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March 2010 Archives

Pro Day photo album

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Here's an awesome slideshow of action shots from Pro Day on Wednesday, with shots from behind the scenes in the weight room and from the field, brought to you by USCRipsIt staff photographer Po-He Tseng:

All photos by Po-He Tseng, USCRipsIt staff photographer

Pro Day reaction

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Check out these excellent post-Pro Day interviews and recap packages for four NFL-bound Trojans, brought to you by Mark Haas of USCTrojans.com:

See it again

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Check out this full video recap of USC's Pro Day, brought to you by the NFL Network.

Trojans 360: Must-see TV

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Be sure to watch the premiere episode of "Trojans 360," a special insider TV magazine produced by Rob McPherson and the USCTrojans.com team.

Trojans 360 is an in-depth look into the athletes and coaches that make up USC athletics. It's a feature-style show that allows fans to hear from the highest profile members of USC athletics about issues and stories you can't find anywhere else. The launch includes a three-part series with new head football coach Lane Kiffin. Find out what the hiring process was like, how Kiffin was able to sign a top recruiting class and his expectations for spring football.

Rally time

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Watch a clip from Tuesday night's Spring Practice kickoff pep rally on the steps of Heritage Hall, featuring the coaches, players, Trojan Marching Band and USC Song Girls:

Straight from the boss

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Check out Coach Lane Kiffin's thoughts from the first day of Spring Practice in this free video from USCTrojans.com.

Pictures from Pro Day

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Check out some photos from Pro Day today. More pictures, from staff photographer Po-He Tseng, will be coming later:

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Offensive lineman Alex Parsons runs his 40 in front of a large audience of NFL personnel on Cromwell Field.

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Tailback Joe McKnight goes through the pro agility drill.

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Tailback Stafon Johnson hauls in a catch during position drills.

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Safety Taylor Mays meets the media crush following his workout.

Official 40 times

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Check out the official hand-timed 40-yard dash marks from Pro Day today:

  • OT Charles Brown: 5.25
  • OL Jeff Byers: 5.09
  • TB Hershel Dennis: 4.65
  • TB Adam Goodman: 5.03
  • DE Everson Griffen: 4.59
  • S Will Harris: 4.59
  • OL Nick Howell: 5.07
  • TB Stafon Johnson: 4.62
  • S Taylor Mays: Did not run
  • TE Anthony McCoy: Did not run
  • TB Joe McKnight:  Did not run
  • DL Omar Nazel: 4.93
  • OL Alex Parsons: 4.90
  • DB Josh Pinkard: Did not run
  • FB Ryan Powdrell: 5.01
  • DL Averell Spicer: 5.03
  • CB Kevin Thomas: 4.43
  • WR Damian Williams: Did not run

News and notes from Pro Day

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USC's annual Pro Day has wrapped up after several hours of testing, measurements and drills in the weight room and on the field. Here are some significant notes from the day:

  • Cornerback Kevin Thomas had the day's fastest 40, running a 4.43. Defensive end Everson Griffen and safety Will Harris both posted 4.59s for the next-best times.
  • Offensive lineman Nick Howell put up the most reps on the bench press with 38. Safety Will Harris had 35 and defensive lineman Averell Spicer had 32 for the other top marks on the bench press.
  • All but three NFL teams sent at least one representative to the event, with nearly 70 total professional personnel in attendance.
  • Carolina Panthers head coach John Fox and legendary former general manager Charley Casserly, now an analyst for the NFL Network, were among the notable NFL personnel in attendance.
  • Former backup quarterback Michael McDonald threw to the receivers and running backs during position drills.
  • Inside Heritage Hall, players were measured for heights and weights before getting tested on the standing long jump, vertical jump and bench press. Then the pre-Draft showcase moved outside to Cromwell Field, where players went through the 40-yard dash, pro agility drill, 60-yard shuttle and three-corner cone drill.
  • The rain held off for the outdoor portion of Pro Day, with cool temperatures, mostly cloudy skies and a strong breeze setting the stage on Cromwell Field.

Pictures from Tuesday's practice

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Defensive line coach Ed Orgeron watches on as defensive end Kevin Greene goes through drills.

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Matt Barkley lets a pass fly during 1-on-1 drills.

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The offense faces the defense in 11-on-11 work.

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Spring Practice 2010 gets underway on a picture-perfect afternoon on Howard Jones Field.

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Mitch Mustain passes to the left as the defensive linemen close in.

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Coach Lane Kiffin speaks to his players following the opening practice of the spring on Tuesday.

Dispatch from Howard Jones

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Thoughts from Tuesday's practice, through the eyes of USCRipsIt...

- On a cool springtime afternoon, the Trojans kicked off Spring Practice 2010 with a spirited no-pads workout, impressing the coaches with their zest in the team's first football action since the Emerald Bowl more than three months ago. "I thought the energy was great out here today," Coach Lane Kiffin said in the post-practice team huddle. "Ask yourself, did you give championship effort out here today? Let's do this one day at a time."

- Kiffin said he was pleased with the performance of quarterbacks Matt Barkley and Mitch Mustain in the opening practice of the spring. "I thought Matt threw the ball really well," Kiffin said. "And I though Mitch did some things well too."

- Barkley connected with wideout Ronald Johnson on a pair of picturesque deep balls -- one in 7-on-7 drills and the other in team period -- that wowed teammates and coaches.

- Tailback Curtis McNeal shined in the receiving game Tuesday, recording a nifty catch-and-run before snagging a deep ball on a route out of the backfield.

- During team period, wideouts Brice Butler and Kyle Prater turned short receptions into long gains thanks to shifty moves through the defense.

- Because the players weren't in pads, the running game was hampered, but tailback Allen Bradford had an impressive run when he cut off tackle for a nice gain.

- Tight end Rhett Ellison has come down with mononucleosis and could miss all of Spring Practice, Kiffin said. The tight end position is awfully thin, with Blake Ayles out with a sprained ankle and the incoming freshmen yet to enroll. David Ausberry and Jordan Cameron, both former wideouts, took all of the tight end reps on Tuesday.

- Long snapper Cooper Stephenson, who played on the team for four seasons, has quit, Kiffin announced.

- Alumni Jeff Byers, Joe McKnight and Nick Howell attended the workout.

- The Trojans' next practice on Thursday at 4 p.m. Kiffin said the players will be in full pads.

Practice admittance policy

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Admittance to USC football team practices on campus will be restricted to pre-approved guests who submit requests 24 hours in advance, according to a policy released today by the USC athletic department.
 
Those eligible to attend practices if pre-approved are parents, guardians, spouses and siblings of current players, as well as a limited number of guests escorted by certain USC administrators. Additional limited exceptions (such as other relatives of players) may be made with the pre-authorization of a Senior Associate Athletic Director.
 
Those who are pre-authorized to attend practices may only have contact with coaches and athletic department personnel.  
 
Among those not permitted access to practice are agents (such as athlete agents, marketing agents or financial advisors to athletes) or their employees, representatives or affiliates. 

Out to the field

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After three months with no football, the Trojans have taken the field for their first practice of the spring, a no-pads affair on a sunny afternoon on Howard Jones Field. We'll be back with a report afterward.

Pro Day on Wednesday

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USC's Pro Day will be conducted on Wednesday in Heritage Hall and on Cromwell Field, starting at 10:30 a.m. The event includes measurements and testing in the weight room and timed running and agility drills on the field. It is closed to the public per NCAA rules.

Here's a look at the 15 Trojans scheduled to participate in the pre-Draft showcase that will attract dozens of NFL personnel:

  • OT Charles Brown
  • OL Jeff Byers
  • QB/WR Garrett Green
  • DE Everson Griffen
  • S Will Harris
  • OL Nick Howell
  • TB Stafon Johnson
  • S Taylor Mays
  • TE Anthony McCoy
  • TB Joe McKnight
  • OL Alex Parsons
  • DB Josh Pinkard
  • DL Averell Spicer
  • CB Kevin Thomas
  • WR Damian Williams

It all begins now

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Lane Kiffin feels the excitement. His players do too.

"This should be the most exciting day since we got here," Kiffin just told his players in Heritage Auditorium. "It's time to play some football."

The Trojans, who just wrapped up their first team meeting of the spring, will conduct their opening practice of the Kiffin Era at 4 p.m., with their focus set on the present while laying a foundation for the future.

"You win a championship one day at a time," Kiffin said. "You can't worry about what's way out there -- you've got to focus on today."

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Coach Lane Kiffin speaks to his players during this afternoon's team meeting, the first of Spring Practice 2010.

Starting the Spring off

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The Trojans are about to begin Day 1 of Spring Practice 2010 with a block of meetings prior to a no-pads practice at 4 p.m. Here's a look at the schedule for the afternoon, which closely mimics the meeting-and-practice agenda the Trojans have had in previous seasons:

2:15 p.m. • Special teams meeting
2:35 p.m. • Team meeting
2:45 p.m. • Offense/defense meetings
3 p.m. • Position meetings
3:45 p.m. • On the field
4 p.m. • Practice #1 begins

Clearing things up

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The admittance policy for the first day of Spring Practice has raised some eyebrows among fans, and understandably so.

To clear the air a little, an official practice admittance policy has been in the works for months, with many groups contributing input to the situation to craft a course of action that is ultimately being done with the players' best interest in mind. A final policy will be released soon, but as it continues to be vetted, officials believed it best for both the program and the players to limit admittance for the opening workout this afternoon to family members, media and recruits.

USC has always been one of the nation's most accessible programs, whether by allowing fans to attend practices or through the almost unheard-of media openness. And remember, while practices appeared in the past to be fully open, there was always a procedure and filter for people to come in through Goux Gate at the entrance to Howard Jones Field. That procedure is just being tweaked now, that's all.

The future of RipsIt

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Just when you all can't treat me and USCRipsIt any better, you go out and totally exceed all rational limits.

Your comments and e-mails in response to my farewell post yesterday have humbled and flattered me beyond belief, and I want to thank you and express my appreciation for the outpouring of love and support. It means so much to me and I can't think of a better way to close out my time at USC. I will finish out this week with the program, and I will continue running the Blog on a scaled-back basis through Friday.

Many fans have asked whether USCRipsIt and the Blog will live on. Athletic department officials have already begun searching for a replacement, with a strong, qualified group of candidates in the mix, and they're hoping to hire very quickly.

Because of its success and your overwhelming feedback, the Blog will continue on in some way, shape or form into the future, and as its founder, I am confident the next person will build on the foundation we've laid over the last three years. A fresh perspective can and will be a good thing for the followers of this site, so I am excited to see where RipsIt goes into the future. Just like I was able to start and maintain something exciting, the next person will be able to create and build upon a captivating vehicle to connect with you and ensure USCRipsIt remains a valuable and entertaining resource.

The greatest thing about the online sphere is that it is always evolving, and this transition for USCRipsIt provides a platform for new and exciting changes to occur with the Blog and site overall. I am positive USCRipsIt's next step will be a good one. Like a proud father watching from afar, I will be eager to see not only the continuation, but the growth of the site as the Trojans head into the 2010 season and beyond.

Again, thank you for your tremendous support and well wishes, and rest assured in the future of RipsIt, knowing I'm about to join you as a loyal fan and follower of USCRipsIt and the Blog.

Practice admittance policy for Tuesday

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USC's opening spring football practice on Tuesday at 4 p.m. will be open only to players' parents/family, plus recruits and media. 

An admittance policy for future USC football practices is being developed by the USC athletic department and will be announced soon.

Thank you and farewell

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After three years of running USCRipsIt, the RipsIt Blog and the online presence of the Trojan football team, I am resigning to take a similar position with the Seattle Seahawks.

This site and, most notably, the Blog have grown into something bigger than I could have ever imagined when we started it in August 2007. What began as a shot-in-the-dark idea to disseminate inside information about the Trojans eventually blossomed into what CNBC named the No. 1 all-access blog in sports last fall -- and what a ride it has been from start to finish.

We brought you along where no site has gone before -- inside team meetings, the locker room at halftime and many other never-before-seen places -- as the Trojans captured two Pac-10 championships, two Rose Bowl crowns, three bowl wins and 32 overall victories. But now, more than 10,000 blog entries, countless albums of photos and encyclopedias of memories later, my time at USC has come to an end. While I am excited about a new opportunity, it is also sad to say goodbye to something so close to my heart. USC and its athletic department are unrivaled, and I want to thank all the people who continue to make this university one-of-a-kind, from the most tenured staffer to the most loyal alum to the freshest freshman.

All of our successes over the years would not have happened without you the reader, so I'd like to express my eternal gratitude to you for making this site and this experience so special. Whether you read it daily or hourly and whether you e-mailed in frequently or never, your support of this site and what we were doing in the online sphere made this endeavor such a sensation. And above all, your unwavering support exemplified the power and uniqueness of the Trojan Family.

There's so much gratitude to go around. Thanks go out to the people who worked for USCRipsIt over the years, including photographers Po-He Tseng and Jon SooHoo and student assistants Ricky Cambier and Katie Boggs. This is also an opportune time to thank the behind-the-scenes people in the athletic department who make this football program one of the best in the nation -- and who contributed to this site in their own unique ways: Eric Espinoza, Russ Romano, Chris Grosskopf, Tim Tessalone, Paul Goldberg, Randall Green, Bryan Bailey, David "Pops" Scott, Tino Dominguez and many others.

So in the end, I'd just like to thank you all from the bottom of my heart. Until our paths cross again, always Fight On.

Almost there

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Only four days remain until Spring Practice 2010 kicks off. Be sure to purchase your tickets to the May 1 Trojan Huddle at the Coliseum.

Here's a look at the schedule for Spring Practice 2010 (subject to change), with weekday practices beginning at 4 p.m. and weekend workouts starting at 11 a.m.:

Tuesday, March 30 • Practice #1
Thursday, April 1 • Practice #2
Saturday, April 3 • Practice #3
Tuesday, April 6 • Practice #4
Thursday, April 8 • Practice #5
Saturday, April 10 • Practice #6
Tuesday, April 13 • Practice #7
Thursday, April 15 • Practice #8
Saturday, April 17 • Practice #9
Tuesday, April 20 • Practice #10
Thursday, April 22 • Practice #11
Saturday, April 24 • Practice #12
Tuesday, April 27 • Practice #13
Thursday, April 29 • Practice #14
Saturday, May 1 • Trojan Huddle (Coliseum)

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Spring Practice Primer: Special teams

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Commentary from special teams coordinator John Baxter

spphouston.JPGMoving on: K Jordan Congdon, P Billy O'Malley

Fighting on: K Jake Harfman, K Joe Houston, SNP Chris Pousson, P Boomer Roepke, SNP Cooper Stephenson

Spring expectations for the vacant kicker position, with Joe Houston and Jake Harfman set to fight for it...
"I won't know anything about them until I start working them. I have to see them kick balls. Right now, they're literally names on a piece of paper. They don't compete against each other -- they compete against themselves. Kicking is like a track and field competition -- the guy who throws the javelin the farthest wins the gold medal. It's the most objective decision in football because the numbers don't lie. I've never let petty jealousies or guys not talking to each other because they're competing for a job creep into things. If it's close, then it's when you're experience comes in. Then you have to make a decision based on feel, experience or whatever.

How will the open holder role be filled?
"I start with the quarterbacks and the punters. The reason is: holding isn't about having good hands, it's about having a good feel for the ball and being able to manipulate it. Quarterbacks and punters are the only two guys on the team who manipulate the ball. The other guys just catch it and tuck it away. And secondly you want to have someone who can deal it if you want to do something besides kick. And thirdly, a position player could get tweaked and get knocked out, but you want someone who's going to be the battery mate for the kicker -- like a pitcher and catcher in baseball. I tell the kickers that they're in charge of the holders, because the numbers go next to their names. So if they want a good holder, they need to work together. I'll help the guy, but I'm not in charge of the synergy."

Spring expectations for the entire special teams unit...
"I want to teach these guys the individual techniques and fundamentals of playing together on one field. There's not going to be one kid by the end of this spring who knows what our punt coverage is, and it doesn't matter to me. I'm going to spend all my time teaching them how to get him, so when we say it in the fall, it triggers a picture."

Most excited about...
"I've never had the ability to focus on just special teams, I've always had a position to coach as well. So I kind of feel like a man without a country a little. But I know that I don't underestimate the impact I can have. Getting a chance to start something brand new again is really exciting for me."

Spring Practice Primer: Tight ends

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Commentary from tight ends coach John Morton

sppellison.JPGMoving on: Anthony McCoy

Fighting on: Blake Ayles, Jordan Cameron, Rhett Ellison, Ian Wandler

Spring expectations for junior Rhett Ellison...
"I'm looking for him to improve on his passing game. He does a great job on the run game and with blocking, so we'll work on the receiving part of his game."

Spring expectations for junior Blake Ayles...
"We need him to just be healthy. He's got to learn how to do everything -- blocking, routes, everything, understanding the whole offense. He's really good after the catch and he brings us toughness. If he's healthy, he can compete and get so much better this spring."

Jordan Cameron moved from wideout to tight end, so what are his expectations for this spring?
"He needs to be in one spot. He's been moved all over the place, so it'll be exciting to see where he's at in this position. He knows the routes and he'll do great with that, but he's got to learn the blocking and protection parts. I'm excited because he's in one spot and he'll be able to really learn it."

Most excited about...
"You've got to always look back on the competition. I want them to strive to get better everyday and try to be the most consistent player, because that's who's going to play."

Getting closer

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The countdown to Spring Practice 2010 is now at just five days, with the first workout set to begin on Tuesday. Here's the full practice schedule, and remember to purchase your tickets to the May 1 Trojan Huddle at the Coliseum.

Coach them up

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Spring Practice 2010, set to begin Tuesday, will serve as the football introduction between the players and new coaching staff. With only two returners from the 2009 staff, check out the roster of coaches who will lead the Trojans in 2010:

  • Lane Kiffin • Head coach
  • Monte Kiffin • Assistant head coach
  • John Baxter • Associate head coach/special teams coordinator
  • Ed Orgeron • Defensive coordinator/recruiting coordinator/defensive line
  • Joe Barry • Linebackers
  • Willie Mack Garza • Secondary
  • John Morton • Passing game coordinator/wide receivers/tight ends
  • James Cregg • Offensive line
  • Clay Helton • Quarterbacks
  • Todd McNair • Running backs

Spring Practice Primer: Wide receivers

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Commentary from wide receivers coach John Morton

sppjohnson.jpgMoving on: Damian Williams

Fighting on: David Ausberry, Steve Blackhart, Robbie Boyer, Brice Butler, Brandon Carswell, De'Von Flournoy, Ronald Johnson, Drew Ness, Travon Patterson, Kyle Prater, Scott Stephens, Spencer Vigoren

Spring expectations for senior Ronald Johnson...
"I'm looking for him to be consistent and make plays and gain toughness. He's the old guy now, so he needs to step up and lead and be an example to his teammates."

Spring expectations for sophomore Brice Butler...
"He's going to be competing for a starting role, so I really want him to make plays and be consistent. The guys who start are the ones who are consistent. So whenever Brice gets an opportunity, I'm looking at how consistent can he be, so that we can eventually trust him to start."

Spring expectations for the corps of talented backup wideouts (De'Von Flournoy, Kyle Prater and Brandon Carswell, to name a few)...
"Prater's been out with an injury this spring, so I just want to see where he's at. I just expect him to come out and compete everyday and get better every single day. For De'Von, we want to see how far he's progressed. He hasn't played a lot of football in his life, so I'm looking to see where he's at. I'm looking to see where Brandon can make a move. It's time for him to make a move. And Travon [Patterson] has been working his butt off, he wants to play bad and he's been doing everything he needs to do. I want him to step up and contribute."

Most excited about...
"With a new staff, there are subtle changes to the offense, mostly with just verbage. I'm looking for the guys to come out every day and compete. Whenever another team comes onto the field, I want them to say, 'Dang, look at those receivers.' I want our guys to work as hard as they can work and I want them to make plays when it's time to make plays. They need to do a better job of blocking too. I really want them to get better every day and become more consistent and accountable."

Spring Practice Primer: Running backs

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Commentary from running backs coach Todd McNair

spphavili.jpgMoving on: FB Adam Goodman, TB Stafon Johnson, TB Joe McKnight

Fighting on: TB Dillon Baxter, TB Allen Bradford, TB C.J. Gable, FB Stanley Havili, TB Curtis McNeal, TB Ahmed Mokhtar, FB D.J. Shoemate, FB Hunter Simmons, TB Marc Tyler

Spring expectations for seniors Allen Bradford and C.J. Gable...
"I want them to keep developing. They're not done developing by any stretch. A.B. still has some growing to do and hasn't started games yet. C.J. didn't play much last year so he's got some reestablishing and reasserting to do. There's always room to get better, no matter how old or experienced you are. I expect them to set the tone for preparation and practice and workouts and all that."

Spring expectations for senior fullback Stanley Havili...
"He's in the same boat as A.B. and C.J., they all came in together. I expect the same thing from Stanley. He's probably played the most ball of all of them, being that he had been the single starter the whole way. I expect him to continue to push to get better and become an all-around great fullback."

Spring expectations for youngsters Curtis McNeal and Marc Tyler...
"I want to see them follow the older guys. They have great examples in front of them. I don't want any drop off. They need to compete at the standard set in front of them. They need to play as much as they can and work as hard as they can. This spring is big for all of them, but especially these guys, because of the new coaching staff. Coach Kiffin was here when the older guys came in, but they all have to prove themselves all over again. It's a big spring for all of them. Moody [Curtis McNeal] had a big spring last spring but he got nicked up in fall camp and didn't come out in the fall as strong as he did in the spring. The head coach doesn't know these guys. He remembers when the older guys were all puppies, but they're grown dogs now."

Most excited about...
"I'm excited because we're talented and experienced. I'm excited to see how far they can keep going and keep growing. We've had enormous standards set around here over the years, and that's always out there. How close can we get to that? Can we get there and get to that level? That's what I want to see. I'm excited and I think they have a chance to be a special group. I really want them to capture that and live up to expectations."

Starting experience

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Besides the list of returning starters published Tuesday, 14 other Trojans have starting experience, combining for 64 total starts. Take a look at the Trojans not listed as returning starters who have logged previous career starts (number of career starts in parenthesis):

  • TB C.J. Gable (18)
  • LB Shane Horton (9)*
  • QB Mitch Mustain (8)*
  • TE Rhett Ellison (6)
  • OG Zack Heberer (5)
  • CB Shareece Wright (4)
  • TB Allen Bradford (3)
  • WR Brandon Carswell (3)
  • FB D.J. Shoemate (3)
  • WR Brice Butler (1)
  • LB Jordan Campbell (1)
  • OT Matt Kalil (1)
  • S Drew McAllister (1)
  • DE Nick Perry (1)
*All of Mustain's starts were at Arkansas; 6 of Horton's starts were at UNLV

Big honor

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Two Trojans -- swimmer Rebecca Soni and golfer Jennifer Song -- are included on the list of 14 nominees for the 2009 Sullivan Award, given annually to America's top amateur athlete. Read more about the honor and vote for either USC athlete here.

Ticking down

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Spring Practice 2010 begins in just six days, with the first workout set to begin on Tuesday. Here's the full practice schedule, and be sure to purchase your tickets to the May 1 Trojan Huddle at the Coliseum.

Spring Practice Primer: Defensive line

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Commentary from defensive line coach Ed Orgeron

sppcasey.jpgMoving on: DT Averell Spicer, DE Everson Griffen

Fighting on: DE Armond Armstead, DE James Boyd, DT Jurrell Casey, DT Hebron Fangupo, DE Kevin Greene, DT DaJohn Harris, DE Wes Horton, DE Malik Jackson, DE Nick Perry, DT Derek Simmons, DT Christian Tupou

Spring expectations for senior defensive tackle Christian Tupou...
"I love Christian. He has great leadership qualities and toughness, and I really see Christian's relentless work ethic. He's an excellent player for us."

Expectations for nose tackle Jurrell Casey this spring...
"He needs to prove that he can be a dominant player. He's shown flashes of signs of being a really good player, but I want to see him do it every down and just become a dominant defensive player."

On the crop of young defensive ends...
"I like the competition, I like Nick Perry, Armond Armstead. Everybody has a little uniqueness to them, and I need to find out what everyone does well, and then put them in a position to do it. We always use a six-man rotation -- three guys inside and three guys outside -- so it should be interesting to see who steps up."

Most excited about...

"I want to see who's going to be the toughest guy out there and who's going to compete the hardest on a daily basis."

Henderson's decision

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Watch a replay of offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson's decision to attend USC on Signing Day on Feb. 3, from CBS College Sports.

The newest Trojan: OL Seantrel Henderson

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seantrelhenderson.jpgUSC has received and approved the signed letter of intent for offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson. Here are the basic facts on Henderson:

Seantrel Henderson
Offensive tackle
St. Paul, Minn. (Cretin-Derham Hall HS) • 6-8, 330

The facts on Seantrel Henderson...
  • Starred on the offensive and defensive line as a senior in 2009, when he won honors such as USA Today All-USA Offensive Player of the Year, Parade All-American Player of the Year, Super Prep All-American, Prep Star All-American, Max Preps All-American first team, Super Prep Elite 50, Prep Star Dream Team, Super Prep All-Midwest, Prep Star All-Midwest, AP All-State Player of the Year and All-Metro
  • Did not allow a sack in 250 pass attempts in 2009
  • Cretin-Derham Hall High won the 2009 Minnesota state 5A title
  • As a junior in 2008, made USA Today All-USA first team, EA Sports All-American, Max Preps All-American second team, Rivals.com National Junior of the Year and All-State first team
  • Also played on Cretin-Derham Hall's basketball and track teams
  • As a youngster in 2004, he won the shot put, discus throw and 1500 meters at the Minnesota Junior Olympics

Henderson signs with USC

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Seantrel Henderson, a 6-8, 330-pound offensive tackle from Cretin-Derham Hall High in St. Paul, Minn., who was the USA Today All-USA Offensive Player of the Year and Parade All-American Player of the Year, has signed a letter of intent with USC, Coach Lane Kiffin announced today.

"We're excited to have received Seantrel's signed letter of intent" Kiffin said. "This is the final piece of putting together the nation's No. 1 recruiting class. We're looking forward to having all of our recruits come in and compete for playing time with our returning players.

"We have now been fortunate for the last two years to have our staff sign the nation's number one player. This signing is once again indicative of the power of USC and what it means to play here. We are very proud to have Seantrel as a member of the Trojan family."

Spring Practice Primer: Defensive backs

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Commentary from defensive backs coach Willie Mack Garza

sppwright.jpgMoving on: S Will Harris, S Taylor Mays, CB Josh Pinkard, CB Kevin Thomas

Fighting on: CB Brian Baucham, CB T.J. Bryant, CB Omari Crittenden, S Patrick Hall, CB Daniel Harper, CB Torin Harris, DB Marshall Jones, S Drew McAllister, S T.J. McDonald, S Ryan McMahon, CB Byron Moore, CB Allen Noble, S Spencer Spiegel, S Jawanza Starling, CB Shareece Wright

Spring expectations for senior Shareece Wright...
"He's been around, he knows the lay of the land and he's probably the most familiar with the defense. I expect quite a bit of leadership from Shareece, giving guidance to some of the young guys and even the older guys. I expect him to be a playmaker and to be the nucleus of our secondary group."

Spring expectations for young cornerbacks such as Brian Baucham, Byron Moore and Torin Harris...
"There will be some transition period as they get familiar with my coaching style and Coach [Monte] Kiffin's coaching style, but I feel like they're really buying into our philosophy. I think there's going to be quite a bit of growth and maturation with those guys in the spring. They just need to pay attention to detail and really be focused on a day-in and day-out basis. They need to compete, because we have a good crop of young guys and basically no returning starters. It's going to be very competitive and it's going to be survival of the fittest out there."

Spring expectations for the safety position...
"As always in spring football, you're working on fundamentals -- tackling, getting off blocks, proper pursuit angles -- and you're always trying to develop that in your safeties. They've got to learn what linebackers do and what all the defensive backs do, since they're like the quarterbacks of the defense. They've got to get comfortable with the package, because there are some differences -- terminology, verbage and a few other things. Hopefully this spring they'll get comfortable with all that so they can play naturally, which allows them to play fast, aggressive and it allows for us to play together as a team."

Most excited about...

"I've got such a good group of guys who love playing football. They're competitive and young, so the potential for growth is there. They know the system. They're eager to learn and absorb new information, they're wanting to be coached and they're wanting to be the very best. And anytime you have that, regardless of talent or ability, you've got to be excited about that because that's what it's all about."

Starters returning

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With Spring Practice about to begin and the focus now shifting officially to the 2010 season, the Trojans will officially have 12 returning starters from last year's squad -- five on offense, six on defense and one specialist. Here's a list of USC's returning starters this season (* denotes a 2009 co-starter, which counts as ½ in the returning starters stat):

  • WR Ronald Johnson*
  • WR David Ausberry*
  • QB Matt Barkley
  • FB Stanley Havili
  • OT Tyron Smith
  • OG Butch Lewis*
  • C Kristofer O'Dowd*
  • DE Armond Armstead*
  • DT Jurrell Casey
  • LB Chris Galippo
  • DE Wes Horton*
  • LB Devon Kennard*
  • LB Michael Morgan*
  • LB Malcolm Smith
  • DT Christian Tupou
  • P-K Jake Harfman

One week to go

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Only seven days remain until Spring Practice 2010, as the first workout is one week from today. Here's the full practice schedule, and don't forget to purchase your tickets to the May 1 Trojan Huddle at the Coliseum.

Spring Practice Primer: Quarterbacks

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Commentary from quarterbacks coach Clay Helton

sppbarkley.jpgMoving on: None

Fighting on: Matt Barkley, Brett Kan, John Manoogian, Mitch Mustain

Spring expectations for Matt Barkley, who has a year of starting experience under his belt...
"Obviously, we have a huge advantage as a new staff having very similar of an offense that he's used to. Our goal is for him to be a great decision maker. Obviously, he's an incredible talent, but what we're trying to do is try to be better in our touchdown-to-interception ratio. It's something we're going to work on extremely hard -- to not make that critical error at the quarterback position."

Spring expectations for senior Mitch Mustain...
"What a tremendous opportunity Mitch has to create a lasting memory in his senior year and make it his best year in college. Mitch is a quarterback that continues to progress each season, and he definitely has the tools, which I'm excited about. He's a guy that at some point in time is going to be called on to help out, and he has to be ready. We just want to keep him progressing at quarterback."

Only two scholarship quarterbacks are currently on the roster -- is that a good or bad thing?
"It's a very good thing. What a great opportunity for a young quarterback in Matt Barkley to progress and a guy in Mitch who had limited reps last year found himself getting more and more. What an opportunity for both guys to get a lot of needed reps this spring. They're excited about that, and they'll probably be tired at the end of it, but that's not a bad thing. We've got to get Matt and Mitch ready for next season."

Most excited about...
"It's a position group that is extremely talented, but what I'm excited about is there's room for improvement. I'm fortunate as a coach to be coaching two guys who have these tools and then try to bring them along so they don't make the same mistakes they made last year. There's such a room for improvement to make them better, and that's what I'm really excited about. You can see some things that need to be done to make two guys who are very talented football players better."

Spring Practice Primer: Linebackers

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Commentary from linebackers coach Joe Barry

sppkennard.jpgMoving on: Luthur Brown, Nick Garratt

Fighting on: Will Andrew, Jordan Campbell, Ross Cumming, Chris Galippo, Shane Horton, Jarvis Jones, Devon Kennard, Michael Morgan, Marquis Simmons, Malcolm Smith, Simione Vehikite

Spring expectations for sophomore Devon Kennard...
"Devon specifically is an intriguing guy in that he was recruited here as a big-time defensive end. And he played very well early. When you put that San Jose State game on from last year, you see No. 42 playing a lot as a freshman. Then for whatever reason they were forced to move Devon to linebacker. And let me tell you, that's not an easy transition. For a kid that's been a defensive end his whole career, to move to linebacker, that'd be a challenge for a fifth-year senior, let alone a true freshman. And it's just a testament to what kind of kid he is, what kind of athlete he is, what kind of student of the game he is, because they moved him to 'sam' linebacker and he didn't miss a beat. I'm really looking forward to working with him. He's a great kid, very serious, very detailed and to play linebacker, you have to have those attributes. I've only been around him a month but I love him and I think he's going to have a heck of a future."

Spring expectations for the three most experienced linebackers (Chris Galippo, Malcolm Smith and Michael Morgan)...
"Last year was the first time in their USC careers that they got to start and play an extended period of time, and I thought they played OK. It was a learning and growing experience for them when the spotlight was on them. They weren't just the backups anymore. They were the guy. There's an adjustment with that, especially when you've been a backup behind great players, first-rounders. I think they all improved, from Game 1 to Game 13. We're all about improvement, even if it's 1 percent. They all improved as starters, and I expect all of them to continue to improve. For Michael and Malcolm, this is their last offseason, so I'm expecting big things from them, not only in terms of play-making, but leadership. For Chris also, he came in with big expectations and I'm not going to change that. I look forward to spending time with the guys."

Hopes for key backups during the spring...
"We're expecting big things out of Shane Horton. Here's a guy who was a career safety who got moved to linebacker, so he's still learning the position, learning how to play it and learning the nuances. He's a good athlete, he's smart, he's tough, so I think every day is a new learning experience for him at the linebacker position, so I'm excited to be around him more and more. We have some young guys like Marquis Simmons, who's a little bit of an unknown right now. He's a raw, unknown entity right now and we'll find out a lot about him this fall. We just moved Simi [Vehikite] from fullback to linebacker, and I was able to dig up some high school footage on him. Both Marquis and Simi are young guys who, after 15 days of spring ball, we'll know a lot more about them. And then guys like Ross Cumming and Will Andrew, two guys who are here every day working their butts off. They're unknown to me too, but that's the great thing about spring ball -- when the dust settles after 15 days, hopefully there's a ton of improvement and for me personally, I'll have a great feel for the core that I have."

Most excited about...
"We have OTAs in the NFL, but nothing where you can put pads on and hit people, so I'm looking forward to that here. The offseason is all about your approach, and our approach is that you're going to get better every single day. You have to approach every opportunity in the offseason as a chance to get better. You're either getting better or staying the same. That's what we're focusing on with our group -- let's not stay the same, let's not settle for status quo, let's get better."

On the schedule

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Here's the 2010 schedule for the Trojans, a slate that includes seven teams that went to a bowl in 2009:

Sept. 2 • at Hawaii (Thursday), ESPN, 8 p.m. PDT
Sept. 11 • Virginia
Sept. 18 • at Minnesota
Sept. 25 • at Washington State
Oct. 2 • Washington (Parents weekend)
Oct. 9 • at Stanford
Oct. 16 • California
Oct. 23 • BYE
Oct. 30 • Oregon (Homecoming)
Nov. 6 • Arizona State
Nov. 13 • at Arizona
Nov. 20 • at Oregon State
Nov. 27 • Notre Dame
Dec. 4 • at UCLA

Countdown continues

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The countdown to Spring Practice 2010 is now at just 8 days, with the first workout set to begin on March 30. Here's the full practice schedule, and be sure to purchase your tickets to the May 1 Trojan Huddle at the Coliseum.

Spring Practice Primer: Offensive line

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Commentary from offensive line coach James Cregg

sppodowd.jpgMoving on: OT Charles Brown, OL Jeff Byers, OT Nick Howell, C Garrett Nolan, OL Alex Parsons

Fighting on: OT Martin Coleman, OT Kevin Graf, OG Zack Heberer, OG Khaled Holmes, OT Matt Kalil, OG Butch Lewis, C Abe Markowitz, OG John Martinez, C Kristofer O'Dowd, C Michael Reardon, OT Tyron Smith

Spring expectations for senior Kristofer O'Dowd...
"I expect great things from Kris. Hopefully his injury problems are by him, and he's been working hard in our offseason program. He looks like he's ready to roll."

Spring expectations for the group of young players fighting for a starting role (Khaled Holmes and Matt Kalil, to name two)...
"I want them to compete to win a job. Our depth chart is etched in sand right now, and it's all about competition in this program. They know that and they're looking to get the job."

Spring expectations for freshmen John Martinez and Kevin Graf...
"I feel the same for them and any incoming freshmen. If you show it on the field and on the tape and you bring it all on the grass and you prove you're the best guy for the position, I don't care what age you are or what you've done in the past. If you're the best guy, you'll get the spot."

Most excited about...
"I'm so excited. In years past, being with Coach Kiffin, it's all about competition, and it's fun to see these guys work. They've been around one of the best coaches in the country before, so it'll be neat to see them work and get a feel for them. They have a very competitive mindset, something that's special to SC. It's going to be a great spring."

Spring Practice Primer

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Throughout this week, we'll be posting our annual Spring Practice Primer, a position-by-position preview as the Trojans head into their March 30 start date for Spring Practice 2010. The special capsules contain each position coach's thoughts on various key topics for their players this spring. Here's the publication schedule for this week:

  • Monday: Offensive line and linebackers
  • Tuesday: Quarterbacks and defensive backs
  • Wednesday: Running backs and defensive line
  • Thursday: Wide receivers and tight ends
  • Friday: Special teams

Spring Prospectus released

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Check out this advance look at the 2010 USC Football Spring Prospectus. The prospectus, which is sent to the media locally and throughout the nation who cover the Trojans, includes a preview of this year's team, bios on all the 2010 players, recruits and coaches, a current roster and stats and game recaps from the 2009 season.

Printed copies of the guide will be available to the public by March 30, the first day of spring football practice. Send a $5 check payable to "USC" to the USC Sports Information Office, Heritage Hall 103, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0601.

USCRipsIt's position-by-position Spring Practice Primer will be published on the Blog beginning Monday.

Approaching the beginning

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Only eleven days remain until Spring Practice 2010 kicks off. Be sure to purchase your tickets to the May 1 Trojan Huddle at the Coliseum.

Here's a look at the schedule for Spring Practice 2010 (subject to change), with weekday practices beginning at 4 p.m. and weekend workouts starting at 11 a.m.:

Tuesday, March 30 • Practice #1
Thursday, April 1 • Practice #2
Saturday, April 3 • Practice #3
Tuesday, April 6 • Practice #4
Thursday, April 8 • Practice #5
Saturday, April 10 • Practice #6
Tuesday, April 13 • Practice #7
Thursday, April 15 • Practice #8
Saturday, April 17 • Practice #9
Tuesday, April 20 • Practice #10
Thursday, April 22 • Practice #11
Saturday, April 24 • Practice #12
Tuesday, April 27 • Practice #13
Thursday, April 29 • Practice #14
Saturday, May 1 • Trojan Huddle (Coliseum)

0222springpracticecalendar2.jpg

Green giant

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Only 12 days remain until Spring Practice 2010 begins, but Howard Jones Field still sits as a blank slate of pristine green turf. Workers will begin painting the legendary practice field in roughly one week.

Taking a break

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We'll be on vacation through next week, though the Blog won't stop. Not only will the nine-part Spring Practice Primer be published during the coming week, but we'll also post other pertinent news and information as it happens, so stay tuned to the Blog as Spring Practice 2010 approaches.

Normal blogging activity will resume March 29.

Trojan Huddle start time coming later

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We've received many questions about the start time of the Trojan Huddle on May 1 at the Coliseum, but unfortunately, it has not been set yet. In years past, USC's end-of-spring scrimmage has traditionally begun in the late morning or early afternoon. We'll announce the time as soon as it's set.

Slow times

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Spring Break whispers on at USC, as campus is lifeless and Heritage Hall could be classified similarly. Players continue to enjoy their nine-day break from workouts, while coaches are taking advantage of a lull in the schedule by spending time with their families away from the office.

Everyone will return to work on Monday, and Spring Practice 2010 starts March 30.

Gone camping

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campkiffin.jpgSign up now on the newly launched CampKiffin.com website for the USC/Nike Coach of the Year Clinic on April 9-10 and the Trojan Football Summer Camps. Here are the dates of the summer kids camps:

Kicking camp • June 11 (9th-12th graders)
Offensive and defensive linemen camp • June 12 (9th-12th graders)
Skills camp • June 13 (9th-12th graders)
Football 101 • June 16 (clinic for adults who want to learn the basics)
7-on-7 camp • June 19 and 20 (9th-12th graders)
Youth camp • June 21 (3rd-8th graders)
Rising stars camp • June 23-24 (11th-12th graders) 


Sign up now for the Lane Kiffin Heritage Golf Classic

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Join Coach Lane Kiffin and his entire coaching staff for golf, a dinner and exclusive access to USC football items at the 2010 Lane Kiffin Heritage Golf Classic on April 26 at the Coto de Caza Golf and Racquet Club.

Registration will start at 8:30 a.m., golf will get going at 10 a.m. and dinner will begin at 5 p.m. An awards ceremony, live auction and a talk by Kiffin will follow the meal.

In addition to the live auction during dinner, a silent auction will run throughout the day. Among the auction items will be travel packages to the 2010 USC football games at Hawaii and Minnesota, a trip on the USC team plane to a road game and sideline passes to all of USC's 2010 home games (including the Notre Dame contest).

The tournament is hosted by the Trojan Board of Directors.

For registration information, click here or call 213-740-4155.

Counting down

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The countdown to Spring Practice 2010 is now at just 12 days, with the first workout set to begin on March 30. Here's the full practice schedule, and be sure to purchase your tickets to the May 1 Trojan Huddle at the Coliseum.

Getting you ready for Spring Practice

| 1 Comment
Throughout next week, we'll be posting our annual Spring Practice Primer, a position-by-position preview as the Trojans head into their March 30 start date for Spring Practice 2010. The special capsules contain each position coach's thoughts on various hot topics for their players and groups this spring. Here's the publication schedule for next week:

  • Monday: Offensive line and linebackers
  • Tuesday: Quarterbacks and defensive backs
  • Wednesday: Running backs and defensive line
  • Thursday: Wide receivers and tight ends
  • Friday: Special teams

Swimming championships

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The No. 9 USC women's swimming team is competing in the 2010 NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships at Boilermaker Aquatics Center in West Lafayette, Ind., beginning today and going through Saturday. You can watch the events and get live results on the NCAA's swimming and diving home page.

Legend candidates

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A total of 12 former members of the USC baseball program have been nominated for the College World Series Legends Team, commemorating the final year that the CWS will be played at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Neb. The Legends Team will represent those players and coaches with the best performances in the last 60 years during the time the CWS has been held at Rosenblatt Stadium.

The former Trojans nominated include: Rod Dedeaux (coach), Bill Seinsoth, Stan Charnofsky, Wes Rachels, Bob Lillis, Bud Hollowell, Jason Lane, Ron Fairly, Geoff Jenkins, Fred Lynn, Russ McQueen and Roy Smalley.

Fans, along with media and baseball head coaches, will factor into the voting. All fans are invited to go online at ncaa.com/cwslegends to vote for the Legends Team. Voting will end at noon on April 16.

Kiffin's March madness

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Coach Lane Kiffin is doing his best to make light of an awfully silly situation.

Currently leading in his matchup against golfer Natalie Gulbis in Esquire's "Sexiest Woman Alive" tournament, Kiffin sent a message to the attractive professional golfer -- and top-seeded woman in their quadrant of the bracket -- via his Twitter account tonight.

"Hey @natalie_gulbis I apologize for this early lead; please finish strong like a 1 seed should," a playful Kiffin tweeted. "Tell evry1 u know 2 vote for u ASAP!!!!!"

Kiffin, the No. 16 seed and only man in the 64-person tournament, currently leads by a resounding amount. If he "wins" this round, he'd face the victor of the Danica Patrick-Erin Andrews matchup.

Weathering the spring

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0317baseball.jpg
On a heavenly afternoon in L.A., the USC baseball team, fresh of three wins in four games in Hawaii over the weekend, conducts an intrasquad scrimmage on Dedeaux Field. The Trojans will next travel to Stockton to face Pacific in a three-game series this weekend.

Photo model

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0317lkphotoshoot.jpg
In the Varsity Lounge this afternoon, Coach Lane Kiffin goes through a photo shoot for the USC athletic department. The pictures will be used on the poster and other promotional materials.

Success in a second life

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In light of LaDainian Tomlinson's move from the San Diego Chargers to the New York Jets, ESPN.com's Adam Shefter published this Insider feature about the top five tailbacks who "excelled with one team, only to play out the final years of their careers excelling with another."

Of the five players, two are Trojans -- Marcus Allen, who went from the Raiders to the Chiefs, and O.J. Simpson, who went from the Bills to the 49ers. The other three tailbacks on the list are Marshall Faulk, Corey Dillon and Thomas Jones.

Thanks to RipsIt reader Bryan Swearingen for sending in the link.

Back on track

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USC will host its annual Trojan Invitational track and field meet on Saturday at Loker Stadium on campus, with events beginning at 9 a.m. As of now, 714 athletes and 31 schools will compete in USC's only home meet this season.

Camp time

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Sign up now on the newly launched CampKiffin.com website for the USC/Nike Coach of the Year Clinic on April 9-10 and the Trojan Football Summer Camps. Here are the dates of the summer kids camps:

Kicking camp • June 11 (9th-12th graders)
Offensive and defensive linemen camp • June 12 (9th-12th graders)
Skills camp • June 13 (9th-12th graders)
Football 101 • June 16 (fantasy camp for adults)
7-on-7 camp • June 19 and 20 (9th-12th graders)
Youth camp • June 21 (3rd-8th graders)
Rising stars camp • June 23-24 (11th-12th graders) 

Countdown

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Only 13 days remain until Spring Practice 2010 kicks off. Be sure to purchase your tickets to the May 1 Trojan Huddle at the Coliseum.

Here's a look at the schedule for Spring Practice 2010 (subject to change), with weekday practices beginning at 4 p.m. and weekend workouts starting at 11 a.m.:

Tuesday, March 30 • Practice #1
Thursday, April 1 • Practice #2
Saturday, April 3 • Practice #3
Tuesday, April 6 • Practice #4
Thursday, April 8 • Practice #5
Saturday, April 10 • Practice #6
Tuesday, April 13 • Practice #7
Thursday, April 15 • Practice #8
Saturday, April 17 • Practice #9
Tuesday, April 20 • Practice #10
Thursday, April 22 • Practice #11
Saturday, April 24 • Practice #12
Tuesday, April 27 • Practice #13
Thursday, April 29 • Practice #14
Saturday, May 1 • Trojan Huddle (Coliseum)

0222springpracticecalendar2.jpg

Quiet time

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0317warroom.jpg
Most of the coaching staff is on vacation all week, leaving the War Room dark and empty today. Activity will pick up again on Monday and Spring Practice will begin on March 30.

From the Desk of the A.D.

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The third in an occasional series, "From the Desk of the A.D." allows you to hear directly from USC athletic director Mike Garrett, who gives you his thoughts on several topical and hot-button subjects for the Trojans and college sports. 


deskoftheadgraphic.jpg
By Mike Garrett
USC Athletic Director



We have a lot of things to talk about this week, so let's get right to it in this week's "From the Desk of the A.D." blog entry:

  • Our women's basketball players and coaches, and consequently many others at USC, suffered horrible heartbreak when we were left out of the NCAA Tournament on selection day on Monday. The feeling is even worse because there's no transparency with the whole system. The selection committee makes their educated decisions, but for USC, the 65th-best team and first one out of the tournament, there's no rationale for why we weren't included. We're just left wondering. We had a good strength of schedule, having played 10 tournament-bound teams and beating four of them. We were third in the Pac-10 and had 19 wins. We finished hot, having won six straight at the end of the season before losing in the Pac-10 tournament semifinals to a ranked UCLA squad. Our RPI is in the Top 40 and we had a number of what the NCAA calls "good losses" -- to Xavier in overtime and Duke on the road, both highly seeded tournament teams. People complain about the BCS all the time, but at least it's transparent all season, and you can criticize it and scrutinize it all you want because of that. This snub is just going to make our basketball program -- both the men's and women's teams -- hungrier for this upcoming season. We're going to be hunting bear with a switch next year, and both men's and women's teams will make the NCAA Tournament. That's what I love about being a Trojan -- when you face adversity like this, it makes you stronger and more determined to prove your case. It's my silver lining in this heartbreak. When you go through this pain, you've got to take something good from it, and our teams definitely will.

  • It's a major disappointment that the Pac-10 has only two teams in both the men's and women's tournament brackets this year, and it bugs me that the conference has been getting belittled in the press like it has. We win more national championships than any other league, we cover the entire West Coast, we produce some of the world's best athletes and our weather is great, so maybe it's a little bit of envy from other people around the country. I think that's why we get no benefit of the doubt when our conference struggles. When we're down, many people jump all over us with both feet. It's disappointing that we don't get the same benefit of the doubt that other conferences get, especially when it comes to big-time postseason events like the NCAA basketball tournament.

  • With the NCAA Tournament coming up, a lot of people will be participating in pools and brackets. Our student-athletes, coaches and staff members will not be, though. The NCAA forbids athletic department personnel and athletes -- regardless of sport -- from gambling on any sport in which the NCAA sanctions competition. Any involvement in gambling activities by USC student-athletes or staff members will jeopardize their eligibility or employment and damage the reputation of the university, and it doesn't matter how much the wager is, even if it's $1. Gambling is gambling. There have been several notable examples of college athletic department employees who have broken this rule, and we're fortunate we have those examples to teach us all that the only way to do it is the right way. So our athletes and staff must act like Trojans and do the right thing, because it's not worth jeopardizing eligibility or damaging reputations over a few dollars in a tournament bracket.

  • One last note on the NCAA basketball tournaments: Many athletic directors sit on the tournament selection committees, but it's something I have never done, nor will ever do in the future. I'm here to win and be involved in the lives of our student-athletes, and for someone with tunnel vision like me, it's not best for our program if I sit on committees that consume such time and take me away from my No. 1 job. I'm into helping and educating our student-athletes -- not being a cog in a bureaucracy.

  • Finally, I want to mention one of my favorite sports at USC. The Trojan Invitational home track and field meet is coming up this weekend, and I'm really excited for this annual event. Track and field (along with football, baseball and swimming) is one of the sports that makes up the core of USC because of all the national championships it has won and the rich heritage it has. As athletic director, my two main goals have been to educate and graduate our student-athletes and win national championships, and our track and field team has always been one of the most successful squads at accomplishing those two aims. Track is also close to my heart because I ran the 100, 200 and even one race in the quarter-mile when I was a student-athlete here. Throughout history, USC has been a great university because it's not just football that is successful, but so many other core teams as well, and track and field is right at the forefront of that. That's why this Saturday's home meet at Cromwell Field is a wonderful thing -- it allows the track supporters an opportunity to see our athletes compete and see how well we'll do against UCLA in the dual meet on May 1. After all, beating UCLA and winning the NCAA championship are what the whole track and field season is about.

You can follow Mike Garrett on Twitter here.

Register now

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You can sign up now for the USC/Nike Coach of the Year Clinic and the Trojan Football Summer Camps on the newly launched CampKiffin.com website.

Spring cleaning

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0316sethhelmets.jpg
This afternoon in Heritage Hall, assistant equipment manager Seth Svendsen pulls off the Trojan decal stickers from the helmets as the equipment staff cleans and refurbishes the helmets in anticipation of Spring Practice 2010, which will start in two weeks.

Camp registration opens soon

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Registration for the 2010 Trojan Football Camps -- for kids ranging from 3rd through 12th grade, along with adults -- will open this week. We'll post the website address as soon as it goes live. Here are the dates for the various summer camps hosted by Lane Kiffin and his staff at USC:

Kicking camp • June 11 (9th-12th graders)
Offensive and defensive linemen camp • June 12 (9th-12th graders)
Skills camp • June 13 (9th-12th graders)
Football 101 • June 16 (fantasy camp for adults)
7-on-7 camp • June 19 and 20 (9th-12th graders)
Youth camp • June 21 (3rd-8th graders)
Rising stars camp • June 23-24 (11th-12th graders) 

Two weeks to go

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The countdown to Spring Practice 2010 is now at just 14 days, with the first workout set to begin two weeks from today. Here's the full practice schedule, and be sure to purchase your tickets to the May 1 Trojan Huddle at the Coliseum.

Out with the old, in with the new

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0316lkoffice.jpg
With the staff off for Spring Break, Coach Lane Kiffin's office in Heritage Hall is undergoing a renovation this week. Workers are repainting the walls and new furniture will fill the cozy quarters, which will eventually look very different from when Kiffin arrived two months ago. Former coach Pete Carroll had a beach-type theme for the office, while Kiffin is going for a more businesslike feel.

Smooth sailing

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USC's sailing team won the 2010 Harbor Cup this weekend, beating nine other schools for its first ever title in the San Pedro race.

Sailing, which was once an NCAA sport at USC, is now a club sport.

In the field

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Sophomore offensive lineman Abe Markowitz, who also competes for the USC track and field team, placed ninth in the shot put with a throw of 15.46 meters at Saturday's Northridge Invitational. 

Versus back on DirecTV

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Versus, the network that broadcasts several Pac-10 football games each season, has returned to the DirecTV programming lineup as of Monday, following an agreement between the satellite provider and its cable competitor, Comcast.

Because of contract issues, DirecTV had not carried the Comcast-owned Versus since August 2009. The sports and entertainment network is now on channel 603 on DirecTV.

One USC game in each of the last three seasons has been televised on Versus. The Trojans' 2010 TV slate will be determined by June 1.

Women's hoops selection show

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The USC women's basketball team, currently projected by ESPN.com to make the NCAA Tournament as a No. 10 seed, will find out its postseason fate at 4 p.m. today. Watch the selection show live on ESPN to learn if and/or where the Women of Troy will be playing on in the tournament.

Counting down

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Just 15 days remain until Spring Practice 2010 kicks off. Here's the full practice schedule, and be sure to purchase your tickets to the May 1 Trojan Huddle at the Coliseum.

Break time

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USC's Spring Break is here and campus has cleared out.

Heritage Hall isn't much of an exception.

Though many coaches will trickle in and out of the office this week to finalize Spring Practice preparations, they've technically been given the week off, their first significant break since being hired in January. Also, players have the entire week off from workouts and school.

Udeze 'doing great'

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Here's a nice Minneapolis Star-Tribune update on Kenechi Udeze, the Trojan All-American who was diagnosed with leukemia in 2008 while playing for the NFL's Vikings. Udeze is now an assistant strength and conditioning coach at Washington. Thanks to RipsIt reader Stefanie Marquez for sending it in.

For a good read

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Don't miss this fantastic feature on new special teams coordinator John Baxter, from Sunday's O.C. Register. Thanks to RipsIt reader Susan Yamada for passing it along.

Ending the week

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Coaches have been locked in offensive and defensive staff meetings all day as they've begun to break down game film for 2010 opponents. Today marks their final workday before getting next week off, though many of them -- the workaholics they are -- will be in and out of the office during the break to prep for Spring Practice and continue film scouting of coming opponents.

Great with 8

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RoJo's Magic 8 Ball says....

Life's great when you stick with 8.

It's been a game of numerical musical chairs for Ronald Johnson lately, as the senior wideout, who has worn No. 8 since arriving at USC in 2007, tried No. 83 for a few days this week. But now he's gone back to his original jersey number and has decided to remain true to what he came in to USC wearing.

He gave 83 a try because he said he was "getting ready for the pros," since NFL receivers wear numbers in the 80s.

"But the coaches told me I got to keep 8 because that's what everyone's seen me in and knows me as," Johnson said.

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Wideout Ronald Johnson, who's worn No. 8 since arriving at USC in 2007, tried wearing No. 83 during early-week workouts (left), but then decided to return to No. 8 later in the week (right) and for the 2010 season.

18 to go

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Only 18 days are left until the start of Spring Practice 2010. Here's the full practice schedule, and don't forget to purchase your tickets to the May 1 Trojan Huddle at the Coliseum.

For a good read

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Here's an excellent feature on newly announced USC president C. L. Max Nikias from today's L.A. Times, including his opinions on the Trojan athletic heritage.

"I love Trojan athletics," Nikias said in the article. "And I believe the athletic spirit of this university is the glue that holds the Trojan family together."

Jones, Fangupo receive good news

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fangupomug.jpeg jonesmug.jpegTwo Trojans just received an extra year in their college careers.

Cornerback Marshall Jones and defensive lineman Hebron Fangupo, who both suffered season-ending injuries in the third game of the 2009 season against Washington State, have been granted a medical hardship waiver from the Pac-10, giving them an extra season of eligibility.

The positive news means both Jones and Fangupo have two seasons of collegiate eligibility remaining.

Double dose of poster

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The 2010 USC poster will be unlike any other year.

That's because it'll be a two-part series.

Made in a special "diptych" style, the two stand-alone posters -- one will be available at the Trojan Huddle on May 1 and the other will be distributed in the fall -- combine together side-by-side to create a cool panoramic image. The spring poster will only be available at the Trojan Huddle, so be sure to purchase your tickets now.

Both posters will be handed out at no cost.

Tournament time

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The Pac-10 Women's Basketball Tournament kicked off at the Galen Center with two play-in games on Thursday night, but it'll get going in earnest today with four matchups. USC, the No. 3 seed, will face sixth-seeded Oregon tonight at 5 p.m., and if the Women of Troy advance, they'd play at 5 p.m. on Saturday, most likely against UCLA.

Get your tickets online or at the gate.

Sunrise special

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Ready, set, break.

For the sixth time in two weeks, the Trojans sprinted through a spirited sans-football conditioning session, this time at 6:30 a.m. on Cromwell Field and this one sending them into a nine-day break from school and football.

Following the session, Coach Lane Kiffin praised his players for their hard work and improvement during the previous few weeks.

"That's the only way we'll return to dominance -- by working that way," Kiffin told the team after this morning's workout.

Check out some photos from the session:

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Tailbacks Dillon Baxter (left) and C.J. Gable (right) compete in the hoop drill.

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Linebacker Michael Morgan, temporarily without a cleat on his right foot, hustles through agility bags.

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With defensive backs coach Willie Mack Garza encouraging him on, defensive end Nick Perry turns around a cone.

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Defensive back Spencer Spiegel runs through agility bags.

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Tight end Rhett Ellison dives forward during a drill.

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Linebackers Ross Cumming (left) and Simione Vehikite (right) race through an agility drill.

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Wideout Robbie Boyer (49) chases Travon Patterson through the hoop drill.

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Linebacker Marquis Simmons shuffles through agility bags.

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The Trojans sprint through a final conditioning drill on Cromwell Field.

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Coach Lane Kiffin speaks to his players following this morning's workout on Cromwell Field.

Working at dawn

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The sun hasn't been up for more than a few minutes and dawn is still hanging in the air, but the Trojans are about to hit the field for their final conditioning session before spring break. We'll have photos following the workout.

Strength through conditioning

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The break is near.

On a warm and sunny afternoon, the Trojans cycled through a football-less conditioning session with the coaches that included a circuit of agility and running drills before team-oriented conditioning work, the fifth such session of the spring. And now with this afternoon's workout in the books, just Friday's 6:30 a.m. conditioning session remains before the Trojans split for Spring Break.

"By 7:30 a.m. tomorrow, we will have worked harder than any team in America at this point," Coach Lane Kiffin told the players at the end of the workout. "And that's what you came here to do."

Here are some pictures from today's workout:

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Fullback Stanley Havili chases tailback Allen Bradford through a hoop drill.

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With linebackers coach Joe Barry following along, center Kristofer O'Dowd churns through agility bags.

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Offensive lineman Butch Lewis turns around a cone.

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Wideouts De'Von Flournoy and Brandon Carswell race through the finish line.

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Cornerbacks Daniel Harper and Byron Moore race around a hoop drill.

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Quarterbacks Matt Barkley and Mitch Mustain compete in an agility drill.

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Coach Lane Kiffin (left) addresses his players following the conditioning session.

Changes at home

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With a new logo at midcourt and the video board showing the tournament bracket, the Galen Center has been fitted for the Pac-10 Women's Basketball Tournament, which begins tonight and runs through Sunday. USC, the host and No. 3 seed, will face sixth-seeded Oregon on Friday at 5 p.m.

Focus on academics

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In the latest "Trojan Voices" video piece, senior associate athletic director for academics Dr. Magdi El Shahawy explains the role of Student-Athlete Academic Services and how its mission is more than just simple academic eligibility, but preparing athletes for their futures.

2010 vision

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All the work the Trojans are putting in this time of year -- whether it's lifting weights or conditioning -- points to the coming season. In that case, it's never too early to take a look at USC's 2010 schedule.

The Trojans, who will play 13 regular-season games in 2010, start the campaign with three of four on the road and then end the campaign with three of four on the road. The middle portion of the schedule, consequently, features a run of four home contests in the span of five games, as well as a perfectly placed bye halfway through the season. Here's the full slate of games in the 2010 USC football schedule:

Sept. 2 • at Hawaii (Thursday), ESPN, 8 p.m. PDT
Sept. 11 • Virginia
Sept. 18 • at Minnesota
Sept. 25 • at Washington State
Oct. 2 • Washington (Parents weekend)
Oct. 9 • at Stanford
Oct. 16 • California
Oct. 23 • BYE
Oct. 30 • Oregon (Homecoming)
Nov. 6 • Arizona State
Nov. 13 • at Arizona
Nov. 20 • at Oregon State
Nov. 27 • Notre Dame
Dec. 4 • at UCLA

Getting closer

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The countdown to Spring Practice 2010 is now at just 19 days. Here's the full practice schedule, and don't forget to purchase your tickets to the May 1 Trojan Huddle at the Coliseum.

Half a year to go

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Exactly six months from the Trojans' home opener against Virginia, the Coliseum and its lush green field rest quietly today. USC opens the 2010 season on the road against Hawaii on Sept. 2 before returning to the Coliseum for a Sept. 11 matchup against Virginia.

Service-oriented break

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USC's Spring Break is just a day away, and while most players will lie low during the week off, some are going to go above and beyond.

Kicker Joe Houston, fullback D.J. Shoemate, defensive lineman Hebron Fangupo and former kicker Jordan Congdon, along with several other USC student-athletes, will be traveling down to Tijuana, Mexico for a four-day house-building trip as part of Amor Ministries. They're set to leave Friday and return Monday.

Return of Cassel

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Matt Cassel, the former USC backup quarterback who now starts for the Kansas City Chiefs, stops by the War Room to catch up with defensive coordinator Ed Orgeron and other assistants this morning.

On the horizon

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The annual spring prospectus, published by the USC sports information department and containing the most complete look at the Trojans, will be released by March 30.

Man in the mirror

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Senior wideout Travon Patterson goes through weightlifting sets in the Heritage Hall weight room this morning.

It all ads up

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We've received a few questions about the new ads on the blog, both at the top and in the right column. For transparency's sake, the revenue from the advertisements is going "directly to support the football program and athletic department as a whole," associate athletic director for marketing Jose Eskenazi said.

Thank you for your continued support and readership of the RipsIt Blog.

For a good read

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It's a little old, but you don't want to miss this inspiring feature on the role of faith in Matt Barkley's life and football career, written for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes website.

Nikias elected as new USC president

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0311nikias.jpgC. L. Max Nikias, USC executive vice president and provost, has been chosen as the 11th president of the University of Southern California, effective August 3, 2010.

On Wednesday night by unanimous vote, the Board of Trustees elected Nikias, who beat out 75 serious candidates and seven finalists. He will succeed Steven B. Sample, who has served as president since 1991.

"It is a testament to Max Nikias' abilities that, from such an impressive group of educators, he was unanimously recommended by the advisory committee," said Ed Roski, chairman of the Board of Trustees. "During his 19 years as a faculty member and administrator at USC, he has provided distinguished service to the university in a variety of roles. He is a remarkable and inspiring leader, a brilliant scholar, and the best possible person to lead our university forward."

In Garrett's words

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Be sure to read the second installment of "From the Desk of the A.D.," an occasional blog feature that gives you USC athletic director Mike Garrett's perspective on various hot-button topics. Also, please give your feedback on the new feature in the entry's comments section.

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A look ahead

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Following today's day off from workouts, the Trojans will return to work to close out the week on Thursday and Friday. Here's a look at the schedule for the remainder of the month:

Thursday • Morning strength and conditioning sessions; Afternoon conditioning session with coaches
Friday • 6 a.m. conditioning session with coaches
Saturday - March 21 • Off for spring break
March 22-23 • Morning strength and conditioning sessions
March 24 • Off
March 25-26 • Morning strength and conditioning sessions
March 27-28 • Off
March 30 • First day of Spring Practice

Don't miss it

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USC alum DeMar DeRozan, now a star for the NBA's Toronto Raptors, was back in L.A. to play the Lakers on Tuesday night, and USCTrojans.com's Mark Haas caught up with him in this short video interview.

Recruiting mindset

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Coaches just broke from a four-hour recruiting meeting in the War Room, where they watched highlight reels of prospects in the Class of 2011 all morning, even stretching into the lunch hour. They're now split into offensive and defensive staff meetings, formulating plans and scripts in anticipation of Spring Practice, which will begin March 30.

Cameron, Vehikite make switches

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031vehikitemug.jpeg 0310cameronmug.jpegThe new coaching staff hasn't seen their players practice or play in person, but they can tell enough from the game film.

And because of that, two Trojans are making position switches heading into Spring Practice 2010.

Senior Jordan Cameron is moving from wideout to tight end, while redshirt freshman Simione Vehikite has been switched from fullback to linebacker. The new positions shouldn't be all that new for either player though, as Cameron has played some tight end during his two previous seasons at USC, while Vehikite was a standout linebacker along with fullback in high school.

Tickets on sale for Bartner event

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Tickets for "The Man on the Ladder" gala -- set for May 1 at the Galen Center to honor Arthur C. Bartner's 40 years as Trojan Marching Band director -- go on sale today. Tickets start at $40 and the event will feature musical acts, celebrity guest speakers and video retrospectives of Bartner's unprecedented four-decade leadership of the band.

Countdown continues

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Only 20 days remain until Spring Practice 2010. Here's the full practice schedule, and don't forget to purchase your tickets to the May 1 Trojan Huddle at the Coliseum.

Holding steady

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Last season's holder, quarterback Garrett Green, has graduated, along with his backup, Billy O'Malley.

All that goes to say that there's a gaping hole at the all-important holder position as Spring Practice closes in.

Wideout Robbie Boyer, a walk-on entering his third season at USC, has been working with kicker Joe Houston to hone the holding skills during the offseason, so he appears to be the frontrunner for the position as of now. But the 15 practices during the spring will ultimately decide who will fill the role in the 2010 season.

From the Desk of the A.D.

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The second in an occasional series, "From the Desk of the A.D." allows you to hear directly from USC athletic director Mike Garrett, who gives you his thoughts on several topical and hot-button subjects for the Trojans and college sports. 


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By Mike Garrett
USC Athletic Director



As we reach the middle of March, football's Spring Practice is getting closer, but let's not forget that many more other exciting things are going on with USC athletics in the meantime.

On Wednesday last week, our men's tennis team beat UCLA in Westwood for the first time since 1991, our women's golf team won the Bruin Wave Invitational and the men's swimming team won its first relay title since 2002 when it won the 800-yard free relay at the Pac-10 Swimming Championships.

And that was just on Wednesday.

So many great things are happening for the Trojans right now. Here are my thoughts on recent happenings in the latest "From the Desk of the A.D." blog entry:

  • The women's basketball team has been fighting uphill all season. They've been short on bodies and faced many challenges, but they've exceeded all expectations. I'm so excited to see them play this weekend in the Pac-10 Tournament at the Galen Center, and I can't wait for next year. We're in the hunt now, and we will be even more so in the coming years.

  • This was a tough season for our men's basketball team, but I'm so proud of how the coaches and players fought resiliently even when faced with the worst odds. It was a team made up of a potpourri of people, but they exhibited great character, defense and coaching and -- pardon the cliché -- they showed us all what it truly means to "fight on." This program will be in the mix and among the top basketball teams in the country next season, and I believe forever and ever into the future.

  • In the next year or so, USC will become a big-time basketball school. I have no doubt about it. We have the two best coaches -- Kevin O'Neill and Michael Cooper -- we've ever had at one time in our history. We're striving to make USC a basketball school as well as a football school, and we want to make the complete statement. The first step to becoming a basketball powerhouse will be this weekend in the Pac-10 Women's Tournament, so jump on the bandwagon now or it'll be too late. Without hesitation, I can say we'll be selling out games at the Galen Center for both men's and women's basketball in the next year or two. And in two seasons, it's going to be nearly impossible to get a ticket to watch a basketball game at the Galen Center. I'm excited to see it happen, and I hope you are too.

  • On another topic, lately there has been a rash of arrests and student-athlete disciplinary problems at schools around the Pac-10 and country. It's very unfortunate and disheartening to see this happen to young people at other schools, but it also creates a good teachable moment for our student-athletes. We continue to stress basic values in our athletic department, such as class attendance, preparing for exams and representing the university in the best way. For our student-athletes, they know the type of behavior we're reading about won't be tolerated here. At other schools, I'm guessing the athletes think there will be some type of negotiations with the standards and rules of maintaining good character. At USC, it's non-negotiable. As I say, you're either a Trojan or you're not. You've got to act like it all the time, or you're showing you don't want to be here. In my book, there is no middle ground with this stuff.

  • My first week in social media -- writing a blog and tweeting on my new Twitter page -- has been really fun and exciting. I love hearing your feedback and responses, and thank you for your support in this new venture. Please keep sending in your thoughts and questions, and I'll do my best to answer your inquiries on this blog and my Twitter.

  • At the moment, we're competing for national championships in women's water polo, men's and women's tennis, with both swimming teams and with both track and field squads, and don't be surprised if the men's volleyball or the golf teams make a title run. It's an exciting time at USC. But by far, the most important sport for us right now is women's basketball with the Pac-10 Tournament coming up. We need your support. Get on the bandwagon now before it's too late!

Running the offense

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We've received several questions about why the complete roster of coaches doesn't include anyone with the title of "offensive coordinator." That's because head coach Lane Kiffin will be the de facto offensive coordinator and call the plays, somewhat similar to what former coach Pete Carroll did with the defense for much of his tenure at USC.

How tweet it is: Orgeron joins Twitter

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Another USC personality has caught the Twitter bug.

And boy, do we mean personality.

Defensive coordinator Ed Orgeron has started his very own Twitter page, joining Coach Lane Kiffin and athletic director Mike Garrett as two recent Trojans to hop on the popular mini-blogging site.

"This is too good to be true," Kiffin tweeted about Orgeron's Twitter presence.

Orgeron has already tweeted five times, with his latest one saying, "Tuffness and discipline are 2 major areas for us this spring. Coach kiffin is doing a great job teaching those things." Follow Orgeron here: @CoachEdOrgeron.

Building the team

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School was in session just after sunrise for the Trojans today.

During a team meeting this morning, new special teams coordinator John Baxter, renowned for his highly regarded "Academic Gameplan" program, led the players and coaches through an interactive and informative academic-focused session in Heritage Auditorium, sharing key concepts and life skills through a multimedia presentation and mind-game activities.

"What you just heard are things that translate to winning championships," Coach Lane Kiffin said following Baxter's 45-minute presentation.

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During a team meeting in Heritage Auditorium this morning, special teams coordinator John Baxter leads the players through part of his renowned "Academic Gameplan" presentation.

Early morning ahead

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Bright and early Wednesday morning, the Trojans will be back to work.

With Spring Practice 2010 in their crosshairs, coaches and players will convene for a team meeting at 7 a.m. on Wednesday in Heritage Auditorium.

Another day of improvement

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Day by day, the Trojans are improving.

Under the coaches' guidance, players hustled through a circuit of conditioning and agility drills, their fourth such session of the offseason. All the work leads into Spring Practice, set to begin March 30.

"You guys are getting better," Coach Lane Kiffin told the players after the brief yet intense workout. "It's night and day from 2 weeks ago, even yesterday. Let's keep it up."

Check out some photos from the session:

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Wideout Robbie Boyer (right) chases David Ausberry during a conditioning drill.

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Quarterback Mitch Mustain turns the corner during an agility drill.

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Special teams coordinator John Baxter leads defensive linemen (from left to right) Derek Simmons, Christian Tupou, Kevin Greene and Malik Jackson through a drill.

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Linebackers coach Joe Barry encourages cornerback Daniel Harper through agility bags.

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Defensive backs Daniel Harper (left) and Ryan McMahon race to the finish of an agility drill.

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Fullback Stanley Havili gets pushed out of the way by wideout/tailback Dillon Baxter during a conditioning drill.

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Defensive coordinator Ed Orgeron leads the players through a conditioning drill.

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Coach Lane Kiffin speaks with his players following the workout.

Going to work

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Another March day has brought another player-coach conditioning session on Howard Jones Field. The sun is shining but the breeze is cool, giving this Tuesday afternoon workout a very spring-like feel. We'll have some photos following the brief session.

Camp life

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The dates for the 2010 Trojan Football Camps -- for kids ranging from 3rd through 12th grade, along with adults -- are below. Registration info will be coming soon.

Kicking camp • June 11 (9th-12th graders)
Offensive and defensive linemen camp • June 12 (9th-12th graders)
Skills camp • June 13 (9th-12th graders)
Football 101 • June 16 (fantasy camp for adults)
7-on-7 camp • June 19 and 20 (9th-12th graders)
Youth camp • June 21 (3rd-8th graders)
Rising stars camp • June 23-24 (11th-12th graders) 

Almost break time

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USC's Spring Break is just around the corner, which means the offseason strength and conditioning program will be taking a respite after almost two straight months of work.

The players will finish out this week with workouts on Thursday and Friday, take next week off and then return on March 22 for four final strength and conditioning sessions. Spring Practice will begin the following week, on March 30.

Another splashy move for the Pac-10

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The Pac-10 has taken another progressive step forward.

Woodie H. Dixon has been hired as the conference's general counsel and vice president of business affairs, commissioner Larry Scott announced today. Dixon, currently the general counsel for the Kansas City Chiefs, is the Pac-10's fifth splashy new hire in the past six weeks, joining deputy commissioner/chief operating officer Kevin Weiberg, chief financial officer Ron McQuate, chief marketing officer Danette Leighton and senior associate commissioner/SWA Gloria Nevarez on the conference's new leadership team.

A sole-ful effort

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Check out this Daily News feature about USC track runner Greg Woodburn, who has founded a charity called Share Our Soles that donates used running shoes to disadvantaged children locally and globally.

Top mark for O'Dowd

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During this morning's workouts, center Kristofer O'Dowd put up a team-high 35 reps on the 225-pound bench press test. Defensive lineman Hebron Fangupo came in second with 34 reps.

To put it in perspective, O'Dowd's mark would have tied him for third among offensive lineman at the 2010 NFL Combine.

21 days to go

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In exactly three weeks, Spring Practice 2010 will begin, signaling a new era in USC football. The full practice schedule is below, and don't forget to purchase your tickets to the May 1 Trojan Huddle at the Coliseum.

Here's a look at the schedule for Spring Practice 2010 (subject to change), with weekday practices beginning at 4 p.m. and weekend workouts starting at 11 a.m.:

Tuesday, March 30 • Practice #1
Thursday, April 1 • Practice #2
Saturday, April 3 • Practice #3
Tuesday, April 6 • Practice #4
Thursday, April 8 • Practice #5
Saturday, April 10 • Practice #6
Tuesday, April 13 • Practice #7
Thursday, April 15 • Practice #8
Saturday, April 17 • Practice #9
Tuesday, April 20 • Practice #10
Thursday, April 22 • Practice #11
Saturday, April 24 • Practice #12
Tuesday, April 27 • Practice #13
Thursday, April 29 • Practice #14
Saturday, May 1 • Trojan Huddle (Coliseum)

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Fun times in the office

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Coach Lane Kiffin's in a funny, playful mood today.

Instead of calling his coaches by their commonly accepted shortened first names, he's using the full names -- "Joseph" instead of "Joe," for example -- around the office this morning. The only obstacle to this full-fledged pursuit came when he called for defensive coordinator Ed Orgeron.

"Edwin? Edward?" Kiffin pondered out loud. "It's one of those, I'm sure."

So why the name game all of a sudden?

"I'm big on using people's full names," a lighthearted Kiffin said with a smile.

Even if it's just a temporary thing.

Walk-on tryout reminder

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Here's a reminder that a mandatory meeting for walk-on tryouts will be held on Wednesday at 4 p.m. in Heritage Auditorium.

UPDATE: The tryout date, which was originally set for March 29 at 2 p.m., might have to change. Stay tuned to the Blog for the latest info.

For a good read

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Check out this excellent feature about USC alum Lawrence Jackson acting as inspiration to others, from today's Daily Trojan.

Numbered days

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What's in a number?

At USC, everything.

Since names don't appear on jerseys, a player's identity is wrapped up almost entirely in his number. In that case, three incoming freshmen have been given their Trojan identities. Here are the names and numbers of the trio of spring enrollees in the Class of 2010:

  • RB/WR Dillon Baxter: #28
  • S Patrick Hall: #25
  • WR Kyle Prater: #85

Riding the bench

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This morning's offseason workout includes the 225-pound bench press rep test, along with a normal weightlifting circuit and agility work. Here are some pictures from the bench test:

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Tailback Allen Bradford pushes up on one of his 23 reps on the 225-pound bench press test, with assistant Lenny Vandermade spotting and head strength and conditioning coach Aaron Ausmus watching close by.

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Defensive lineman Armond Armstead puts up one of his 19 reps under the spot of Lenny Vandermade and the verbal encouragement of head strength and conditioning coach Aaron Ausmus.

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With assistant Lenny Vandermade spotting, tailback Curtis McNeal lifts one of his 19 reps on the bench press test during this morning's workout.

Eyes on the prize

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This evening's conditioning session with the players and coaches wore the Trojans down, but also built them up.

After all, even though it's only March, they're working for titles.

"We're getting better," Coach Lane Kiffin said after the brief dusk-time session on Howard Jones Field. "You've got to understand -- we're winning championships now, in these workouts."

Check out some photos from this afternoon's workout:

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Linebackers Chris Galippo (near) and Ross Cumming (far) dive through the air during a drill.

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Cornerback T.J. Bryant runs through a drill as defensive backs coach Willie Mack Garza encourages him on.

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Offensive linemen Michael Reardon and Khaled Holmes put on the brakes during an agility drill.

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Linebackers coach Joe Barry urges on defensive linemen Malik Jackson (left) and DaJohn Harris.

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Coach Lane Kiffin watches on as his players go through a conditioning drill on Howard Jones Field.

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Coach Lane Kiffin speaks to his players after the workout.

Out to the field

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The Trojans are heading out to Howard Jones for a brief conditioning session with the coaches, their third such workout of the offseason. It kicks off a busy week of player-coach conditioning sessions, as the Trojans will also conduct the conditioning workouts on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday before splitting for Spring Break.

Spring Practice 2010 starts March 30.

Closing it out with a bang

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Saturday's USC-Arizona men's basketball game wasn't televised, but you can see the highlights of the Trojans' wild season-ending loss in this action-packed video brought to you by Mark Haas of USCTrojans.com.

Tourney time

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The Pac-10 Women's Basketball Tournament is coming to the Galen Center this week.

Games begin Thursday night and run every day until the championship on Sunday at 3 p.m. USC, the No. 3 seed, will open against Oregon on Friday night at 5 p.m., and the Women of Troy would most likely face UCLA in the semifinals if both teams win their opening round games. Purchase your tickets online or at the gate.

Bump, set, spike

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The seventh-ranked USC men's volleyball team hosts No. 8 Hawaii tonight and Tuesday at the Galen Center. Both matches are at 7 p.m., and tickets are available at the gate.

One in Vancouver after all

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Upon further review, USC did have an Olympian in the 2010 Winter Games.

Jung-Hwa Seo, a currently enrolled undergrad student, competed for South Korea in the freestyle skiing moguls event in Vancouver last month, finishing in 21st place.

Seo becomes the fourth Trojan to compete in the Winter Games and 392nd overall USC athlete to participate in the Olympics. See the full list of Olympic Trojans here.

Maualuga gives back

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USC All-American Rey Maualuga joined with a Cincinnati Bengals teammate to donate 1,000 pairs of football cleats to children in American Samoa today.

Lane Kiffin Heritage Golf Classic

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Join Coach Lane Kiffin and his entire coaching staff for golf, a dinner and exclusive access to USC football items at the 2010 Lane Kiffin Heritage Golf Classic on April 26 at the Coto de Caza Golf and Racquet Club.

Registration will start at 8:30 a.m., golf will get going at 10 a.m. and dinner will begin at 5 p.m. An awards ceremony, live auction and a talk by Kiffin will follow the meal.

In addition to the live auction during dinner, a silent auction will run throughout the day. Among the auction items will be travel packages to the 2010 USC football games at Hawaii and Minnesota, a trip on the USC team plane to a road game and sideline passes to all of USC's 2010 home games (including the Notre Dame contest).

The tournament is hosted by the Trojan Board of Directors.

For registration information, click here or call 213-740-4155.

22 days to go

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Just 22 days are left until Spring Practice 2010 kicks off. Here's the full practice schedule, and don't forget to purchase your tickets to the May 1 Trojan Huddle at the Coliseum.

Orgeron and the Oscars

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In his fruitful coaching career, defensive coordinator Ed Orgeron has worked with All-Americans and first-round NFL Draft picks.

You can now add an Oscar winner to that list.

On Sunday night, Sandra Bullock won the Academy Award for best actress for her role in "Blind Side," a film Orgeron had a few brief speaking parts in as the former head coach of Mississippi. Orgeron spent six hours on set with Bullock on an April afternoon last year in Atlanta, and he said he was beyond thankful for the chance to meet her and talk with her while filming.

"She was awesome," Orgeron said. "She's a great person and she immediately made you feel at home. I'm so happy for her and all those people on that film."

Here's Bullock's acceptance speech from Sunday's Academy Awards:

Fucci hired as director of football operations

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Jeff Fucci has been named the new director of football operations for the Trojans. A 2007 graduate of UC Davis, Fucci was an administrative staffer for the USC football program last season.

Fucci, who hails from El Segundo, replaces Matt Capurro, who took a position with the Seattle Seahawks.

Working inside and out

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Safety T.J. McDonald (left) and linebacker Marquis Simmons (right) go through bounding drills on Howard Jones Field this morning.

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Linebacker Michael Morgan puts up a power clean during this morning's workouts.

USC's Shaw break 4 minutes in the mile

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USC track's Blake Shaw ran a 3:59 mile on Saturday at the Washington Qualifier meet in Seattle, the first time a Trojan has broken four minutes in the mile in the illustrious history of USC track and field. Watch a replay of Shaw's race here.

Celebrating $10 million for Swim With Mike

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By all accounts, it was a perfect Sunday at the Annenberg Beach House in Santa Monica.

To much fanfare, Swim With Mike, the annual event that raises money for scholarships for physically challenged athletes, raised its 10 millionth overall dollar on its 30th anniversary Sunday. Then shortly thereafter, Jake Olson, renowned for his valiant fight through cancer and his close relationship to the Trojan football team, beat out quarterback Matt Barkley and center Kristofer O'Dowd in a swim race as part of the "First Lap" celebration.

Completely blind since surgery in November, Olson, who himself will be eligible for a Swim With Mike scholarship after he graduates high school, edged out the pair of star Trojans in the short race that kicked off Swim With Mike's 30th consecutive year.

Swim With Mike will be held on April 17 at USC's McDonald's Swim Stadium. Get more info, including how to donate, here.

Check out some photos from the event:

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Swim With Mike's "First Lap" celebration took place at the Annenberg Beach House on a picturesque day in Santa Monica.

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The Annenberg Beach House was the site of the "First Lap" celebration for the 30th anniversary of Swim With Mike.

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The Trojan Marching Band and USC Song Girls perform.

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Swim With Mike raised its 10 millionth dollar on Sunday.

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Matt Barkley, Jake Olson and Kristofer O'Dowd pose for a photo prior to their race.

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Center Kristofer O'Dowd jumps in the pool before the race.

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Jake Olson takes an early lead, with Matt Barkley (left) and Kristofer O'Dowd (right) closely behind.

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Jake Olson nears the finish line in first place.

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Jake Olson celebrates his victory alongside competitors Matt Barkley and Kristofer O'Dowd.

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Several Swim With Mike scholarship recipients pose for a picture after the race.

Starling's first base knock

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Jawanza Starling, the safety who's also playing baseball for the Trojans, recorded his first hit of the season with a pinch-hit single to right field in the eighth inning of USC's 16-7 loss to New Mexico on Sunday at Dedeaux Field. Starling is now 1-for-4 on the year.

Walk-on tryout info

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Walk-on tryouts for currently enrolled USC students will be held on March 29 at 2 p.m. on Howard Jones Field. If you want to try out, you must attend a mandatory informational meeting on Wednesday at 4 p.m. in Heritage Auditorium. 

Coming together as one

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A melodic melding process took place Thursday afternoon on Howard Jones Field.

Halfway through yesterday's conditioning workout, the coaches huddled up to organize the day's final drill, leaving the players in a group on the sideline. As they huffed while recovering from an intense 30-minute circuit of conditioning exercises, the players started barking out encouragement.

"This is where we come together!" one player yelled.

"They can't break us!" another one bellowed.

The shouts of support continued on from all directions in the mass of players, and before long, they were drawn close together, bouncing around and chanting ooo-haa in unison -- much like they do at the edge of the tunnel prior to a game in the fall.

The uproar died down just as coaches were calling them over for the final set of conditioning drills, but not before the players came together one last time for a "Trojans!" chant.

The spontaneous team-unifying moment lasted only a few seconds, but its impact could carry on for months to come.

"We were so tired, but we realized that we had to dig deep to find something," wideout Brice Butler said. "When you're tired, voices start talking in your head, telling you to quit. But we started saying, 'We can do this,' and that's when you really come together as one."

Kiffin heads to Portland

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Lane Kiffin is taking part in a mini Pac-10 coaches convention this weekend in Portland.

Kiffin is joining three other conference head coaches -- Washington's Steve Sarkisian, Oregon State's Mike Riley and Washington State's Paul Wulff -- as featured speakers at the Nike Coach of the Year Clinic that starts today and goes until Sunday in northwest Oregon.

Kiffin will also speak at the seventh annual USC/Nike Coach of the Year Clinic, which is set for April 9-10 at the Galen Center. Get more info here.

Countdown continues

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Just 25 days remain until Spring Practice 2010 begins. Check out the full practice schedule, and don't forget to purchase your tickets to the May 1 Trojan Huddle at the Coliseum.

The coaching staff assembled

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With new special teams coordinator John Baxter's hire on Thursday, USC's full-time coaching staff is now complete. Here's what it looks like with Spring Practice just around the corner:

  • Lane Kiffin • Head coach
  • Monte Kiffin • Assistant head coach
  • John Baxter • Associate head coach/special teams coordinator
  • Ed Orgeron • Defensive coordinator/recruiting coordinator/defensive line
  • Joe Barry • Linebackers
  • Willie Mack Garza • Secondary
  • John Morton • Passing game coordinator/wide receivers/tight ends
  • James Cregg • Offensive line
  • Clay Helton • Quarterbacks
  • Todd McNair • Running backs

Hulk power

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Wideout Ronald Johnson goes through "hulk sit-ups" -- thusly named because of the green band that adds massive resistance -- during this morning's workout on "Finish Friday" in the weight room. Head strength and conditioning coach Aaron Ausmus (left) and assistant Gary Hyman (right) push Johnson through the exercise.

Hardwood finale

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The women's basketball team squeezed past Arizona with a 55-53 win at the Galen Center on Thursday night, and the Women of Troy host their season finale against Arizona State on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. Get your tickets here.

Hammer time for Henderson

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0305henderson.jpegFormer defensive end Trey Henderson took first place in the hammer throw at the Ben Brown Invitational in Fullerton on Thursday, recording a 203-foot mark.

Henderson, a native of Vancouver and the first Canadian to play football at USC, was on the Trojan football team in 2007-08 but knee injuries forced him to focus solely on track and field.

Cone heads

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As distant as the 2009 season may seem for the Trojans right now, there's one element that's sticking around.

And it might not be gone any time soon.

Several players, incited by offensive lineman Michael Reardon's playful idea, spent downtimes in practices late last fall throwing up a traffic cone to try and get it to wiggle onto the goalpost on Brian Kennedy Field. After three weeks of devoted attempts during every practice, Reardon was finally successful, and two other teammates soon followed suit with cone-to-upright throws of their own.

"It was just a fun thing we did before service period every day," said Reardon, who's heading into his redshirt junior season. "I was the first one to do it and then it caught on like wildfire. Everyone was trying."

The sight -- one cone on the left upright and two on the right upright -- is both peculiar and laughable, as it seems very out of place. But Reardon, who said he employed a "keg toss like you see in strongman competitions, with just the right spin," views it as a work of art that took weeks to complete.

"When I finally got it, everyone knew and everyone was all excited, because they saw I had been trying for so long," Reardon said of the late-season milestone.

Apparently, though, one man's treasure is another man's trash. The athletic fields maintenance team, a squadron of workers in charge of taking care of the Howard Jones grass and entire practice facility, has been left scratching their collective head on what to do with the strange location of the traffic cones.

"When we first saw it, I was like, 'How in the hell did they do that?'" athletic fields supervisor Eric Warren said with a smile. "That is crazy."

The maintenance workers are now facing a dilemma -- do they leave the cone arrangement as is or bring out a lift and cut off the cones to give the uprights a more normal look? Either way, Warren lightheartedly promised retribution.

"We'll have something good for the players," Warren said.

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Thanks to the funny work of offensive lineman Michael Reardon and two teammates, the goalpost on Brian Kennedy Field features three total traffic cones on its uprights. Players would spend downtime in practices last fall playfully tossing up traffic cones to try and get them to land on the uprights, and after three weeks of trying, they were finally successful.

Baseball in action

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The USC baseball team hosts New Mexico at Dedeaux Field this weekend, with contests on Friday (6:30 p.m.), Saturday (6:30 p.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m.). Buy $7 tickets online or at the gate.

John Baxter hired as associate head coach

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0304baxter.jpgJohn Baxter, an assistant coach at Fresno State for the past 13 seasons, has been named associate head coach and special teams coordinator at USC, new Trojan head coach Lane Kiffin announced today.
 
"Hiring John Baxter is something that I thought could probably never happen," Kiffin said. "Having him here will be huge for our team on and off the field. He put together a 13-year run of special teams at Fresno State that were better than any in the country. We're very excited to welcome him to the Trojan Family."
 
In his 13 years (1997-2009) at Fresno State, he was the special teams coach and associate head coach in addition to handling either the tight ends (1997-2001, 2003, 2009) or wide receivers (2002, 2004-2008).
 
Baxter turned the Bulldogs' special teams into one of the top units in the nation annually. During his time, Fresno State blocked 84 kicks and punts (including a national-best 49 from 2002 through 2009) and scored 39 special teams touchdowns (with 3 safeties). The Bulldogs topped the nation in fewest punt return yards allowed in 2004 and 2005. A.J. Jefferson led the nation in kickoff returns in 2007. Clifton Smith's 189 punt return yards with 2 touchdowns against Weber State in 2005 were Fresno State game records, while his 5 career scoring punt returns also was a school mark. Six of Baxter's Bulldog kickers and punters earned All-Western Athletic Conference first team honors.
 
During his time at Fresno State, the Bulldogs posted a 100-66 record, played in 10 bowls (1999 Las Vegas, 2000-01-02-03 Silicon Valley, 2004 MPC Computers, 2005 AutoZone Liberty, 2007 Roady's Humanitarian and 2008-09 New Mexico) and won the WAC title in 1999.
 
Along with his coaching duties at Fresno State, Baxter developed the highly successful and nationally regarded program, "Academic Gameplan." His innovative and comprehensive study-skills program teaches students the rules, fundamentals, techniques and life skills needed to succeed in the classroom. "Academic Gameplan," which is now being used at schools throughout the country, was a key reason for the academic success of the Fresno State football program, which during Baxter's tenure produced 141 Academic All-WAC players and an NCAA APR score nearly 20 percentage points higher than the national average.
 
He was selected as the Clovis Co-Citizen of the Year in 2006, along with Fresno State head coach Pat Hill.
 
Baxter, 46, has 29 years of coaching experience. He began his coaching career at his alma mater, Loras College, where he served for 5 seasons (1981-85). He then moved on to Iowa State for 2 seasons (1986-87) before the first of 2 stints at Arizona. He was with the Wildcats in 1988, went to Maine in 1989 when the Black Bears made it to the Division I-AA playoffs and returned to Arizona in 1990 and 1991 (the Wildcats played in the 1990 Aloha Bowl). He then was at Maryland for 2 seasons (1992-93) and Tulane for 3 years (1994-96) before going to Fresno State.
 
He earned his bachelor's degree in physical education from Loras in 1985 and then his master's in higher education from Iowa State in 1987.
 
He was born on June 28, 1963. He and his wife, Jill, have 2 daughters, Kelly and McKenzie. His father-in-law is current Weber State head coach Ron McBride, formerly the head coach at Utah.

Conditioned for what's to come

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For the second time, the Trojans took to Howard Jones Field for a conditioning workout with their new coaches this afternoon, hustling through a rapid-fire 45-minute session on an ideal March afternoon.

While Tuesday's workout placed an emphasis on teamwork, today's centered on discipline. To conclude the workout, coaches led the players through a strict sprint drill that focused on attention to detail and rigid discipline, even in spite of fatigue.

Check out some photos from the workout:

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Offensive linemen Kevin Graf (left) and Matt Kalil hustle through an agility drill.

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Linebackers Ross Cumming (left) and Chris Galippo sprint around the figure-8 drill.

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Assistant coach Clay Helton urges players through somersaults during an exercise.

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Assistant coach Todd McNair pushes defensive linemen Kevin Greene (left) and Jurrell Casey (right) through a drill.

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Fullback Simione Vehikite (left) and linebacker Malcolm Smith (right) race through a drill.

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Players get off the line during a sprinting drill at the end of the workout.

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Coach Lane Kiffin speaks to his players after this afternoon's workout.

Mike Garrett joins Twitter

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Hey Twitter World, meet USC athletic director Mike Garrett.

Garrett, a day after publishing his first "From the Desk of the A.D." blog on this site, has joined Twitter, and you can follow him here: @ADMikeGarrett. Garrett said he plans to send out important USC sports news, opinions on various subjects and thoughts on other Trojan-related happenings, so be sure to follow along with the longtime athletic director as he dives into the world of social media.

Garrett is joining Coach Lane Kiffin and USCRipsIt on Twitter, so stay connected through those avenues as well.

Getting to work

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The Trojans will head out at 3 p.m. for their second set of offseason conditioning drills with the coaching staff. See photos and a report from the first workout on Tuesday.

Counting down

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Only 26 days remain until Spring Practice 2010 kicks off. Check out the full practice schedule, and be sure to purchase your tickets to the May 1 Trojan Huddle at the Coliseum.

Long toss

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Malcolm Smith did something this morning that head strength and conditioning coach Aaron Ausmus had never seen before.

In offseason testing during this morning's workout, the senior linebacker launched an 11-pound medicine ball 71.5 feet downfield in the overhead toss exercise, a stunning mark that easily put him as the top Trojan and set him above anything Ausmus had ever witnessed.

"That's huge, that's huge," Ausmus said, seemingly still in disbelief of Smith's toss.

Smith's 71.5-foot toss gives him the title among football players for the second straight year after a 70-foot mark last spring.

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Linebacker Michael Morgan goes through overhead medicine ball toss testing this morning. Fellow linebacker Malcolm Smith had the best mark this morning with a 71.5-foot throw.

First lap for Swim With Mike

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Swim With Mike will kick off its 30th anniversary with a "First Lap" celebration on Sunday at 11 a.m. at the Annenberg Community Beach House in Santa Monica. Special guests Jake Olson, Matt Barkley and Kristofer O'Dowd will headline the festivities at the invite-only event.

An annual fundraiser for physically disabled athletes, Swim With Mike will raise its 10 millionth dollar this year. It has already awarded 92 scholarships in less than 30 years.

Claiborne returns

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A legend stopped by Heritage Hall this morning.

Chris Claiborne, the USC middle linebacker who won the Butkus Award in 1998, popped in to the football offices to say hi to old friends and meet the new coaches this morning. Claiborne was a unanimous first-team All-American and national defensive player of the year in 1998, when he led the Trojans in tackles (120), pass deflections (16) and interceptions (6).

He had 312 total tackles in his three years as a starter at USC before going on to an eight-year NFL career.

Hop, skip and a jump

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Defensive end Malik Jackson hops through an agility drill during this morning's workout on Howard Jones Field.

Huddle tickets now available

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Tickets for the Trojan Huddle, the end-of-spring scrimmage set for May 1 at the Coliseum, are now available online or by calling the ticket office at (213) 740-4672. The general admission cost $10, and children 12 and under are free. The start time is still to-be-determined, though traditionally it has started in the late morning or early afternoon.

Straight from the source

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Check out this NFL Network interview with Taylor Mays regarding his performance at the Combine this week. Thanks to RipsIt reader Bryan Lerma for passing it along.

Tennis talk

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The USC tennis teams saw both ups and downs against UCLA on Wednesday.

In Westwood, the fifth-ranked men's team crushed the No. 6 Bruins, 6-1, for its first back-to-back wins against UCLA since 1991. Meanwhile, at Marks Tennis Stadium, the No. 12 Women of Troy nearly completed a wild comeback but ultimately fell, 4-3, to the No. 4 Bruins.

Coach of the Year Clinic

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All high school and junior college coaches -- and even casual USC football fans -- are invited to the 7th Annual USC/Nike Coach of the Year Clinic on April 9-10 at the Galen Center. The event has sold out in each of the previous six seasons, so be sure to register now before it's too late.

Get all the info, including hotel and registration information, here.

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In Garrett's words

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Be sure to read the first installment of "From the Desk of the A.D.," an occasional blog feature that gives you USC athletic director Mike Garrett's perspective on various hot-button topics. Also, please give your feedback on the new feature in the entry's comments section.

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Ticket time

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Tickets for the Trojan Huddle, the end-of-spring scrimmage set for May 1 at the Coliseum, are currently on sale by calling the USC ticket office at (213) 740-4672. They'll be available online starting Thursday.

Rivalry tennis

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Nothing quite like some rivalry action on a perfect SoCal afternoon.

The No. 14 USC women's tennis team is facing off against No. 5 UCLA at Marks Tennis Stadium this afternoon. Follow along on the live scoreboard and check out some photos from early match action:

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The No. 14 USC and No. 5 UCLA women's tennis teams compete for Pac-10 positioning and Gauntlet points during this afternoon's match at Marks Tennis Stadium on campus.

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Lyndsay Kinstler and Maria Sanchez, USC's No. 1 doubles team, face off against the Bruins.

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Danielle Lao serves it up during doubles action.

Summer camping

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The dates for the 2010 Trojan Football Camps -- for kids ranging from 3rd through 12th grade, along with adults -- are below. Registration info will be coming later.

Kicking camp • June 11 (9th-12th graders)
Offensive and defensive linemen camp • June 12 (9th-12th graders)
Skills camp • June 13 (9th-12th graders)
Football 101 • June 16 (fantasy camp for adults)
7-on-7 camp • June 19 and 20 (9th-12th graders)
Youth camp • June 21 (3rd-8th graders)
Rising stars camp • June 23-24 (11th-12th graders) 

Pac-10 takes another step forward

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First-year Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott continues to push the conference toward new heights.

After tapping former Big 12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg as deputy commissioner last month, the Pac-10 has hired its first ever chief marketing officer, reigning in Danette Leighton to take the role that will begin in April. Leighton, a former intern at the Pac-10, is currently the vice president of marketing and brand development for Maloof Sports & Entertainment, owner of the NBA's Sacramento Kings and ARCO Arena.

Congdon going Ivy League

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0303congdonmug.jpegKicker Jordan Congdon's path has never really gone according to the norm.

Coming out of San Diego's St. Augustine High, Congdon accepted a scholarship to play at Nebraska, where he started for two seasons before transferring to USC as a walkon. After sitting out two years, he kicked for the Trojans in 2009, earning an honorable mention on the Pac-10 All-Academic team and becoming USC's leading score with 77 points with 12 field goals and a perfect 41-for-41 mark on PATs.

Looks like he's not changing his unique ways now, as Congdon, a devout Christian, has been accepted into the Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey, where he's set to enroll this fall and pursue a master's degree.

Counting down

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The countdown for Spring Practice 2010 has now reached 27 days. See the full practice schedule here.

An NFL pipeline

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With the Combine in the books and the next milestone for NFL-bound Trojans being the Draft in late-April, it's an appropriate time to revisit this NFL Network video we've posted previously, which hails USC as the No. 1 NFL Factory:

Two to know

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Two key dates have been set for the 2010 season.

Parents weekend will be surrounding the Oct. 2 home game against Washington, while Homecoming is scheduled for the Oct. 30 matchup against Oregon at the Coliseum. Here's a look at the full 2010 home schedule for the Trojans (and renew your season tickets here):

Sept. 11 • Virginia
Oct. 2 • Washington (Parents weekend)
Oct. 16 • California
Oct. 30 • Oregon (Homecoming)
Nov. 6 • Arizona State
Nov. 27 • Notre Dame

From the Desk of the A.D.

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The first in an occasional series, "From the Desk of the A.D." allows you to hear directly from USC athletic director Mike Garrett, who gives you his thoughts on several topical and hot-button subjects for the Trojans and college sports. 


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By Mike Garrett
USC Athletic Director



It's been a busy few weeks in and around Heritage Hall.

Whether it's the basketball seasons, a new football coaching staff settling in or several other big topics, our plates have been full with meaty propositions lately. In a feature I'll be doing fairly regularly on this site from now on, I wanted to pass along my thoughts on a few items. I'd love to hear from you, so please post your thoughts in the comments section below:

  • At the NCAA hearings in Arizona a few weeks ago, we're glad we were able to present our case to the NCAA officials. We think that we presented our case very well and we eagerly await the outcome, but as the committee instructed us, we cannot comment on any specifics of the case or the hearings. As much as we'd like to, we just can't say anything else at this time, but we hope to be able to do so shortly. In the coming weeks, we should know much more.

  • Conference realignment and expansion has been an awfully hot topic in the media and among fans recently. It's fascinating to see all the prognostications, and I'd love to offer one myself, but it's all so up in the air right now. It seems as if each conference has a different philosophy and timeline, but I know that new Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott is being very pro-active in looking at the possibilities for our conference. When he gathers more information, the Pac-10 schools will get together and discuss this topic as a conference.

  • While most of the Trojans gain renown for their work in the athletic arena, being a student-athlete is much more than just going to practice and playing in games. Our student-athletes are finding incredible success in the classroom, and it's something we're especially proud of. Nearly half of our student-athlete population earned a 3.0 GPA last fall, including 117 who had a 3.5 and 14 who had spotless 4.0 GPAs. I'd like to congratulate and recognize all our student-athletes who excel in their schoolwork just as much as in their sport -- it's quite an accomplishment. But as successful as our student-athletes were in the fall, we're always striving for more triumphs -- both in the classroom and on the field. As Trojans, we must never rest or be satisfied with status quo, no matter how good it may be.

  • What am I most excited about right now? The spring athletic schedule is always so jam-packed, so it's fun to have a USC sporting event to attend or watch almost every day of the week. I'm especially looking forward to seeing our women's basketball team play at the Galen Center against the Arizona schools this weekend and in the Pac-10 tournament next weekend, as well as the men's tennis team, which is ranked No. 5 and has a home match against Wake Forest next Wednesday. And of course, I'm really excited to see Lane Kiffin and his staff get to work and start a new chapter in USC football when Spring Practice begins on March 30.

The great 40 debate

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The Taylor Mays 40 controversy rages on a day after the safety ran an unofficial 4.24 before the NFL released an official time of 4.43.

Though the official time still makes him the fastest defensive back in this year's Combine, a .19-second difference between the official and unofficial times is still puzzling, especially when you consider the 4.24 wasn't a fluke. Though some reports are claiming otherwise, Mays' previous best official 40 was a 4.25 during last year's offseason testing at USC, the fastest time ever recorded in Pete Carroll's nine seasons with the Trojans.

Gemelos, Women of Troy set to finish strong

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Here's a great ESPN.com feature on USC women's basketball player Jacki Gemelos, who has undergone three major reconstructive knee surgeries and is finally back on the court this season.

The Women of Troy close out their season with home games against Arizona (Thursday at 7 p.m.) and Arizona State (Saturday at 12:30 p.m.). Get your tickets here.

For a good read

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Check out Stafon Johnson's diary from the Combine, published on SportingNews.com.

A 'flawed' 40 time for Mays?

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Much controversy has been made over Taylor Mays' unofficial and official 40 times at the Combine.

Unofficially, Mays ran a 4.24 and 4.34 today, but officially, for whatever reason, the records show he recorded a 4.43. This cool "simulcam" video from the NFL Network shows that Mays' official 40 time might just be "flawed," according to Rich Eisen:

Working together for the first time

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If first impressions mean anything, then Lane Kiffin & Co. are off to one heck of a start.

This afternoon on Howard Jones Field, the Trojan coaching staff worked with the players for the first time since being hired nearly two months ago, leading the players through a high-intensity 45-minute conditioning session. The workout, the first of six such sessions permitted by the NCAA leading up to Spring Practice, focused solely on agility and conditioning drills, as footballs and football-specific work are not allowed.

Players cycled through eight action-packed exercises before competing in two offense-vs.-defense sprint relay races that circled the field, both of which were won by the defense.

By the end of the workout on a cool afternoon, coaches were hoarse from yelling and players were drenched in sweat. As Kiffin closed the session with a brief speech emphasizing the importance of "shifting our focus to the team," at least one thing was certain -- the contagious energy generated during the brief session sets a tone that bodes quite well for the 2010 Trojans.

Check out some photos from the workout:

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Quarterback Mitch Mustain (right) reaches out to catch Matt Barkley during figure-8 agility drills.

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Kicker Joe Houston (left) and quarterback John Manoogian (right) somersault past assistant coach Ed Orgeron.

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With head strength and conditioning coach Aaron Ausmus looking on, defensive linemen Jurrell Casey (left) and Armond Armstead go through abdominal exercises.

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Coach Lane Kiffin watches on as defensive back Daniel Harper shuffles through agility bags.

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Assistant coach Ed Orgeron gets down to encourage players through barrel rolls.

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Players somersault as assistant coach Ed Orgeron watches on.

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With assistant coach James Cregg yelling them on, offensive tackles Matt Kalil (left) and Tyron Smith (right) sprint through a figure-8 drill.

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Defensive backs Boomer Roepke (left) and Shareece Wright (right) go through three-cone agility drills with assistant coach John Morton watching on.

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The Trojans conduct a 45-minute conditioning workout on Tuesday afternoon on Howard Jones Field.

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Coach Lane Kiffin speaks to the players following the workout.

Love of the game

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Defensive end Everson Griffen was known for his demonstrative passion at USC, and it's apparent he's taking that energy to the NFL. Check out these two photos from his Combine workouts in Indianapolis this week (courtesy of Getty Images):

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He's a quick one

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Watch Taylor Mays' speedy 40-yard dash from this morning's NFL Combine workouts in Indianapolis:

Rivalry action

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The women's tennis team faces UCLA on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. at Mark's Tennis Stadium on campus. Tommy's Burgers will be available in addition to the high-level rivalry tennis action, so come on out to support the Women of Troy.

One of the best

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USC's sports information department, headed up by Tim Tessalone and football assistant Paul Goldberg, has been named one of the top 11 departments in the country for the 2009 football season, according to the Football Writers Association of America.

Diamond in the rough

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4259376.jpegSunday was quite the day for safety Jawanza Starling.

Starling, who just finished his freshman football season, is now an outfielder on the USC baseball team, and he got to be dressed out for the Trojans' game against UCLA at Dodger Stadium on Sunday. Though he didn't see any live action, he said being a part of the matchup -- which attracted a surprising 14,558 fans on a picture-perfect L.A. afternoon -- was something to cherish.

"The experience was great," said Starling, who's from Tallahassee, Fla. "It was my first time playing on a major league field. It was really cool."

Sign up now for the Lane Kiffin Heritage Golf Classic

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Join Coach Lane Kiffin and his entire coaching staff for golf, a dinner and exclusive access to USC football items at the 2010 Lane Kiffin Heritage Golf Classic on April 26 at the Coto de Caza Golf and Racquet Club.

Registration will start at 8:30 a.m., golf will get going at 10 a.m. and dinner will begin at 5 p.m. An awards ceremony, live auction and a talk by Kiffin will follow the meal.

In addition to the live auction during dinner, a silent auction will run throughout the day. Among the auction items will be travel packages to the 2010 USC football games at Hawaii and Minnesota, a trip on the USC team plane to a road game and sideline passes to all of USC's 2010 home games (including the Notre Dame contest).

The tournament is hosted by the Trojan Board of Directors.

For registration information, click here or call 213-740-4155.

News from the Combine: Final test numbers

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Here are some news and notes from the NFL Combine, which has reached its final day today:

  • After running an unofficial 4.24 40-yard dash, Taylor Mays clocked in with an official 4.43.
  • Everson Griffen recorded the second-fastest 40 time among defensive linemen with a 4.66.
  • Taylor Mays put up 24 reps on the 225-pound bench press test, good for a tie for second among safeties.
  • Kevin Thomas recorded 19 reps on the bench press test for the third-best mark among cornerbacks.
  • Taylor Mays logged a 41-inch vertical, second-best among safeties.

Over the top

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Defensive back Patrick Hall, a spring enrollee who'll be a freshman this fall, goes through overhead medicine ball toss exercises during this morning's workouts on Cromwell Field.

Swimming for a cause

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The 30th annual Swim With Mike, a fundraiser for scholarships for physically challenged athletes, will take place April 17 at USC's McDonald's Swim Stadium. Get more info, including how to donate or take part, here.

The event has raised $9.7 million since its inception, and $770,000 in scholarships was awarded in 2009-10.

Mays flies through a 4.24 40

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Officially, safety Taylor Mays is a beast.

His unofficial 40 times from the NFL Combine today prove just that.

Mays' first run was clocked at a blazing 4.24 and his second sprint was timed at a not-too-shabby 4.34, undoubtedly impressing the scouts, coaches and NFL personnel in Indianapolis this week. Both times are unofficial right now, but Mays' 4.24 is the fastest at the Combine so far this year.

You can watch the Combine workouts, which conclude today, live for free on NFL.com.

Spring Practice on its way

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Spring Practice 2010 starts precisely four weeks from today.

The newest chapter in the rich history of Trojan football -- this one authored by Lane Kiffin and staff -- will begin in earnest March 30 and run until the Trojan Huddle at the Coliseum on May 1. The 15 practices will fall every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday for five consecutive weeks.

Practices are tentatively set to start at 4 p.m. on weekdays and 11 a.m. on weekends. Here's a look at the schedule for Spring Practice 2010 (subject to change):

Tuesday, March 30 • Practice #1
Thursday, April 1 • Practice #2
Saturday, April 3 • Practice #3
Tuesday, April 6 • Practice #4
Thursday, April 8 • Practice #5
Saturday, April 10 • Practice #6
Tuesday, April 13 • Practice #7
Thursday, April 15 • Practice #8
Saturday, April 17 • Practice #9
Tuesday, April 20 • Practice #10
Thursday, April 22 • Practice #11
Saturday, April 24 • Practice #12
Tuesday, April 27 • Practice #13
Thursday, April 29 • Practice #14
Saturday, May 1 • Trojan Huddle (Coliseum)

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Head of the class

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The official Fall 2009 grades are in, and the USC athletic department is looking awfully good.

In all, 285 student-athletes -- nearly half of the USC athletic department population -- recorded a 3.0 GPA last fall, including 18 football players. Also, 117 student-athletes made the Dean's List (a 3.5 or higher GPA) and 14 had perfect 4.0 GPAs. Read the release about USC's fine academic record in the fall, and here's the list of Trojan football players who had a 3.0 or higher:

  • WR Steve Blackhart
  • K Jordan Congdon
  • WR/QB Garrett Green
  • LB Devon Kennard
  • TE Ian Wandler
  • Student coach Frankie Telfort
  • WR Preston Cavignac
  • DB Rob Erickson
  • LB Nick Garratt
  • TE Bryson Lloyd
  • OL Jeff Byers
  • TE Cooper Stephenson
  • LB Dan Deckas
  • LB Jarvis Jones
  • QB John Manoogian
  • S Drew McAllister
  • OL Garrett Nolan
  • LB Michael Morgan

Kiffin on Facebook

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Coach Lane Kiffin is already on Twitter, and now he's joined Facebook, so become a fan of Kiffin on the popular social networking site.

Seto to speak in L.A.

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Former USC defensive coordinator Rocky Seto, now a quality control coach for the Seattle Seahawks, is returning to the L.A. area this weekend to speak at the Gospel Impact event at Evergreen San Gabriel Valley Church in La Puente on Saturday at 7 p.m. Get more info here.

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Markowitz throws long

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Sophomore center Abe Markowitz is competing on the USC track and field team as a shot-putter, and in Rossi Relays in Claremont on Saturday, he placed sixth with a 50-foot throw.

One of a kind

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How many college band directors can walk unannounced into a football staff's meeting? At least one, as Dr. Arthur C. Bartner of the Trojan Marching Band barged into the War Room this afternoon to meet and shoot the breeze with the USC coaches, including (from left) Ed Orgeron, Joe Barry and Lane Kiffin. Bartner, who turns 70 this year, is in his 40th year at USC, with Kiffin being the seventh head coach his band will have played for during his tenure.

Bartner celebrating 40

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Trojan Marching Band director Arthur C. Bartner is celebrating his 40th year at USC with a special banquet and ceremony on May 1. Find out more info and get your tickets to the event on this snazzy new site.

For a good read

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Check out this great Q&A with Coach Lane Kiffin, from today's Sporting News. Thanks to RipsIt reader Keegan Fisher for passing it along.

Renew your season tickets

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USC football season ticket renewal applications for the 2010 season are now available online. Applications will be accepted through March 26.

Get more info here.

Let the countdown begin

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Spring Practice 2010 starts 29 days from today.

Fast feet

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Offensive tackle Charles Brown shuffles through agility drills at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis this weekend. Brown is rated as the sixth-best offensive tackle in this year's class, according to NFLDraftScout.com. [Photo courtesy of Getty Images]

Winter workouts: Halfway home

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The players speak glowingly of new head strength and conditioning coach Aaron Ausmus.

Looks like it's a reciprocal relationship.

With the winter offseason program just past its halfway point and with about four weeks until Spring Practice begins, Ausmus gave a very positive mini midterm review of the work he's been seeing from his players in the month he's been at USC:

"The biggest thing I'm loving is the energy of the players," Ausmus said. "We're trying to bring high-intensity energy to the program and take advantage of each day. We're fine-tuning basic movements and getting technique down, and we've been teaching concepts and showing how and why it's helping them.

"It's been a great transition. Day-in and day-out, we're trying to help them maximize their potential, and they've responded very well."

Oh, to be 17 again

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It's Monte Kiffin's birthday today, but he wasn't born on March 1.

Solve that riddle.

The legendary defensive coach in his first year at USC, Kiffin was born Feb. 29, 1940, so he's now 70 years old, though he's actually only celebrated 17 birthdays in his lifetime. So even though he's officially as old as many players' grandparents, you can still consider him a spry teenager who's still waiting to vote, enlist in the military and reach the legal drinking age.

And in case you were wondering, Kiffin said he celebrates his birthday on Feb. 28 whenever it's not a leap year.

News from the Combine: Heights and weights

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Here's the full, final list of heights and weights for the Trojans at the 2010 NFL Combine:

  • DE Everson Griffen: 6-3, 273
  • FS Taylor Mays: 6-3, 230
  • CB Josh Pinkard: 6-1, 214
  • CB Kevin Thomas: 6-0, 192
  • TB Stafon Johnson: 5-11, 214
  • TB Joe McKnight: 5-11, 198
  • WR Damian Williams: 6-1, 197
  • OT Charles Brown: 6-5, 303
  • OL Jeff Byers: 6-3, 301
  • TE Anthony McCoy: 6-4, 259
  • OL Alex Parsons: 6-4, 309

Showing agility

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Tailback Allen Bradford hustles through the three-cone "L" drill on Cromwell Field during this morning's workouts, which included on-field testing and a weightlifting circuit in Heritage Hall.

Stafon rises up for 13 at the Combine

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Almost exactly five months after his tragic weightlifting accident, Stafon Johnson found himself in an emotional spot.

On the bench -- doing precisely what nearly took his life and caused him to miss most of the 2009 season, lose his voice and require months of intense rehabilitation.

Johnson put up 13 bench press reps on Saturday at the NFL Combine, and although it was 13 less than the leader among running backs, it was 13 more than anyone expected he could've done considering what he's been through -- both physically and emotionally -- since his accident in the Heritage Hall weight room on Sept. 28.

Watch Johnson's goosebump-inducing bench press test here.

News from the Combine: Weekend recap

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Half of the NFL Combine groups have wrapped up their workouts, with just the defensive prospects left to be tested today and Tuesday. Check out the notable numbers for the Trojans in this weekend's workouts and other news and notes surrounding the Combine:

  • Joe McKnight had the fifth-best 40 time among running backs with a 4.47.
  • Damian Williams tied for the fourth-best number of reps on the bench press among wideouts with 19.
  • Jeff Byers had the sixth-most bench press reps among offensive linemen, with 33.
  • Anthony McCoy logged the fourth-best vertical jump among tight ends with a 35.5.
  • In other vertical jump test results, Damian Williams jumped 38.0, Joe McKnight jumped 36.5 and Charles Brown jumped 31.5.
  • Williams posted a 6.79 in the three-cone drill, good for eighth among wideouts.
  • McKnight recorded a 10'0" standing broad jump mark.
  • Defensive lineman Everson Griffen, who had 32 bench press reps, is going through on-field workouts today.
  • Defensive backs Taylor Mays, Kevin Thomas and Josh Pinkard are scheduled to go through workouts Tuesday.
  • Watch McKnight's 40-yard dash here.
  • See an NFL Network interview with Damian Williams here.
  • Check out this excellent two-part recap of the Trojans at the Combine, from the O.C. Register.
  • Watch the Combine live here.

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Tight end Anthony McCoy leaps up 35.5 inches in the vertical jump test at the Combine this weekend. [Photo courtesy of Getty Images]

Baseball season is here

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In front of 14,558 at Dodger Stadium on Sunday, the USC baseball team suffered a 6-1 defeat to UCLA in a closely contested battle. Check out a special slideshow of images from the game, courtesy of USC athletics staff photographer Pierson Clair: