|USC Legends News|
(08-11) 04:00 PDT Los Angeles -- There's a lot less sex appeal on the USC practice field these days, and as a result, the sidelines aren't nearly as full of A/B/C-list whatnots. In fact, Thursday, there were none. Only true believers watching the objects of their worship.
Hey, it's 9:50 on a Thursday morning, it's 92 degrees, and the first scrimmage of the preseason was held the day before. What would you call them?
Seems like an ideal situation for a head coach, given how they obsess about the enormous subset of distractions known as the outside world. But Pete Carroll doesn't seem to notice, or care. He's had a busy offseason, but things have finally mellowed out, and now Charlie Weis' press relations at Notre Dame and Oklahoma's revolving quarterback controversy are the topics of the day.
In other words, things are as close to whatever passes for normal in a football coach's head as Carroll could want. It's now down to the fine-tuning, and if it means that Paris Hilton isn't coming around to schmooze John David Booty, well, all the better.
"Every camp has its intricacies, subtleties," Carroll said as he strode back toward Heritage Hall past a lone tuba player and 20 some-odd cheerleaders. "The process of what we do and how we do it, well, it's a little different every year. But the main thing is that our philosophy doesn't change, and if we don't know what we're trying to create, we wouldn't know what you're going to make."
In other words, having the best players, a solid staff, and whatever extra benefits accrue from coaching a powerhouse in Los Angeles makes for good philosophizing. What Carroll does would work well anywhere. It just works better here, even with the off-field misbehaviors and judgmental errors, the hangers-on and the plague of agents so thick that Carroll had to gather them together and warn them off. It isn't the cost of business necessarily, but it is a regular feature for teams that forget how to lose for an extended period of time.
But it's been seven months since SC lost the national championship to Vince Young, and the hugely talented class of Ought-Six has gone on to its next series of stops. It's the loss that was supposed to have ended an era of USC football, except that SC has for the first time ever cut off season ticket sales, will sell out its entire season, and moved the band (make your own cracks here) to the end zone, allegedly for acoustic reasons but probably much more because they were taking up seats that could be sold to the swells.
All that, plus the more elemental truth that nothing ever ends -- the next season comes upon the last one too quickly.
It certainly did for Carroll.
"I had moved past it between the time that it happened and the time I got to the locker room," he said of the 41-38 loss to Texas in the Rose Bowl. "I had to let them know that 19 seconds and one last tackle we didn't make wasn't going to change what we are.
"But there are some losses I've had that I still haven't gotten over. This'll be one of those. It doesn't get in the way of what comes next. Those great challenges allow you to go to the next step."
Yes, a little platitudinous, but the point remains the same -- losing the best game of the new century to date doesn't mean that USC isn't reloaded for the new year. Indeed, while the college football world is obsessing over Weis and Notre Dame, and Oklahoma's quarterback issues, and West Virginia's qualifications for being a national title contender and a lot of other smaller issues, SC is serene in its position -- slightly less noticeable, slightly less dazzling, yet as imposing a national player as ever.
The big question now is whether Booty, the junior quarterback who watched Matt Leinart win the town over for three years, can be the instrument through which SC's next chunk of history can be forged.
"I think his arm might be a little stronger than Matt's," said wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett, who just won his re-eligibility after issues with the NCAA over his rent. "He can get it down the field a little farther."
His command in the huddle will have to be determined, as well as his ability to absorb the intricacies of the offense under full fire. But the Shreveport, La., product is already well behind Leinart in what seems like (but probably isn't) a trivial area -- he isn't a convincing Californian.
"He's still southern," Jarrett laughed. "He wears the shades and all, and I think he likes it here, but he's still got the accent."
"He's a wannabe Californian," Carroll said with an equally wide smile.
So in that way, if no other, the '06 Trojans won't have that Hollywood faux-glow that they had in '05, when the non-Texan world was theirs and their practices drew crowds of TV credits. Everything else might turn out the same, though, which is why Carroll doesn't seem to mind that practices look more like, well, like practice.
OTHER USC FOOTBALL NEWS
USC FOOTBALL NEWS