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Carroll and the 116 dwarfs
On the USC dynasty
By Malamute, Posted 6 January 2005

USC is not just a local sleep problem for Pac-10 coaches; it is now a national nightmare for all the coaches in NCAA Division IA football. By corralling the best of the blue-chip nuggets coming out of California, plus a few national gems, Pete Carroll is on the verge of pulling a John Wooden, whose UCLA teams won all those NCAA basketball titles, using that same recruiting formula.

"'Last night helped,'" Carroll said. "'We had a couple of phone calls last night that were real exciting in recruiting for us,'" Ted Miller reports in this morning's Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Carroll's words sticking in the throats of 116 other commiserating coaches, who may now need treatment for sleep apnea.

“Nobody runs on the Trojans,” we used to say back in the 50's and 60's, in the days of the PCC, AAWU and Pacific Eight conferences. Well, in some years you might have had success in running against USC’s defensive front, but as a general rule in the conference, a coach needed to prepare his team for that fact of life: a Trojan defense that was stingy on the ground.

Influenced by that parsimony, the Pacific 10 became the first passing conference in college football, going 19-4 in the Rose Bowl against the ground-oriented Big Ten, in a period from 1970-1992.

Everyone knows that building a football team starts with its defense. When Carroll assumed the head-coaching job at USC, he said that the USC is no longer “Tail Back U;” it's now, “Corner Back U.”

The Trojans beat Oklahoma and running back Adrian Peterson because they stopped the run, holding Peterson to 82 yards in 25 carries. They forced quarterback Jason White into unfamiliar territory, into passing when everybody at the Orange Bowl knew he was going to pass, including the Trojans’ secondary, which picked White off three times. Previously, White had been intercepted only 6 times in 12 games.

Will Pete Carroll be as successful as John Wooden, who won 10 national champions over a period of 12 years (1964-1975)? Injuries are too much apart of football for that to ever happen, but Carroll might just three-Pete by winning the national title in 2005. *

However, there is some disturbing news for Trojan fans. According to the Los Angeles Times this morning, the owner of the San Francisco 49ers is ‘desperate’ to get Carroll at a ‘big price,’ having just fired Coach Dennis Erickson and General Manager Terry Donahue.

After securing the services of Carroll, one wonders if the 49ers might not go after USC’s offensive coordinator Norm Chow and then use its number one pick in the spring draft to select QB Matt Leinhart. Leinhart will make his decision about whether to take the path to the NFL on January 15.

It would cripple the Trojans’ burgeoning dynasty if all that should happen.

Orange Bowl Notes:

-- Reportedly, in the week prior to the game, Pete Carroll’s wife, Glena, placed a hand on LenDale White’s ankle at the hotel swimming pool and said a prayer for its healing. White suffered a high ankle sprain – notoriously slow to heal – during the UCLA game on December 4. Against Oklahoma, White rushed 15 times for 188 yards and showed no signs of a limp. Miracles do happen.

"Mrs. Carroll did her thing. It's crazy," White told the media. "Everyone was at the hotel standing around, she came up to me and asked how my ankle was. She performed a short prayer for my ankle. She had her hands in the vicinity of my injury. The next morning I woke up and it felt great."

-- Before the game, ABC analyst Bob Griese said that “(Matt) Leinhart is the outstanding player of the year. But the pressure is on him tonight. He does not have a great supporting cast.”

Wrong: White and Reggie Bush combined for 193 yards on the ground. Wide receiver Steve Smith caught 7 balls for 113 yards and WR Dwayne Jarret caught 5 passes for 115 yards. And on the highlight film, TE Dominique Byrd is seen making a spectacular one-handed grab off a Leinhart pass for a 33-yard touchdown. Yada, yada, yada.

Commenting on a disparaging remark made during the ABC broadcast that short-changed the Trojans’ rightful place in college football’s history, Mike Penner of the Los Angeles Times writes, “This is just one more reason why Keith Jackson and Dan Fouts, a couple of West Coast guys who work for ABC, should have been working the game.”

Minutes prior to the game, I googled “ABC HD and Directv” and found that Directv had just added ABC's East and West Coast affiliates to its high definition programming. Well, ABC got that one right, as did Directv. Now, I'm going to need an HD TIVO.

-- In his past commentary on television, former Oklahoma coach Bud Wilkinson used to emphasize the importance of Time of Possession, a historical fact that apparently did not escape Coach Mike Stoops’ notice. The Sooners won the time-of-possession battle against the Trojans, 35:06 to 24:54. USC cashed in on short-field opportunities and got off some big plays, while the Sooners were mired on the ground, burning up time and failing to score. Oklahoma’s only points of the second half, 9 of them coming late in the game, were gifts from the referees, who flagged the Trojans for forty yards as a result of two celebration incidents and one involving a spiked ball in the end zone.


* In the wake of Pauley Pavilion’s construction (1964) and after it was opened in 1965, Wooden won 10 out of 12 NCAA championships (1964-1975), winning 149 out of the 151 games played at Pauley Pavilion, accompanied by Dick Engberg, "Raindrops keep falling on my head," and a sold out house. Of course, Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) and Bill Walton had something to say about Wooden’s performance at Pauley, but would they have gone to UCLA without Pauley Pavilion in place? During their run at Pauley Pavilion, the team of Wooden and “Lewis,” as Wooden affectionately called Alcindor, literally took the slam-dunk out of college basketball--until the NCAA figured out a way to lower the basket for everyone else.

Richard Linde (a.k.a., Malamute) can be reached at malamute@4malamute.com

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