, practices and games, Romano said monitoring the players' heart conditions will only enhance their ability to perform at their peak.

"Everyone on our team has already been cleared," Romano said. "But everyone had been cleared that's had this problem. We just want to gather information so we can improve the safety and performance of our athletes."


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We're a few weeks late in this, but congratulations to Dr. John Meyer, the Trojans' rehabilitation coordinator, and his wife Lisa on the birth of their newborn daughter Jayden on June 3. Our best wishes go out to John, Lisa and their healthy baby girl.

Youth outreach

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The Youth Impact Program began Monday on campus, kicking off the fourth-annual summer-long camp that is considered one of the nation's top programs for at-risk children.

With Trojan players Aaron Corp, Travon Patterson, Ronald Johnson, C.J. Gable, Shane Horton, Rhett Ellison, Marshall Jones and Justin Hart participating as counselors, the five-week program teaches football, school subjects and life skills to the dozens of boys in attendance.

The Youth Impact Program was founded by Riki Ellison, a USC linebacker in 1978-82 and a three-time Super Bowl winner with the 49ers. Congresswoman Diane Watson (District 33) is one of the program's staunchest supporters.

Running up to intermission

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It's halftime for the Trojans.

Players finished up the first half of the summer strength and conditioning program with a team run at 6:30 this morning, advancing them into a one-week midsummer break and some "much-needed time away," head strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle said.

"We had a tremendous first half," Carlisle said. "I'm really happy with the way these guys have come in with a great attitude and work ethic. It's a great testament to what we've built here."

The players now get seven days off for the July 4 holiday and will return next Wednesday to commence the second half of the offseason workout regimen, which will last four more weeks before Fall Camp opens in August.

Here are some photos from this morning's team run, which included four stations of agility and conditioning drills:

Wideout Damian Williams and quarterback Aaron Corp fly through agility bags.

Tight end Rhett Ellison shuffles around agility bags.

Safeties Will Harris (right) and Taylor Mays (middle) churn through the agility ladder.

Tailback Stafon Johnson slides between agility bags.

Butch Lewis, Jeff Byers, Kris O'Dowd and the rest of the offensive linemen go through the bags.

Tailback Joe McKnight shuffles between bags while wideout Garrett Green hops over them.

Kids talk

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Coach Carroll addresses the children at the Rise Up Youth Fundamental Football camp this afternoon on Howard Jones field. The four-day camp, which ended today, mainly reaches out to inner-city kids, including many associated with A Better LA.

In memory of Ryan

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A tribute banner signed by more than 700 people, including several USC coaches and players, is shown off in the Trojan football office by American Cancer Society volunteers Mike Pings (left) and Ricky Rosas (right) before being shipped out to Wisconsin for the Relay for Life in honor of Ryan Davidson, a hardcore USC fan who died in February at age 16 after a 9.5-year battle with cancer.

Making a difference

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Dodger outfielder Andre Ethier hosted a shopping spree this weekend at Best Buy for several kids associated with A Better LA. Check out this neat video from Fox Sports, including several mentions of Coach Carroll:

<span><br/><a href="<a href=""></a>=en-US&vid=2f469d5a-b4b4-4c94-a0b9-b6c7c468384b" target="_new" title="Ethier hosts shopping spree">Video: Ethier hosts shopping spree</a></span>

Model for a day

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Coach Carroll poses during a photo shoot for an in-depth profile that will appear in the September issue of Esquire magazine. The issue is scheduled to hit the newsstands in mid- to late-August.

Best yet

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USC finished fourth in the 2008-09 Learfield Sports Directors' Cup standings, the highest placing for the Trojans in the award's 15-year history.

Stanford, North Carolina and Florida finished ahead of USC, which placed fifth in 2006-07 for its previous best finish. The Trojans won two NCAA team championships in 2008-09 (in men's water polo and men's tennis) and placed in the Top 10 in seven other sports. 

For a good read

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Here's a great feature on Mark Sanchez and his progress with the New York Jets, from the Jets' team website.

Wall art

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We received a question from RipsIt reader Jeff Lavorato about a painting that hangs in Coach Carroll's Heritage Hall office, part of which is seen in this picture from Carroll's initial meeting with new basketball coach Kevin O'Neill.

The artwork features Reggie Bush slicing between Oklahoma defenders in the 2005 Orange Bowl, which the Trojans won 55-19 to capture the BCS title. It's painted by Jay Johnston, an Ohio artist who specializes in sport and American history works. Here's the painting in full:


Project Trojan: Episode 5

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The fifth episode of "Project Trojan: Making of the 2009 USC Football Team" is online, so check it out on the home page of (for All-Access subscribers only; register today for only $9.95 a month). And here's a teaser for the fifth show in a six-episode series:

Finishing up the semester

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School's almost out for the summer.

About 60 players are finishing up summer school with finals today and tomorrow, ending the six-week accelerated semester and giving most of the players about a month-and-a-half of actual summer break without any school.

Players enroll in a summer class to expedite their progress toward a degree so they can squeeze in extra units during a time they have to be on campus for offseason workouts anyway. 

Less than five

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The coaches have been forewarned.

Coach Carroll is walking around the football office giving his assistants a five-minute warning before this morning's staff meeting begins in the War Room -- "five minutes, five minutes!" he's belting out. There's palpable excitement in the air because it's the second-to-last all-staff meeting before a month-long break for the coaches, who will work today and tomorrow and be off until the first week of August.

It's like the last few days of school around Heritage Hall, with summer break just a day away.

Running 40s

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Following agility drills and workouts in the weight room, the Trojans took to Howard Jones field for 24 40-yard dashes this morning. Check out a photo from the conditioning session:

(From left to right) Fullback Adam Goodman, linebacker Michael Morgan, quarterback John Manoogian, quarterback Matt Barkley, defensive end Nick Perry, quarterback Mitch Mustain and punter Billy O'Malley finish one of their 24 40-yard dashes on Howard Jones field this morning.

Making L.A. a better place

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A Better LA, in partnership with several other community organizations, will be hosting a Fourth of July celebration from 3 to 9 p.m. at the Coliseum on July 4. Here's more info:


Also, check out the latest A Better LA newsletter.


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With the month-long camp campaign coming to an end on Thursday, most coaches are out of the office today for the first time in 10 days. With the six USC-hosted high school summer camps now finished for the year, the coaches can relax for the weekend before coming back for two days of work next week to finish playbooks and other preparations for Fall Camp 2009, which opens Aug. 7.

Then, starting Wednesday, the coaches will begin their vacations and be out of Heritage Hall for much of July.

The kids camp chapter of the year is complete, meaning just July stands between the Trojans and the 2009 season.

Lights out

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Power has been unexpectedly knocked out on many parts of the USC campus, putting the Trojan football headquarters in total darkness since late morning. Fortunately, though, the afternoon segment of the Rising Stars camp can continue on without complication since it's conducted under the natural light of a bright summer sun.

Champion of champions

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The Pac-10 made its motto come true once again this year, as the self-proclaimed "Conference of Champions" won a nation-best 11 NCAA team championships in 2008-09. The ACC and Big Ten came in a distant second with five team titles each.

USC contributed to the conference's tally with championships in men's tennis and men's water polo in the last school year.

He's got a fever

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Coach Carroll is making sure his assistants are wide awake this morning.

On the last of 10 days of summer camps, Carroll is walking around the office banging on a cowbell to infuse a little excitement and noise into the USC football office -- not to mention he's wearing a shirt that says "Need more cowbell" in tribute to Will Ferrell's famous Saturday Night Live skit. The second half of the two-day Rising Stars camp begins in minutes on Howard Jones field.

"Yeah! It's a big day in Trojanville!" Carroll yelled. "I don't want any softies here today!"

Attention grabber

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Day 2 of the Rising Stars camp has arrived, with the players in breakfast before starting the morning's on-field sessions at 9:45 a.m. The high school athletes have just one full day remaining to show who they are and impress the USC coaches.

The overnight camp, which has drawn about 300 top prospects, routinely creates quite a stir in the national recruiting landscape. Check out what this L.A. Times article said about this year's camp:

Anyone who listens to a Carroll talk, including a UCLA fan, probably would be willing at that moment to run through a door if that's what he sought. The man's charisma is hard to match.

And that helps explain why his two-day camp has become almost a must-appearance for any player who wants to be considered among the best in the Southland.

The talent is off the charts, and there were lots of players from outside California also in attendance.

After this morning's on-field work, the players will have another block of football activities on Howard Jones field this afternoon before closing out the camp. And once again, because of the camp, the Blog will be on hiatus for much of the day.

Bringing in the cash

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A new independent economic study shows that USC is responsible for an astonishing $4.9 billion annually in Southern California and beyond. The report reveals that for every dollar USC -- the city's largest private employer -- spends in L.A. county, an additional 63 cents is created elsewhere in the regional economy.

Giving thanks to dad

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Check out this neat feature on Oscar Lua, a former team captain and starting linebacker for the Trojans, and his dad Gabriel, published in Palm Springs' Desert Sun newspaper for Father's Day. And here's a PDF file of the front page with the story.

A different glimpse of the Coliseum

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A reader passed along this cool painting of the Coliseum produced by local French artist Fabrice Spies. Either the original or prints are available by visiting his site, where you can also see the painting progress from a blank canvas to the finished product.


Helping the cause

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On Tuesday night in the City of Industry, Coach Carroll was the featured speaker during the annual fundraising dinner for A Foundation For Kids, a key partner with A Better LA in hosting community events that bring peace to the formerly gang-saddled areas of inner-city Los Angeles. The event raised more than $500,000, some of which will go toward a special July 4 celebration at the Coliseum in conjunction with A Better LA and Unity One. [Photo courtesy of Scot Obler]

Let's get to work

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The Rising Stars camp -- with 300 high-level prospects currently shuffling through registration -- is getting underway now, commencing the final two days of the month-long camp schedule for the Trojan coaches. After this overnight camp ends on Thursday afternoon, the coaches will be home free, as their vacations start next week.

"It feels like the last week of school," Coach Carroll said.

Because of the camp, the Blog will be out of commission for much of the day.

Come together

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Coaches convene for a staff meeting in the War Room before the two-day Rising Stars camp gets started this morning. "Let's have a blast today," Coach Carroll said to conclude the meeting, sending the coaches out to begin the camp that will attract about 300 top prospects.

Hooping it up for change

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A Better LA, in conjunction with Common Unity Reaching Everyone and the L.A. parks department, hosted a Father's Day 3-on-3 basketball tournament at Helen Keller Park on Saturday, yet another successful and peaceful event in a formerly gang-ridden area of the city.

In the West Athens part of Los Angeles, the event drew an estimated 500 people to the festivities, which included the basketball tournament, family barbeque, carnival games and a newly remodeled swimming pool.

Interested in helping out at future community-changing events? Contact Also, check out some pictures from the day:

Players compete in the A Better LA-hosted 3-on-3 basketball tournament at Helen Keller Park on Saturday.

The champions of the 3-on-3 basketball tournament put on by A Better LA pose with their trophies.

Set your alarm

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Individual tickets for five of the six home games this fall -- all but the sold-out UCLA game -- will go on sale Wednesday on at 6 a.m. and via 213-740-GOSC at 9 a.m.

Here's the list of USC's home games in 2009:

Sept. 5 • San Jose State • 12:30 p.m.
Sept. 26 • Washington State • TBD
Oct. 24 • Oregon State • 5 p.m. (Parents' Weekend)
Nov. 14 • Stanford • TBD (Homecoming)
Nov. 28 • UCLA • 7 p.m. - SOLD OUT
Dec. 5 • Arizona • 12:30 p.m.


Step it up

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Safety Josh Pinkard does box step-ups during this morning's strength and conditioning session, the 10th of the summer program that carries the Trojans right up to the start of Fall Camp on Aug. 7.

Getting ready

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Coaches are currently in the War Room to go through final preparations for the Rising Stars camp on Wednesday and Thursday, when about 300 top junior and senior prospects will descend upon USC to take part in the all-important overnight camp.

This heralded camp annually attracts some of the nation's best high school players, and this year should be no different. The Trojan coaches use the practices and meetings to evaluate and instruct the prospects, who go through drills, film sessions and competitions through the 36 hours starting Wednesday morning and going until Thursday night.

It's also a beneficial time for the prospects to get a full flavor for USC. They'll get to see the coaching staff at work, go to the Coliseum for on-field competitions on Wednesday night and take part in campus life for a night.

The Rising Stars camp also concludes USC's month-long lineup of six summer camps.

Being relevant

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Irrelevant Week -- an annual slate of festivities honoring the last pick in the NFL Draft -- got underway on Monday in Orange County, as organizers and fans are feting this year's Mr. Irrelevant, South Carolina kicker Ryan Succop, the Kansas City Chiefs' selection with the 256th and final pick in April's Draft.

The Mr. Irrelevant title and weeklong celebration are widely known around the sports world, but what most don't know is that the week was founded by and continues to be spearheaded by former USC football player Paul Salata, who was a defensive end for the Trojans in 1944-47.

Irrelevant Week is in its 34th year, and the event has raised more than $1 million for charity since its launch in 1976.

Meeting at the top

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New men's basketball coach Kevin O'Neill (right) and his wife Roberta (middle) meet Coach Carroll for the first time in Carroll's Heritage Hall office this afternoon.

Save the cows

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It's lunchtime at the "Trojans in Training" camp right now, and the food is being catered by Chick-fil-A. That means the Chick-fil-A cow mascot is out and about -- and dressed for the occasion, as it's wearing an oversized No. 13 USC jersey.

Coming back to their roots

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Besides the USC staff that's coaching today's "Trojans in Training" kids camp, several guest coaches are brought in to help shepherd the campers through the drills and games. Many of the guest coaches are former Trojan players:

- Linebacker Mike Pollard (1998-2002)
- Wideout Timmie Ware (1982-84)
- Linebacker Darryl Knight (1998-2000)
- Fullback Lynn Cain (1977-78)
- Linebacker John Cousins (2001)

And that's not including the three full-time USC staffers who are also former Trojans:

- Defensive coordinator Rocky Seto (linebacker in 1997-98)
- Defensive graduate assistant Kris Richard (cornerback in 1998-2001)
- Offensive administrative assistant Lenny Vandermade (offensive linemen in 2000-03)

Child's play

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Coach Carroll speaks to the 400 kids at today's "Trojans in Training" camp, which has seen the campers go through a morning-long circuit of drills. They're now eating lunch, watching a highlight film and hearing various football presentations before heading back to the field for this afternoon's slate of competitions.

Welcome on board

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With athletic director Mike Garrett sitting nearby, new men's basketball coach Kevin O'Neill addresses the media during his recently completed introductory press conference in Varsity Lounge. O'Neill spoke to the media and took questions for about 30 minutes, peppering in several funny responses during an impressive official introduction to USC and Los Angeles.

Coming at noon

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The press conference to formally introduce Kevin O'Neill as the new men's basketball coach will be today at noon at Heritage Hall. The presser will be streamed live via, so tune in here.

Running wild

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The season premiere of the Trojan Run came and went this morning, earning rave reviews in the process.

"It might've been the best run we've ever had," head strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle said of the workout to kick off the third week of the summer program.

The Trojan Run, an all-team workout at 6:30 a.m. on occasional mornings throughout the summer, is a running-dominated session that emphasizes conditioning and teamwork, as it's one of the few chances during the offseason that the players are together as a team.

Starting off on the right foot

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Brian Cushing hasn't even been in the NFL for two months, but he's already been tapped a starter for the 2009 season.

In fact, the Houston Texans' first-round draft pick might've been the starting strong-side linebacker since Day 1.

"Cushing has been a starter since the day he stepped off the bus," Texans coach Gary Kubiak said according to this article. "We're very happy with him."

Doing it for the kids

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The onslaught of summer camps continues today at USC with the "Trojans in Training" camp for third- through eighth-graders. About 400 kids are expected to attend the day-long camp, which includes drills, talks from coaches and several competitions.

Today is widely considered one of the most taxing days of the year for USC staffers, who must not only coach hundreds of kids, but also make sure they eat lunch, find the bathroom and stay healthy.

"Honestly, it's the most challenging camp we have," offensive line coach Pat Ruel said. "The attention span of these young kids is not always there, and it's hard when we're used to an orderly, disciplined way of doing things."

Because of the camp, the Blog will be out of commission for much of the day.

First impressions

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The future starts now.

USC's incoming scholarship players are checking into their summer housing and getting acquainted with the campus today, along with enjoying a BBQ lunch with the Trojan coaching staff at Heritage Hall. Their collegiate careers are officially underway, and reality will soon hit big-time when they plunge into summer school and offseason workouts this week.

Welcome to freshman year.

O'Neill named new men's basketball coach

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Kevin O'Neill, a longtime NBA assistant and collegiate head coach, has been hired as USC's new men's basketball coach, Trojan athletic director Mike Garrett announced this morning.

O'Neill, 52, was most recently an assistant coach with the Memphis Grizzlies following a season as Arizona's interim head coach in 2007-08. He has also been a head coach for one season with the NBA's Toronto Raptors and a combined 11 seasons at Marquette, Tennessee and Northwestern, along with five years as an NBA assistant for three different teams.

Check out this video announcement from Garrett and O'Neill:

The press conference to formally introduce O'Neill as the Trojans' new head coach will be Monday at noon. It will be streamed live on

Busy camping

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This weekend's 7-on-7 passing tournaments are just the start of an intense stretch of high school camps for the USC coaching staff. Five of the next six days will include a camp, culminating with the two-day "Rising Stars" overnight camp on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The "Trojans in Training" camp for third- through eighth-graders will be Monday. Sign up online now, or walk-up registration will be taken starting at 8:30 a.m. outside of Heritage Hall on Monday.

Tourney time

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This weekend marks the second annual Trojan 7-on-7 passing camps, with 18 high school teams scheduled to play over the next two days. Nine area programs will battle each day, with games starting at 10 a.m. and going until the championship matchup around 4 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday. 

Going national

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Missed the Trojan Marching Band's appearance on "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien" last night? No worries, here's the full five-minute clip here.

Partying with the stars

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Following the A Better LA function at L.A. Live's Lucky Strike Lanes on Thursday night, Coach Carroll snuck over to the Lakers championship party at the adjacent Club Nokia, and he's been raving about it ever since.

Kobe Bryant and all his teammates were there, along with musicians Kanye West and Lil Wayne and countless other celebrities.

"It was about as big as it gets," Carroll said. "Everyone had their entourages -- it was like the TV show."

As much as Carroll was starstruck at the invite-only party, he said he was most impressed with how the Lakers players acted in such a high-powered environment.

"The way they handled themselves was awesome -- they were so humble and classy and didn't get crazy or anything," Carroll said. "It was amazing."

Hitting the lanes

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For one moment, it was the Mayor versus the Coach.

During Thursday night's A Better LA event at Lucky Strike Lanes, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Coach Carroll were conversing before they spontaneously dueled in a one-roll bowling competition.

Villaraigosa rolled first, and the results weren't so hot. A gutter ball set the stage for Carroll, who nonchalantly drilled a strike, much to the delight of the curious onlookers.

"It was a pretty good roll," Carroll said with a laugh and a shrug this morning.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa bowls during his one-roll spur-of-the-moment competition with Coach Carroll on Thursday night during A Better LA's event at Lucky Strike Lanes. The results matched his unorthodox technique, as he recorded a gutter ball.

Coach Carroll, with impeccable form, rolls a strike in his lighthearted bowling duel against the Mayor during Thursday night's A Better LA event at L.A. Live. No word yet from the judges on whether he faulted by crossing the line with his left foot.

Giving thanks from A Better LA

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Coach Carroll attended a thank you event for A Better LA supporters on Thursday night at Lucky Strike Lanes at L.A. Live, a function that attracted about 300 of the charity's backers, including Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and other civic leaders.

Coach Carroll addresses the crowd at Lucky Strike Lanes at L.A. Live on Thursday night, thanking them for their support of A Better LA. "We couldn't be where we are without your support and dedication to making a difference in our communities," Carroll said.

Coach Carroll and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa chat during Thursday night's A Better LA event at L.A. Live.

Hollywood's band

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There's never a dull moment for the Trojan Marching Band.

One of the country's most famous collegiate bands was performing at the grand reopening of the Universal Studios back lot a year after a fire ravaged the complex when producers for "The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien" asked the 30-piece ensemble to make a guest appearance on tonight's episode.

So a day that started with a call time at 5 a.m. this morning will end at 10 p.m. after the band tapes a supposedly humorous segment on the hit show.

"The kids love this stuff," said legendary band director Arthur C. Bartner, who's in his 39th year at USC. "It makes it fun."

Catch the episode tonight at 11:35 p.m. Pacific on NBC.

Reunion day

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Trojan alum Sammy Knight, a safety at USC in 1993-96, stopped by the football office today to say hello to old friends. Knight is one of the Trojans' all-time feel-good stories -- he was an undrafted free agent out of USC who has gone on to a 13-year NFL career, including a Pro Bowl appearance in 2002. 

Coming to you in living color

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Here's the Pac-10's TV schedule for the 2009 season. It includes all intra-conference games and non-conference contests at Pac-10 stadiums.

Working the core

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Wideout Brice Butler (right) and defensive back Marshall Jones (left) go through medicine ball exercises focusing on their cores during today's strength and conditioning work on Howard Jones field.

Study up

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The coaches are cramming.

In less than an hour, they'll sit down for their most important test of the year, and it has nothing to do with Xs and Os or calling a fourth-and-goal play in the fourth quarter.

It's the NCAA compliance test -- and the pressure is on.

Coaches need to get 80 percent correct (that's 32 out of the 40 questions) in 80 minutes to become certified for recruiting. They're sifting through the NCAA legalese -- also known as the rulebook -- and taking practice tests as they prepare for the ever-challenging annual exam, which they'll all take this morning.

"You've definitely got to study," offensive coordinator John Morton said.

Think you could pass the test? Take the NCAA-sanctioned practice exam and see how well you do. Remember, you need to get at least 80 percent right to pass.

It's harder than you think.

On the tube

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Here's a video interview with Coach Carroll that aired on "California Life," a local news magazine show. Thanks to RipsIt reader Deb Stewart for passing it along.

Having some fun

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Coach Carroll was at the Coliseum as a spectator Wednesday, soaking in the Lakers' championship rally, and here's a cool interview from the field with Fox Sports yesterday.

Top of the line

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USC's defensive backs and offensive linemen have been named the nation's No. 1 units in 2009 in their respective positions by Sporting News.

An L.A. party

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The torch was lit, the sun was shining, the peristyle thermometer read 72 degrees and the Coliseum was rocking -- it was a perfect day in L.A.

Nearly 100,000 fans honored the Lakers' NBA championship with an hour-long ceremony at the Coliseum this afternoon, igniting the crowd and the city with an energized celebration that brought goose bumps and pride to all in attendance and around the region. Check out some photos from the festivities:

[Click the photo to see the full size] The Coliseum was packed with fans who filled the stadium with noise and energy before, during and after the ceremony.

The Staples Center floor was the stage for the passionate celebration at the Coliseum, where the Olympic torch was lit on an ideal day in L.A.

The Laker Girls perform at the start of the ceremony.

The Lakers players and coaches walk down the famed steps with the Olympic torch ignited above them.

Kobe Bryant talks to the crowd with the NBA championship trophy nearby.

Purple and gold confetti flies through the sky at the end of the celebration.

Honoring L.A.'s newest champions

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Several coaches and staff members will be heading over to the Coliseum soon to watch the Lakers championship rally, spending their lunch breaks as spectators to the spectacle in their home stadium. The parade, which begins at 11 a.m., and the rally, which is scheduled to start at noon, will be televised on FSN and streamed online through L.A.'s Fox 11.

We'll have a few pictures from the festivities later this afternoon.

Give them a break

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Today is an off day from the summer strength and conditioning program, and head strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle makes sure the players follow directions. The weight room is essentially locked to football players on off days as the training staff constantly emphasizes resting and not working when the schedule calls for it.

"Rest is essential for the recovery of the athlete," Carlisle said. "More growth and development occurs during a time of rest than during a time of work."

The players will return to the four-day-a-week regimen Thursday and Friday as they wrap up the second week of the summer strength and conditioning program.

Turner time

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Patrick Turner is making waves and being hailed as a "diamond in the rough" by, as the rookie wideout for the Miami Dolphins is expected to be a surprise early in his NFL career, according to this article. Here's a snippet about Turner from the story:

"At a legitimate 6-5 and possessing the strong, secure hands to be quite successful in this role, don't be surprised when Turner catches more touchdowns as a rookie than many of the six receivers taken in the first round."

A Laker fan in every corner

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Today's Lakers championship festivities are already impacting the USC area, as the streets surrounding campus are shut down or swarming with fans. The parade will pass by USC around 11:45 and the rally at the Coliseum is scheduled to begin at noon and go until about 1:30 p.m. Several coaches are planning on heading over to the Coliseum for the celebration.

Meanwhile in Heritage Hall, linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr., who grew up in Los Angeles, is making sure his colleagues know where his allegiances lie.

"How could you not love the Lakers?" Norton bellowed, to no one in particular, in a way only he can. "They're the best organization in basketball. They might be the best organization in all of sports.

"They get a parade and nobody else does!"

Future focused

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Like clockwork or the sunrise, the coaches are doing something very habitual this morning.

No matter if it's June, January or October, the coaching staff gathers for their weekly recruiting meeting every Wednesday morning, and today is no different. The coaches are watching film of prospects for the class of 2010 this morning as the crop of potential future Trojans comes into focus with each passing week.

Preparing for a celebration

The home of the Trojans sure doesn't look like it right now.

In anticipation of Wednesday's parade and ceremony celebrating the Lakers' NBA championship, the Coliseum is losing its homey cardinal and gold hues in favor of purple and gold colors. The famed stadium is undergoing several aesthetic changes prior to tomorrow's 12 p.m. rally that is expected to fill the Coliseum to capacity -- about 95,000 fans -- following the hour-long parade down Figueroa from Staples Center.

A stage has been set up, the peristyle end of the stadium features purple-and-gold banners and the steps have been colored purple. Take a look at some pictures from the Coliseum as workers go through preparations on Tuesday afternoon:

Laker banners commemorating the team's recent championship have been affixed where USC's Heisman jerseys usually hang in the peristyle end of the Coliseum.

A large stage has been set up at the east end of the Coliseum floor.

The Lakers hardwood floor has been transported from the Staples Center and set up on the stage for Wednesday's rally.

The steps from the peristyle of the Coliseum to the field -- usually cardinal for the Trojan Walk -- have been temporarily changed to purple for the Lakers' rally on Wednesday.

A parade with Trojan style

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Wednesday won't be just another day at the office for Isaac Flores, an assistant business manager in the USC athletic department.

That's because he'll be taking the morning off to attend the Lakers championship parade. Even better -- he'll be in the parade.
As one of 17 people in the Lakers Band -- an ensemble made up of past and present Trojan Marching Band members that plays at every Lakers game at Staples Center -- Flores and his cohorts will be on three vehicles leading the procession down Figueroa and blasting some recognizable tunes.

Having played in two previous Lakers championship parades, Flores is excited for Wednesday's pageantry, to say the least.

"It's amazing when you see hundreds of thousands of people all over the place," said Flores, a trombonist.

Flores, who graduated from USC in 1995 and played in the Trojan Marching Band for four years, joined the Lakers Band in 1993 as a substitute before becoming fulltime in 1994. He has since played in the band at hundreds of games, including dozens of playoff games, as he's seen the Lakers win four NBA titles. He tooted his trombone at about 30 regular-season games this season and all but one of the home playoff games.

"To grow up a Laker fan, I saw the band and always thought, 'maybe someday, who knows?'" Flores said. "Now it's like having season tickets to the Lakers. It's been fun."

On Wednesday during the parade, the Lakers Band, as always, will play many of the same songs the Trojan Marching Band performs at games.

"[Lakers owner] Dr. [Jerry] Buss loves 'Tusk,'" Flores said. "But there's no 'Fight on' or 'Conquest.'"

And then after the festivities finish on Figueroa and at the Coliseum, Flores will return to Heritage Hall and get back to work balancing the books as assistant business manager for the athletic department.

"The Lakers are the only thing that truly unifies this city," Flores said. "It's going to be crazy."

The Lakers Band, consisting of Trojan Marching Band members, performs the national anthem at a game in April. Isaac Flores, an assistant business manager in the USC athletic department, has been a part of the Lakers Band for 16 years. The Lakers Band will lead the parade down Figueroa Street during Wednesday's championship celebration.

Belotti passes away

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Former USC offensive lineman George Belotti, who lettered for three seasons as a Trojan (1954-56), passed away Monday from complications following a stroke. He was 74.

Get them while you can

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Individual tickets for the six home games go on sale June 24 (next Wednesday) at 6 a.m. on and at 9 a.m. by calling 213-740-GOSC.


Coming to college

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Say goodbye to high school and hello to college life.

USC's incoming freshmen scholarship players will arrive on campus Sunday to check into their summer housing and officially commence their college careers. Summer school begins Monday, when the players can also start working out with the team in preparation for the fall.

Training for the fall

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Safety Josh Pinkard does a jumping drill on Howard Jones field as part of this morning's workouts.

This morning on Howard Jones field, safety Drew McAllister, safety Spencer Spiegel and wideout Robbie Boyer go through medicine ball exercises that focus on explosiveness and power.


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You can stay connected with the Trojans through several platforms outside of this blog:

- USCRipsIt on Twitter:
- Coach Carroll on Twitter:
- Coach Carroll's Facebook fan page:

Title town

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The Lakers championship parade will have a little USC flavor to it.

Wednesday's celebration will begin at Staples Center at 11 a.m., travel almost two miles down Figueroa Street past campus and end at the Coliseum, where a ceremony will take place starting at noon.

A capacity crowd of 95,000 is expected to fill the Trojans' home stadium, along with thousands more who are projected to line Figueroa. Coliseum gates will open at 9:30 a.m., and several streets around campus and the parade route will be shut down all morning.

Kobe Bryant and the Lakers will have a championship parade Wednesday, starting at Staples Center and ending at the Coliseum. [AP Image]

It's a boy!

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Senior fullback Adam Goodman and his wife Jessica welcomed their firstborn child into the world early Sunday morning, a healthy baby boy named Elijah Jeffery. Congratulations to Adam, Jessica and their entire extended family!

Project Trojan: Episode 4

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The fourth episode of "Project Trojan: The Making of the 2009 USC Football Team" has been posted, so check it out on the home page of (for All-Access subscribers only; register today for only $9.95 a month).

Take it easy

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After seven straight days of work, including 12-hour days for two high school camps this weekend, the coaches received today off, giving them a chance to relax and hang out with their families. They'll dive back into San Jose State and Ohio State film breakdowns and game-planning Tuesday and through the rest of the week.

Meanwhile, the players are entering the second week of the summer strength and conditioning program with 100-minute workouts today.

Good morning

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Coach Carroll welcomes the guest coaches to today's offensive and defensive linemen camp, which begins now and goes until about 5 p.m. About 300 high schoolers are projected to attend the camp hosted by the Trojan coaching staff. "We've got the big fellas in town today," Carroll said.

Alumni reunion at camp

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There are around 450 high school athletes at today's skill position camp at USC, and a slew of coaches are guiding them through the strenuous day of drills and competitions on Howard Jones field.

Besides the USC coaching staff, which hosts all of the Win Forever camps, several guest coaches are brought in and include area junior college coaches and numerous former Trojan players:

- Defensive end Omar Nazel (2000-03)
- Linebacker Daryl Knight (1998-2000)
- Linebacker Sam Anno (1983-86), who now coaches at University of San Diego
- Fullback Lynn Cain (1977-78), who's now the head coach at East L.A. College
- Offensive lineman Mike Scarpace (1965-67)

The camp is on lunch break now and will resume at 2 for film meetings and more on-field activities, including individual drills and 7-on-7 work. It's scheduled to wrap up around 5 p.m.

Wake up call

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Coaches convene for an early-morning staff meeting today in the War Room to kick off the skills positions camp that begins now and goes until around 5 p.m. tonight. Energy is flowing among the staffers in an effort to shake themselves out of the typical morning fog.

Looking forward to Monday

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The fourth episode of "Project Trojan: Making of the 2009 USC Football Team" will be posted Monday, bringing you yet again into the inner-workings of the Trojan program. The coming episode discusses the grind of spring ball, the art of trash-talking among the players and coaches and the high expectations of the 2009 defense.

Don't miss this exclusive six-show series that takes you inside the USC football team. Here's the adrenaline-pumping teaser for the series:

Big turnout

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More than 700 high school athletes are expected to attend USC's two camps this weekend -- 450-plus for Saturday's skill position camp and 250-plus for Sunday's offensive/defensive linemen camp. The camps, which run from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. both days this weekend, are hosted by Coach Carroll and all the assistants.

Walk-up signups will be taken for the two camps, with registration beginning at 8:30 a.m. outside of Heritage Hall on both days.

Game 7 heaven

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While the water-cooler talk in the USC football office this morning is all about L.A.'s one-win-from-the-title basketball team, Jeremy Bates is infusing a little Stanley Cup into the conversation.

With the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins set for the decisive Game 7 today (5 p.m. on NBC), the quarterbacks coach is sharing his excitement for tonight's championship battle.

"I love hockey," Bates said giddily.

Bates spent a few years in hockey-hungry regions of the country as a kid while moving around with his dad Jim, who has a 37-year history as a football coach. Bates learned to play hockey during the family's two years in Rochester, N.Y., and a season in Detroit, where Jim coached the city's now-defunct arena football team. The arena squad played in the Red Wings' Joe Louis Arena, giving Bates several opportunities to skate on the famed ice.

And if you didn't know who he was rooting for in tonight's Stanley Cup final, Bates has a few words for you.

"Hockeytown," he said. "And an octopus too."

The Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins face off tonight at Joe Louis Arena in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals, and the Red Wings have a fervent supporter in USC quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates.

Gone camping

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The coaches are about to break from their morning staff meeting, and today's gathering carried a little extra weight since they're reviewing final preparations for this weekend's high school summer camps.

Instead of getting Saturday and Sunday off, the coaches will be logging 12-hour days as they host skill position and linemen camps, which act as showcases of the program and a great way to evaluate high school talent.

"Camp time!" Coach Carroll excitedly chanted while pacing around the office this morning.

Video statement about NCAA investigation

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Here is a six-minute video statement from USC senior vice president for administration Todd Dickey and athletic director Mike Garrett regarding the current NCAA investigation on the football and basketball teams:

And here is the transcript of the video statement from Dickey and Garrett.

Working hard

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The summer strength and conditioning program is on its third day, as (left to right) safety Taylor Mays, defensive end Everson Griffen, tailback Joe McKnight and wideout Damian Williams go through short sprints during the 1 p.m. workout session.

Love and basketball

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The calmer offseason affords the coaches a precious opportunity they don't have during the hectic in-season months.

They get to hit the hardwood for some pick-up hoops during lunchtime.

Today, Coach Carroll, linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. and defensive administrative assistant Al Dorsey played together on a bruising team that turned the game into a battle that was more apropos for the gridiron instead of the hardwood. En route to a 2-1 record in three first-to-11 five-on-five games, Carroll played the streaky swingman and Norton and Dorsey acted as the brutal one-two power forward punch that dominated the paint and rebounding stat category.

Oh yeah, and don't forget the foul tally, as the coaches defended like everyone was in pads and a helmet.

Band aid

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The Trojan Marching Band is slated to fly out a 60-member band for the Ohio State game in Columbus on Sept. 12. That's larger than normal for a cross-country road game. 

An eye for design

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Former USC wideout Keyshawn Johnson is the host of a new home design TV series on A&E, with the premier set for Saturday, July 11 at noon Pacific. "Keyshawn Johnson: Tackling Design" will follow the longtime NFL star as he embarks on a new hobby -- interior designing.

"Style and design has always played a big part in my life and lifestyle," Johnson said in the release. "I'm excited to bring a quality aesthetic to all types of households in the show, and help influence the way people live."
ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit was on campus Tuesday and Wednesday to shoot "College GameDay" commercials and visit with Trojan coaches and players. The former Ohio State quarterback, who has worked for ESPN for the last 15 years, also sat down with USCRipsIt for a quick interview to talk about the Trojans, his relationship with Coach Carroll and the much-anticipated USC-Ohio State game this fall:

0611herbespn.jpgUSCRipsIt: What are your overall thoughts on the 2009 Trojans coming off spring ball and heading into the fall?
Herbstreit: It's one of those teams every year, you know that SC is going to be one of those teams that's going to be competing not only for the Pac-10, but national, championship. I learned a long time ago never to question their team. When you think about when they lost Carson Palmer, you thought they were going to take a step back but Matt Leinart went in and won at Auburn and away they go. Reggie Bush and LenDale White leaves, now Sarkisian's gone. This program always overcomes losses of players and coaches.

So here we are in 2009 -- you lose Sarkisian, Nick Holt, an NFL quarterback in Mark Sanchez and a lot of great players on defense and yet you look at the players coming back, and even though the quarterback position hasn't defined itself, as long as Pete Carroll continues to coach, it will. They have a way of being able to reload and this year will be no exception.

USCRipsIt: The USC defense lost a lot of talent from 2008, so how do you see that side of the ball shaping up this fall?

Herbstreit: If you go back to two years ago, a similar thing happened. Last year, another few guys left. I was just talking with Taylor Mays, who's going to be a four-year starter, and he's saying this is the best secondary that he's played in. So here's the best safety in college football that's not just saying what I want to hear but being truthful that this is the best secondary he's been in. The defensive line will be loaded, which takes a lot of pressure off the linebackers. When you have a great defensive line and a dominant secondary, you're going to be able to have a great defense. As long as Pete's in charge of the defense, it'll be one that's going to continue to set the tone and get the offense back on the field.

USCRipsIt: What do you think about the new additions to the coaching staff?
Herbstreit: I'm always amazed by a place like USC. When you win as much as USC does, you're going to lose great people, and it brings you an opportunity to bring in more people you believe in, and Pete's been able to do that for a number of years. He's lost several people that have appeared at the time as irreplaceable. As fans and analysts, we can sit here and say that as long as Pete Carroll is at USC, he will put the people in place to make USC successful.

USCRipsIt: You get a chance to talk very candidly with Coach Carroll quite a bit during the season and then random times like this week during the offseason. How did you develop that relationship and how does it help in your work?
Herbstreit: I've been real blessed that coaches have accepted my calls and me reaching out to them. I'm not looking for any secrets, I just love college football and I love preparing for my job. My preparation is to talk to them away from everyone else and get real with them. When I'm broadcasting a game, I almost know what they're thinking about as far as important factors in the game.

I've been doing this for a long time but hopefully I've built up enough trust so that whether it's Pete Carroll, Jim Tressel, Joe Paterno or any coach, they can share whatever they want with me, knowing that I'm using it for my own information. I get to talk to the Urban Meyers and Nick Sabans of the world and I just love listening to them. I owe it to my own craft to continue to keep learning. The game changes over the years, and if I said, 'Oh, I played in the '90s, I know what I'm talking about,' I wouldn't be doing my job.

USCRipsIt: You played at Ohio State and have covered many games at Ohio Stadium. What's it going to be like on Sept. 12 when the Trojans and Buckeyes meet in Columbus?

Herbstreit: Oh, it'll be great. I loved when Ohio State came out here last year. Anytime you get programs like Ohio State, USC, Penn State, Michigan, Florida, Texas, anytime you can get these teams on the same field in the regular season, you have to be so thankful. You just 0611herbosu.jpgdon't get a chance to see teams like this play anymore in the regular season. I'm pumped. I'm an Ohio State alum, but being an analyst for ESPN/ABC for the last 15 years, I feel almost as close to USC as I do Ohio State, my own school, because I love the people here. The greatest thing about USC is the people and the players are the kind of guys you want to take home and let them babysit my kids. They're just good guys.

I'm looking forward to seeing the matchup, and I'll be calling it like I did last year. "GameDay" will be there -- it'll be so hyped. The USC team will come into that atmosphere -- let's face it, these guys have gone into Auburn, Nebraska, Notre Dame, all over the Pac-10 -- and it's not like they're going to be in awe of the circumstances. If anything, they'll look at it as a challenge and it'll motivate them that much more.

And then for Ohio State, the X-factor for them is Terrelle Pryor and whether he can make enough plays to keep them in the game. And can they take advantage of the home field? It'll be fun. When the dust settles, the team that wins will be that much closer to competing for the national championship and the other one will be back to the drawing board.

USCRipsIt: Last but not least, do you have a prediction for how that USC-Ohio State game will turn out?

Herbstreit: Ohio State is going to have to win the game to prove to people that they can play with a team like USC. Even though it's at home and even though everyone's saying that USC lost Mark Sanchez and all the players on defense, there's something different about USC, when they have time to prepare, as they've proven in nonconference games and bowl games, they just don't lose. It doesn't really matter where the game is being played -- that's kind of a nonfactor in their case.

For Ohio State, the one thing I know is the Terrelle Pryor factor is the X-factor, much like Vince Young and Texas. The things he can do not only affect his own offense but the defense, the crowd in the stands and creates momentum. It's all about whether he's ready to be that guy. On the other side, is Barkley going to emerge that game or will it be Aaron Corp? Is that position going to be OK in that environment or will it cost USC some plays with turnovers?

The quarterback position -- it's always important -- but in that game, it's especially important because of the youth and superstar status of those players. Are they ready to become those stars they eventually will be? Are they ready that night with that much pressure? Or will there be some good and some bad? If it is, hold on to your hat, because we don't know what's going to happen.

Coming Thursday

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ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit has been hanging out around Heritage Hall for the last two days shooting "College GameDay" commercials and chatting with Trojan coaches and players. He also sat down with USCRipsIt, and come Thursday morning, we'll publish the extremely insightful Q&A with one of sports' sharpest commentators.

Pedal to the medals

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Mark Sanchez and swimmer Rebecca Soni were named USC's recipients of the 2008-09 Pac-10 Tom Hansen Conference Medal Winners. A Conference Medal is given annually to each school's outstanding senior male and female student-athlete based on "the exhibition of the greatest combination of performance and achievement in scholarship, athletics and leadership."

Sanchez earned offensive player of the game honors at the 2009 Rose Bowl, while Soni won a gold medal and two silvers at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Both are graduates of USC's Annenberg School for Communication.

Saving money but losing an edge

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Flowing out of the recent Pac-10 coaches and athletic directors meetings, the conference has made several "cost-containment" proposals for football. The Pac-10 is requesting the NCAA handle the suggestions on an expedited basis as the conference hopes to have them implemented as early as this fall.

One cost-cutting measure has Coach Carroll especially peeved.

The conference sent in a proposal to the NCAA to eliminate the ability for institutions to stay in hotels the night before home games, which would give visiting teams the distinct advantage of staying and meeting together during the 24 hours leading up to a game.

"I couldn't be more opposed to this proposal," Carroll said. "That's a huge aspect of our preparation and a critical facet of the process to prepare to play at a high level on Saturdays. This is not a place they should be going to save money."

Prior to home games at the Coliseum, USC stays at a downtown hotel, where the players and coaches meet on the eve and day of games, watch film, get treatment for injuries and eat meals together. The weekly hotel stay is the culmination of the week's game prep and plays a significant role in the final steps of preparation before kickoff.

Put it on your calendar

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Individual tickets for home games this fall will go on sale on June 24 at 6 a.m. on and at 9 a.m. through the phone at 213-740-GOSC.

Here's the 2009 home schedule:

Sept. 5 • San Jose State • 12:30 p.m.
Sept. 26 • Washington State • TBD
Oct. 24 • Oregon State • 5 p.m. (Parents' Weekend)
Nov. 14 • Stanford • TBD (Homecoming)
Nov. 28 • UCLA • 7 p.m.
Dec. 5 • Arizona • 12:30 p.m. 

Good first impression

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The San Diego Union-Tribune has high praises for rookie safety Kevin Ellison, the Chargers' sixth-round draft pick and a three-year starter at USC. It's only been a few weeks of practice with the Chargers, but Ellison is already standing out, as the article states:

"It is clear that [sixth]-round draft pick Kevin Ellison is a player. He appears healthy, is in the right spot most of the time and is similar to Eric Weddle in that he seems to know how to find the ball. Philip Rivers has been particularly complimentary of Ellison."

Preseason honors

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Six Trojans were named to Lindy's preseason All-Pac-10 first team and two were placed on the all-conference second team.

Wideout Damian Williams, offensive tackle Charles Brown, offensive guard Jeff Byers, center Kristofer O'Dowd, defensive end Everson Griffen and safety Taylor Mays were named preseason first-teamers, while tailback Stafon Johnson and safety Josh Pinkard were put on the second team.

Start it up

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Coach Carroll commences the two-day Trojan Chalk Talk, a fantasy camp of sorts for grown-up kids, in Heritage Auditorium this morning.

Talking the talk

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The 2009 Trojan Chalk Talk, a fantasy camp for adults, is beginning now in Heritage Auditorium. Thirty-eight campers will sit in on various in-depth seminars with the USC coaches and former Trojan players over the next two days.

Speakers include Coach Carroll, the assistant coaches, head strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle, player fathers David Baker and Nick Sanchez, Heisman winner Charles White and Trojan greats Duane Bickett and Rod Martin.

Take a break

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Sandwiched between back-to-back workout days, players have today off from the summer strength and conditioning program. They'll pick up the four-day-per-week regimen Thursday and Friday to finish off the opening week of the summer program.

Much ado about nothing

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A lot has been made about Coach Carroll's lone dissenting vote at the Pac-10 coaches meetings regarding the proposal to allow children under 18 on the sidelines at games.

But a closer look shows that this is a big fuss about nothing. Get the facts about the rule and proposed change in this well researched L.A. Times piece, which includes mention of the conference's athletic directors shooting the proposal down by an 8-2 count and existing verbiage in the sideline rule that already allows for coaches' kids on the sidelines as water boys or something similar: "no person under the age of 18 shall be allowed on the sideline or in the team area during the game unless he or she is performing an assigned game-related task."

Read the full L.A. Times entry here.

Time to recruit

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Coaches are planted in the War Room for a recruiting meeting for most of the morning, with today's emphasis on the Class of 2011. Film and chatter about the prospects will carry on for the next two hours.

Stopping by to talk

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Coach Carroll chats with Alabama coach Nick Saban in his Heritage Hall office this afternoon. Saban is on campus this afternoon for a commercial shoot for ESPN's "College GameDay."

Meeting with the best

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Coach Carroll traveled to San Diego for Monday night's Coaches Tour stop, and he snuck in a neat diversion during the day.

Carroll visited with the Navy SEALs at the North Island Naval Air Station on Coronado Island, getting a tour of the facilities and meeting with several of the SEALs for a few hours Monday afternoon.

"It was great studying with guys who are the best in the world at competing," Carroll said. "I couldn't have been more impressed with their approach and work ethic all the way around."

Changing locales

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The ESPN "College GameDay" circus has packed up and moved on.

But it hasn't gone too far.

The crew has put up the recognizable "GameDay" set in McCarthy Quad on campus for a few more commercial tapings for the hit show today. Hosts Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit and Desmond Howard are on campus, and Florida coach Urban Meyer and Alabama coach Nick Saban are also on hand for a pair of other 30-second spots that'll air this fall.

Here are some pictures of the "College GameDay" set in McCarthy Quad:



Must-see TV: Taylor Mays and the Song Girls

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Safety Taylor Mays spent an afternoon at a recent USC Song Girls practice, and you can see the entertaining results in the latest video feature from USCRipsIt, brought to you by producer Mark Haas and videographer Rob McPherson:

Commercial news and notes

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Here are a few fun facts regarding this morning's "College GameDay" commercial shoot:

- A 50-person crew worked the commercial shoot, all for a 30-second spot.

- Coach Carroll and Kirk Herbstreit did seven takes for one of the spots and five for the other for a total of 12, followed by some bonus footage that'll air online.

- A scissor lift was set up outside of Carroll's second-floor office and two massive stage lights shined through the windows to provide artificial bright sunlight on a cloudy morning in L.A.

- Construction at the adjacent School of Cinematic Arts was halted for about a half-hour this morning while the commercial was being taped in Carroll's office, which allowed for silence during the shoot.

- The crew is also shooting two other "College GameDay" spots on USC's campus today. The staffers started arriving on campus slightly after 5 a.m. and aren't scheduled to finish work until 10 p.m. tonight, making for a 17-hour workday.

Caught in the shuffle

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Football receptionist Irene Puentes (foreground, at desk) finds herself in the midst of intense commotion during this morning's commercial shoot for ESPN's "College GameDay." The setup and crew took over the entire football office and Heritage Hall in general, with loads of equipment unfurled all over the athletic headquarters this morning.

Lights, camera, action

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After nearly an hour and 12 takes over two separate spots, Coach Carroll and ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit just wrapped up the commercial shoot for "College GameDay" in Carroll's Heritage Hall office. The commercial will air this fall on ESPN, but in the meantime, here are two pictures from the eventful morning:

Coach Carroll and Kirk Herbstreit prepare for one of their takes during this morning's "College GameDay" commercial shoot.

Kirk Herbstreit and Coach Carroll wait between takes.

Packed house

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With a flurry of activity around him, Coach Carroll sits in his office -- fitted with lights and cameras -- before this morning's "ESPN College GameDay" commercial shoot.

Work goes on

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While cinematic madness unfolds in Heritage Hall, the players march on through the summer strength and conditioning program, which is now in its second day. They're going through explosion and power drills on Howard Jones field before moving into the weight room to conclude the workout.

Players do medicine ball tosses during this morning's strength and conditioning session on Howard Jones field.

Offensive linemen go through vertical jumping exercises with head strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle.

Getting prepped

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The setup for the "ESPN College GameDay" commercial shoot in Coach Carroll's office carries on, with call time approaching within the hour.

Workers rearrange and set up lights in Coach Carroll's Heritage Hall office.

Several cameras and cameramen wait in the football office's lobby before this morning's commercial shoot.

With artificial light pouring through the blinds and from the ceiling, Coach Carroll's office waits ready for the "ESPN College GameDay" commercial shoot.

For a good read

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Here's a great feature on former Trojan quarterback Matt Cassel, who's growing into the starting role with the Kansas City Chiefs (from the Sporting News).

Early birds

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They're starting bright and early.

Beginning at 6 a.m. this morning, when the sun hadn't yet peaked through the morning clouds, a 50-person crew began setting up in Heritage Hall for an "ESPN College GameDay" commercial featuring Coach Carroll. The 30-second spot, showcasing Carroll and ESPN personality Kirk Herbstreit in a typically funny interchange, will air this fall.

We'll have behind-the-scenes photos throughout the setup and shoot.

Coming Tuesday!

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On Tuesday, you will witness history. Or something like that.

Safety Taylor Mays stopped by a recent USC Song Girls practice to interview the squad members and participate in some of the exercises, with some rather funny results. The outcome will entertain you and bring you many laughs, so check back tomorrow for this hilarious new video feature from USCRipsIt.

Heading to San Diego

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The 2009 Coaches Tour enters its final week with a stop in San Diego tonight. Coach Carroll and Tim Floyd are making the trek down the 5 and are scheduled to return to L.A. late tonight.

After the San Diego stop, only two Coaches Tour events remain -- Wednesday in Manhattan Beach and Thursday in Westlake Village. Register here to attend either one.

Patriot games

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Tom Malone, who played for the Trojans in 2002-05, has found another home in a familiar place.

Malone, USC's only All-American punter, has been resigned by the New England Patriots to an undisclosed contract. He's had two previous stints with the Patriots and one with the 49ers since leaving USC in 2006.

Protecting a city gem

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The L.A. Marathon, which for decades had been run on the first Sunday in March, was moved to Memorial Day this year, drastically altering one of Los Angeles' great civic jewels.

But organizers and several thousand others are trying to move it back to its rightful, conventional place on the calendar to maintain tradition and avoid potential brutal heat at the end of May. Sign the online petition to help change the date back to the first Sunday in March before the L.A. City Council votes on the proposal. Less than 500 signatures are needed before reaching the goal of 5,000, so help the cause now!

Hope into the future

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A Better LA, the foundation started by Coach Carroll that's aiming to transform the gang-ridden communities of Los Angeles, appears to be having an impact. Check out this hopeful feature from Sunday's L.A. Times that examines the decreased gang violence in Los Angeles. It includes a quote from A Better LA executive director Brian Center.

Using his skills

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Former walk-on kicker Brad Smith, who was on the team in 2007, has started a unique college football award based on "meta-algorithms derived from differential equations" from stats culled from the previous nine seasons. It's detailed in this feature on

USC kicker David Buehler won the kickoff specialist award for 2008.

And so it begins

Without any fanfare or attention, the summer strength and conditioning program started at exactly 7 a.m. this morning.

"Here we go!" head strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle bellowed amid the calm din of the 42 players in attendance. "Hand down!"

And just like that, with precisely two months until Fall Camp's first practice, the summer training regimen kicked off, commencing an eight-week journey that will be the Trojans' final steps before plunging into Fall Camp and the 2009 season.

Like the initial workout of the winter strength and conditioning program, today's session had a freshness and excitement to it, as players and strength coaches moved through the warm-up and three agility- and speed-focused stations on Howard Jones field with a noticeable pep in their step. But unlike that 6 a.m. mid-January workout, this morning's 100-minute session featured a heightened sense of urgency, with the season just down the homestretch.

Instead of pitch dark, cold weather and players in leggings and winter caps -- all characteristics of the first workout of the offseason each January -- today's early-morning workout was conducted in daylight, pleasant temperatures and with players in shorts and t-shirts. What a difference five months makes, yet both times are just another part of the maturation process of the USC football team.

"It's a continuation of the steps we started in January," Carlisle said of the summer program. "We just came out of halftime and now we're ready to go -- it's time for the third and fourth quarters."

During the next two months, the players will work four days a week (bumping it up to five per week in July), focusing on speed, agility, power, endurance and strength -- all components that Carlisle calls "trainable attributes" -- during workouts split between the field and weight room. The five attributes are tied together by flexibility and core work, with a heavy emphasis on competition, finishing and "doing things right all the time," Carlisle says.

So it's not about lifting a bunch of weight? Not this summer, not ever for the Trojans.

"It's never about 'how much,'" Carlisle said. "We're way more focused on 'how to' and 'how fast.'"

Ready or not, the 2009 season is on its way.

Check out some pictures from this morning's 7 a.m. workout:

Players go through the warm-up just after 7 a.m. as the sun rises into the sky.

Wideout Ronald Johnson and quarterback Mitch Mustain do high-knee warm-up work.

Offensive tackle Tyron Smith and quarterback Matt Barkley conduct an "inchworm" exercise during warm-ups.

Offensive linemen Kristofer O'Dowd (black shirt), Butch Lewis (cardinal shirt) and Zack Heberer (gray shirt, red headband) hustle through agility bags.

Assistant strength and conditioning coach Jaime Yanchar leads the players through medicine ball drills aimed to work on their core.

Wideout Damian Williams sprints through a timed 20-yard dash.

Quarterbacks Aaron Corp (left) and Mitch Mustain (right) lead their group through agility bags.

Following the on-field work, offensive lineman Alex Parsons goes airborne as he lifts in the weight room.

Kicking it off

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Joe Danelo (left), with Coach Carroll and senior associate athletic director Mark Jackson in the background, welcomes the 80-plus campers to the Mario Danelo Kicking Academy this afternoon in Heritage Auditorium. The first of USC's six summer kids camps, which goes until 8 p.m. tonight, is named in honor of the Trojans' record-setting kicker who tragically died in January 2007 before his senior season. Mario's father Joe is a former NFL kicker and honorary guest coach at the kicking academy.

Mourning a loss

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This is why A Better LA exists, and why it will not relent in its pursuit for peace on the streets of inner-city Los Angeles.

Coach Carroll spent the morning at the memorial service for Dannie Farber Jr., the Narbonne High School football player who was gunned down at a Compton restaurant two weeks ago.

Farber, who police have determined has no gang connections, was shot and killed in an apparent gang-related attack in South Los Angeles on May 24 while eating dinner with a date. Set to graduate June 19 and potentially play football collegiately, Farber was an All-City wide receiver on the Los Angeles City co-champion Narbonne High squad.

Instead of acting as a discouragement for the positive work in the inner-city by groups such as A Better LA, the service was uplifting and hopeful, Carroll said.

"All the speakers talked about how we'll grow from this -- it's an illustration of why we need to do something," Carroll said this afternoon. "It's continuing to echo throughout Los Angeles that people are really ready to go. Dannie's passing was another call to arms for everyone."

Legendary musician Stevie Wonder was a surprise performer at the ceremony in Gardena, bringing the mourners both to joy and tears.

"Holy mackerel, he was spectacular," Carroll said of Wonder. "He started playing and then broke out in the Lord's Prayer, and everyone was cheering and crying. It was emotional, amazing, incredible."

Mays and the Song Girls: Coming Tuesday!

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Taylor Mays is entering uncharted territory.

Mays is an All-American, a three-year starter at USC and owner of several SportsCenter top plays, but nothing compares to what he just accomplished. The senior safety put on his participatory journalist hat and attended a recent USC Song Girls practice to interview the squad and take part in some of the exercises.

Going from an All-American to an honorary member of one of America's most recognizable spirit squads -- just another day for Mays.

And lucky for you, it's all on tape. We'll post this unbelievably entertaining feature on USCRipsIt on Tuesday, so be checking back to watch this video -- you won't regret it.

Did you know?

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The 2009 season starts exactly three months from today -- from this moment, actually -- when San Jose State enters the Coliseum for the 12:30 p.m. game on Sept. 5. In other words, that's 92 days, 2,208 hours or 132,480 minutes from now.

Start the countdown now, if you haven't already.

About to begin

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The summer strength and conditioning program opens Monday with workouts at 7 a.m., 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. The eight-week regimen, which goes four days a week and includes running and weightlifting, will carry the Trojans the rest of the way into the 2009 season.

The program leads directly into Fall Camp, which opens Aug. 7.

Jolly green giant

Nourished by a few days of wet weather and aided by six weeks of dormancy, Howard Jones field has now become a plush pitch of green grass. Workers recently painted fresh football lines in preparation of the Win Forever Trojan Football Summer Camps, which begin today with the Mario Danelo Kicking Academy and continue through the end of the month.

Night owls

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A hullabaloo among fans has been made that this fall's USC-UCLA game at the Coliseum on Nov. 28 will be played at 7 p.m., making it just the fifth time the rivalry matchup will be contested at night.

But the game time is not happenstance.

According to a contract between the Pac-10 and FSN, the cable sports network receives rights to the USC-UCLA game one out of every five years, and the rotation dictated 2009 would be the game for FSN. And since the network wanted it to be a nationally televised contest, the only remaining nationwide slot on Nov. 28 was 7 p.m. Pacific time.

The late-November home night game will be nothing new for the Trojans, who have hosted Notre Dame at night on the last Saturday of November nine out of the rivals' last 10 meetings at the Coliseum.

The Hawaiian lucky 13th

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We received a few questions wondering why the 2010 schedule includes 13 games -- nine in conference and four non-conference matchups -- instead of the permitted 12-game college football schedule.

It all comes back to what's known as "the Hawaii rule" in college football.

When teams play against Hawaii in Honolulu, they're afforded an extra game -- intended to be played at home -- to offset the travel expenses of going thousands of miles to an expensive tourist destination. It's NCAA rule, which says that the maximum number of football contests in a season shall exclude "any football games played in Hawaii, Alaska or Puerto Rico, respectively, either against or under the sponsorship of an active member institution located in Hawaii, Alaska or Puerto Rico, by a Division I member institution located outside the area in question."

And that also applies to USC's 2013 schedule, when the Trojans are slated to play the Warriors in Honolulu again. As of now, only 12 games are scheduled, but USC athletic department officials say they are currently working on finding an additional opponent.

It's showtime

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The football headquarters is clearing out in anticipation of tonight's Lakers game at Staples Center 1.5 miles up Figueroa Street from campus.

And many of the coaches will be watching it in style, as some of the assistants will be guests of Jerry Buss in the owner's suite tonight during Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Coach Carroll is on the road for the Coaches Tour in the Bay Area tonight, so he's unfortunately missing out on the special experience.

"I wish I could be there!" Carroll exclaimed on his way to the airport this afternoon.

Buss, who has owned the Lakers since 1979, earned a master's and Ph.D. degree from USC by age 24. Before becoming a highly successful real estate developer, Buss was a professor in USC's department of chemistry in the 1960s and has since donated more than $7 million to the department. Also, two of Buss' children, Jeanie and Joey, graduated from USC. 

Airport fun

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Coach Carroll has left Heritage Hall and is already at LAX for his 3 p.m. flight to San Francisco for tonight's Coaches Tour stop in the Bay Area. He returns on a late-night flight and will touch down in L.A. before midnight and be back at work first thing in the morning.

"I always look forward to this stop," said Carroll, a Bay Area native. "It's great getting back to NorCal and seeing friends."

On trips like these, Carroll flies commercial and becomes a man of the people, going through security and waiting at the gate. Because of that, he can sometimes be hounded by autograph-seekers or zealous fans wanting a picture.

"But it's definitely nothing to complain about," Carroll said.

Reaching out to the youth

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Check out this feature on Coach Carroll that will be published in the next issue of Youth Fitness Magazine (PDF file).

An emotional time

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In light of Friday's Mario Danelo Kicking Academy at USC, here's a poignant Danelo tribute video that was posted the week after the 2007 season-opener. Courtesy of producer Mark Haas and the USC Video Production department:

Halfway home

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The 2009 Coaches Tour hits its midpoint tonight when Coach Carroll travels to the Bay Area for the Northern California stop on the seven-city circuit. Tonight's event will be held at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport, and a few walk-up tickets are available for the 5:30 reception and 6:30 dinner and program.

The next stop will be Monday in San Diego. Program-only tickets are available for only $25.

Tough coming back

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It's a bittersweet time for Joe Danelo.

Danelo is returning Friday to be a guest coach at the USC's high school kicking camp, which has been named in honor of his son Mario, who tragically died in January 2007 following two seasons as the Trojans' starting kicker.

"I really do enjoy coming back, but it is hard sometimes," said Danelo, who had a 10-year career as an NFL kicker. "This is a wonderful, wonderful place and I'm so glad Mario chose to come here. In some ways it's sad, but I think about the good stuff."

Coach Carroll always invites Danelo and his wife Emily back to take part in program activities because "it gives them a chance to get with the team and connect with the guys," he said.

"They'll always be a part of our family," said Carroll, whose relationship with Danelo dates back to 1984 when Danelo was the Buffalo Bills' starting kicker and Carroll was an assistant coach.

The Danelos surely appreciate Carroll and the program's support and welcoming spirit.

"I can't say enough good things about USC," Danelo said. "If someone is being recruited by several other schools and they come here and meet the staff, I don't know why they'd want to go anywhere else. You feel good with your kid here, you're leaving them in good hands."

Mario Danelo set several records in his two seasons as the starter at USC, including an NCAA-record 83 PATs made in 2005. In the 2007 season-opener at the Coliseum -- the Trojans' first game since his death -- USC paid homage to Mario in one of the most touching tributes ever seen in sports when the extra-point team lined up in a "missing man formation." See it here:

On the radio

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Coach Carroll is scheduled to be interviewed live on Honolulu's 1420-AM ESPN radio at 10:30 a.m. this morning. Listen live here.

One more plug

Need some good reading for the night or an inspiring bedtime story? Check out the in-depth feature on Coach Carroll's revolutionary speech to top U.S. military leaders, from USCRipsIt and


Moving it up

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What might've gotten lost in the shuffle of the announcement of the new home-and-home series with Hawaii is that next season's opener against the Warriors in Honolulu has been moved up from Saturday, Sept. 4 to Thursday, Sept. 2, 2010.

The 48-hour shift was made for two reasons, according to senior associate athletic director Steve Lopes.

The obvious one is to accommodate TV. The Thursday night game will be aired nationally on a to-be-determined ESPN network at 5:30 p.m. Hawaii time (8:30 p.m. Pacific) as the second part of an opening-night doubleheader.

Also, the game was moved to elongate USC's game week for the following contest. Instead of returning on a redeye back to L.A. after a Saturday game in Hawaii and then hosting Virginia at the Coliseum less than seven days later, the Trojans will now get an additional two days, allowing them to stay in Honolulu an extra day, fly back on Friday night and then begin preparations for the 2010 home opener on a normal schedule.

Big honor

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Coach Carroll has been named college football's "Coach of the Decade" by Lindy's Sports.

On television

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Coach Carroll tapes an interview for Santa Monica's KVMD television station this afternoon in the Heritage Hall lobby. Offensive tackle Charles Brown is interning this summer in the sports department of the local independent news station.

USC, Hawaii announce future series

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USC and Hawaii will play a home-and-home football series in 2012 and 2013, Trojan athletic director Mike Garrett announced today.

The Trojans will host Hawaii at the Coliseum on Sept. 1, 2012 and then travel to Honolulu to face the Warriors on Aug. 31, 2013.

Additionally, the Trojans' previously scheduled 2010 season-opener at Hawaii has been moved from Saturday, Sept. 4 to Thursday, Sept. 2. The game will kick off at 5:30 p.m. in Honolulu (8:30 p.m. Pacific time) and be televised live nationally on an ESPN station.

"We're excited to be able to add some more games against Hawaii to our schedule," Coach Carroll said. "It's a great way for us to open our seasons in 2012 and 2013. I know our players and fans enjoy traveling to Honolulu for the game, and we get good crowd support from the many Trojan fans living in Hawaii who get to see us play. And it works out well for Hawaii coming to the Coliseum, because they have such a strong fan base in Southern California."

Here's the breakdown of the Trojans' nonconference opponents for the coming five seasons:

2009: San Jose State, at Ohio State, at Notre Dame
2010: at Hawaii, Virginia, at Minnesota, Notre Dame
2011: Minnesota, Syracuse, at Notre Dame
2012: Hawaii, at Syracuse, Notre Dame
2013: at Hawaii, Boston College, at Notre Dame

For the kids

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Sign-ups are still being accepted for all six of the Win Forever Trojan Football Summer Camps, which kick off Friday and go through the end of the month. Register online or as a walk-up on the day of the camp.

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)


Continuing on

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Coaches are in Round 2 of their epic recruiting meeting, with today's session featuring film of all the prospects the staffers saw during the evaluation period over the last four weeks. The meeting should wrap up by lunchtime, giving the coaches the afternoon to gather as offensive and defensive staffs.
0526pcmilitarypccom400.jpgNational security and college football usually don't mesh.

Unless you're Pete Carroll -- and then they're meshing in unprecedented ways.

In late April, Carroll was a special invitee to the U.S. Military's Conference on Small Unit Excellence, and his speech and Win Forever philosophy became one of the focal points of the three-day event that was shimmering with some of the country's brightest minds and most decorated leaders. What Carroll shared has since revolutionized military strategy in profound ways, and you can read all about it in the latest feature from USCRipsIt and

"Something unprecedented will happen because of that conference," one of the chief organizers of the event said. "And I can assure you that no one at that conference had more impact on the people who have to go do it than Pete Carroll."

You do not want to miss this inspiring feature.

On the radio

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Coach Carroll will appear on the "Petros Money Show" on AM-570 tonight at 6 p.m. Listen live through an internet stream here.

Celebrate the title

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This afternoon in the Varsity Lounge, the USC athletic department hosts an in-house celebration for the Trojan men's tennis team, which won its 17th national championship two weeks ago. Coach Peter Smith (right, white shirt) introduces the players, with athletic director Mike Garrett and the NCAA Championship trophy toward the right. "Every time we win a national championship it reaffirms why we're Trojans," Garrett said during the ceremony. "It doesn't get any better."

Preseason accolades

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Safety Taylor Mays, center Kristofer O'Dowd and offensive lineman Jeff Byers have been named preseason first-team All-Americans by Phil Steele's College Football publication. Wideout Damian Williams was named a preseason fourth-team All-American.

Sixteen players made one of Steele's four preseason All-Pac-10 teams, including five first-teamers: Mays, Williams, O'Dowd, Byers and offensive tackle Charles Brown.

Chalk talk with the coaches

Set for next Wednesday and Thursday at Heritage Hall, the Trojan Chalk Talk offers you a special look at the USC coaching staff and football program. With Coach Carroll, his assistants and several Trojan legends, the two-day seminar brings fans of every age, gender and knowledge level inside the program through film sessions, chalk talks and demonstrations. Additionally, "A Father's Perspective," featuring Nick Sanchez and David Baker, and talks from USC greats Duane Bickett and Rod Martin will be part of the program.

Sign up here for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Looking through the TV windows

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While the times and TV plans for the two remaining undetermined games on the 2009 schedule won't be announced until two weeks prior to each contest, we do have some idea of where they could be slotted.

As always, it's all based on television.

The available television windows for the Sept. 26 home game against Washington State are 4:30 p.m. on Versus and 7:15 p.m. on FSN.

Then for the Nov. 14 contest against Stanford, the available TV windows are 12:30 p.m. on ABC, 4 p.m. on Versus and 7:15 p.m. on FSN.

Two more game times set

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The start times and television arrangements for two more USC games this fall have been announced, leaving only a pair of 2009 games with undetermined times and TV plans.

The season-opener against San Jose State on Sept. 5 at the Coliseum will kick off at 12:30 p.m. and be show live nationally on FSN. USC's Nov. 28 home game against UCLA will begin at 7 p.m. and also be shown live nationally on FSN.

Only the Trojans' home contests against Washington State (Sept. 26) and Stanford (Nov. 14) have yet to be determined. The start times and TV arrangements will be announced two weeks prior to each of those two games.

Here's the full 2009 schedule as of now:

Date • Opponent • Time • TV  
Sept. 5 • San Jose State • 12:30 p.m. • FSN
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 • 7 p.m. • FSN
Dec. 5 • Arizona • 12:30 p.m. • ABC

Green with envy

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John Morton is all but screaming "J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets!" this morning.

USC's offensive coordinator, who spent three days last week visiting the New York Jets in Florham Park, N.J., is decked out in a Jets hat today, with much more green apparel in the dresser ready to be worn in the coming days and weeks, he said.

But don't worry, he's getting plenty of flak from his colleagues for the temporary wardrobe change.

"Someone got some new gear!" Coach Carroll sarcastically said to Morton this morning.

"Yep, they're my new favorite team," Morton joked while pointing to his new cap.

Future planning

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Time for an information dump.

Coaches have hunkered down in the War Room for a morning-long staff meeting to share their findings from the recruiting trail over the last month. Each coach is sharing analysis of all the Class of 2010 prospects they encountered during the spring evaluation period over the previous four weeks, divulging everything from 40 times to height and weight to even GPAs and test scores.

This welcome-back meeting is so bulky -- and so vitally important -- that it's split between today and Wednesday morning.

Project Trojan: Episode 3

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The third episode of "Project Trojan: The Making of the 2009 USC Football Team" has been posted, so check it out on the home page of (for All-Access subscribers only; register today for only $9.95 a month).

Here's a tease to show you what the insider episode explores:

For your iPod

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Want to download the "Make It Better" song that Coach Carroll made a special keyboarding appearance in? Download it here so you can put it on your iPod and spread the A Better LA love.

A quest for history: In pursuit of Tammy Trojan

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This spring, senior Stephanie Graves -- all of 5-4 and 104 pounds -- set out to become the first female drum major in the history of the Trojan Marching Band. Follow along on her journey through the try-out process in this fascinating new feature from USCRipsIt, written by special contributor Elizabeth Geli.


Camp time

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The Win Forever Trojan Football Summer Camps get rolling this Friday with the Mario Danelo Kicking Camp. Hosted by USC, the six camps over the next four weeks provide kids high school-age and younger an opportunity to learn from the Trojan coaching staff. Sign up now for any of the various camps, and walk-up registration will be taken as well.

Going to the pros

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Call it the USC coaching world's version of summer school.

Offensive coordinator John Morton took a three-day trip last week to visit the New York Jets at their training facility in Florham Park, N.J., getting to sit in on meetings, attend practice and tour the team's new complex.

0601jmo.jpeg"It was a good experience," Morton said. "You pick up a few things and observe how coaches do things differently. It was cool."

Morton, in his third year at USC but first as the offensive coordinator, also got to watch Jets first-round draft pick and Trojan alum Mark Sanchez go through a few of his first practices of his rookie campaign.

"They're making him do a lot," Morton said of Sanchez. "It's overload mode right now. It's hard, but he's into it, he's picking it up."

Coach Carroll always encourages his assistants to visit NFL teams during the offseason to learn from the pros and pick up ideas from other systems. Offensive line coach Pat Ruel and running backs coach Todd McNair are two who have visited various NFL teams in the last two offseasons.

"It's a great way for our guys to learn from the best," Carroll said. 

Up close and personal

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USC alum Steve Smith, now a wideout on the New York Giants, has a dynamic, self-updated Facebook fan page up and running, complete with a personal tour of the Giants locker room and facilities. Check it out!

Heading to Pasadena

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The third of seven stops on the 2009 Coaches Tour is tonight in Pasadena. A limited number of walk-up program-only tickets will be available at the event at the Langham Huntington Hotel.

Get to work

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About 30 minutes ago, when the coaches split from their first staff meeting in more than a month, they went out with a commission.

They have all of June -- a total of about 20 workdays -- to finish preparing for the season before July comes and they all take vacation. All playbooks need to be assembled, all film needs to be broken down and all practice plans need to be solidified before July 1 hits.

"We've got a big job and not much time," Coach Carroll said during this morning's staff meeting. "The most important thing is that we've got to get ready for the season so we're ready to rock and roll for camp."

One week to go

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Let the countdown begin.

The summer strength and conditioning session -- the final eight-week push into the 2009 season -- begins seven days from today, and the excitement is building.

Players have been doing discretionary workouts since late April, which will have given them five weeks of time away from the challenging grind of the normal strength and conditioning program, the most time off for the players since last May.

The players last got a significant amount of time off after the Rose Bowl, when they received just two weeks free.

"It wasn't enough time to really recover, so this time off has been nice for all to heal and recover fully," head strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle said.

Music man

Coach Carroll was live at the Roxy this weekend.


Showing that life truly never gets boring for USC's football coach, Carroll was the guest keyboardist during an A Better LA benefit concert featuring Kelley James, John West and Bren James on Saturday night in front of a packed house at the famous theater on Sunset Blvd. Carroll tapped the ivories during their trio's catchy "Make It Better" song, which is dedicated to A Better LA's efforts in the inner-city, and the encore freestyle performance.

"It was a blast," Carroll, still beaming this morning, said. "It was a great crowd and hopefully we can get the song out and see if it can help us with A Better LA."

As for a self-review of his performance, the ever-modest Carroll didn't give himself too much credit.

"All I know is G and D," he said with a laugh.

Listen to the song here.

Welcome back

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It's like a high school reunion, the first day of school and Homecoming all wrapped up into one day.

OK, maybe not that big, but you get the point.

After a month on the recruiting trail, the coaches are returning to the football office in Heritage Hall this morning to commence a regular work week consisting of staff meetings, film watching and other in-office coaching duties. The four-week spring evaluation period concluded Friday, meaning coaches aren't allowed to recruit again until the fall and giving them plenty of time to take care of their responsibilities in advance of the season.

June features camps, film breakdowns and playbook compilations and July is a vacation month before the staff returns the first week of August to officially commence the 2009 season with final Fall Camp preparations.

Fall Camp opens August 7.