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January 2010 Archives

'I'm ready:' Stafon set to play in Senior Bowl

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Check out this heart-warming feature on Stafon Johnson, from ESPN.com. Johnson and his fellow NFL-bound Trojan teammates will play in the Senior Bowl on Saturday at 1 p.m. The all-star game will be televised on NFL Network.

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In Saturday's Senior Bowl (1 p.m. on NFL Network), Stafon Johnson will return to the football field for the first time since his weightlifting accident on Sept. 28. [Photo courtesy of AP]

Pro Bowl Trojans

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With three USC alumni on the two rosters, the NFL Pro Bowl will kick off on Sunday at 4:20 p.m. on ESPN. Rookie linebacker Brian Cushing, who was originally selected as an AFC starter, will sit out due to injury, but three of his former USC teammates will be suiting up for the NFC squad in the NFL All-Star game:

  • OL Ryan Kalil
  • LB Clay Matthews
  • WR Steve Smith

Running wild

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(From left to right) Safety Ryan McMahon, wideout Brice Butler, wideout Robbie Boyer, cornerback Daniel Harper, wideout Jordan Cameron and cornerback Shareece Wright trot through sprints during this morning's workouts, which included a weightlifting circuit in Heritage Hall and 16 40-yard dashes on Cromwell Field. The players now get the weekend off before returning to workouts on Monday morning.

Officially visiting for the final weekend

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A whopping 12 prospects in the Class of 2010 will be on campus this weekend for the final official visit of the recruiting year. Signing Day is Wednesday, and with a dead period starting Monday, this weekend is the final face-to-face contact the coaches are permitted to have with recruits. It's an understatement to say the next 48 hours could have a profound impact on the future of the USC football program.

The official visit weekend, hosted by Trojan coaches and support staffers, begins today at 1 p.m., when prospects and their parents arrive on campus for a meet and greet with coaches. Here's a look at what each day entails during the weekend, a similar schedule employed for each official visit this month:

  • Friday: Lunch on campus, academic meetings, Heritage Hall tour, dinner downtown
  • Saturday: Breakfast on campus, campus tour, meetings with coaches, lunch downtown, Coliseum tour, dinner downtown
  • Sunday: Breakfast in Manhattan Beach, depart for airport

Seniors' day

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The 2010 Senior Bowl, one of the key scouting elements for NFL-bound players, will be played Saturday at 1 p.m. on NFL Network. Be sure to watch the following four Trojans in action, including Stafon Johnson as he sees his first live game action since his throat injury on Sept. 28:

  • OL Jeff Byers
  • TB Stafon Johnson
  • S Taylor Mays
  • TE Anthony McCoy
  • (OL Charles Brown was invited but is sitting out because of a calf injury)

Message from Compliance

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Coaches are making their final pushes with prospects and Signing Day is just five days away, so the USC Compliance Office would like to share a warning to Trojan fans as the annual recruiting milestone inches closer:
It might seem like a harmless way to help, but in reality, it could hurt more than anything.

With the National Letter of Intent signing date drawing near, we just wanted to remind you that fan-driven wooing of high school prospects via Facebook and other social networking sites is not permitted. The USC Compliance Office is requesting that all Trojan supporters learn about the pitfalls of social networking sites when it comes to NCAA regulations.

Creating Facebook groups or contacting prospects via message boards, Twitter or other social networking sites to encourage them to attend USC violates NCAA regulations and can negatively impact the USC athletic program, so please refrain from crossing any lines when it comes to the world of cyber-recruiting. 

For a good read

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Don't miss this touching feature about Stafon Johnson, who's at the Senior Bowl this week playing football for the first time since his tragic weightlifting accident in September.

Barry announced as new linebackers coach

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joebarry.jpgJoe Barry, a former USC linebacker and assistant coach who spent the previous 10 years coaching in the NFL, has been officially hired as the new linebackers coach, new head coach Lane Kiffin announced today.

"When we were hired, we said we would put together the best coaching staff in the country," Kiffin said. "In Joe Barry, we've hit a home run. He was the only linebacker coach we went after and, although it took a while, we're excited to bring him back to the Trojan Family. He is an outstanding coach who has been part of Rose Bowl and Super Bowl championship teams, and he has produced some great linebackers during his terrific NFL career. One day, he'll be a great head coach as well."

The 39-year-old Barry, who played for the Trojans in 1992-93, was the linebackers coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2009. Previously, he was defensive coordinator of the Detroit Lions in 2007-08. He has worked in the NFL since 2000, including a six-year stint (2001-06) as the Buccaneers linebackers coach, when he worked under current USC defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. Barry was a staffer on the 2002 Super Bowl champions that led the league in total defense and scoring defense. He had seven Pro Bowl linebackers in six seasons with Tampa Bay.

Barry began his coaching career at USC in 1994, when he was the team's video coordinator. In 1995, he became a graduate assistant with the defensive line, helping lead the Trojans to a Rose Bowl championship.
 
Barry, who also worked at Northern Arizona and UNLV before breaking into the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers in 2000, received his bachelor's degree in communication from USC in 1994. His father-in-law, Rod Marinelli, is a long-time college (Utah State, California, Arizona State) and pro (Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Chicago Bears) assistant who had stints as a USC assistant (1995) and as the Lions' head coach (2006-08).

Richard heads to Seahawks

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Defensive graduate assistant Kris Richard has taken an assistant defensive backs coach with the Seattle Seahawks. The USC alum not only is reunited with Coach Pete Carroll, but he also returns to the NFL team he played for in 2002-04.

Tatupu the philanthropist

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Linebacker Lofa Tatupu, a former USC All-American, has donated $10,000 to USA Football to assist in the organization's work of establishing a youth football program in American Samoa.

Fangupo, Jones improving

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The good news keeps coming for two Trojans who suffered major injuries during the 2009 season.

Defensive lineman Hebron Fangupo, who broke his leg on Sept. 26 against Washington State, had a screw removed from his leg this week and now has six weeks before he can resume full-speed running. The 6-2, 330-pound interior lineman could possibly return for Spring Practice.

Also, defensive back Marshall Jones, who broke a vertebra in his neck in the same Sept. 26 game, was cleared without any restrictions by doctors on Tuesday. He will take part in the offseason strength and conditioning program and be able to participate in Spring Practice in two months.

Johnson named Coach of the Year

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Bob Johnson, head coach at Mission Viejo High, has been named 2009 NFL High School Football Coach of the Year. Johnson trained Mark Sanchez, among many other college and NFL stars, and is also the father of former USC quarterback Rob Johnson.

Proving his worth

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Tight end Anthony McCoy has been impressing during Senior Bowl practices this week. Check out this blurb from NFLDraftScout.com:
The other South tight ends, Anthony McCoy (USC) and Colin Peek (Alabama) also impressed as able blockers and showed very good hands as receivers. Peek worked over Texas' Sergio Kindle in the BCS Championship Game and did the same Tuesday, while McCoy sealed the edge on run plays as he had done many times before for the Trojans. McCoy also used his long stride to get behind linebackers, making a nice diving grab down the seam.

Hard at work

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Check out these action photos of Taylor Mays and Stafon Johnson from Senior Bowl practice on Wednesday. Senior Bowl workouts wrap up today, and the game will be Saturday at 1 p.m. on NFL Network.

Yanchar departs for Seattle

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Jaime Yanchar.jpgLongtime assistant strength and conditioning coach Jamie Yanchar has resigned to take a similar position with the Seattle Seahawks.

Yanchar, who had worked at USC since 1990, was the interim head strength coach in the wake of Chris Carlisle's departure for the Seahawks. Assistant strength and conditioning coach Bryan Bailey, a seven-year veteran of the program, will now take up the lead duties in the interim while Coach Lane Kiffin conducts the search for the new head strength and conditioning coach.

The Trojans are less than a week into their eight-week winter strength and conditioning offseason program.

Special emphasis

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Following Tuesday's release of a very preliminary offensive and defensive depth chart, here's what the special teams depth chart looks like as of now (not counting any incoming players and also realizing that Spring Practice and Fall Camp will determine a lot for the future of this unit):

  • Placekicker • Joe Houston, Senior
  • Kickoff kicker • Jake Harfman, Senior
  • Punter • Jake Harfman, Senior
  • Holder • TBD during Spring Practice
  • Long snapper (field goals) • Chris Pousson, Junior
  • Long snapper (punts) • Cooper Stephenson, Senior

Single-minded focus

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boyd.jpeg cameron2.jpegRipsIt reader Randy Hastings e-mailed in wondering whether wideout Jordan Cameron or tight end James Boyd will play on the basketball team this season. Neither player will pull double duty, as Cameron, who played for the Trojan hoops squad last year, has decided to focus solely on football's offseason strength and conditioning program this winter and Boyd is still recovering from knee surgery in the fall.

Both players are on track to participate fully in Spring Practice.  

Depth chart news and notes

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Here are some notes and analyses from our preliminary two-deep depth chart posted on Tuesday, again keeping in mind that it's still January and the season is still more than seven months away):

  • Officially, if the depth chart remains as is, USC will have 11 returning starters in 2010, plus four other starters who have previous starting experience.
  • The offensive backfield is loaded with experience, as Matt Barkley and fullback Stanley Havili combine for 47 starts. Allen Bradford has one start at tailback (he also started two games at fullback in 2006), while C.J. Gable has 11 career starts at the position.
  • The right side and middle of the offensive line (Kristofer O'Dowd, Butch Lewis and Tyron Smith) will all return in 2010, and the left side of the line (Matt Kalil and Khaled Holmes) will be completely new.
  • Wideout David Ausberry, who was injured for most of the second half of last season, was inadvertently left off the depth chart. He'll most likely work his way into the rotation at split end along with Brice Butler and Jordan Cameron.
  • The receiving corps officially has just one returning starter in Ronald Johnson, but Rhett Ellison started four games at tight end in 2009 and David Ausberry started six games at wideout before getting injured halfway through the 2009 season.
  • The defense should have five returning starters in addition to four other projected starters with prior starting experience.
  • The middlemen on the defensive line -- tackles Christian Tupou and Jurrell Casey -- have a combined 34 starts.
  • The three projected starting linebackers -- Devon Kennard, Chris Galippo and Malcolm Smith -- all return from 2009.
  • With an entirely new secondary, the defensive backfield will feature a lot of fresh faces, though Shareece Wright (four) and Drew McAllister (one) have recorded starts in previous seasons.

Seto to move on

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Seto_Rocky.jpgDefensive coordinator Rocky Seto, who has been involved with the USC football program as a player and coach since 1997, will not be retained on new head coach Lane Kiffin's staff.

"For almost my entire life, I always dreamt about being a part of the 'SC football program," said Seto, a former Trojan linebacker (1997-98) who went on to coach at Heritage Hall for 11 seasons. "I'm thankful God allowed it to happen for the last 13 years. It's been wonderful.

"I'm totally at peace with what has happened, which is a total miracle from God. The Lord taught me over the years to not put my hope in things or jobs or the stuff of this earth. The only thing that's lasting is Jesus Christ."

Seto said he's not sure what his next career step will be at the moment.

"I'm excited to see what the Lord has next and to see where He leads us," said Seto, husband to Sharla, a former USC soccer player, and father of three children. "The Lord is good. We can have peace in Him."

Stafon returns to action

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Check out this clip from "SportsCenter" that highlights Stafon Johnson's return to the football field during this week's Senior Bowl practices in Mobile, Ala.:

A glance at the depth chart

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We've received several requests to see what the depth chart currently looks like. That's a tricky proposition, though.

The new coaching staff hasn't spent much time yet analyzing the squad, as they've been on the recruiting trail almost nonstop since being hired. And anyway, Lane Kiffin said at the first team meeting, "I don't have a depth chart right now."

So at the risk of being entirely premature with this estimation, here's the two-deep depth chart as of now, keeping in mind that Spring Practice is still two months away and the 2010 season is more than six months from kicking off:

Offense

0126ab.jpgSplit end
Brice Butler • Sophomore
Jordan Cameron • Senior

Left tackle
Matt Kalil • Sophomore
Kevin Graf • Redshirt freshman

Left guard
Khaled Holmes • Sophomore
Zack Heberer • Senior

Center
Kristofer O'Dowd • Senior
Michael Reardon • Junior

Right guard
Butch Lewis • Senior
John Martinez • Redshirt freshman

Right tackle
Tyron Smith • Junior

Tight end
Rhett Ellison • Junior
Blake Ayles • Junior

Quarterback
Matt Barkley • Sophomore
Mitch Mustain • Senior

Fullback
Stanley Havili • Senior
Simione Vehikite • Redshirt freshman
D.J. Shoemate • Junior

Tailback
Allen Bradford • Senior
C.J. Gable • Senior

Flanker
Ronald Johnson • Senior
De'Von Flournoy • Sophomore
Travon Patterson • Senior


Defense

0126galippo.jpgDefensive end
Armond Armstead • Junior
Wes Horton • Sophomore

Defensive tackle
Christian Tupou • Senior
DaJohn Harris • Junior

Nose tackle
Jurrell Casey • Junior
Hebron Fangupo • Senior

Defensive end
Nick Perry • Sophomore
Malik Jackson • Junior

Strongside linebacker
Devon Kennard • Sophomore
Michael Morgan • Senior

Middle linebacker
Chris Galippo • Junior
Jarvis Jones • Sophomore

Weakside linebacker
Malcolm Smith • Senior
Shane Horton • Junior

Cornerback
Brian Baucham • Sophomore
Byron Moore • Redshirt freshman

Free safety
Drew McAllister • Junior
Marshall Jones • Senior

Strong safety
T.J. McDonald • Sophomore
Jawanza Starling • Sophomore

Cornerback
Shareece Wright • Senior
T.J. Bryant • Junior

In the money: Explaining bowl payouts

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RipsIt reader Mel Quan sent in this interesting question about bowl revenue: "Could you explain how the Pac-10 distributes the money brought in from the seven teams that played in bowl games?"

For each bowl, teams are allotted a pre-established expense budget from the bowl to cover travel, hotel and other logistical costs associated with the postseason game (interestingly, the school gets to pocket leftover money not spent on expenses, so teams that don't have to travel far for the bowl make more on the game). Then, minus the pre-determined expense budgets, the bowl payouts are given to the Pac-10 and divided equally 10 ways, regardless of what bowl, if any, a school played in. A nearly identical strategy is employed for the revenue gained from the NCAA men's basketball tournament each spring.

It's revenue sharing in the truest sense, allowing programs to be able to count on a similar paycheck from bowls each year. For the 2009 season, the seven Pac-10 bowl participants collectively pulled in roughly $24.6 million prior to expenses, so each of the 10 conference members should receive around $2 million after costs are deducted.

"It creates a steady stream of income year-in and year-out," said senior associate athletic director Steve Lopes, who handles the athletic department's budget.

Because of the conference's equal revenue sharing, USC, a participant in the $850,000-payout Emerald Bowl, will receive a nearly identical check this season as compared to the previous seven, when the Trojans were the conference's breadwinners by going to seven straight big-money BCS games. USC admittedly lost out on revenue associated with decreased merchandise sales, a lower demand for tickets and more travel expenses this year, but the big paycheck remains basically the same as prior seasons.

"Theoretically, there's no financial advantage to attending a bowl, minus the ancillary benefits, of course," Lopes said.

Full plate

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Fullback Stanley Havili goes through plate exercises that focus on core and upper body strength during this morning's strength and conditioning sessions. Players will get Wednesday off before returning to close out the week with workouts on Thursday and Friday.

Barkley undergoes minor surgery

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Quarterback Matt Barkley had minor arthroscopic surgery on his right wrist this morning to relieve stiffness and clean up inflammation. He's expected to recover within four weeks and be ready to participate in Spring Practice at the end of March.

Brown out of Senior Bowl

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Offensive tackle Charles Brown, who was invited to the Senior Bowl and is considered one of the top tackle prospects in the 2010 NFL Draft, is not participating in practices or the game this week because of a calf strain, he said.

Mays shines on Day 1

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In the opening practice of Senior Bowl week yesterday, Taylor Mays recorded the hit of the day, one of his trademark levelings of a helpless receiver deep over the middle, according to numerous reports.

ESPN.com wrote in
a Senior Bowl recap that Mays had some ups and downs, "USC S Taylor Mays had a highlight-reel hit on Citadel WR Andre Roberts on a seam route and dislodged the ball, but on the very next play Oklahoma State QB Zac Robinson overthrew Alabama TE Colin Peek and Mays could have had an easy interception but was looking for the big hit instead and completely missed the ball."

Letter man

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Kevin Plank, founder and CEO of Senior Bowl sponsor Under Armour, sent Stafon Johnson a very touching letter of encouragement for his dedication and resiliency that has led the tailback back from the devastating throat injury to a spot on the South roster at the Senior Bowl. Read it here.

Busy recruiting

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Coaches today are continuing down the long and arduous recruiting trail, a path they essentially haven't stepped off of since being hired two weeks ago. Scattered around the country, the staffers are using this week as their final push for the prospects in the Class of 2010, as Signing Day is just eight days from today.

And, because they'll be entering a dead period after Sunday, it all comes down to the coaches' home and school visits during the rest of this week. The future of Trojan football will come into very clear focus over the next few days.

Carlisle leaves for Seahawks

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0911carlisle.jpgFollowing nine seasons at USC, highly respected head strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle has resigned to take a similar position with the Seattle Seahawks.

Carlisle came in with Pete Carroll in early 2001 and now follows the former Trojan coach to the NFL. During his time at Heritage Hall, the 47-year-old Carlisle built one of the most successful strength and conditioning programs in the nation, earning national collegiate strength and conditioning coach of the year honors in 2006 from the Professional Football Strength and Conditioning Coaches Society. Numerous former players would return from the NFL each offseason to work out with Carlisle and his staff in a unique movement-based program that set a trend in football training.

"I want people to know that I'm walking away, not running," said Carlisle, who has 26 years of coaching experience. "There's not a reason for me to leave except that this is a great opportunity for me to continue my career and take a step in my evolution as a strength coach. Also, this is an opportunity to work with Pete Carroll, which is a heck of an opportunity and one that's very difficult to turn down.

"Lane Kiffin and the USC administration wanted me to stay and I really appreciate that."

Long-time assistant strength and conditioning coach Jamie Yanchar, who has worked at USC since 1990, will be interim head strength and conditioning coach as the Trojans conduct the early portion of the offseason program. The search for the new head strength coach will begin immediately.

"I truly believe the transition will be seamless with this new staff," Carlisle said. "Lane Kiffin and his staff will continue setting the bar in college football and maintain the standard of excellence at USC."

Kiffin not tweeting as of now

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We've received several e-mails wondering if Coach Lane Kiffin has an official Twitter presence. To set the record straight, he is not on Twitter as of now, so all the Twitter accounts claiming to be Kiffin are imposters.

We will let you know if or when Kiffin signs up for an official Twitter account.

Half of the best

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Astoundingly, USC players make up exactly half of ESPN.com's Pac-10 All-Decade team: QB Matt Leinart, TB Reggie Bush, WR Dwayne Jarrett, C Ryan Kalil, OT Sam Baker, DT Sedrick Ellis, DE Kenechi Udeze, LB Rey Maualuga, LB Keith Rivers, S Troy Polamalu, S Taylor Mays and P Tom Malone.

Super Trojans

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Three Trojans will be suiting up in Super Bowl XLIV next Sunday in Miami when the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints meet up to decide the NFL championship. Tailback Reggie Bush (New Orleans Saints), defensive lineman Sedrick Ellis (New Orleans Saints) and defensive lineman Fili Moala (Indianapolis Colts) will appear in the game, meaning at least one Trojan has been in 41 of the 44 Super Bowls.

Also, with these three Trojans in next Sunday's NFL title game, nine players from USC's 2004 national championship team -- more than a third of the starting roster -- will have played in a Super Bowl:

Super Bowl XLIV (2010) • Reggie Bush, Sedrick Ellis, Fili Moala
Super Bowl XLIII (2009) • Deuce Lutui, Matt Leinart
Super Bowl XLII (2008) • Matt Cassel, Steve Smith, Manuel Wright
Super Bowl XL (2006) • Lofa Tatupu

Baxter enrolls a semester early

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Wideout/tailback Dillon Baxter, a five-star prospect from San Diego's Mission Bay High, officially enrolled at USC this morning, which will give him a semester head start on his freshman season. The 6-0, 200-pound Baxter, who set several scoring and rushing records during his senior season, joins wideout Kyle Prater as two early enrollees in USC's recruiting class.

Both Baxter and Prater will be able to participate in Spring Practice.

Senior moments

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Senior Bowl week has gotten underway in Mobile, Ala., with four Trojans on the South roster. You can watch offensive lineman Jeff Byers, tailback Stafon Johnson, safety Taylor Mays and tight end Anthony McCoy go to work during the week's practices and in the game on Saturday at 1 p.m. on NFL Network, which is airing 10 hours of coverage throughout the week leading up to the all-star game.

And check out this video from NFL Network that highlights Mays.

Working it out

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Wideout Brice Butler and his teammates go through agility drills on Howard Jones Field this morning as the Trojans conduct their second day of the offseason strength and conditioning program with agility exercises, running and weightlifting in a 100-minute session.

Kalil to the Pro Bowl

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Carolina Panthers center Ryan Kalil has been added to the NFC Pro Bowl roster, joining linebacker Clay Matthews and wideout Steve Smith as the three Trojans who will be in the NFL all-star game in Miami on Sunday (4:30 p.m. on ESPN).

Also, rookie linebacker Brian Cushing was originally on the roster but had to withdraw because of lingering injury issues.

Trojans around the League

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Several Trojans stood out during the NFL's Championship Sunday, including rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez and star tailback Reggie Bush. Check out the stats from the two conference title games this weekend:

  • Mark Sanchez's dream ride through the postseason ended with one of his best all-around performances of his rookie year, as he went 17-for-30 for 257 yards, two touchdowns and just one interception.
  • Reggie Bush had two catches for 33 yards and a touchdown in the Saints' 31-28 overtime win over the Minnesota Vikings.
  • Defensive lineman Sedrick Ellis had six tackles in the Saints' victory.
  • Tailback Chauncey Washington (New York Jets) and defensive lineman Fili Moala (Indianapolis Colts) were not active for the AFC championship game.

0125reggie.jpg

Tailback Reggie Bush dives for the pylon to score a touchdown in the Saints' 31-28 overtime win, which advanced Bush and his team to Super Bowl XLIV. [Photo courtesy of Getty Images]

Willie Mack Garza named new assistant coach

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garza.jpegWillie Mack Garza, who has 16 years of collegiate coaching experience, has been hired as an assistant coach at USC, new head coach Lane Kiffin announced today.

The 40-year-old Garza spent the 2009 season as a defensive backs coach at Tennessee. The Volunteers were 12th nationally in pass defense and pass efficiency defense. Previously, Garza coached four seasons (2005-08) at North Dakota State, including the final three as defensive coordinator, along with 11 years at four other stops.

In the late '80s and early '90s, Garza was a four-year starting cornerback and safety at Texas, where he also began his coaching career as a graduate assistant from 1994-96.

Trojans in the playoffs

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The NFL's conference title games will be played Sunday, and both matchups will feature a strong Trojan flair. Check out the schedule and see which USC alumni will be participating in the contests, with their eyes set on Super Bowl XLIV:

New York Jets at Indianapolis Colts
Sunday at 12 noon (CBS)
New York Jets: QB Mark Sanchez, TB Chauncey Washington
Indianapolis Colts: DL Fili Moala

Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints

Sunday at 3:40 p.m. (Fox)
Minnesota Vikings: OL Drew Radovich (*on the practice squad)
New Orleans Saints: TB Reggie Bush, DL Sedrick Ellis, TE Billy Miller (*on injured reserve)

Starting it off

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The 2010 season began this morning for USC players.

Kicking off training for the coming fall, the offseason strength and condition program started with workouts at 6 a.m. this morning. The sessions, which also happen at 8 a.m., 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., include conditioning, agility and weightlifting segments under the watchful eyes of head strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle and staff. 

Hoops coverage

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Check out our coverage of Thursday's USC-Washington State game at the Galen on the USC basketball blog. And please let us know your thoughts on the coverage in the comments section -- did you like it or not? Should we continue that type of coverage through the remainder of the season?

Recruiting weekend

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The coaches are back in the office today as the penultimate official visit weekend gets underway. Four prospects in the Class of 2010 are scheduled to be on campus this weekend to tour the facilities, visit with coaches and explore L.A., as the Trojan staff aims to make a positive closing impression on the recruits with Signing Day now just 12 days away.

Experience Trojan hoops

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Be sure to follow the USC basketball blog tonight as we take you inside the program before, during and after the Trojans' game against Washington State. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

Byers to the Senior Bowl

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Offensive lineman Jeff Byers has been added to the Senior Bowl roster, meaning he'll join safety Taylor Mays, tight Anthony McCoy, offensive tackle Charles Brown and tailback Stafon Johnson at the Jan. 30 pre-Draft showcase in Mobile, Ala.

Rainy days

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Because of the recent rains that have pummeled southern California, Howard Jones Field sits submerged in water this afternoon. The 30-yard line paint marker has been washed away and much of the field is covered in standing water thanks to the more than three inches of precipitation that have fallen in L.A. so far this week. 

Playing on in the playoffs

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We unintentionally left off two Trojans from our list of USC alumni just one win away from the Super Bowl. Tailback Chauncey Washington was a late-season addition to the New York Jets' active roster and is now their third tailback, while tight end Billy Miller has been on the New Orleans Saints' injured reserve all season.

Those two additions now mean seven Trojans are on the payrolls of the four remaining NFL teams in the playoffs, including five on the actives rosters. Here's the full list:

  • New York Jets: QB Mark Sanchez, TB Chauncey Washington
  • Indianapolis Colts: DL Fili Moala
  • New Orleans Saints: TB Reggie Bush, DL Sedrick Ellis, TE Billy Miller (*on injured reserve)
  • Minnesota Vikings: OL Drew Radovich (*on the practice squad)

Spanning the generations

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Pete Carroll worked at USC for nine seasons, an eternity of sorts in the coaching world.

And with new head coach Lane Kiffin coming in, most of the players and support staffers are now working with a new boss for the first time ever.

But not all.

A handful of Trojan football support staff members have worked at USC and witnessed several head coaches come and go. Administrative assistants, equipment managers and strength coaches alike have survived several coaching changes, with assistant football equipment coordinator Greg Allen taking the title for longest tenure. Allen has been at Heritage Hall for 32 years and is now working with his sixth head coach in Kiffin.

Take a look at all the support staffers who have been around for numerous years and have seen many head coaches, now including Kiffin, come in and out of Heritage Hall during their USC careers:

  • Assistant football equipment coordinator Greg Allen • 32 years, 6 head coaches (including both John Robinson stints)
  • Receptionist Irene Puentes • 23 years, 5 head coaches
  • Assistant equipment manager Jim "Hammer" Davis • 21 years, 5 head coaches
  • Assistant strength and conditioning coach Jamie Yanchar • 20 years, 5 head coaches
  • Football equipment coordinator Tino Dominguez • 18 years, 5 head coaches
  • Head athletic trainer Russ Romano • 16 years, 4 head coaches
  • Administrative assistant Joyce Hirayama • 13 years, 3 head coaches

'Feeling great:' Stafon heading to Senior Bowl

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stafonmug.jpegThe marathon recovery for Stafon Johnson is entering a key stage over the next month.

Johnson, who suffered a devastating throat injury while weightlifting on Sept. 28, has returned to playing shape and leaves Saturday for Mobile, Ala., where he'll participate in the Senior Bowl, the annual pre-Draft showcase. The week's practices and Jan. 30's game in front of NFL coaches, scouts and owners -- in addition to the NFL Combine next month -- will go a long way toward determining Johnson's stock for April's NFL Draft.

"I'm feeling great," Johnson, who stopped by Heritage Hall this morning, said, talking with a stronger whisper now. "Ready to go."

Johnson, who hasn't played in a game since Sept. 26 against Washington State, said NFL projections currently forecast him as a third-round selection. But he said he's hoping to shoot up the draft board with his performance at the Senior Bowl next week and Combine in a month.

Come along for the ride: Blog exchange program

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We'll be participating in a foreign exchange program of sorts for tonight's USC-Washington State men's basketball game at the Galen Center.

Let's just call it a blog exchange program.

For 7:30 p.m. home game tonight, we'll be taking what we do for the football program -- behind-the-scenes photos and info from places no outsiders have gone previously -- and doing it for the Trojan hoops team before, during and after its matchup against the Cougars at the Galen Center. So follow along tonight at the USC men's hoops basketball blog for this special insider coverage that'll allow you to experience Trojan basketball in unprecedented ways.

Trojan-Fever-Header-101909.jpg

On the radio

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Check out this wide-ranging, insightful 15-minute radio interview with former coach Pete Carroll that aired on 710-AM ESPN on Wednesday. Thanks to RipsIt reader Deb Stewart for sending it in.

Decade's best

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The 2004 USC squad has been named the team of the decade by ESPN.com. And in a related note, the Trojans, with a 102-26 record, were crowned the Pac-10's program of the decade by ESPN.

All-star weekends

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The next two weekends will feature the two main college all-star games that serve as pre-Combine showcases for graduated seniors. A combined six USC players will be playing in the two games -- the East-West Shrine Game and Senior Bowl:

  • Shrine Game (Saturday in Orlando): OL Jeff Byers, CB Kevin Thomas
  • Senior Bowl (Jan. 30 in Mobile, Ala.): S Taylor Mays, TE Anthony McCoy, OT Charles Brown, TB Stafon Johnson

One last day on the road

| 1 Comment
Coaches are rounding out their week-long recruiting trips today, as they're in rental cars and on planes scattered around the country to visit prospects. It's the final day of recruiting this week, as all the staffers will return to L.A. by Friday morning to commence the second-to-last official visit weekend of this year's campaign.

Signing Day is now just 13 days away.

Cover man

| 3 Comments
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New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, a rookie who's now just a win away from the Super Bowl, will appear on the cover of this week's edition of Sports Illustrated. It marks the 126th time a Trojan has been on the cover of the weekly magazine.

Smith now a Pro Bowler

| 2 Comments
Wideout Steve Smith, an All-American at USC in 2006, has been added to the NFC Pro Bowl roster for the Jan. 31 NFL all-star game in Miami. Smith joins linebackers Brian Cushing and Clay Matthews as the Trojan representatives in the Pro Bowl.

Reuniting with an old teammate

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Check out these cool photos -- featuring rookie Trojans Mark Sanchez and Kevin Ellison -- from before Sunday's NFL playoff game between the New York Jets and San Diego Chargers (images courtesy of Kevin Terrell):

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Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez and Chargers safety Kevin Ellison greet each other prior to Sunday's game in San Diego. [Photo courtesy of Kevin Terrell]

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Mark Sanchez and Kevin Ellison chat during warm-ups before Sunday's Jets-Chargers game. [Photo courtesy of Kevin Terrell]

Offseason gets off the ground

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More than six months before the first practice of the fall and more than seven months before the opener in Hawaii, Friday -- for all intents and purposes -- marks the start of the 2010 season for the Trojans.

Players will begin the winter offseason strength and conditioning program on Friday morning, commencing an eight-week regimen that'll carry the Trojans, healthy and primed, into Spring Practice 2010 in late March. Head strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle and staff will lead the players through a four-workouts-a-week program, conducted in roughly 100-minute sessions at four time slots -- 6 a.m., 8 a.m., 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. -- during the day.

The start of the offseason program comes 26 days after the Trojans played in the Emerald Bowl. Many players have been working out voluntarily since returning from break last Monday, but Friday's official start signals a momentous new beginning for the program.

"We're ready to get going," said Carlisle, who's entering his tenth season at USC. "We're ready to start the Lane Kiffin Era off."

Talking hoops

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Fresh off one of its biggest wins over UCLA in history, the USC men's basketball team hosts Washington State (Thursday at 7:30 p.m.) and Washington (Saturday at 7:30 p.m.) this weekend at the Galen Center. The Trojans are just a half-game out of first place in the Pac-10, so be sure to purchase your tickets here or at the gate for this week's action.

Cregg hired as assistant coach

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cregg.jpegJames Cregg, who worked with Coach Lane Kiffin at the Oakland Raiders and Tennessee, has been hired as a USC assistant coach.

Most recently, Cregg was an offensive line coach at Tennessee in 2009, the Raiders in 2007-08 and Idaho in 2004-06. The 36-year-old Cregg was an all-conference offensive lineman at Colorado State in the late-'90s after attending Norco High.

For a good read

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Check out this ESPN.com feature on the top 10 Trojans who "defined the decade" in the 2000s. Thanks to RipsIt reader Shirley Huang for passing it along.

Dominating the decade

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Six USC squads make up ESPN.com's list of Top 10 Pac-10 teams of the decade, including the top three slots and four of the top five positions.

Wideout recruit enrolls early

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Kyle Prater, considered one of the nation's top wide receiver prospects in the Class of 2010, has enrolled a semester early at USC and began classes today. The early start will allow 6-5, 205-pound Prater to participate in the offseason strength and conditioning program, compete in Spring Practice and get accustomed to college class loads before the 2010 season this fall, when his fellow freshmen teammates will enroll.

Quarterback Matt Barkley did the same last spring, as he got a head start to his college career by graduating high school a semester early and enrolling at USC in January 2009.

Still plugged in

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Pete Carroll has left USC, but he hasn't left L.A.

Holding to his word that he'd remain involved with A Better LA, Carroll filmed a funny promo video for the Feb. 20 comedy event featuring Will Ferrell and benefiting the inner-city foundation. Get tickets for the one-of-a-kind event here and watch the video below:

One win from the Super Bowl

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Yet again, at least one Trojan will be in the Super Bowl when the NFL hosts its championship game on Feb. 7 in Miami.

Three of the four remaining teams in the NFL playoffs feature at least one Trojan on their active rosters (and the fourth has a USC alum on its practice squad), so Super Bowl XLIV will see at least one Trojan suited up on the sideline. Amazingly, only three Super Bowls have not had a USC alumnus on either team's roster.

Here's a look at the Trojans still playing in the playoffs, all of whom are one win away from the Super Bowl:

  • New York Jets: QB Mark Sanchez
  • Indianapolis Colts: DL Fili Moala
  • New Orleans Saints: TB Reggie Bush, DL Sedrick Ellis
  • Minnesota Vikings: OL Drew Radovich (*on the practice squad)

Filling out the team

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Past USC players make up half of ESPN.com's list of Top 10 Pac-10 players of the decade. Check it out here.

What jerseys do you want?

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Preliminary discussions are being held for which jersey numbers will be produced and sold next season, and the USC athletic department wants to hear from you.

Share your opinion by voting below and the results will be used to determine the jerseys that will be available in the bookstore and online starting this fall.


Sanchez soaring through the playoffs

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Rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez, just a year out of USC, won his second playoff game in a thrilling 17-14 victory over the San Diego Chargers on Sunday. Check out this special album of images of Sanchez from the game, courtesy of USCRipsIt staff photographer Jon SooHoo:


Photos by Jon SooHoo, USCRipsIt staff photographer

Trojans around the League

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The divisional round of the NFL playoffs saw several Trojans step up into starring roles this weekend. Check out the stats for USC alumni from Saturday and Sunday:

  • Mark Sanchez went 12-for-23 for 100 yards, one touchdown and one interception to lead the New York Jets to a 17-14 win over the San Diego Chargers.
  • Tailback Reggie Bush had 217 all-purpose yards (84 rushing, 24 receiving and 109 on punt returns) and two touchdowns, including a dazzling 83-yard punt return score, to help propel the Saints to a 45-14 victory.
  • Defensive lineman Sedrick Ellis had a sack in the Saints' win.
  • Quarterback Matt Leinart went 7-for-10 for 61 yards in the Cardinals' loss.
  • Safety Kevin Ellison had a tackle in the Chargers' loss.

Rolling right along

| 9 Comments
The football office is barren today, as the coaches continue to do work on the recruiting trail. They've been in the air and on the road since Sunday night and will be so through the week, which will conclude with another big-time official visit weekend on campus.

Signing Day 2010 is now only 15 days away. 

'A new day:' Kiffin's first team meeting

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And off they go.

The Trojans were swept up into the Lane Kiffin Era with an uplifting and captivating speech from their new head coach, who peppered his energetic address with calls for national championships, discipline and hard work.

"You guys signed here to win championships, and that's why we came here too," Kiffin told the players during a 20-minute team meeting in Heritage Hall this afternoon. "We're here to win championships every single year."

Standing behind a podium at the front of the room, Kiffin discussed his open-door policy, "extremely aggressive" style and high standards for excellence, among other topics, during the speech in Heritage Auditorium. As USC aims to climb back up under Kiffin, the new coach said their work begins now with the offseason strength and conditioning session.

"This place wasn't built because you're five-star recruits," Kiffin said. "It was built because we outworked everybody in the country."

After a brief address from assistant head coach and defensive line coach Ed Orgeron, Kiffin closed the meeting out by offering bright hope for the future.

"Everybody in this room has a clean slate," Kiffin told the players. "I don't care how many touchdowns you've scored, if you've been in trouble before or what. I don't have a depth chart right now.

"This is a new day."

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Coach Lane Kiffin addresses the Trojans during Friday afternoon's team meeting at Heritage Hall.

Coming Sunday: A Day in Troy

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A Day in Troy, a community outreach event connected with SCORE, will take place on Sunday at 12:45 p.m. at the Galen Center, just prior to the USC-UCLA women's basketball game at 2:30 p.m. Get more info here.

Meeting time

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USC players and staffers are minutes away from congregating in Heritage Auditorium for a team meeting, the first one of the Lane Kiffin Era.

RipsIt's future

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We've received numerous e-mails this week asking about the prospects of the RipsIt Blog now that Coach Lane Kiffin has replaced Pete Carroll. As it is with many other aspects and positions around the program, the Blog's future is uncertain right now but should be settled in the coming days and weeks. We'll keep you posted.

Big weekend ahead

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Today marks the start of a high-stakes official visit weekend for the Trojans, with nine prospects for the Class of 2010 scheduled to attend the various recruiting activities on campus and around L.A. The next 48 hours with these recruits carry even more weight than normal because it'll be the first face-to-face contact with prospects for Coach Lane Kiffin and his staff since they were hired on Wednesday.

Signing Day is now just 19 days away.

Over the airwaves

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The media gauntlet continues for Coach Lane Kiffin, who's scheduled to appear on the "Jim Rome Show" around 10:30 a.m. Listen through a live stream here.

Radio man

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Coach Lane Kiffin appeared on the nationally syndicated "Dan Patrick Show" this morning. Hear a replay of the interview here.

Beginning of an era

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The Trojans will gather for their first team meeting with new head coach Lane Kiffin at 2:30 p.m. today at Heritage Hall.

News from the equipment office

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Eric Ziskin has been named the new head student equipment manager for the 2010 season, the USC equipment staff announced. Ziskin, a senior going into his third season with the Trojans, will be in charge of a team of 12 volunteer student managers who handle much of the practice and equipment needs for the USC program.

If you're currently enrolled at USC and would like to be involved on the inside of the Trojan football machine as a student equipment manager, contact Ziskin at eziskin@usc.edu. Interviews will be held between now and Spring Practice in March, and the heavy-duty work will begin in the fall when the Trojans enter into the 2010 season.

Off to a strong start

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Without a doubt, Lane Kiffin & Co. have hit the ground running.

In their first official day on the job, the new USC staffers have had a single-minded focus -- recruiting, recruiting, recruiting. Less than 24 hours after being introduced as the newest Trojan regime, coaches have been in meetings and on the phone nonstop since walking into the office this morning.

The new university-issued cell phones of Kiffin and his assistants haven't left their ears all day, as they've dove headfirst into the Trojan recruiting push. It's all with aspirations of putting the program on a promising path toward Signing Day, which is now less than 20 days away.

Back to school

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Brian Cushing won the NFL's defensive rookie of the year award last week, and he's following it up with something very rewarding this week.

A trip to Disneyworld?

Not quite.

Cushing has re-enrolled at USC for the spring semester, taking two sociology classes so he can graduate with his bachelor's degree this May. So if you see a Mohawk'd NFL Pro Bowler walking around campus this spring, you'll now know who it is.

A two-sport Starling

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3433180.jpegJawanza Starling is doing double duty this spring.

Starling, who just completed his freshman season as a backup safety and special teams player, has now joined the USC baseball team as an outfielder. The Trojans are set to begin the 2010 season Feb. 19 at Cal Poly.

As brutal as it may seem, the difficult challenge of juggling two sports won't be too alarming for Starling, who's also a kinesiology major aiming to go into medicine.

Hear it again

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Listen to Lane Kiffin's interview on ESPN Radio's "The Herd with Colin Cowherd" from this morning here.

Lots of eyes

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ESPN's telecast of the 2009 Emerald Bowl featuring USC and Boston College ended up being the network's third most-watched college football game ever. The 5.3 rating (roughly equivalent to 5.3 million households) for the game also wound up as ESPN's No. 2 most-watched bowl game in 2009-10 and the eighth most-watched bowl game overall this season.

With 5.3 million households tuning in, the 2009 Emerald Bowl trails just the 2010 Alamo Bowl (5.6 million households) and 2006 Alamo Bowl (5.5 million households) on ESPN's list of all-time most-watched bowls.

Hoop it up

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The USC women's basketball team takes on UCLA at the Galen Center on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Get your tickets here for just $15 each.

Kind words for Kiffin

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Legendary former Tennessee coach Johnny Majors, who spent 21 years as head man in Knoxville, has nothing but glowing praises for Lane Kiffin in this article in today's Sporting News Today.

"I've been around him since he took the Tennessee job," Majors wrote of Kiffin. "I've watched practice, talked to the squad a couple of times, and spent some time in his office. And I believe he is a very good football coach. He's very aggressive and well organized. He's demanding and he and his staff attacked recruiting very aggressively.

"I think he is going to be very, very successful in the long run."

On the radio

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Coach Kiffin will appear on the nationally syndicated radio show "The Herd with Colin Cowherd" on ESPN Radio at 10:10 a.m. this morning. Listen to a live internet stream here.

Already recruiting

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With Signing Day now less than three weeks away, Lane Kiffin and his assistants just broke from a recruiting-focused staff meeting in the War Room. The urgency of their efforts is also heightened by a jam-packed official visit weekend that begins Friday, when several prospects for the Class of 2010 will descend on the USC campus and coaches will make their strongest push to earn their commitments. 

Photo review

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Check out this awesome slideshow of images from Lane Kiffin's introductory press conference on Wednesday, brought to you by USCRipsIt staff photographer Jon SooHoo:


Photos by Jon SooHoo, USCRipsIt staff photographer

Welcome home

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In his first few hours on the job, coach Lane Kiffin sits down in his new office at Heritage Hall following tonight's media activities. His work as USC's head coach has already begun.

Kiffin's first day

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Get all of USCRipsIt's coverage of Lane Kiffin's introduction as the new USC head coach, here in one place:

The beginning of it all

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Through the below series of photos, relive Hour 1 of the Lane Kiffin Era, which included his arrival from the airport, an introductory news conference and several other media duties at Heritage Hall:

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Athletic director Mike Garrett, defensive line coach Ed Orgeron and head coach Lane Kiffin chat in the USC football office just moments before the introductory news conference.

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A swarm of students give Lane Kiffin (left, black suit) a rowdy rockstar welcome in the lobby of Heritage Hall as he walks into his introductory press conference.

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During his presser, Lane Kiffin speaks to the media while his daughter Presley plays at his side.

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Defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin faces the media after the press conference.

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Defensive line coach Ed Orgeron answers question from the horde of media.

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Lane Kiffin answers questions from ESPN's Shelley Smith in the team meeting room following the introductory presser.

Players react to their new coach

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Hear what Matt Barkley, Butch Lewis, Malcolm Smith and Chris Galippo are thinking following Coach Lane Kiffin's press conference tonight in this free video from USCTrojans.com, produced by Mark Haas.

Kiffin introduced as USC coach

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The Lane Kiffin Era at USC is officially underway.

In a news conference at Heritage Hall on Wednesday evening, Kiffin was introduced as the Trojans' new head coach, saying he was "coming home" to "the No. 1 job in America."

"This is my dream job," said Kiffin, who begins his third head coaching job. "I'm very fortunate."

Besides Kiffin, defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and defensive line coach Ed Orgeron were also introduced at the press conference. The remainder of the new USC staff will be sorted out and announced in the coming days.

"The staff we will put together will be the best staff in America," Kiffin said.

Read the full recap of Kiffin's presser in this article from ESPN.com.

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Coach Lane Kiffin speaks at his introductory press conference tonight at Heritage Hall.

See it for yourself

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Watch Lane Kiffin's introductory news conference from this evening in full here, courtesy of USCTrojans.com.

Here it comes

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Lane Kiffin's introductory press conference is finally moments away from beginning. Watch it live here.

Introducing USC's new head coach

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The introductory presser for new head coach Lane Kiffin is about to begin, so watch it live for free here. We'll have an archived version of it afterward in case you miss it live.

Past and present out to support Kiffin

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Athletic director Mike Garrett, former USC All-American wideout Keyshawn Johnson and quarterback Matt Barkley chat in Heritage Hall this evening, with just a few minutes remaining until new head coach Lane Kiffin's introductory press conference. Kiffin's presser is bringing out past and present players as the excitement builds for the new hire.

The eagle has landed

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Lane Kiffin has landed in L.A. and is on his way to USC's campus. The press conference to introduce the new head coach, defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin and defensive line coach Ed Orgeron will begin within the next half-hour.

Getting ready

| 2 Comments
With still about an hour to go until Lane Kiffin's introductory press conference, Heritage Hall has begun to fill with fans, students and media members, as the buzz surrounding USC's new head coach climbs to its crescendo.

Be sure to watch the 5 p.m. press conference here.

Alumni reunion

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Former USC tailbacks LenDale White and Hershel Dennis stopped by Heritage Hall this afternoon to reconnect with old faces.

Presser pushed back to 5 p.m.

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Because of travel delays, Lane Kiffin's introductory news conference has been pushed back to 5 p.m. today. You can watch it live here.

Kiffin en route

| 7 Comments
New head coach Lane Kiffin is expected to touch down in L.A. early this afternoon and be on campus around 3 p.m. His first official order of business as the head man of the Trojan football program will be a 4 p.m. introductory press conference, which you can watch live for free here.

Welcome to Kiffin

| 7 Comments
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USCTrojans.com
features a cool new splash page to welcome Lane Kiffin as USC's head coach. As a reminder, you can watch Kiffin's introductory press conference live for free today at 4 p.m. here.

Several Trojans headed to the Combine

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As of now, eight Trojans have been invited to the NFL Combine in February. The early entry juniors -- Damian Williams, Everson Griffen and Joe McKnight -- are also expected to receive invites to the annual pre-Draft talent showcase in Indianapolis.

The eight players currently invited are: offensive tackle Charles Brown, offensive lineman Jeff Byers, tailback Stafon Johnson, safety Taylor Mays, tight end Anthony McCoy, offensive lineman Alex Parsons, cornerback Josh Pinkard and cornerback Kevin Thomas.

Seven on All-Bowl team

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USC players made up nearly a third of ESPN.com's Pac-10 All-Bowl team for their performances in the Emerald Bowl. The seven Trojans on the honorary squad are: quarterback Matt Barkley, fullback Stanley Havili, wideout Damian Williams, offensive tackle Charles Brown, defensive lineman Jurrell Casey, cornerback Shareece Wright and safety Taylor Mays.

Heritage Hall's buzzing

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Like it is around the Trojan Nation, excitement is at a total high around Heritage Hall today, about 12 hours after the announcement of Lane Kiffin as USC's new head coach.

Players, coaches and support staffers are on Cloud Nine as the aftershocks of the hire breathlessly stir through the Trojan football machine. The familiarity of Kiffin combined with a star-studded cast of assistant coaches has created a glow among the Trojans that seems like it could light up the country. And maybe it just might.

The elation surrounding Kiffin & Co. marks a turnaround of extreme proportions for the Trojan players and staffers. Just 24 hours before Tuesday night's announcement, those associated with the USC football team admittedly and understandably faced heartbreak and uncertainty. But the new hires are providing a hope and excitement for what's ahead, as the future now beams with a buzz of thrilling newness and tremendous optimism.

With an enthusiastic welcome in the form of nearly uncontrollable exhilaration, the Lane Kiffin Era has begun at USC.

New digs

| 8 Comments
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Lane Kiffin's new home -- the head football coach's office in Heritage Hall -- has been cleared out and cleaned up in anticipation of his arrival today. The office has undergone a massive change in the past 36 hours as Pete Carroll has left and Kiffin prepares to move in (see it on Monday night and Tuesday night).

Kiffin's press conference

| 1 Comment
Coach Lane Kiffin's introductory press conference will be at 4 p.m. today, and you'll be able to watch it live for free here, courtesy of USCTrojans.com.

Not wasting any time

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On his first full day on the job, new defensive line coach Ed Orgeron -- wearing a USC polo -- is already at work in the War Room this morning, watching film and hitting the phone lines. 

Exciting news

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Hear Matt Barkley's thoughts on the hire of Lane Kiffin as the new head coach at USC in this free video courtesy of USCTrojans.com, produced by Rob McPherson.

Kiffin introduction on Wednesday

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Lane Kiffin will be officially introduced as USC's new head football coach at a 4 p.m. press conference at Heritage Hall on Wednesday. We'll have live streaming video of the presser, along with full coverage throughout Kiffin's first day on the job.

A closer look at Lane Kiffin

| 7 Comments
0112kiffin2.jpgLane Kiffin, 34, takes over as USC's new head coach after one season at Tennessee and one-plus seasons with the Oakland Raiders. Here's his coaching history:

  • 2009: Tennessee head coach
  • 2007-08: Oakland Raiders head coach
  • 2005-06: USC offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach/recruiting coordinator
  • 2002-04: USC wide receivers coach
  • 2001: USC tight ends coach
  • 2000: Jacksonville Jaguars quality control coach
  • 1999: Colorado State offensive line coach
  • 1997-98: Fresno State quarterbacks coach
  • Coached three first-team All-American wide receivers at USC: Mike Williams ('03), Dwayne Jarrett ('05-'06) and Steve Smith ('06)
  • Coached three Heisman Trophy winners (Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush)
  • Pulled in two No. 1 recruiting classes while serving as recruiting coordinator in 2005-06
  • Became the youngest head coach in the NFL's modern era when he coached 20 games with the Raiders in 2007-08
  • Led Tennessee to a 7-6 record and played in the Chick-fil-A Bowl in 2009

A closer look at Monte Kiffin

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0112monte.jpgMonte Kiffin comes to USC as one of the game's brightest defensive minds. Here are the highlights of his longtime career:

  • 2009: Tennessee defensive coordinator
  • Spent 26 seasons (1983-2008) in the NFL with six different teams
  • Spent 17 seasons (1966-1982) at the collegiate level with three programs
  • Developed the famed "Tampa 2" coverage defense
  • Won a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2002
  • Won two national championships (1970-71) at Nebraska
  • Considered an all-time defensive mastermind







A closer look at Ed Orgeron

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0112orgeron.jpgEd Orgeron returns as USC's defensive line coach, the same position he held from 1998 to 2004. Here are the highlights of his coaching history:

  • 2009: Tennessee assistant head coach/recruiting coordinator/defensive line coach
  • 2008: New Orleans Saints defensive line coach
  • 2005-07: Mississippi head coach
  • 1998-2004: USC defensive line coach
  • Coached three first-team All-American defensive linemen at USC: Kenechi Udeze ('03), Shaun Cody ('04) and Mike Patterson ('04)
  • Has 25 years of coaching experience, including four seasons at Miami during the Hurricanes' heydays
  • Coached eight All-American defensive linemen in four seasons at Miami



BREAKING NEWS: Lane Kiffin named new head coach

| 31 Comments
0112kiffin.jpgLane Kiffin, the one-time USC offensive coordinator who then became the head coach of the Oakland Raiders and at Tennessee, has been named the Trojans' head football coach, USC athletic director Mike Garrett announced today.

Joining Kiffin's staff as assistants will be Ed Orgeron and Monte Kiffin. Both were on the Tennessee staff in 2009 with Kiffin.

Orgeron, one of college football's top recruiters and defensive line coaches, previously served seven seasons at USC before becoming Mississippi's head coach and then an assistant with the New Orleans Saints. Monte Kiffin, Lane's father, is a longtime NFL and collegiate coach known for his defensive prowess.

"We are really excited to welcome Lane Kiffin back to USC," Garrett said. "I was able to watch him closely when he was an assistant with us and what I saw was a bright, creative young coach who I thought would make an excellent head coach here if the opportunity ever arose. I'm confident he and his staff will keep USC football performing at the high level that we expect.

"Lane brings a lot to the table. He has a coaching background both in the pros and in the best collegiate conferences. He has a great command of the X's and O's. He is familiar with the Trojan landscape and will be a great representative of our university. He keeps the game fun. And, very importantly, he has proven to be one of the finest recruiters anywhere.

"Lane has surrounded himself with others of similar talent. I can't tell you how delighted we are to have Ed Orgeron back on staff and to have Monte Kiffin join us. They are some of the preeminent coaches in the game. Ed did a marvelous job during his previous time at USC and we all know that Monte is a defensive guru. I know Lane will fill out his staff with other outstanding assistants like them, ones who Trojan players and fans will really like."

Kiffin replaces Pete Carroll, who resigned on Monday after nine seasons at USC to accept the head coaching job with the NFL's Seattle Seahawks.

Packing up

| 4 Comments
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All of Pete Carroll's belongings in his former office in Heritage Hall are being packed up and sent out to Seattle this afternoon. The office will be cleaned out and readied for the next USC head coach, whenever he arrives at the Trojan football headquarters.

Playoff Trojans

| 2 Comments
The NFL playoffs are loaded with Trojans this January, as 17 USC alumni are playing in the postseason and 10 of the 12 playoff teams feature at least one former Trojan. Take a look at the USC alums competing for the Super Bowl crown this winter:

  • Nine USC alumni are playing this weekend in the Divisional round of the playoffs:
      • Tailback Reggie Bush and defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis (New Orleans Saints)
      • Quarterback Matt Leinart, tight end Dominique Byrd and offensive guard Deuce Lutui (Arizona Cardinals)
      • Kicker David Buehler (Dallas Cowboys)
      • Defensive tackle Fili Moala (Indianapolis Colts)
      • Quarterback Mark Sanchez (New York Jets)
      • Safety Kevin Ellison (San Diego Chargers)
  • Eight Trojans played in the Wild Card round last weekend but are now out of the playoffs:
      • Linebacker Junior Seau (New England Patriots)
      • Quarterback Carson Palmer, defensive lineman Frostee Rucker, linebacker Keith Rivers and linebacker Rey Maualuga (Cincinnati Bengals)
      • Linebacker Clay Matthews (Green Bay Packers)
      • Offensive lineman Winston Justice and defensive lineman Mike Patterson (Philadelphia Eagles)
  • Only Minnesota and Baltimore do not have a Trojan on their rosters.

Just the facts

| 6 Comments
We've received several e-mails wondering why USCRipsIt isn't discussing the candidates in the ongoing search for the next head coach and, on a related note, why we didn't dive into the Pete Carroll-to-Seattle rumor mill over the weekend.

It has forever been USCRipsIt's policy to not report speculation -- only facts. And to top it off, as the official site of the program, we're only going to post when news has been made official, for the sake of veracity, tact and strategy.

So stay tuned as the search for USC's new head football coach develops. When a new coach is officially selected, we'll have the latest info here.

Notable news

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Here's a couple of news items that got lost in the shuffle during the past few days:

  • Rookie linebacker Clay Matthews has been added to the Pro Bowl roster, making him the second Trojan in the NFL all-star game next to Brian Cushing.
  • Offensive lineman Jeff Byers and cornerback Kevin Thomas have accepted invitations to play in the East-West Shrine Game on Jan. 23 in Orlando.
  • Defensive end Nick Perry was named to the Football Writers Association of America's Freshman All-America Team.

Guest blog: Through Barkley's eyes

| 11 Comments
It's a quiet day up in the football offices today. Just hours after Coach Carroll made his announcement official, ESPN is on the TV in the background ready to show the Seahawks press conference announcing their new head coach.

Yet this is also a time for action. As players and coaches wait to hear more news about the hiring of a new head coach, recruiting calls are still being made, film is still being watched and weights are still being lifted. The players can't wait to get started with offseason workouts.

It has begun already.

- By Matt Barkley

Moving on

| 2 Comments
It's the Day After at Heritage Hall, and whether you like it or not, life is going on.

Less than 24 hours after Pete Carroll's heartfelt farewell in the team meeting and press conference, the USC football program takes its next steps into the future. And, oddly, those steps are being helped along by what happened Monday.

Monday's events -- Carroll's goodbye staff meeting, team meeting and presser -- acted as a therapeutic culmination of a gut-wrenching 72 hours for the players, coaches and staff members associated with the program. It's a bit morose, but the surprise news over the weekend about Carroll's interest in the Seattle job was like dealing with a death to someone close. Shock and sadness came along with the suddenness of the whole ordeal, and the Trojans were left to grieve and grapple with those draining emotions from Friday through Monday.

But then Carroll's mini farewell tour through Heritage Hall on Monday afternoon served as a funeral of sorts, providing a time for the players, coaches, staffers and fans to mourn and move on. A weight was lifted and the sadness evaporated, both being replaced by an excitement for what the future holds, whatever that may mean for all inside and outside of the program.

Last goodbyes

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In some final, low-key moments at USC, Pete Carroll reclines in his desk chair and chats with (clockwise from top) Matt Barkley, Allen Bradford and C.J. Gable tonight in Heritage Hall's head football coach's office. Carroll is scheduled to fly to Seattle tonight and be introduced as the Seahawks' new coach on Tuesday morning.

Straight from the sources

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Hear what Matt Barkley, Chris Galippo and Kristofer O'Dowd are saying in the wake of Pete Carroll's resignation from USC in this free video from USCTrojans.com.

Meet the press

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Pete Carroll spoke to the media and answered questions for about a half-hour in Varsity Lounge this afternoon. Watch it for yourself here.

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Pete Carroll addresses a crush of media during this afternoon's press conference in Heritage Hall.

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 During his farewell press conference this afternoon, Pete Carroll speaks to the media.

Working for the future

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Besides acting as Pete Carroll's farewell, this afternoon's team meeting also served as the launching pad to the offseason for the Trojans, who will begin the winter strength and conditioning program in the coming week with their eyes set squarely on the 2010 season.

"It starts," head strength and conditioning coach Chris Carlisle told the players. "It doesn't matter who's here or what's going on. It starts."

See it again

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Watch Pete Carroll's outgoing press conference from this afternoon here, courtesy of USCTrojans.com.

So long, farewell

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Soaked with heavy emotion, Heritage Auditorium became the setting for Pete Carroll's final farewell to the players this afternoon.

Carroll, wearing a button-up shirt and slacks instead of the usual coaches gear, quietly shuffled to the front of the room, breaking the poignant silence with a speech that will be remembered by these Trojans for a long, long time.

"This has been ridiculously fun and it's been the joy of my life," Carroll told his former players, who sat muted by the moment. "I will always be forever grateful for what we did here. It's been as good as I can ever imagine."

Carroll, visibly choked-up a few times during his 10-minute address, broached the subject of why he took the Seattle Seahawks head coaching job, saying it was "too big of a competitive opportunity to pass up."

"I couldn't miss it," Carroll said.

Even though Carroll now moves on, he repeatedly referred to the highly connected atmosphere created over the years in the program.

"This is something we'll always have," Carroll told the players. "We're connected -- always connected."

Carroll then discussed the pressing question on every player's mind: What now? The new coach will be in soon -- "it's not going to take but a few days," Carroll said -- and the new chapter can begin for the program.

"The uncertainty you feel, don't let it take you the wrong way," he said. "Do what you came here to do."

As his speech wound down, Carroll stood in silence at the front of Heritage Auditorium, gazing around the room and intently looking into the eyes of seemingly every single player.

"From the deepest of my heart, I love you for what you did," he told them. "Thank you guys. I've loved every minute of it.

"This has been really, really special."

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His final time with his former players, Pete Carroll says goodbye to the Trojans in Heritage Auditorium this afternoon.

Live stream of Carroll's presser

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Pete Carroll's outgoing press conference will begin at 3 p.m. Watch it live for free here.

Thankful Carroll says goodbye

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Pete Carroll just met with his now-former assistant coaches in the War Room one last time, sharing his appreciation for and thoughts about their collective run at USC during the past seasons.

"For all your work and all you've done over the years, I'm forever indebted," Carroll told his now-former staffers during the brief meeting. "I love you guys -- you've been awesome.

"Thank you, I appreciate it."

Remembering Carroll's USC career

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Revisit Pete Carroll's memorable nine-year run at USC through these special features brought to you by USCRipsIt:

Carroll press conference at 3 p.m.

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Pete Carroll will address the media at a 3 p.m. press conference today to discuss his resignation from USC and new head coaching position with the Seattle Seahawks.

You can watch the presser live for free here.

Pete Carroll leaves USC to coach NFL's Seahawks

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0111pc2.jpgPete Carroll, who led the Trojans to seven Pac-10 titles and two national championships while becoming an icon in college football and L.A., has resigned to take over as head coach of the Seattle Seahawks.

"The nine years at USC have been the best years of my coaching life," Carroll said. "I will forever be indebted for the opportunity to represent this great university and would like to extend my thanks to President Sample and Mike Garrett for giving me the chance. For all the unforgettable memories, I want to thank the players, coaches and support staff who made it all possible. My family and I have been blessed, and we will always appreciate and respect our association with USC, our fans and the Trojan Family.

"The university graciously approached me to stay but this choice is about pursuing the great challenges of competing in the NFL and I found this opportunity too compelling to pass up."

The 58-year-old Carroll had a 97-19 (83.6 percent) record in his nine seasons (2001-09) at USC. He won a pair of national championships (2003-04), with the 2004 Trojans going a perfect 13-0. From 2002 to 2008, his teams posted seven consecutive Pac-10 titles (a conference record), BCS bowl game appearances (an NCAA record), 11-win seasons (an NCAA record) and AP Top 4 finishes.

"I had hoped this day would not come; this is a big loss to all of us," USC President Steven B. Sample said. "But we are proud of Pete Carroll and proud that the Seattle Seahawks recognize his talents and his accomplishments and are offering him this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. He rewrote the book on college football and now he intends to do the same for professional football. And my guess is that he will succeed wonderfully.

"Every Trojan everywhere owes Pete a big debt of gratitude for what he did for USC and USC football these past nine years."

In his nine seasons, Carroll was at the helm of 35 victories over AP Top 25 teams (35-9 overall, 79.5%). He was 7-2 in bowl games, including 6-1 in BCS games, and USC became the first school to win three consecutive Rose Bowls. He went 16-2 against traditional rivals Notre Dame and UCLA.

"Pete Carroll propelled the USC football program to unparalleled heights and became a college football icon in doing so," Trojan athletic director Mike Garrett said. "All of us connected with the University and indeed, the entire Trojan family, thank him for everything that he did during his nine years at USC. He was a valued colleague and good friend. We're obviously sorry to see him go, but we congratulate him on the new challenge that he has accepted with the Seattle Seahawks and wish him the very best.

"Pete had an incredible run at USC as our football coach."

During his tenure with the Trojans, Carroll presided over the program's winningest era in its rich history. A search for his replacement has already begun.

"Pete built and left in place a truly outstanding organization," Garrett said. "While he leaves behind an impressive legacy, I am confident that we will find a new head coach who will continue the success to which we are accustomed at USC."

Sample lauded Carroll for his trademark energy and enthusiasm.

"He brought joy and grace back to the game," Sample said. "He filled the Coliseum to the rafters. He was an educator as much as a coach, and taught all of us by example how important it is to take personal responsibility for making the world a better place. Pete's work with the toughest gangs of Los Angeles through A Better LA is the stuff of legend.

"We will miss Pete, but he will always be a Trojan. And he and his family will always have a warm and welcoming home at the University of Southern California."

Carroll's teams established almost unheard-of records and stats that will live on in college football lore for decades to come. Take a look at all the USC accomplishments during the past nine seasons under Carroll, achievements that have "earned him a lasting place in our history," Sample said:

  • Several Pac-10-record winning streaks, including 35 home games, 34 overall games, 27 Pac-10 games and 24 Pac-10 home games
  • School records for winning 18 consecutive road games and 13 straight Pac-10 road games
  • Carroll was 62-14 in Pacific-10 games for a league-record 81.6 percent winning mark
  • USC was AP's No. 1 team in a national-record 33 straight polls
  • The Trojans were ranked in the AP Top 10 for a school-record 63 consecutive games
  • Carroll's teams were in the AP Top 25 for a school-record 102 consecutive games
  • His Trojans also set a NCAA record by scoring at least 20 points in 63 consecutive games
  • Under Carroll, USC was the first school to have three Heisman Trophy winners in a four-year span
  • Carroll also coached winners of the Walter Camp, Chuck Bednarik, Johnny Unitas, Doak Walker and John Mackey awards
  • In 2005, USC became the first school to have a 3,000-yard passer, a pair of 1,000-yard runners and a 1,000-yard receiver in a season
  • During Carroll's tenure, USC set Pac-10 records for home average and home total attendance, as well as school standards for overall and overall average attendance and home and season sellouts.

Individual feats also abounded during Carroll's nine seasons, as he produced 35 All-American first teamers and 53 NFL draft picks (including 14 first rounders, with a No. 1 selection in Carson Palmer and a No. 2 in Reggie Bush).

In 2009, Carroll was named collegiate Coach of the Decade by Lindy's magazine. He twice was named the National Coach of the Year and three times was the Pac-10 Coach of the Year.

While at USC, Carroll received a number of community awards after he helped found A Better LA, a non-profit group consisting of a consortium of local agencies and organizations working to reduce gang violence by empowering change in individuals and communities.

"I will continue to be committed to the community through our foundation, A Better LA," Carroll said.

Added Garrett, USC's athletic director: "We did everything we could to keep Pete at USC, but he was presented with a rare opportunity to really build a program in the NFL. We know he will do a great job with the Seahawks.

"We'll be rooting for him."

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After nine seasons, seven Pac-10 titles and two national championships with the Trojans, Pete Carroll is leaving USC to become head coach of the Seattle Seahawks. [Photo courtesy of Getty Images]

Back in action

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The Trojans will gather for their first team meeting since the Emerald Bowl at 2:30 p.m. today, the opening day of the spring semester at USC.

Coach Pete Carroll is scheduled to conduct the meeting.

Williams to go pro

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Wideout Damian Williams will forego his senior season and enter the 2010 NFL Draft, he announced today.

"After a great deal of thoughtful discussion and prayer, I have decided that I will forego a fifth year of eligibility at USC and enter the 2010 NFL Draft," said Williams, who led the Trojans in receiving each of the last two seasons. "It was a difficult decision, but I am blessed to have some great people around me to counsel me, including my family and Coach Carroll.

"The NFL has been a dream of mine since I can remember and I feel that it is my time to take this step to the next level.  I am proud to have earned my degree from USC, and that was an extremely important part of this decision for me and my family.

"I want to thank Mr. Garrett, our athletic director, Coach Carroll and the entire staff for preparing me to take this next step.  I want to thank my teammates who will always be my Trojan family.  I also want to thank the USC fans who embraced me and made me feel like home, and the Arkansas community who supported me throughout my career."

Williams was an All-Pac-10 first team selection in 2009 as both a wide receiver and punt returner. He also won All-American third-team honors and was USC's team MVP in 2009. He had 70 receptions for 1,010 yards with six touchdowns this past season and was sixth nationally in punt returns with a 14.2 average. His two scoring punt returns were one shy of the school season record set in 1952. He was the Emerald Bowl Offensive MVP following his 12-catch, 189-yard performance.

Williams' early departure follows those of tailback Joe McKnight and defensive end Everson Griffen, who both have announced they will also forego their senior seasons to enter the NFL draft.

Corp transfers

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Quarterback Aaron Corp is transferring from USC to Richmond and will enroll immediately, Richmond announced today.

"We wish Aaron the best," Coach Pete Carroll said. "I know it'll work out well for him."

Markas tribute

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Check out this highlight reel of famous calls by late USC men's basketball announcer Rory Markas, who passed away on Monday.

Game at Oregon State moved to Nov. 20

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USC's game at Oregon State in the 2010 season has been moved to Nov. 20 from Oct. 23 for television purposes. The switch also puts the Trojans' lone bye of the campaign at the halfway mark instead of late in the season.

Here's USC's revised 2010 schedule:

Sept. 2 • at Hawaii (Thursday)
Sept. 11 • Virginia
Sept. 18 • at Minnesota
Sept. 25 • at Washington State
Oct. 2 • Washington
Oct. 9 • at Stanford
Oct. 16 • California
Oct. 23 • BYE
Oct. 30 • Oregon
Nov. 6 • Arizona State
Nov. 13 • at Arizona
Nov. 20 • at Oregon State
Nov. 27 • Notre Dame
Dec. 4 • at UCLA

Cushing wins Rookie of the Year

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Linebacker Brian Cushing won the NFL's defensive rookie of the year award today following a star-studded first season with the Houston Texans.

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Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing won defensive rookie of the year honors for the 2009 season. [Photo courtesy of Getty Images]

Markas passes away

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Rory Markas, the play-by-play announcer for the USC men's basketball team and the Los Angeles Angels, passed away on Monday. He was 54.

Stafon to play in Senior Bowl

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Tailback Stafon Johnson has accepted an invitation to play in the Senior Bowl, less than four months after suffering a life-threatening throat injury.

"This is a great opportunity for Stafon with all that he's been through and he's excited to play with some of the greatest players in the country," Coach Carroll said. "He's grateful to the Senior Bowl for giving him this chance. He's been a great player for us and everybody is ecstatic about him showing his playing ability there at the Senior Bowl."

Johnson will join safety Taylor Mays, tight end Anthony McCoy and offensive tackle Charles Brown in the annual pre-draft showcase.

Self-imposed sanctions for men's hoops

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USC announced self-imposed sanctions on its men's basketball team this morning. Read the story and also see athletic director Mike Garrett's video announcement here.

The self-imposed sanctions for the men's basketball program include a one-year ban on post-season competition following the 2009-2010 regular season, including the Pac-10 Conference basketball tournament; a reduction of one scholarship for the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 academic years; a reduction by one of the number of coaches permitted to engage in off-campus recruiting activities during the summer of 2010, and a reduction in the total number of recruiting days by twenty days (from 130 to 110) for the 2010-2011 academic year. Also, USC will vacate all wins during the 2007-2008 regular season, which was when O.J. Mayo competed while ineligible. USC will also return to the NCAA the money it received through the Pac-10 Conference for its participation in the 2008 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship Tournament.

These self-imposed sanctions impact only the men's basketball program, and do not affect any other program.

Three to the Senior Bowl

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Safety Taylor Mays, tight end Anthony McCoy and offensive tackle Charles Brown will represent the Trojans at the 2010 Senior Bowl, the annual pre-draft showcase in Mobile, Ala.