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December 2010 Archives

3-Points: USC 60, Washington State 56

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Compiled by USCTrojans.com Blog Contributor Ben Weiss...

The Trojans watched a late 11-point lead dwindle down to just two, before two clutch free throws by Donte Smith iced it with ten seconds left. Three takeaways from a good bounce back win against a talented Pac-10 foe...

  • Surprise! Defense set the tone for the Trojans, as it has in almost all of USC's wins this season. The Cougars came in averaging 77 points per game and were held to a scant 22 in the first half and finished 21 below their average mark. Marcus Simmons anchored the defensive effort, limiting the Cougars' sharpshooter Klay Thompson to 17 points (five below his season average) on 6-18 shooting. Although allowing 17 points rarely equates to "shut-down defense," Simmons keenly observed that much of Thompson's scoring came off broken plays and offensive rebounds that led to open shots. "(He's) becoming as great of a college defensive stopper as you can have," O'Neill said of the senior Captain. With only 21 second remaining and USC's lead cut to two, Simmons' smothering defense on Thompson forced the Wazzu guard to pass off his drive. The pressure caused slightly errant delivery, went out of bounds off the hands of Washington State's Abe Lodwick.
  • For the second straight game, the Trojans relinquished a big lead down the stretch. Again, missed free throws played a crucial role. Jio Fontan went to the line twice with less than three minutes left, and missed the front end of a one-and-one on both trips. "When you get there, you have to knock those down," O'Neill said. This time, the Trojans got the final stops when they needed it most. The head coach was especially proud of the way his team bounced back after one of its most demoralizing losses this season against Washington two days ago. "For us to put in that kind of performance says a lot about our team."
  • After a disappointing 1-7 shooting performance against Washington, Donte Smith bounced back with a solid all-around performance. He connected on four of his eight three-point attempts, three of which helped build the Trojans' second-half lead to 11. Defensively, Smith was influential in all phases - although the stat sheet showed only three rebounds and one steal, he was extremely active on the glass and tipping balls in the Washington State passing lanes. As previously mentioned, Smith hit two big free throws down the stretch to put the game away. "Donte has become a clutch player for us," O'Neill said.
Here's player of the game Marcus Simmons, who in addition to bottling up Thompson, dropped in seven points, grabbed six boards and dished out four assists...




Haden Takes "The Challenge"

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USC athletic director Pat Haden will sit down one-on-one with NBC sports anchor Fred Roggin on The Challenge, immediately following Sunday Night Football this week.

Haden will headline the final episode of the season, which airs at approximately 8:30 p.m. pacific time on NBC.


Photo Gallery: USC vs. Washington Hoops

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Jon SooHoo took in last night's overtime classic through his lens.  Here's a look...




3-Points: USC 67, UW 73

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By USCTrojans.com Blog Contributor Stephanie Graves

  • Coach O'Neill hit it on the head in the post-game press conference when he said, "We thought we had a good game plan going in...we did our job defensively." But in between that game plan and a solid defensive stand that kept one of the top Pac-10 teams to 40 percent from the field was a series of offensive cold spells and mistakes that led to the Trojans' demise in overtime. "We had a lot of wide open looks that didn't go in," stated the Trojans' head coach. Actually the Men of Troy went 5-21 on three-point attempts and shot 34.5 percent from the field. The Huskies further took advantage of the Trojans offensive slump, leading by 6 in the paint and 22 coming off the bench. UW also led 44-28 in total rebounds.   
  • The bright spot of the night was one of USC's big men, Nikola Vucevic who led both teams with 28 points and 14 rebounds. O'Neill pointed out that UW's "entire defense was based around guarding Nik." Vucevic later admitted that the one place the Husky defense was effective was scouting him and getting in front of him in the post. Nonetheless, his effort was the biggest reason the Trojans not only held on during the game, but until the final minute in overtime.
  • The Trojans now have to move on and regroup before facing Washington State on Friday. "It's big britches time when you're playing good teams," mused O'Neill. Neither coach nor player seems worried about the future of the program whether it be two days from now or the rest of the season. Despite the heartbreaking loss in OT, O'Neill still says his team is "decent" and aren't taking their eyes off the Pac-10 title despite losing 13 players from last year to now. It was Vucevic that said it best when he declared nights like tonight, well, "that's how it is in sports."

Here is the monster from Montenegro himself on the gritty overtime loss to the Huskies:

 

 

Instant Impact

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USC junior guard Jio Fontan was named Pac-10 Player of the Week today.

The Fordham transfer has changed the perception of this year's Trojan hoops squad since his return three games ago. 

With Fontan on the court, USC has taken Kansas to the buzzer, knocked off Tennessee on the road and dominated Lehigh.

He's also created a confidence and belief that the Trojans can compete for the conference title this season, which begins with two BIG home games Wednesday against Washington and Friday versus Washington State.

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Projans: NFL Week 16

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The NFL Trojans are closing strong and several former players are headed to the playoffs...

Heisman Worthy

Screen shot 2010-12-27 at 10.36.41 AM.jpgCarson Palmer, QB, Bengals - 16/21 for 269 yards and 4 TDs to 0 INTs

It has not been a vintage season for the USC Heisman winner, but he played his best game of the year to knock the San Diego Chargers out of playoff contention.  Without Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco (coincidence?), Palmer tossed a near perfect game.  The maximum passer rating is 158.3; Carson came in at 157.2 after his resounding effort against the Bolts.


All-American Caliber

Matt Cassel, QB, Chiefs - 24/34 for 314 yards and 3 TDs to clinch the AFC West

Rey Maualuga, LB, Bengals - Picked off Phil Rivers and returned it 47 yards in the win

Fred Davis, TE, Redskins - Snagged his second touchdown catch of the season in an OT victory

Lofa Tatupu, LB, Seahawks - 8 tackles (team leading), a sack and a forced fumble in a loss

Clay Matthews, LB, Packers - 5 tackles and a forced fumble to put Green Bay in playoff position


Monday (and Tuesday) Night Football

Sedrick Ellis and Reggie Bush lead the Saints in an NFC South showdown tonight against Sam Baker's Falcons, while Winston Justice and Mike Patterson's Eagles were moved to Tuesday against Everson Griffen and the Vikings.

A Philly blizzard postponed Eagles-Vikings. (Photos by AP)
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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

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From the Trojan Family to yours, we wish you Happy Holidays and a Merry Christmas!

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3-Points: USC 76, Lehigh 49

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The Trojans backed up their big win at Tennessee with a comfortable home victory against the defending Patriot League champs.

  • Coming off a big win, fighting jet lag, this was a potential "trap game" for Kevin O'Neill's squad, but USC put together a mature performance and came out of the gate with great defensive energy.  "Our guys really focused in on the defensive end," O'Neill said after the game.  "I could tell we were tired...but I thought we actually played pretty good basketball."  Two good stats: USC held Lehigh to 31% shooting and Nikola Vucevic had six blocks.
  • When the offensive sets break down, Jio Fontan can create his own shot, which is what makes him such a valuable cog in this improving machine.  "Jio is obviously getting better every game," said O'Neill about the junior transfer.  "I felt bad for him that I had to throw him in at Kansas and at Tennessee, which is difficult to do, but he's responded well."  Fontan had a game-high 21 points and was a perfect 4-for-4 from three.  He cramped up at the end, but he's fine.
  • USC's goal is to win the Pac-10.  I guess that is true of every team, but the Trojans are playing with a different swagger in the last three weeks that have generated a locker room belief that they could pull off the trick for the first time in decades.  "Overall, my expectation is that we are going to compete for the league title," O'Neill said bluntly.  Fontan's goal is "to win it."  USC's fight for first place begins with a huge homestand against early conference favorites Washington and Washington State on December 29 and 31.





Haden on NCAA Appeal

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Athletic director Pat Haden told the Los Angeles Times today that USC's NCAA appeal hearing will be January 22 in Indianapolis.

pat_haden.jpgThis week, Haden sat down with SC TV to update the Trojan Family on the state of the appeal for an upcoming episode of Project Trojan.

Here is a preview of what he said:

"We will be going to Indianapolis at the end of January for our appeal with the NCAA.  We are going to talk about why we believe we should not be penalized as harshly. 

"I am not terribly optimistic that we are going to win the appeal.  If you look at it statistically, about 10% of appeals win. 

"Having said that, we feel like we have some very good points to make.  We are going to put our best foot forward and hope for the best, but we probably will not know for quite some time after that."



The State of Troy: Happy Holidays!

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Each month, we interview USC athletic director Pat Haden to keep you up to date on all the happenings around Heritage Hall.

water-polo-championship.jpgQ.) How impressive was the men's water polo national championship, their third straight and the first of your tenure as AD?

It is awesome for Jovan Vavic and his staff to win three straight.  I could not be happier to win the first one under my watch and hopefully many more will follow.  It is a sport that I knew very little about before I got here.  I had probably been to one water polo game before I became athletic director and now I have been to about 20.  These guys are just studs and it is really fun to watch.  All the games were close, especially the national championship game, so it was a great way to close the fall season.

volleyball-Final4.jpgQ.) How exciting was the women's volleyball run to the Final Four?

Mick Haley and his staff have done a great job with those women.  They are really a fun group to be around.  If any of our fans or friends of USC have a chance to spend time with the women, you will come away impressed.  With a young team, I am a little bit surprised that we got this far, but because we did, I was disappointed that we got dominated by Cal.  Beating Stanford to get to the Final Four was awesome though.  Mick has a great knack for developing his talent, so we are going to be very good again next year.

Stepheson-TX.jpgQ.) Are you pleased with how the men's basketball program has persevered coming off a season of typically debilitating sanctions?

They are a lot more fun to watch now than they were last year.  They are an entertaining team with our freshman guards and now Jio Fontan is back.  To beat a Texas team and should have/would have/could have beat a #3 Kansas team, it shows they are competing at a very high level, but we have to get over the hump.  We are never going to be satisfied by losing, so I was really pleased to see the way they bounced back to knock off a ranked Tennessee team on the road.

Q.) Using women's basketball as the example, why do you encourage tough non-conference scheduling?

With some players out injured, Michael Cooper and his staff have done a great job with a cadre of freshmen that play really well together.  We schedule tough games and I think that is the right thing to do.  Most of our fans do not want to come in and see third tier opponents.  I would love to play a home-and-home with Connecticut.  You find out how good you are and where you need to go to be as good as Connecticut.

Q.) Since Frank Cruz was hired as the head baseball coach, it seems like the alums and fans have rallied around him.  What's your take?

There is a lot of optimism surrounding Frank Cruz and this program.  I have not met one person that said a bad thing about Frank.  My observation of Frank is that you cannot work any harder than he is to improve the team.  He has done it with recruiting and changed the attitude of the program.  Are we going to go from last to first?  Probably not, but we are going to be much better than we were a year ago.

4-USC-All-Sports.jpgQ.) How can the average fan leave their legacy by making a small donation to the new athletics and academics building?

We are so thankful for all our supporters whether it is $1 or $1 million.  Each dollar is used very wisely around here in development.  We need a lot of $1 and $10 and $50 gifts.  We want the Trojan Family to help in any way they can, which will allow us to finish this project.  We are going to break ground, but we still have a long way to go fundraising wise.  We welcome all contributions great and small.  We have world-class athletes and we are trying to deliver world-class facilities.

Pat_Haden.jpgQ.) What's your holiday message to the Trojan Family?

To the Trojan Family, I want to thank you for all the support that you have given this year and forever.  I am most appreciative of all the well wishes that I have received.  We want to be sure to thank our Trojans in the armed services for all that they do for this country.  Our whole athletic department wishes everyone a happy and healthy holiday season!  And we look forward to seeing everyone come out and support our teams this winter and spring.  I promise, it will be exciting and they will not be disappointed.




The Innovator

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While USC is known as a "football school," where would the sport of basketball be without legendary Trojans head coach Sam Barry?

Barry Sam head shot.JPGBarry left his mark at Troy by coaching three sports (basketball, baseball and football) simultaneously, but his national legacy is on the hardwood as one of the great innovators in hoops history.

When he started coaching the game (came to USC in 1925), the rules stated that both teams jump at center after every made basket or free throw similar to a center ice face-off after every goal in hockey.  However, Barry is credited in basketball history as being the primary person responsible for changing that rule, which led to the free flowing game we all enjoy today.

Also, Barry tutored Tex Winter in the principles of the triangle offense, which the retired Bulls and Lakers assistant would perfect at Phil Jackson's side in the NBA.

So, while you are glued to the TV this Christmas watching the Lakers run their patented triangle offense against the Miami Heat, think of Sam Barry, and be thankful that every Kobe Bryant fadeaway is not followed by a jump ball. 

Barry Sam on sideline.JPG




Cromwell Lake

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After a nice brief power outage here at Heritage Hall, I can post this picture of Cromwell Field Lake.

USC Storm Watch 2010!!
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"The U"SC Connection

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Former USC tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator Brennan Carroll has been hired by the University of Miami  to assume the same role on Al Golden's new staff.

Carroll will join former Trojans' defensive line coach Jethro Franklin, who worked under Golden at Temple last year and will keep the same role with the Hurricanes.

Carroll took this year off from coaching football, but he worked under his father at USC for eight years, six as a full-time assistant.

During his tenure, he was known as a tenacious recruiter and helped tutor TE Fred Davis during his 2007 Mackey Award winning season.

brennan_carroll.jpg




Prior to Yankees

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I forgot to mention this last week, but former USC Golden Spikes Award winner Mark Prior signed with the New York Yankees to a minor league contract for this upcoming season.

usc_prior.jpgPrior's odyssey ironically started with the Yankees, who drafted him out of high school, but he bypassed the bigs to embark on a storied college career, including his memorable 2001 campaign at Troy.

After a meteoric rise to stardom with the Chicago Cubs, Prior's career was nearly ended with constant injury issues, but he's back on the bump again.

Now, he's been given one more chance to don the pinstripes and revive a career that seemingly had no ceiling just a few years ago.




AB to Senior Bowl, Cameron to Shrine Game

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USC RB Allen Bradford was not one of the original four Trojans invited to the Senior Bowl, but his showstopping performance against UCLA has reportedly put him over the top.

Bradford was officially invited to compete in the annual All-Star game, according to teammate Shareece Wright, who will also play in the game.

Bradford will join Wright, OL Kris O'Dowd and WR Ronald Johnson on the roster.  Stanley Havili was invited as well, but he is recovering from shoulder surgery.

Also, TE Jordan Cameron has been invited to play in the East-West Shrine Game, according to Daily News writer Scott Wolf. 

For more on Bradford, click here to watch his senior exit interview for FREE on SC TV!

Or, relive his monster night against UCLA...







USC 65, Tennessee 64

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A few stats and points and then a word or two from Jio...

  • The Trojans were due.  Heck, they were overdue.  After a gut-wrenching loss to Kansas, they deserved to see an opponent's buzzer beater clank off the back iron.
  • While many schools prefer to use the non-conference to pad their win totals with easy home games, Kevin O'Neill chose to build his team's character with four tough road games.  In all, USC went 1-3, but look at the growth.  On Saturday at Kansas, freshmen Maurice and Bryce Jones combined for two points and played timidly.  Having learned from their experience, they combined for 26 points and 10 rebounds in a bold display.
  • Why do coaches avoid hostile road games?  Tennessee shot 20 more free throws than USC.
  • Alex Stepheson played 39 minutes.  At 6'10" 250 lbs., that's impressive.
  • The third big man will be a key to the Trojans' season.  With Nikola Vucevic in foul trouble, Marcus Simmons, Garrett Jackson and Bryce Jones split time as the power reserve.  Jackson's development would be a huge boost to a thin team.
  • Click this link for the post-game press conference!
  • Here's Jio Fontan with Rob McPherson...





Kiffin Inks 3 More

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USC head coach Lane Kiffin announced the signing of three more early enrollees today as the Trojans continue to add depth to their depleted roster.

Dallas-Kelley.jpgOL Jeremy Galten (San Mateo JC), LB Dallas Kelley (Chaffey JC, photo right) and long snapper Peter McBride (Chapparal High School) will all strengthen the Trojans squad at positions of need.

Click here for more info on the student-athletes.

With the departure of Tyron Smith, Kris O'Dowd and Butch Lewis from the offensive line, Galten (6'4" and 285 lbs.) will provide immediate help.  Kelley (6'0" and 230 lbs.) should do the same for a linebacking corps that will miss Malcolm Smith and Michael Morgan.

Last year, USC had no recognized back-up long snapper, so Peter McBride should slot in behind junior Chris Pousson.

The Trojans have now signed nine early entrants, who will be available to start practicing during spring football.


March to Madness: Locker Room Speech

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In the latest FREE episode of March to Madness, SC TV takes you inside the locker room as we break down the art of the pre- and post-game speech with men's basketball head coach Kevin O'Neill.

Click here to watch for FREE on SC TV!!!

We bring you both the dramatic and hilarious side to Coach KO as he gets the team fired up or delivers a stern reality check.

(Photo by Josh Moser)
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USC vs. Tennessee

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Storylines abound tonight as USC men's basketball heads to Knoxville for a key non-conference encounter.

Can the Trojans bounce back from a crushing defeat at Kansas?

What kind of atmosphere will the Vols' fans create in the wake of Lane Kiffin's departure?

Can Kevin O'Neill snatch a huge victory at the place he used to call home?

Only one way to find out...

Tune in this evening at 4 p.m. pacific time on PRIME TICKET HD for the game or listen to the LIVE audio on USCTrojans.com.

Here are KO's final words to the troops after today's shoot-around...







USC to Study Heart Rates for NFL

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NFL Charities has granted the USC Keck School of Medicine $100,000 to study heart rate behavior in professional and USC football players.

Keck.jpgThis will be the first investigative study into how the heart responds to the intense emotional stress and physical pressure of NFL games.

"We hope that this study will create a safer playing field for all athletes," said Dr. Leslie Saxon, who is the chief of cardiovascular medicine at the Keck School and will head up the study.

The study will break down heart rates of elite NFL players by body mass index, player position and age and then compare the data to USC's football players.

For more info, click the USC or NFL Charities release below:
USC Health Release.doc

NFL Charities Release.docx



Morning Papers (12/21/10)

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As the holidays approach, the USC beat writers are still on the trail...

Bounce Back

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Throughout the early part of the season, Kevin O'Neill stressed to the media that Jio Fontan had the ability to transform his team.

On the court, they would benefit from his toughness and playmaking ability.

Against Kansas, he keyed the second half run with driving buckets and was trusted with the ball down the stretch, but the Trojans fell just short.

Now, O'Neill will rely on the other attribute for which he has endlessly praised Fontan...his leadership.

USC's battle with Tennessee Tuesday night will be a gut check for a team that took some emotional body blows just two days ago.

Here is Fontan talking about the need for a bounce back performance inside Tennessee's Thompson-Boling Arena...






Kent Carter Passing

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Former USC LB Kent Carter died last week after a motorcycle collision in Orange County.

Kent Carter.jpgCarter, 60, lettered in football in 1970 and '71 and went on to play a season with the New England Patriots.

After his football career, Carter served as an LAPD officer for nearly 30 years.

"Kent was the most gracious, warm and considerate individual I have ever met," Lt. Andrew Neiman of Emergency Operations Division told a myFOXla.com.

He loved his family, loved life and was looking forward to a wonderful retirement in a year," Neiman continued.  "His passing will create a huge void in the department."

The funeral is Tuesday (12/21) at Calvary Chapel Golden Springs in Diamond Bar. 




Hostile Houses

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USC men's basketball showed great guts and determination battling back at Kansas last Saturday only to fall short by two points.

If they had upset the #3 team in the country, they would have ended KU's 64-game winning streak at Phog Allen Fieldhouse, which currently leads the NCAA.

Instead, the Trojans are faced with the daunting task of needing a win as they enter Thompson-Boling Arena, which will undoubtedly be filled with 21,000 Vols enraged at the sight of cardinal and gold.

While the teams are tough enough, the Trojans are braving two of the loudest buildings in college basketball, but they could not be any more different.

Phog Allen (top) is a classic gymnasium, while Thompson-Boling (bottom) looks like an NBA arena.

Check out the differences in the two USC shootaround pics below...

(Photos by Rob McPherson)
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Projans: NFL Week 15

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Coming down the stretch, the Trojans look like they'll have two playoff QBs...

LoJack.jpgHeisman Worthy

Lawrence Jackson, DE, Lions - 3 tackles and a 14-yard sack in an upset win over Tampa Bay

LoJack has found the best form of his career in the last two months and now has a personal best six sacks on the season.  After being drafted in the first round by the Seahawks three years ago, he was shipped to Detroit by Pete Carroll this offseason and the move has galvanized the former USC star. 


All-American Caliber

Mark Sanchez, QB, Jets - 19/29 for 170 yards and a 7-yard rush TD in a much needed win

David Buehler, PK, Cowboys - 4/5 on field goals for 15 points plus a 39-yard game-winner

Terrell Thomas, CB, Giants - 6 tackles, a forced fumble and a pass defended in a loss

Matt Cassel, QB, Chiefs - 15/29 for 184 yards and 1 TD to keep the Chiefs in first place

Rey Maualuga, LB, Bengals - Led team in tackles as the Bengals topped the Browns


NBA Projan One-on-One

Which finish from earlier this season was more impressive: Nick Young (top) or DeMar DeRozan (bottom)?










Tyron Smith Wins Morris Trophy

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USC RT Tyron Smith was named the best offensive lineman in the Pac-10 by his fellow conference defensive linemen.

The Morris Trophy is a unique award because the Pac-10's starting offensive linemen vote for the conference's best defensive lineman and vice versa, so Smith was picked out by the men he battled in the trenches with all season.

Oregon State DT Stephen Paea was named the best defensive lineman of the year.

Smith missed just one game this season and anchored the right side of a unit that allowed only 18 sacks.  He was also named to the All-Pac-10 First Team.

The offensive line half of the Morris Trophy is a USC dominated fraternity with Trojans collecting honors in 11 of the 31 seasons.

Smith officially declared for the NFL Draft last week, so he will not be returning for his senior season.

Tyron-Face.jpg




Brad Budde Headed to Rose Bowl Hall

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Legendary USC offensive guard Brad Budde will be inducted into the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame this year for his contributions to the Trojans' 1977, '79 and '80 New Year's Day victories.

brad-budde.jpgBudde was USC's first Lombardi Award winner in '79 and he was a consensus All-American that same season.

He'll join the Pasadena Tournament of Roses class of 2010 with former Iowa head coach Hayden Fry and Purdue RB Leroy Keyes.

The induction ceremony will take place Thursday, December 30 at a Noon luncheon at the Pasadena Convention Center.

YOU ARE ALL INVITED!

Click the following link to fill out a ticket application! 
HOFIC Invite - All Member.pdf 




Women of Troy Tourney

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The USC women's basketball team came back to beat Colorado Saturday at the Women of Troy tournament at Galen Center.

Here are all the pics as our scholar-athlete of the week Briana Gilbreath led the way with 14 points...

(Photos by Pierson Clair)




3-Points: Kansas 70, USC 68

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Compiled by USCTrojans.com blog contributor Ben Weiss...

A gritty effort by the Trojans against the No. 3 team in the nation falls just short. The three main storylines from today's game in Lawrence, KS...

  • The much-anticipated debut of Fordham transfer Jio Fontan went more or less as expected. It had been a year since Fontan had played at game speed, and it showed a bit early on in the contest. He turned the ball over twice and looked a little winded in the early going, but hit his stride in the second half. On back-to-back possessions down the stretch, Fontan connected on a three-pointer and converted an and-one layup that was part of a 13-2 run that gave the Trojans their first lead of the game. "My nerves weren't as crazy as I expected. Not my best start, but in the second half I got more under control and started taking the right shots," Fontan said. With five seconds left and the Trojans trailing by one, the junior guard caught an inbounds pass on the right sideline and was called out of bounds. "That's just how it goes sometimes," Fontan said of the call. "We have to look at not putting ourselves in the position where one call can make us lose." After the game, Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor had high praise for his former high school teammate. "I'm looking forward to good things from Jio," Taylor said. "He's a great player. He's my man and I wish him the best of luck."
  • The hot hand of Donte Smith played a crucial role in the Trojans' second-half run. With just over two minutes left, Smith buried a trey from the corner that caused the USC bench to erupt as the team took a two-point lead, 67-65. His five threes and six-for-eight shooting overall helped him pace the Trojans offense with a team-high 20 points. His shooting allowed USC to stretch the Jayhawks' defense and give more space for Alex Stepheson and Nikola Vucevic to work. Over the past two games, Smith has shot 10-16 from deep, and every one of his five threes today provided a spark for the Trojans that helped counter the raucous Allen Fieldhouse crowd. "I'm just playing with confidence," Smith said. "We played way harder than they did in the second half, we just didn't grab a few rebounds and it cost us the game."
  • Before the start of the game, head coach Kevin O'Neill used Kansas's basketball tradition as a benchmark of what the USC program hopes to achieve. He told his players that in order to attain that level, they have to play and beat teams with great prestige. In the post-game press conference, O'Neill noted that the team was only a couple of Kansas offensive rebounds away from winning the game. Against one of the best teams in the nation, in a historic arena with crowd noise that reached 118 decibels, the Trojans should come away from this game with their heads held high. Kansas head coach Bill Self praised USC's toughness, calling them "one of the better defensive teams we've played all year." Unlike the Jayhawks, who have been on the better side of close games during their 65-game home winning streak, the Trojans are still working on closing out tight contests. "You have to learn how to close out games," Maurice Jones said. "We've lost a couple games down the stretch by two or three points, so we just have to learn how to finish out games."
Click here to watch Coach O'Neill's post-game presser. Click the YouTube video below for player of the game Donte Smith...



STUDENT-Athlete of the Week: Briana Gilbreath

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Each week, we switch the emphasis to the left side of the hyphen and focus on a USC scholar athlete.

Thumbnail image for bri laugh.jpegName: Briana Gilbreath

Sport: Women's Basketball

Class: Junior

Major: Human Performance (Minor in Health Promotion and Nutrition)

GPA: 3.2


Jordan Moore (JM):  You are a Texas girl.  At 6'1", are you living proof that everything is bigger in Texas?

Briana Gilbreath (BG): Most definitely! Everything is bigger in Texas, especially the food! Huge portions, something I miss everyday!

JM: You are minoring in Health Promotions and Nutrition.  Does that mean Texas BBQ is not on the diet plan?

BG: I might not suggest this for anyone else, but as for me, it is most definitely in my diet plan, especially when I go home.

Gilbreath-sisters.jpgJM: You get to play everyday now with your sister Stefanie.  As kids, were you competitive or did you always play on the same team and beat everybody else?

BG: We were competitive for a few years, but she would always beat me, so I decided if I couldn't beat her, I might as well join her. That's when we started playing together and beating everyone else!

JM: You were the Vice President of "Athletes Pressing Beyond Excellence," which is about expanding your horizons beyond athletics.  What are some fun things that you have enjoyed around campus that you never would have before?

anna_deavere_smith.jpgBG: I have enjoyed plays held at Bing Theater, going to see speakers such as Anna Deavere Smith (photo right) and I was a delegate for the Presidential Inauguration.

JM: Another focus of APBE is to prepare you for life after your athletic career.  If you could not be an athlete, what would you want to do for a living?

BG: I would love to be a sports nutritionist and either own my own business or work for a professional or collegiate team. 
 
JM: Greatest USC women's basketball player ever: Cheryl Miller or Lisa Leslie?

Cheryl_miller_USC.jpgBG: Wow, well they are two different players. They are both great and they both left their marks on SC, but Cheryl does have two NCAA rings J.

JM: Does Michael Cooper ever make you watch old Lakers' videos? 

BG: He used to until we pulled up a video of him getting posterized by Dr. J (Julius Erving)!

JM: I heard that one of the women's volleyball players wears a size 13 men's shoe.  Who rocks the biggest shoes on the women's basketball team?

BG: I have no idea, maybe Jacki Gemelos with a 12.5.

JM: Who would you like to play one-on-one with on the men's basketball team?

BG: I don't know about any of the players, but I have seen coach KO working out and I feel like he might put up a good fight.

JM: Big tournament this weekend (Women of Troy Basketball Tournament)!  If the Trojan fans pack Galen Center, do you promise to put on an entertaining show?

BG: Yes! We are a fun team to watch, we bring a lot of energy and have a team full of talent. We are a sight to see!

JM: Can I get a guaranteed double-double?

BG: I will try my hardest, but can't guarantee it... Don't be surprised if it happens!

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Fangupo to Transfer

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USC reserve DT Hebron "Loni" Fangupo is transferring to BYU, where he will walk on to the Cougars' football team.

"Loni made a family decision to transfer and walk on at BYU," head coach Lane Kiffin said.  "We wish him and his family the best, and we appreciate his participation in our program."

Fangupo came to USC in 2009 from Mt. San Antonio Junior College, but his first season was cut short by a broken ankle.  He played in seven games this past season, recording four total tackles.

Due to the NCAA sanctions imposed earlier this year, he will not have to sit out a year just like the other former players that transferred this fall.

(Photo by Jon SooHoo)
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Scouting Report: Kansas Jayhawks

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Game #11: USC (6-4) at #3 Kansas (9-0)

Date/Time/TV: Saturday, December 18 at 9 a.m. pacific on ESPN (HD)

Thumbnail image for Bill-Self.jpgThe Jayhawks

Head Coach Bill Self

The head 'Hawk inherited a Big 12 dynasty from Roy Williams, but he's done little to knock them off path.  In fact, he brought a championship to Lawrence, which Williams could not do.

"Play together...share the ball...play hard...great defensively...discipline," Kevin O'Neill described the typical Bill Self coached team.  "He's done a great job everywhere he's been and he's won a national title."

Morris-twins.jpgThe Morris Twins

Kansas is led by twin big men Marcus and Markieff Morris, who combine to score 29 points per game and control the glass (15 rpg) in only 47 minutes.  To make things worse, they are also proficient distance shooters, especially Marcus, who has made 10/19 from three this season.

"They are both excellent players," Kevin O'Neill said about the Philadelphia twins.  "They are both capable scorers and they both play extremely hard."

Tyshawn-Taylor.jpgTyshawn Taylor

Jio Fontan's high school teammate is finally blossoming in his junior season.  While he came out of high school as a top small forward, he reportedly considering transferring from Kansas because he was struggling so badly at times.

"He's gotten a lot better," O'Neill said.  "Everybody has dreams of being this and being that early in their career, but he's a guy that's been patient and worked hard and he has gotten a lot better."

josh-selby.jpgJosh Selby

The game's X-factor will be making his college debut.  While he is a McDonald's All-American guard, he could either be rusty or try to do too much.

"It will be his first home game, so I'm sure their crowd will be very excited that he's coming back," O'Neill expects Selby will add to the pregame hype.  "He's a guy that is probably going to be a first round draft pick."

Trojan Keys

Survive the Elements

O'Neill alluded to the raucous crowd and influenced officiating that haunts road teams at Phog Allen Fieldhouse, but what can you do?  Either Alex Stepheson and/or Nikola Vucevic will likely get into foul trouble, so Garrett Jackson and Marcus Simmons will need to step up and play big.

Game Pressure

If USC can hang in for 35 minutes, the Jayhawks will likely get tight in the final five.  The heavily-favored home team will feel the pressure of potentially being upset, whereas the unheralded Trojans can seize their big moment.

The Gerrity Factor

Without tape or a real scouting report, a highly ranked Tennessee team was blown away in Mike Gerrity's first game last season.  While this game is on the road, Jio Fontan could have a similar effect.  O'Neill's squad will benefit from Fontan's leadership, driving ability and toughness. 

Kansas beat USC in 2006 and '07.
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A Room with a View

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After supporting the women's volleyball team at the Final Four in Kansas City last night, the men's basketball squad is back in Lawrence, Kansas, preparing for the #3 Jayhawks.

Remember, the game tips at 9 a.m. pacific time on ESPN (HD) Saturday, so you can enjoy your breakfast with a little Trojan hoops.

The team is staying right next to campus.  From their hotel, they have a pretty good look at KU's football stadium.

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The Rule of Three

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For whatever reason, it's hard to beat a team three times in one season.

Stanford learned that lesson when the Trojans upset them in the quarterfinals after dropping the two regular season match-ups.

Last night, USC women's volleyball were soundly beaten in the Final Four by a Cal team that they had mastered in both conference meetings.

Here is head coach Mick Haley speaking positively about the future of this program, which brings back nearly every contributor next season.






From 35,000 Feet...

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USC senior men's basketball captain Alex Stepheson gives the scouting report for the USC women's volleyball game against Cal from his seat on the flight to Kansas plus he lets us in on the "art of seduction."

Interview by Rob McPherson...




Curse of '06

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"We call it the 'curse of '06'," Allen Bradford said to me during his senior exit interview last week.  "We came in talking.  We came in hyped."

Pete Carroll brought in the #1 recruiting class in the nation in 2006, according to Rivals.com, but it did not turn out that way.  When adversity hit, only the strong survived to cross the finish line with their classmates.

As the final members pass through USC, here's what happened to the class of '06.

(Rankings according to Rivals.com)

5-Stars

Allen Bradford, LB, Colton  

Came in as the #1 linebacker in the country, but ended up an embattled running back lost in the shuffle until breaking out near the end of his redshirt-junior season.

C.J. Gable, RB, Sylmar

He was the first USC true freshman ever to start at tailback for a season opener, but his production maxed-out as a redshirt-sophomore.

Vidal Hazelton, WR, Chatham (VA)

He was a key cog in the '07 offense (50 catches), but disappeared as a junior and transferred to Cincinnati, where he blew out his knee in his only season.

Stafon Johnson, RB, Los Angeles

His career was right on track until a weightlifting bar accidentally fell on his neck during his senior season.  His heroic battle to regain his voice and his career has become the stuff of Trojan legend.

Taylor Mays, DB, Seattle

"The exception," as Bradford called him.  He started for four years and was drafted in the 2nd round.


4-Stars

Kenny Ashley, RB, Venice

He did not qualify academically at USC, so he transferred to El Camino JC.  At last look, he had signed on to play at Ohio University.

David Ausberry, WR, Lemoore

He caught 26 balls as a redshirt freshman, but he would never top that mark in his final three seasons.

Stanley Havili, RB, Salt Lake (UT)

The warrior switched to fullback and started as a freshman until he broke his leg.  He ended up as a rare five-year starter.

Zack Heberer, OL, San Pedro

He started five games over his five years, but was held back by a shoulder separation and turf toe.  In his final two seasons, he was a key special teams contributor.

Jamere Holland, WR, Woodland Hills

He transferred to Oregon as a freshman, but he would eventually be dismissed from the team.

Butch Lewis, OL, Denver (CO)

He bounced around the offensive line for five seasons as a starter and back-up, but never was able to secure one spot.

Anthony McCoy, TE, Fresno

He started his final two seasons, but a sprained ankle derailed a breakout senior campaign and then he was academically ineligible for the Emerald Bowl.

Emmanuel Moody, RB, Coppell (TX)

Started four games as a true freshman, but transferred to Florida, where he served mostly in a reserve role, but he won a BCS championship.

Michael Morgan, LB, Dallas (TX)

Broke out as Rey Maualuga's fill-in for one game in '08, but his best season was '09 when he led the team with 13 tackles for loss. 

Alex Parsons, DT, Irvine

Switched to offensive line as a sophomore and started at guard for the majority of his final two seasons.

Antwine Perez, DB, Camden (NJ)

He transferred to Maryland after his freshman season and became a solid starter for the Terps.

Derek Simmons, DE, Fairfield

Switched back and forth between defensive and offensive line before settling in as a back-up defensive tackle and end this season.

Joshua Tatum, LB, Oakland

He transferred to City College of San Francisco and then Missouri, where he still has one more season of eligibility.

Shareece Wright, DB, Colton

The hard-hitting corner missed most of two seasons with a neck injury and academic ineligibility, but he bounced back as a senior leader this season.


3-Stars

Walker Ashley, DT, Eden Prairie (MN)

According to my research, he never played college football again after leaving USC after his freshman season.

Garrett Green, QB, Sherman Oaks

He distinguished himself mostly as a scholar-athlete, but he had a memorable TD pass in the Rose Bowl win over Illinois.

Vincent Joseph, DB, Long Beach

He left USC after his sophomore season due to academic issues and has played arena football since.

Travon Patterson, WR, Long Beach

Mostly a spring sensation, Patterson took advantage of the NCAA sanctions to transfer to Colorado.

Alfred Rowe, DB, Long Beach

He transferred to Mt. San Antonio College after being ruled academically ineligible.

Gerald Washington, TE, Ranch Cucamonga

The JC transfer was a back-up and special teams player during his Trojan career.


0-Stars

David Buehler, DB, Santa Ana

He was an unrated recruit, who turned into the Dallas Cowboys kicker.  Good to end on a positive story...

Moody made an SI cover at USC, but he ended up as one of 10 transfers in the class of '06.
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XMas Spirit of Troy

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Happy Holidays from the USC Marching Band!

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Women's Volley Time

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The USC women's volleyball team is making final preparations for their Final Four showdown with Cal tonight.

The Trojans beat the Bears twice this season, but they went five sets at Galen Center and four in Berkeley, so expect another thriller in Kansas City.

The game will be aired LIVE on ESPN2 (HD) at 6 p.m. pacific and we'll have LIVE audio as well on USCTrojans.com.

Also, here is a great Pac-10 feature on USC setter Kendall Bateman!

The Women of Troy prepare inside the Sprint Center.
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Crash Course: Jio Fontan

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The Fordham transfer has been at USC for a year now, but Jio Fontan will get his first taste of Trojan action Saturday at #3 Kansas.

Name: Jio Fontan

Position: PG/SG

Size: 6'0" and 175 lbs.

Hometown: Paterson, NJ (St. Anthony's High School)

Scouting Report: Fontan is a natural point guard, but he'll play off the ball when Maurice Jones is on the court.  While he is probably USC's best distance shooter, Fontan's strength is his ability to create on the drive for himself and others.

KO Quote: "I'm sure he'll try to do too much, but that guy is the least of my worries," Kevin O'Neill said about his expectations for Fontan's debut.

More Jio: His incredible high school journey is detailed in the documentary The Street Stops Here. 

Here is Jio Fontan talking about his emotions and expectations before the Kansas game...






Updated Link: FREE USC iTunes App

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Note: We replaced the iPhone link with the new version!

The USC app is now FREE and improved for smart phone users across all platforms.

Click here to download for iPhones!

Click here to download for BlackBerry!

Click here to download for Android!

The iTunes app includes up-to-the minute headlines, live scoring for all sports, box scores, stats, complete rosters and exclusive SC TV videos.

Or, you can download the paid USC athletics app for just $4.99, which includes all the above content plus LIVE GAME AUDIO.

The Blackberry and Android apps provide gametracker services, so you are always up to the second on all your USC athletics action.

Some screenshots from the iPhone app.
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Rose Bowl Legacy Float

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As part of the 2011 Rose Parade, USC will be prominently featured on the Rose Bowl Legacy float commemorating the greatest games in the history of the stadium.

The Trojans have won more Rose Bowl games than any other school.

USC is featured five times on the float, including the 1939, 1948 and 1963 Rose Bowl games, the 2006 BCS championship game and the 2006 USC-UCLA rivalry game.

Here's a sneak peek...

Rose Bowl Float.jpg




USC Football Signs 6

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On the first day the Trojans can sign spring enrollees, Lane Kiffin and his staff added six new student-athletes, including four high school players and two junior college transfers.

The six players and "several more," according to Kiffin, will enroll for the spring semester and participate in spring football practice.

The early entrants are highlighted by two prep quarterbacks, Max Wittek of Mater Dei High School and Cody Kessler from Bakersfield.  They are considered California's best two QBs in the class of 2011, according to Rivals.com.

The other high school signees are PK Andre Heidari and FB Soma Vainuku.  Given the Trojans are losing PK Joe Houston and FB Stanley Havili, both players are expected to compete for playing time immediately.

From the juco ranks, USC added OL David Garness and CB Isiah Wiley.  Both will have two years of eligibility remaining.

Click here for more information on the six early enrollees.

All six players will not count against the scholarship limits set for the fall class of 2011, which will be announced on February 2. 

Like Matt Barkley and Matt Leinart, Wittek continues the Mater Dei QB pipeline.
Max-Wittek.jpg 


Senior Exit Interviews

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I sat down with five USC football seniors, who had a story to tell, to give them an opportunity to look back at their Trojan careers and put the big moments in perspective.

All these videos are FREE courtesy of SC TV!

Here are links to the five exit interviews produced by Rob McPherson:

Here is the senior tribute video that played at the football banquet produced by Rich Rodriguez:





Casey and Smith Headed to NFL

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USC juniors' Jurrell Casey and Tyron Smith have officially declared for this year's NFL Draft.

Jurell-Case.jpg"We wish Jurrell and Tyron the best as they move on to a professional career and we thank them for their great contributions to the Trojan football program," said head coach Lane Kiffin today.

Casey (photo right) led USC in tackles for loss this season, while Smith started 12 of 13 games anchoring the right side of the offensive line.

"We realize there are many factors that go into a player's decision to leave early or stay in school, and we'll always support the decision that he and his family make," Kiffin continued.

"I felt it was the right time to move on," said Casey today.  "It just feels right and I'm looking forward to competing at the next level.  My time at USC was great.  I accomplished as much as I could while I was here and I think it's prepared me well for the NFL."

Tyron-Face.jpgCasey was named team MVP at the annual football banquet last Sunday, while Smith (photo left) won the offensive lineman of the year award.

"Seeing great players leave early for the NFL is something we're very accustomed to at USC and it's something that will continue to happen in the future," Kiffin said.  "We'll continue to bring in great players like Jurrell and Tyron who will have opportunities to leave early for the NFL."

The defensive line will be boosted by the healthy return of DT Christian Tupou, while Kevin Graf would be next man up at right tackle on the current depth chart.

"It was a great experience to play under Coach Kiffin for a year," said Casey.  "I feel that with the talent we have coming back, the Trojans are going to do great things in the future."

Tyron Smith was not available for comment.

(Above photos by Jon SooHoo, below by Pierson Clair)
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Woods is Freshman All-America

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USC freshman phenom Robert Woods was recognized today by Sporting News, Rivals.com, CollgeFootballNews.com and Phil Steele as a 2010 Freshman All-American first teamer. 

Woods has already been named the Pac-10's Offensive Freshman of the Year, so the neophyte continues to collect honors after 65 catches, 792 yards and 6 TDs in his debut season as a receiver.  Plus, he was one of the nation's best kick returners, including a USC season record 971 kickoff return yards.
(Photo by Jon SooHoo)
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Women's Volley All-Americans

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While they prepare for Thursday's Final Four showdown with Cal, three USC women's volleyball stars were named to the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) All-American teams.

Junior outside hitter Alex Jupiter made the first team after earning third team honors last season, while sophomore setter Kendall Bateman landed on the second team.

Junior middle blocker Lauren Williams is a third-team All-American.

As you can see, the Trojan trio are all underclassmen, so Mick Haley's squad was really expected to be dominant next season, but they are just two wins from the 2010 national championship.

The Trojans are on second tomorrow night with an approximate start time of 6 p.m. pacific (8 p.m. local central time).  The match will air live on ESPN2 (HD) and ESPN3.com plus we'll have LIVE audio on USCTrojans.com.

Jupiter is the first USC 1st-team All-American since Asia Kaczor in 2007.
Alex Jupiter 9.jpg  




Morning Papers (12/15/10)

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News of Trojans on the way out plus DeMar rising to new heights...









Cradle of Coaches

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Last year, Sports Illustrated ranked the USC head football coaching position as one of the top four destination jobs in college football.

However, if you cannot be the head man at Troy, it's a great career move to jump on as an assistant. 

Currently, there are seven college football head coaches, who were once assistants at USC, including Lane Kiffin.

Plus, there are four NFL head coaches with Trojan ties.

Here is the list with their current school and the years they assisted at USC:

sarkisian_usc.jpgDave Doeren, Northern Illinois ('98-'99)

Bill Snyder, Kansas State ('66)

Bob Toledo, Tulane ('76-'78)

Mike Riley, Oregon State ('93-'96)

Steve Sarkisian (photo), Washington ('01-'03, '05-'08)

Lane Kiffin, USC ('01-'06)

DeWayne Walker, New Mexico State ('01)


NFL Head Coaches

Pete Carroll, Seahawks (Former USC head coach)

Jack Del Rio, Jaguars (Former USC linebacker pictured below)

Jeff Fisher, Titans (Former USC safety)

Norv Turner, Chargers (Former USC assistant coach)

lb-jack-del-rio-usc.jpg




Pac-10 Celebrates Women's Athletics

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The Pac-10 conference is celebrating 25 years of women's athletics in 2010-11 by creating this microsite on the achievements of the female pioneers.

Among the greats, USC legends like Barbara Hedges, Mick Haley, Tina Thompson, Debbie Green, Paula Weishoff and Lisa Love are profiled.

Click the link below to download the full release!

Pac-10 celebrates 25 years release.pdf

Here is a promo featuring USC women's basketball stars Lisa Leslie and Tina Thompson...






On the Red Carpet...

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Our USC FlipsIt crew dipped into the fashion field as they had the USC football players explain their banquet outfits.

Produced by Stephanie Graves and Ben Weiss...






USC Baseball Golf Classic Interviews

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Between drives and nine irons, I caught up with three former USC greats today (scroll down for a full celebrity pic).

First, I talked to two-sport star and NFL hall of famer Anthony Munoz, who played for legendary head coaches Rod Dedeaux and John McKay John Robinson (my bad!) at USC.



Second, here is Jacque Jones in support of Frank Cruz...



Finally, lefty Randy Flores is looking for a pitching gig and admiring golf swings.







Trojan Baseball Golf Classic

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If support leads to victories, new baseball head coach Frank Cruz is well on his way to leading USC back to the glory days.

At the annual Rod Dedeaux USC Baseball Golf Classic this morning, all the greats turned out, including legends like Fred Lynn, Bill "Spaceman" Lee, Don Buford, Anthony Munoz and Steve Kemp. 

Plus, the younger generation of Trojan greats like Geoff Jenkins, Jacque Jones, Bret Boone, Morgan Ensberg and Randy Flores are strongly behind their former hitting coach.

Here is the celebrity crew before their tee times:

(From left: Bret Boone, Geoff Jenkins, Gabe Alvarez, Frank Cruz, Randy Flores, Morgan Ensberg, Jacque Jones, Anthony Munoz, Walter Dawkins, Don Buford, Steve Kemp, Unknown*, Fred Lynn, a seated Pat Haden, Tom House, Terry Dedeaux, Bill Lee, Justin Dedeaux and J.K. McKay)

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Projans: NFL Week 14

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A familiar hairdo at the top...

troy-polamalu-hair.jpgHeisman Worthy

Troy Polamalu, DB, Steelers - 2 interceptions, including a 45-yard pick-six

He did it again.  Polamalu picked off his former college teammate twice, including a game-tying touchdown return, which propelled the Steelers to victory.  He did not run over Carson Palmer on his way to the end zone this time, but he made an acrobatic leap to stay inside the pylon. And, he did it all with a bad ankle.


All-American Caliber

Clay Matthews, LB, Packers - Picked up his 13th sack of the season in a loss to the Lions

Lawrence Jackson, DE, Lions - LoJack dominated the Pack with a sack and several pressures

David Buehler, PK, Cowboys - Good for nine points, including a 50-yard field goal

Deuce Lutui, OG, Cardinals - Paved the way for Arizona's 211 yards rushing and 43 points

Sam Baker, LT, Falcons - Continues to protect Matt Ryan and the best record in the NFC


Monday Night Football

In a modified doubleheader, Steve Smith makes his return to the New York Giants as he and Terrell Thomas battle the Minnesota Vikings.  Brian Cushing will hope to lead the Texans to an upset win over Baltimore.

Here is Polamalu at his best...






USC Football Banquet Highlight

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Scroll down for last night's awards and pictures...

Here is our video tribute to the 2010 season produced by Rob McPherson...







Photo Gallery: Football Banquet

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Scroll down to read the award winners...

Here is the night in pictures from Pierson Clair:




2010 USC Football Banquet Awards

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The USC football team, staff and supporters gathered tonight inside Galen Center to honor the Trojans' 2010 accomplishments.

Here are this year's award winners:

Mike McKeever Memorial Award (Team MVP) - Jurrell Casey, DT, Junior

Davis-Teschke Award (Most Inspirational) - Stanley Havili, FB, Senior

Marv Goux Award (UCLA game MVP) - Allen Bradford, RB, Senior

Bob Chandler Award (Outstanding Underclassman) - Robert Woods, WR, Freshman

Jack Oakie "Rise and Shine" Award (Longest Run) - Allen Bradford's 73-yarder vs. UCLA

Trojan Football Alumni Award (Highest GPA) - Augusto Alonzo, LB, Sophomore

Chris Carlisle Courage Award - Christian Tupou, DT, Senior

Harry & Marion Keiper USC Lifters Award - Christian Tupou and Stanley Havili

Joe Wilson Walk-On Award - Tony Burnett, DB, Sophomore

John Dye Offensive Lineman of the Year - Tyron Smith, RG, Junior

John Dye Defensive Lineman of the Year - Jurrell Casey, DT, Junior

Service Team Defensive Player of the Year - George Uko, DT, Freshman

Service Team Offensive Player of the Year - D.J. Morgan, RB, Freshman

Special Teams Player of the Year - Chris Galippo, LB, Junior

John McKay Scholarship Award (Most Competitive Underclassman) - Robert Woods

Jurrell Casey took top honors. (Photo by Jon SooHoo)
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Photo Gallery: USC vs. NAU

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Jon SooHoo was roaming Galen Center yesterday for the men's hoops win over Northern Arizona.

Here's what his camera picked up...




Women's Volley Presser

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Here is the post-game press conference after USC's epic win over Stanford...




Women's Volley Headed to Final Four

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In an epic five-set thriller, USC women's volleyball overcame Stanford today to advance to the Final Four in Kansas City.

The Women of Troy were down two sets to one, faced a match point in the fifth, but triumphed in the end over the Cardinal, who had beaten the Trojans in the two regular season meetings.  They will face the winner of Cal and Washington on Thursday.

We'll have a celebratory video later, but here are the conquering heroes...

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3-Points: USC 60, NAU 52

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Donte Smith's career-night propelled the Trojans past a solid Northern Arizona team...

  • The senior captain found his hottest hand when USC needed it the most.  Smith went on a personal 14-point run, including four three-pointers to turn a three-point game into a Trojan victory.  "Donte really stepped up for us," Kevin O'Neill said.  "That's kind of an understatement.  What he did tonight won the game for us."  Smith finished with a game-high 22 points.
  • On the other end, Alex Stepheson and Nikola Vucevic erased an undersized Lumberjacks team any time they stepped in the paint.  The "Trojan Towers" combined for eight blocks.  "Sometimes, I can't lie, KO tells us to keep them in front, but I let my man go because I know Alex is going to block it," Smith joked.  "I love having two 6'10" dudes back there."  In the last two games, the Trojans have rediscovered their beastly identity inside.
  • When USC walked into the post-game locker room, assistant coach Dieter Horton looked at Jio Fontan and said, "It's on now.  Is it on?!?  It's on!"  After a year sitting on the sidelines, the Fordham transfer is finally eligible and O'Neill stated bluntly that he will start against Kansas next Saturday.  Marcus Simmons made a stronger case tonight for the starting wing spot than freshman Bryce Jones, who struggled defensively and was saddled with foul trouble.  "If he's on the premier player, he never makes a mistake," O'Neill said about his defensive stopper Simmons.  However, Jones is a better finisher on the wing than Simmons, who struggled scoring on the fast break today.
  • Here is Donte Smith on the best performance of his USC career...
 



Jake Olson Tee

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As you do your holiday shopping at the USC Bookstore on campus or online, check out the new Jake tee, which raises money for the Out of Sight Faith Foundation.

Jake Olson has become an inspirational member of the USC football program in recent years thanks to the courage he has shown faced with losing both of his eyes due to cancer.

The Out of Sight Faith Foundation provides support and resources to other blind children. 

Click here to buy the shirt online!






Schedule Scouting

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As we all know, the Trojans are banned from bowling this year, so you can spend your holiday college football season scouting next season's opponents.

USC's 2011 foes combined to go 83-61 this season and 7 of the 12 are headed for postseason play.  In comparison, the Trojans' 2010 opponents went 82-75 (13 games instead of 12 next year), so the schedule should be more difficult next season.

Here is next year's schedule with this year's records and bowl dates:
 
9/3 - vs. Minnesota (3-9) - Hired new head coach Jerry Kill, formerly at Northern Illinois

9/10 - vs. Utah (10-2) - Vegas Bowl vs. Boise St. on 12/22

9/17 - vs. Syracuse (7-5) - Pinstripe Bowl vs. Kansas St. on 12/30

9/24 - at Arizona State (6-6) - Beat two FBS teams, so not eligible for a bowl

10/1 - vs. Arizona (7-5) - Alamo Bowl vs. Oklahoma State on 12/29

10/13 - at Cal (5-7) - Playing home games at AT&T Park next season

10/22 - at Notre Dame (7-5) - Sun Bowl vs. Miami (FL) on 12/31

10/29 - vs. Stanford (11-1) - Orange Bowl vs. Virginia Tech on 1/3

11/5 - at Colorado (5-7) - Hired new head coach Jon Embree, a Buffaloes alum

11/12 - vs. Washington (6-6) - Holiday Bowl vs. Nebraska on 12/30

11/19 - at Oregon (12-0) - BCS Championship Game vs. Auburn on 1/10

11/26 - vs. UCLA (4-8) - Evaluating coaching staff...

The early season showdown with Utah will test the Trojans in 2011.
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STUDENT-Athlete of the Week: Peter Yobo

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Each week, we shift the emphasis to the left side of the hyphen and have an illuminating conversation with a Trojan scholar-athlete.

peter-yobo.jpgName: Peter Yobo

Sports: Football and Track & Field

Class: Junior

Major: Economics

GPA: 3.34


Jordan Moore (JM): Born in New Jersey, but raised in Ghana.  Do you think of yourself as American or Ghanaian?

Peter Yobo (PY): This may sound weird but i think of myself as "worldian." My life has and continues to be influenced by the experiences I've had from all the countries and people I have come in touch with.

ghanafans.jpgJM: I guess the real question is who were you rooting for in the World Cup last summer when the U.S. battled Ghana in the 2nd round?

PY: Funny thing is I was rooting for both countries until they had to face off, when of course I put my Ghanaian flag over my back.

JM: What part of African culture do you miss most now living in the States the last four years?

PY: I miss the extended family system that is found in every African culture, where seeing your uncles, aunts, grandparents, cousins, etc. was an everyday affair and in most cases the whole extended family lived in one big house.

JM: You started a website called iStandAbove.  Tell me about it...

PY: In most third world and developing countries, the youth are not encouraged to fully pursue their dreams due to financial, social, economic, and political reasons. It came as a shock to me when I realized that the same problems were prevalent here in the United States, so I decided to start an organization that would empower the youth by making available academic, sporting, and relief resources to enable them to attain their short and long-term goals and also equip them with iStandAbove's three core values; leadership, teamwork, and creativity through sustainable programs and projects in order to prepare them for their future role as world leaders.

Santa-Yobo.jpgJM: What inspired you to take on the challenge of helping kids in need?

PY: It's weird because as a kid in Ghana, my mother and sister would always complain about me giving my toys and pocket money to my friends who didn't have any. As I grew older I realized that the desire to make life better for others became stronger and overpowered my desire for material things and that's the reason it's been easy for me to invest my time and efforts into empowering the youth.

JM: You're an economics major.  How do you fix California's budget, so you can help kids right here in LA?

PY: It's quite simple, invest in education for long term gains. And also, provide incentives to high school graduates and college students to further their education. Many politicians promise jobs, but what use are the jobs when you do not have a qualified work force?

javelin.jpgJM: You are a two-sport athlete at USC.  What makes a great javelin thrower other than strength?

PY: Technique. With javelin it's technique first, then strength.

JM: Why did you decide to walk-on to the football team?

PY: I needed and wanted to compete. Football is the one sport where brute force and passion make the game. Before I walked on, a few of the guys told me it would be the most emotional sport I would ever play. They were definitely right about that, but being able to channel those emotions into performance is what becomes important.

JM: What's next for you?

PY: Capturing and making the best of opportunities that come my way. And leading the fight for equality of all people especially those in Africa.

JM: How do you say "Fight on" in Ghanaian?

PY: In the context as it is used here it is "Kaa kpa knor" which means "don't stop fighting."  Closest I could get...

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3-Points: NAU Prep

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The Trojans are trying to avoid a letdown against Northern Arizona.

  • NAU could be Rider all over again.  They will run the court and bomb threes if the Trojans are looking ahead to the showdown with Kansas or back at their big win over Texas.  "We went through that already against Rider after we beat a good Santa Clara team, so I think everybody's mind is focused on Saturday," senior captain Marcus Simmons said. 
  • Simmons has been labeled USC's defensive-stopper and he added to his reputation against Texas by holding 'Horns superstar Jordan Hamilton to 12 points on 4/13 shooting.  Northern Arizona has a legitimate go-to scorer in Cameron Jones, who declared for the NBA Draft temporarily last year.  "KO (Kevin O'Neill) tells me what kind of player they are and how many points they average," Simmons described his preparation.  "And then, I'm a competitor, so my job is to keep them from getting to their average and that's what I'm going to do."
  • This will be USC's last game without junior guard Jio Fontan, who is eligible to play against Kansas next Saturday.  The Fordham transfer is expected to start at shooting guard, which means either Bryce Jones or Simmons is headed to the bench.  "If I'm the 6th man or Bryce is the 6th man, we both agreed that we will do whatever it takes to help the team win."
  • Freshman Bryce Jones rolled his ankle in practice today, but he expects to be ready for Saturday.  Here's a chance to meet the Taft Woodland Hills product...







Morning Papers (12/9/10)

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More like afternoon papers... We're busy filming exit interviews with six of the big seniors, which we'll have for you next week.

More from today's basketball practice in a bit... (Photo by Pierson Clair)
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Project Dream

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Anyone who brings a new or used blanket to Saturday's USC vs. Northern Arizona game will receive two complimentary tickets to the game as part of the Trojans' support for "Project Dream," which benefits homeless shelters throughout the Los Angeles area.

Please bring the blankets to the Galen Center box office.

After the game, the players will sign autographs for fans on the practice courts adjacent to the arena.

The game starts at 1 p.m..  Tickets are only $10.  Students in FREE with ID (as always!).  Click this link to purchase!

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"Runnin' with the Pac" at USC

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The weekly Pac-10 show Runnin' with the Pac will originate at USC this week.

The broadcast will air and re-air across the FSN channels.  You can see it first on FSN West on Friday at 6:30 p.m..


USC Hoops Intro

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Fresh off their biggest win of the season over Texas, USC men's basketball returns to Galen Center Saturday at 1 p.m. to host Northern Arizona.

If you cannot make it to the game, you can watch it LIVE on USCTrojans.com.

Here is the new 2010 basketball intro with the Inception theme song...






Cutting Edge Compliance

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The USC athletic department is now using cutting-edge technology from FieldLevel Inc. to monitor coaches' communications and contacts with recruits in an effort to further demonstrate the Trojans commitment to compliance.

This revolutionary web-based software system gives coaches improved communications with recruits, instant warnings of potential recruiting violations, real-time compliance reports and immediate oversight by school officials.

"FieldLevel is at the forefront of athletic management software," said USC athletic director Pat Haden.  "The feedback from our coaches, compliance officers and administrators has been very positive.  Moving forward, we have great infrastructure for cohesiveness and efficiency."

Click here for the full press release.

The founders of FieldLevel are both Trojans, Brenton Sullivan and Kai Sato.

Haden and USC president Max Nikias with J.K. McKay.  (Photo by Jon SooHoo)
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Projans: Nick Young in LA

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When Nick Young was balling at USC, he would watch Kobe Bryant tapes on gameday for inspiration.

Now in the NBA, the Washington Wizards sixth man gets to square off against his idol twice a year.  Last night at Staples, he provided the inspiration dropping 30 points on the back-to-back champs, including this divine spin move.

(Note: The Lakers still won by seven and Kobe went for 32)






Cunningham in College Hall

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Sam "Bam" Cunningham was inducted into the college football hall of fame at the National Football Awards Banquet last night as part of a 14-man class.

Cunningham amassed 1,579 yards during his USC career, but he is best known for the 135 yards he gained on Bear Bryant's Alabama defense in 1970, which led the Crimson Tide to integrate their program the following season.

Click here for a link to a full story on the induction.

Here are some photos by Gene Boyars of Cunningham and a fellow Trojan Lynn Swann (bottom), who was inducted into the college hall in 1993...

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Water Polo Highlights

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Final Lane Kiffin USC Football Weekly

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The season finale of Lane Kiffin USC Football Weekly will air tonight on PRIME TICKET HD at 10:30 p.m.. 

This week's show features the head coach reviewing the season, a one-on-one with Matt Barkley, highlights of men's water polo's national championship three-peat and much more.

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All-Pac-10 in '10

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Five Trojans were honored by the conference today in the final season of the Pac-10 before Colorado and Utah join the fray next year.

USC WR Robert Woods was named Offensive Freshman of the Year, while RT Tyron Smith, DT Jurrell Casey and kick returner Woods were named first team all-conference.

DB T.J. McDonald was listed on the second team alongside punt returner Ronald Johnson.

QB Matt Barkley, WR Ronald Johnson, TE Rhett Ellison, FB Stanley Havili, ST Chris Galippo, OG Khaled Holmes, C Kris O'Dowd, CB Nickell Robey and WR Robert Woods were all honorable mention.

Here is the complete list of award winners and the All-Pac-10 First Team:

Offensive Player of the Year: QB Andrew Luck, Stanford

Defensive Player of the Year: DT Stephen Paea, Oregon State

Offensive Freshman of the Year: WR Robert Woods, USC

Defensive Freshman of the Year: DE Junior Onyeali, ASU

Coach of the Year: Chip Kelly, Oregon

Offense

Tyron-Face.jpgQB Andrew Luck, Stanford
RB Jacquizz Rodgers, Oregon State
RB LaMichael James, Oregon
FB Owen Marecic, Stanford
WR Juron Criner, Arizona
WR Jeff Maehl, Oregon
TE David Paulson, Oregon
OL Chase Beeler, Stanford
OL David DeCastro, Stanford
OL Jordan Holmes, Oregon
OL Jonathan Martin, Stanford
OL Tyron Smith, USC

Defense

Jurrell-Face.jpgDL Jurrell Casey, USC
DL Cameron Jordan, Cal
DL Stephen Paea, Oregon State
DL Brooks Reed, Arizona
LB Akeem Ayers, UCLA
LB Mason Foster, Washington
LB Casey Matthews, Oregon
DB Omar Bolden, ASU
DB Chris Conte, Cal
DB Rahim Moore, UCLA
DB Talmadge Jackson, Oregon

Special Teams

PK Nate Whitaker, Stanford
P Bryan Anger, Cal
KR Robert Woods, USC
PR Cliff Harris, Oregon
ST Chike Amajoyi, Stanford

(Photos by Jon SooHoo)
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Morning Papers (12/7/10)

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And now we transition to the offseason...

USC signed OF/1B Ryan Garvey, son of famed Dodgers and Padres 1B Steve Garvey.
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A.B. See Ya!

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Looking back at his career yesterday, Allen Bradford tweeted, "If there's a lesson in my story, it's never to quit."

The road to the Rose Bowl was hardly smooth for the fifth-year senior, but he got his fairy tale ending.

Check out this video produced by Rob McPherson compiling Bradford's big night with the post-game celebration and reflections.






Trojan Flashback: UCLA

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Click this link to go inside USC's big win over UCLA featuring locker room video, sideline highlights and the final celebration.

Here is a preview...





Turn the Page

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The toughest year in USC football in a decade is in the books. 

With just days left in 2010 and no more games to play, Lane Kiffin and his staff finally get to shift their attention to the future after spending the year managing the past.

The Trojans finished 8-5.  A failure to the head coach who sets the bar at 2004-05 heights.

"We don't ever want to have this feeling again.  This isn't what USC football is about," Kiffin summarized the season.

Kiffin-Sideline.jpgHowever, any grade has to be given on a curve.

Kiffin took over a team that had gone just 9-4 last season, including embarrassing beatdowns against Oregon and Stanford. 

After focusing on restoring discipline to the program throughout spring practice, the Trojan Family was rocked by summer sanctions, which knocked USC out of postseason play and created free agency among the upperclassmen. 

Kiffin had done well to keep a top recruiting class together after Pete Carroll's untimely departure to the NFL and he managed to secure the top line of the depth chart at Troy despite a healthy handful of defections after the NCAA's hammer blow.

Going into fall camp, the talent was in place, but the pool was far too shallow to withstand a 13-game grind. 

The soft schedule raised early season expectations, but the Pac-10's NFL QB's Jake Locker and Andrew Luck exposed the conference's worst pass defense.  The Trojans rallied to win three of the next four, including a signature win at Arizona, before dumping a game in Corvallis and a real crusher to the rival Irish.

After salvaging a win over UCLA to end the season in smiles, Kiffin summed it up best.  "In a weird way, there is some sense of relief.  We can go on to year two now.  We can address our needs in recruiting and build this thing back."

As the calendar soon turns to 2011, hope and optimism are popular feelings around Heritage Hall. 

The NCAA appeal could lighten the load, but even if it does not, a fresh batch of Kiffin's recruits will hopefully recreate the atmosphere of competition that was replaced by survival on the practice field this season.

USC will enter 2011 with a Heisman candidate at quarterback and some new explosive toys for the offensive play-caller like redshirts WR Kyle Prater and RB D.J. Morgan.  Plus, the offensive line will return four starters.

Defensively, with Monte Kiffin's system in place, the players should be mentally free to play faster next season led by defensive ends Nick Perry, Wes Horton and Armond Armstead. 

As long as there are scholarship restrictions, depth will be the overlying issue, but the worst is behind this program and help is on the way.

National signing day is just 57 days away...
(Photos by Jon SooHoo)
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Gauntlet Update (12/6/10)

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USC football's 28-14 win over UCLA continued a dominant fall for the Trojans over their crosstown rivals.

As we shift into winter, USC has a commanding 30-5 lead over UCLA in the Gauntlet standings.

In fact, UCLA's only win over USC, so far this school year, was a 6th place finish in the women's cross country Pac-10 championships, which bested the Trojans 10th place result.

Otherwise, USC won football (28-14), women's soccer (1-0 at the Coliseum), swept women's volleyball and swept all four men's water polo contests!

Next up, women's basketball matches up at Pauley Pavilion on January 8 and men's hoops square off inside Galen Center on January 9.

Beat the Bruins! (Photo by Jon SooHoo)
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Projans: NFL Week 13

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The week's best from another outstanding NFL Sunday for Trojan alums...

TroyPolamalu-warrior.jpgHeisman Worthy

Troy Polamalu, DB, Steelers - 4 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble and a pass defended

The well-coiffed warrior was at it again last night in Pittsburgh's rivalry game with the Baltimore Ravens.  Down 10-6 in the final minutes, Polamalu stripped Joe Flacco of the football and set up the game-winning touchdown to move the Steelers into first place.


All-American Caliber

Lofa Tatupu, LB, Seahawks - 26-yard interception returned for a TD in a Seattle win

David Buehler, K, Cowboys - Made three field goals, including the overtime-winner from 38

Terrell Thomas, CB, Giants - Another INT (5 on the season), a forced fumble and 5 tackles

Mike Patterson, DT, Eagles - 3 tackles and a sack in the Thursday night win over the Texans

Sedrick Ellis, DT, Saints - 3 tackles, a sack of Carson Palmer and a forced fumble


Monday Night Football

In a potential classic, Mark Sanchez will try to lead the New York Jets past their divisional rivals' the New England Patriots and into first place.

The "Sanchize" led a comeback win over the Pats earlier this season.
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Weekend Wrap (12/3-12/5)

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It was a great weekend to be a Trojan...

  • The men's water polo team claimed the first national championship of the 2010-11 school year and the first of Pat Haden's tenure as athletic director.  Peter Kurzeka led the way with four goals, while freshman Nikola Vavic added a hat trick.  Click here for the full recap!
  • Women's volleyball will head to Dayton, OH, for the Sweet 16 after beating New Mexico on Friday and San Diego in four sets on Saturday.  They will face Indiana this Friday with a possible Saturday showdown looming against Stanford for a spot in the Final Four. 
  • This Friday's game against the Hoosiers will be broadcast on DaytonFlyers.com and we'll have LIVE audio on USCTrojans.com.  If the Trojans win, the Elite Eight clash will be televised nationally Saturday on ESPNU.
  • In case you missed it, Lane Kiffin got his first win over UCLA as a head coach to close out the season in style.  Allen Bradford had a remarkable night and was all class in the post-game locker room.
  • The men's basketball team bounced back from a tough road trip to shock #19 Texas last night.  Scroll down for pictures and interviews...
  • The Trojans have another home game coming up Saturday against Northern Arizona at 1 p.m..  Get your tickets now or watch it LIVE on USCTrojans.com.
  • At halftime last night, USC added another banner to the Galen rafters.  John Rudometkin was a 2nd team All-American and led the men's basketball team to the outright conference title in 1961, which is still the last time the Trojans won the league by themselves.  Here is last night's tribute to a great Trojan...







Photo Gallery: USC vs. Texas

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Check out the upset win over #19 Texas at Galen Center last night, including the retirement of John Rudometkin, through the lens of Pierson Clair...






Trojan Three-Peat

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USC men's water polo defeated Cal 12-10 in overtime today to grab their third straight national championship for head coach Jovan Vavic.

The coach's son Nikola Vavic netted a hat trick for a Trojans team that does not have a single senior, so they already have their eyes on a 4-peat.

Check out the celebration video below starting with an ecstatic coach!




3-Points: USC 73, Texas 56

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The Trojans earned a much-needed upset of the #19 Texas Longhorns at Galen Center. 

  • USC finally played like a Kevin O'Neill coached team.  After a road trip of ducking under screens and playing soft on the glass, the Trojans played the kind of ferocious defense that was their staple last season.  "We've found out what's important to us and that's playing great defense," head coach Kevin O'Neill said (full presser on USCTrojans.com).  "If you'd been at practice this week, you'd know we were going to play well defensively."
  • The game played out similarly to the home upset of Tennessee last year.  While Texas did not press like the Vols, they believed their superior athleticism would win the night, so they played the Trojans straight up.  "They really just tried to play man-to-man defense without any help.  Thankfully, we were able to take advantage of that," said senior captain Alex Stepheson.
  • Going into the season, the "Trojan Towers" Stepheson and Nikola Vucevic were supposed to be the pillars of an otherwise young USC team.  However, the true freshman back court was the story early and the Trojans lost their identity, but they found it again tonight.  The two bigs combined for 38 points and 20 rebounds.  "Our plan for the year is to go inside with the ball," O'Neill stated plainly.  "That's who we're going to be.  We need to run our offense through our post guys." 
  • Finally, here's a great bonus quote on Stepheson from his head coach.  "Alex is the only guy on our team who has played with a pure heart every single game."  Here's Stepheson in his own words...





Lane Kiffin UCLA Call

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Here is Lane Kiffin's final media conference call of the 2010 season. 

Click the file below to listen in...
Kiffin-UCLA-Call.mp3

(Photo by Jon SooHoo)
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Photo Galleries: USC vs. UCLA

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Here are three exclusive photo galleries as Jon SooHoo documents the Trojans big win over their crosstown rivals...








Trifecta!

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USC men's water polo won their third consecutive national championship today by outlasting Cal 12-10 in an overtime thriller in the pouring rain.

We'll have some post-match videos later, but here is a wet, but ecstatic squad of national champs!

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USC 28, UCLA 14

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10 final looks into the '10 season finale...

  • As Lane Kiffin said to the team and the media after the game (click here for his post-game presser), 119 out of 120 college football teams had the carrot of a bowl game this season.  The Trojans were the only Division-1 or FCS team without postseason motivations.  How much of a factor did that play in the season?  Kiffin does not know nor do I.  While this team has been oft criticized, it's worth remembering that they had nothing to do with the sanctions and the resulting transfers.  They played for nothing but Trojan pride this season and in the end, they achieved that goal.
  • Allen Bradford served as a metaphor for this team.  Perseverance won out over inconsistency.  After five years of waiting patiently for his moment, Bradford found himself taking center stage on the biggest night of the season.  "I just thought if we were going to go down, let's go down with our guy who has been here a long time, who has done a lot of good things for us," Kiffin explained his decision to start Bradford, who he had basically benched for ball-security issues.  USC did not go down.  Instead, A.B. accounted for 259 yards and 2 TDs in an emphatic victory.
  • In the post-game locker room, Kiffin introduced Malcolm Smith as "the UCLA killer."  After a messy fake field goal attempt, the Trojans were on their heels in a 7-7 game with the Bruins driving.  Just like last year, the game turned on a Smith defensive touchdown.  The opportunistic senior scored three times in the final 13 games of his career.
  • Once ahead, the defensive line was able to close it out.  Starting in camp, Kiffin praised the front four as the best unit on the team, but they were never really healthy enough to control games as the coach had hoped.  However, they bossed the show tonight led by Armond Armstead who had two sacks and batted down two passes.  "We knew it was going to be physical going in, but we didn't know we were going to dominate like we did," Armstead said.  "We played really well."
  • In the back of the defense, Nickell Robey has slipped under the radar for the last month or so.  After struggling to find his feet early in the season, the true freshman was the most consistent corner down the stretch highlighted by tonight's performance, which included an interception and a forced fumble.  "I just really wanted to play hard for the seniors because they did not have an opportunity to play for a bowl game," Robey said.   "It's a great feeling knowing that I have come along way from the beginning of the season to now and improved so much."
  • Statistically, Matt Barkley was not good tonight.  The 2011 Heisman candidate (never too early to start the hype!) was just 15/26 for 198 yards with 2 interceptions, but he showed his leadership and guts by playing through a painful injury.  "That sack really got me," Barkley said referring to a first half play, which reaggravated the high ankle sprain.  "I needed to be out there.  The guys needed me and I wanted to be out there with everything in me."
  • Ronald Johnson had to leap some mental hurdles tonight after the crushing drop against Notre Dame.  The senior stayed in the locker room during warm-ups per coach's orders because he expends so much energy before the game.  A well rested RoJo contributed a team-high five catches, but most importantly, he rewrote the ending to his USC career.  "It feels great to come out with a victory in my last game," Johnson said.  "It has definitely been a pleasure to play at USC."
  • What is going on at UCLA?  In a bizarre scene after the game, Rick Neuheisel took the microphone to speak to the fans who had not yet filed out of the Rose Bowl.  The remaining crowd mostly booed the Bruins head coach, who promised to do better next year.  They have a lot of good looking athletes, but they are headed in the wrong direction finishing 4-8 after last year's bowl victory.
  • We'll talk more in the coming weeks about the future of the USC program, but I found this Kiffin post-game quote interesting.  "In a weird way, there is some sense of relief," he said about finishing his first season in charge.  "We can go on to year two now.  We can address our needs in recruiting and build this thing back.  We don't ever want to have this feeling again.  This isn't what USC football is about." 
  • Obviously, the coach is disappointed by an 8-5 record, but given the inherited circumstances, finishing third in the Pac-10 is hardly embarrassing.  Now, this staff can show off their real prowess in recruiting.  As much as getting blue-chip prospects like Robert Woods and Robey, Kiffin wants to fill the reserve ranks with quality depth, which was missing from this depleted roster.
  • I will miss this senior class.  Despite their relative youth, they had wisdom and perspective that made for great interviews and conversations.  Allen Bradford is a shining example of character and class.  Just see for yourself...





Photo Gallery: USC Women's Volley 1st Rd.

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The Women of Troy pounded New Mexico in three sets last night to advance to the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament today at Galen Center at 5 p.m..

Here are some photos of last night's win taken by Pierson Clair...




Friday Night Video: UCLA

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Tonight, the Trojans watched the great players that have come before them in the crosstown rivalry as they prepared for their night under the Rose Bowl lights.

Video produced by Rob McPherson...




UCLA Jock Rally

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The team participated in its final jock rally of the 2010 season amidst a festive atmosphere.

Using a few of the decorations on the Christmas tree in the middle of Heritage Hall, players danced to the beat of the Trojan Marching Band and got fired up by speeches from Head Coach Lane Kiffin and senior captain Malcolm Smith.

Here's the video, edited by Ben Weiss...


The Senior Tunnel

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In Trojan tradition, the underclassmen form a tunnel for the seniors to run through as they exit the practice field for the final time.

See for yourself (as I manage not to get trampled)...






Teague Egan Decertified by NFLPA

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Teague Egan, the USC student who became certified as an NFL agent and then gave a golf cart ride to Trojan tailback Dillon Baxter that led to Baxter's one-game suspension for accepting an impermissible benefit, had his certification revoked today by the NFL Players Association.

Click here to read the full release from the NFLPA.

"Today we received word from the NFLPA that it has decertified Teague Egan as an agent," said USC vice president of compliance Dave Roberts.  "We appreciate that the NFLPA let us know about its action promptly so we could alert our players, including those who are soon to be draft eligible. 

"Although the NFLPA has decertified Egan, USC would still view any benefit received from him by a current student-athlete to be impermissible under NCAA agent rules."




2010 Game #13: USC at UCLA

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5 ways to win the grand finale...

Pride

We can talk strategy in the next four keys, but this is a rivalry game with nothing at stake other than winning for yourself, your teammates and your university.  Without a bowl game, this is it for USC's seniors.  Yesterday, Lane Kiffin talked about "the competitive edge" of a senior in his final games.  Tomorrow, they'll have their chance to close it in style.

#116

Over 11 games, the Bruins have proven that they cannot pass.  Only four teams are worse through the air and they all run the option.  UCLA's Pistol has fired blanks this season, but the Trojans' pass defense is ranked #112 in the nation, so it's weakness versus weakness.  If Monte Kiffin's defense can make Norm Chow's offense one-dimensional, USC will enforce its will in the Rose Bowl.

Willis Reed

For those of you short on NBA history, Reed limped out to start Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals inspiring the New York Knicks to win it all.  On that night, Reed made just one basket.  The Trojans will need Matt Barkley to complete more than one pass Saturday, but his presence alone is shocking to anyone who thought they saw his season end in a heap in Corvallis.  Barkley's guts should serve to motivate his teammates.

Redemption Song

Ronald Johnson probably doesn't feel lucky this week, but his gift is that he has one more chance.  While Kiffin talked about how scarring the Notre Dame drop can be to a player, RoJo can help the healing process with a big game against the Bruins.  Motivation won't be an issue for him this weekend, but he needs to be careful that he is not too hyped.

Finish

Lane Kiffin has bemoaned the team's inability to play the final two minutes of a 60 minute game.  Against a 4-7 Bruins team, they should have it sewn up in the first 58.  Either way, when the bell rings to signal the end of Round 13, the Trojans need to be the last ones standing. 

(Photo by Pierson Clair)
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NCAA Volley on SC TV

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You can watch all the postseason women's volleyball action for FREE this weekend on SC TV by clicking this link.

Tonight, USC will host New Mexico at Galen Center at 7 p.m..  The game follows Long Beach State and San Diego, which starts at 5.

The winner of both matches will play on Saturday at 5 p.m. at Galen Center. 

Click here for the direct link to USC/New Mexico!

Click here for the direct link to Long Beach State/San Diego!

Women's volley senior Geena Urango at last night's pep rally.  (Photo by Pierson Clair)
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March to Madness: Recruiting

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Check out the latest FREE episode of March to Madness as we profile recruiting coordinator and associate head coach Bob Cantu, who has managed to survive three coaching changes during his tenure at USC.

Click this link to watch the new episode FREE on SC TV!

Here is the open...






Photo Gallery: Conquest Pep Rally

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Check out all the photos from last night's big pep rally as the Order of the Torch, USC Song Girls, Trojan Dance Force, women's and men's volleyball teams, football players and Spirit Leaders jacked up the crowd in anticipation of the crosstown rivalry game.

Here's a look at the night through the lens of Pierson Clair...







UCLA Thursday Practice: Notes

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The senior tunnel will happen after tomorrow's walk-thru, but the real practices are over for one season.

  • Matt Barkley expects to start Saturday.  He has not been explicitly told that he is the guy, but he is getting starter reps.  He will wear a special brace to stabilize his left ankle, which is similar to what Troy Polamalu and Matt Leinart wore at USC when they had high-ankle sprains.  "He looked by far the best he's looked since the injury," Lane Kiffin said about his QB.
  • Win or lose, a smiling Lane Kiffin was assured his job is safe.  "I guess I'm safe...for 48 more hours," said a joking Kiffin, who heard that Pat Haden said Kiffin would be at USC "for a long time" during last Saturday's Notre Dame broadcast.
  • In a serious answer, Kiffin was asked about the similarities of Norm Chow's offense at USC to the Pistol he is running at UCLA.  "I don't see any similarities at all," said Kiffin, who of course learned at the hand of Chow.  "It looks like they went through a wholesale change.  It seems like they are very committed to it."  I find it bizarre that one of the greatest play-callers in the history of college football is starting anew.
  • While NFL fans will be devastated by a lockout next season, the Trojan Family could view it as a gift if it means Jurrell Casey returns for his senior season.  "If there is a lockout, what's the point in leaving," Casey reasoned.  "I'll come back and complete another season and help out the team."
  • Casey kept the great quotes rolling when talking about UCLA.  "I really don't like their colors.  I really don't like Adidas.  It's just something I never liked since I was growing up and I always liked SC."
  • While Casey is not a senior, he realizes that this could have been his last USC practice.  "I think about it everyday actually," Casey admitted.  "Once you leave, it's not really about the team.  It's about yourself and making money for your family.  You don't have that same team atmosphere and you can't enjoy football the way you really want to because you are always working to save your job."
  • Mitch Mustain definitely completed his final practice.  "It was like every other one I guess," said the laid back QB.  "I think everybody is ready to get to the Rose Bowl and play."
  • "I'll be ready to go either way," Mustain said about starting or backing up Barkley.  "I'm ready.  I know the stuff and we'll see what happens."
  • When listing the USC/UCLA player connections yesterday, I forgot to mention brothers Marshall and Malcolm Jones.  Marshall will start at safety for the Trojans Saturday and he'll have his eyes open if the Bruins freshman back comes in his neighborhood.  "If I see him one-on-one, I'm going to try to bring everything I got," said the older brother.
  • Young Malcolm has been doing a little trash-talking with big bro.  "He's been saying he is going to run past me, but I don't think he is," Jones said. 
  • Mrs. Jones is expected to wear both her sons' jerseys with a split down the middle.  "My mom said she likes USC games more, so I'm happy about that."
  • Here is Lane Kiffin on the final practice of 2010...








All-Sports Building - Text to Give!

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Please text "USC" to 85944 and donate $10 to help build the new All-Sports Building. 

To honor your contribution to the future of USC athletics, we are dedicating the walk out to the practice field as Heritage Way to immortalize all the fans who understand that a small contribution can have a big impact.

So, text "USC" to 85944 now and demonstrate the strength of the Trojan Family.  Please be sure to reply "Yes" to confirm your $10 donation.  (Standard text message rates may apply.)

Check out this cool video which gives you a virtual tour of the new building...







Scouting Report: UCLA

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neuheisel.ad.jpgRound #13: UCLA Bruins

2010 Record: 4-7 (2-6 in the Pac-10)

2009 Record: 7-6 (3-6 in the Pac-10)

Series History: USC leads 44-28-7 (Last meeting: Trojans won 28-7 in '09)

Head Coach: Rick Neuheisel (3rd season)

Rick Neuheisel has made some bold predictions (see right) since returning to his alma mater, but he has yet to truly deliver.  He has won just 15 games and made one bowl appearance in three seasons.  In Karl Dorrell's final three years, he won 23 games, including upsetting the Trojans.

Players to Watch: RB Johnathan Franklin (Sophomore, Los Angeles, CA); LB Akeem Ayers (Junior, Los Angeles, CA)

Johnathan "Jetski" Franklin followed Stafon Johnson as the primary back at Dorsey High School just down the road from the Coliseum.  However, Franklin picked UCLA and he has been the bright spot in the Bruins' offense.  UCLA has the 33rd best rush offense in the nation, while Franklin ranks 4th in the Pac-10 in rushing.

Ayers is a future 1st round draft pick.  He is a freak athlete, who made one of the most amazing plays you will ever see last year against Oregon.  The Butkus Award finalist scored three touchdowns last season.

Strength: Power Run

Norm-Chow.jpgNorm Chow (right) and Neuheisel adopted the Pistol Offense this season to jump start their running game and to that end, it has been effective.  When the Bruins have been good (their four wins), Franklin has run for 100+ yards.  In their losses, he has not hit the century mark.  In their signature win at Texas, they ran for 264 yards as a team.

Weakness: Passing Offense

In that same game against the Longhorns, QB Kevin Prince passed for just 27 yards.  In the last seven games, Richard Brehaut has taken over behind center.  He struggled mightily up until last week when he threw for 321 yards on 56 attempts against ASU, which completely diverged from their season long strategy.  The Bruins are ranked 116th in the nation in passing.

UCLA Verdict

The Bruins have lost five of their last six games, which is a disappointing downward spiral for a program that believed they were headed in the right direction after last year's bowl game and subsequent recruiting class.  However, Neuheisel and Chow have been unable to ignite an offense despite their considerable coaching reputations.  Defensively, they have big time talents like Ayers and DB Rahim Moore, but they give up over 30 points per game.

USC-UCLA.jpg




Conquest Pep Rally

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The annual pep rally to beat UCLA is tonight at 7 p.m. at McCarthy Quad on campus. 

ThirdEyeBlind.jpgThis year's extravaganza features a performance by Third Eye Blind and the Dan Band plus appearances by the Spirit of Troy, the Song Girls, Trojan Dance Force and much, much more.

The seniors of all the fall sports will be recognized and deliver inspiring speeches to rile up the Trojan Family in anticipation of the big rivalry game.

Click here to read the Facebook invite!




Men's Water Polo NCAA Preview

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What goes into the final preparations for a run at a third consecutive national championship? 

For the men's water polo team, they have to make some crucial grooming decisions.

Here are Zayne Belal and Tobias Preuss discussing their NCAA cuts with associate SID Darcy Couch...




Plus, MPSF Player of the Year Joel Dennerley talks about the Trojans chance of three-peating and requests your vocal presence up in Berkeley...










Women's Volley NCAA Preview

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As the Women of Troy gear up for their Galen Center NCAA Tournament 1st and (hopefully) 2nd round match-ups, associate SID Jason Pommier sat down with women's volleyball head coach Mick Haley to recap the season and break down this team's chances of going the distance.







Morning Papers (12/2/10)

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The beat writers gear up for the big rivalry...







UCLA Wednesday Practice: Notes

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Only one more practice to go this season, hard to believe...

  • The injury situation has not changed much with one headline exception.  Lane Kiffin anticipates having Matt Barkley available Saturday.  He took live reps again today and the head coach was encouraged by his improvement.  "He continues to look better every day," Kiffin said about Barkley.  "I would anticipate him playing."
  • Kiffin has not decided on a starting running back and sounds discouraged by his options.  Allen Bradford has looked the best in practice, but just like the whole season, no one has grabbed hold of the position.
  • Kiffin did not comment on the Cam Newton investigation at Auburn, but he did crack a joke about the shot Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl took at him.  "Obviously Bruce is in some hot water, admitted some trouble, what a better way to excite the Tennessee fans than to start your pep talk with taking a shot at me," said the former Vols football coach, who said Pearl texted him this week.  "I'd do the same thing.  It's called deflection."
  • Earlier today, I posted about all the high school and familial ties in this year's USC/UCLA game.  Marc Tyler knows all about it.  He is the son of famed Bruin RB Wendell Tyler.  "It is kind of divided with my dad's family, but my parents always support me," said the Trojan running back. 
  • He is also close with UCLA freshman RB Malcolm Jones, who took the tailback baton from Tyler at Oaks Christian and played for Wendell Tyler, who is the Oaks' running back coach.  "We all spent a lot of time together and had fun," Tyler said about his dad and Jones.  "I knew Malcolm was going to be a great player."
  • Given his special spot in the rivalry, Tyler is thrilled to be healthy enough to play against UCLA for the first time in his career.  "I just can't wait to get to the Rose Bowl.  I love that field and it's going to be fun."
  • Tyler was a surprise of fall camp, but no starter this weekend is more shocking than Tony Burnett.  The walk-on safety was not even playing football this time last year and now he is slated at the top of the depth chart against for the finale.  Did he see this coming?  "No way!" Burnett said.  "Maybe it was just fate."
  • Burnett was actually a corner up until last week when special teams coach John Baxter and Monte Kiffin conspired to move him to safety.  He opened up Baxter's eyes with his exceptional special teams coverage this season. 
  • His own eyes were reopened to football watching it from the stands last season.  "Some students or other athletes are like 'Wow, that's crazy!  They are really out there hitting each other,'" said Burnett, who is a triple jumper on the track team.  "[But] I knew I could contribute."
  • Burnett got his big chance last week when T.J. McDonald went down with a shoulder injury.  Once the game slowed down for him, he was flying to the ball.  "After about the first three or four tackles, I was like 'OK, I'm out here.  I'm doing this.  Let's go!  Bring it on!'"
  • Burnett echoes the team goals for the week.  "I want to beat the Bruins whatever it takes." 
  • Here is Lane Kiffin sharing some laughs with the beat reporters...






The Players' Rivalry

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Earlier this week, Lane Kiffin said that the USC vs. UCLA rivalry is always more special to current players, who have local ties and relationships with so many players on their rivals' roster.

While most of the USC and UCLA players squared off in high school, some were teammates.  At least a dozen schools have players on both sides that could feature in Saturday's game.

And one school (Edison High School in Fresno) has brothers, T.J. and Tevin McDonald, who will bring sibling rivalry to the crosstown showdown.

Mater Dei trumps them all with eight alums (three Trojans and five Bruins), while Oaks Christian and Notre Dame Sherman Oaks have some of the biggest names.

Here is the compiled list (I'm sure I missed a few):

barkley-MD.jpgMater Dei (8)

USC QB Matt Barkley (photo right)
USC OL Khaled Holmes
USC WR Robbie Boyer
UCLA CB Andrew Abbott
UCLA DB Dylan Price
UCLA WR Andrew Roth
UCLA OL Chris Ward
UCLA TE Andrew Yelich

Edison in Huntington Beach (5)

USC LB Will Andrew
USC OL Martin Coleman
UCLA QB Nick Crissman
UCLA OL Sam Saultz
UCLA LB Jordan Zumwalt

Wes-Horton-ND.jpgNotre Dame Sherman Oaks (5)

USC DE Wes Horton (photo right)
USC LB Shane Horton
UCLA TE Joseph Fauria
UCLA PK Kai Forbath
UCLA CB Jeff Dickmann

Oaks Christian (4)

marc-tyler-OC.jpgUSC RB Marc Tyler (photo right)
USC DB Marshall Jones
UCLA RB Malcolm Jones
UCLA DL Cassius Marsh

Loyola (4)

USC FB Hunter Simmons
UCLA RB Anthony Barr
UCLA DB Librado Barocio
UCLA TE John Young

Long Beach Poly (3)

USC DT Jurrell Casey (photo right below)            
UCLA DT Iuta Tepa
UCLA DB Stan McKay

Thumbnail image for jurrell-Poly.jpgSt. Bonaventure (3)

USC OL Giovanni Di Poalo
USC DB Patrick Hall
UCLA LB Ryan Medina

Punahou (3)

USC OL Abe Markowitz
USC QB Brett Kan
UCLA DB Dalton Hillard

St. Francis (3)

USC TE Rhett Ellison
UCLA DB Dietrich Riley
UCLA QB Justin Posthuma

Edison in Fresno (3)

Thumbnail image for TJ-Mac-Edison.jpgUSC DB T.J. McDonald (photo right)
UCLA CB Tevin McDonald
UCLA CB Courtney Viney

Colton (3)

USC CB Shareece Wright
USC RB Allen Bradford
UCLA Damien Holmes

Compton Dominguez (2)

USC LB Marquis Simmons
UCLA CB Aaron Hester

Corona (2)

USC DB Demetrius Wright
UCLA RB Jordon James
 




Women's Volley Headed to NCAAs

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The Trojan Family has a chance to ignite another memorable USC women's volleyball postseason run this weekend when Mick Haley's squad hosts 1st and 2nd round match-ups at Galen Center.

The Women of Troy will start their campaign with New Mexico on Friday at 7 p.m. and if they win, they'll battle for a spot in the Sweet 16 with either Long Beach State or San Diego on Saturday at 5 p.m..

All the ticket information is on the poster below.   You can walk up on the day of the game to purchase seats or click this link.

You can also watch the games on USCTrojans.com.

WVB-NCAA-FB.jpg




Men's Water Polo Honors

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USC men's water polo goalie Joel Dennerley was named MPSF Player of the Year for his outstanding junior season and head coach Jovan Vavic was named Coach of the Year as he looks to bring a third straight national title to Troy.

Dennerley.jpgThe Trojans were picked to finish fourth in the conference this season coming off back-to-back titles, but Vavic's squad led by supreme shot-stopper Dennerley (right) are headed to the National Collegiate Championships in Berkeley this weekend as the #1 seed.

Also honored, junior Peter Kurzeka was named to the All-MPSF First Team, freshman Jeremy Davie was named to the second team, while Matt Burton and Nikola Vavic were given honorable mention status.

In search of a three-peat, USC will battle St. Francis on Saturday and hope to face the Cal/Loyola Marymount winner in Sunday's final.

If you cannot make it up to Berkeley, you can watch the action here.