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One Moment: Davies and the Honor Code

In the heat of the moment Brandon Davies made a decision to sleep with his girlfriend. That might have been the moment he lost his virginity too. We don’t know. We don’t really need to.

What we need to know is in that moment he also forfeited his right to play basketball for Brigham Young University.

In that moment, days after BYU achieved their number three ranking (the highest in 23 years), he most likely forfeited his team’s probable number one seed in the upcoming NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

That moment probably felt very good at the time. But I don’t think it does now.

As most people know BYU is a private, Mormon institution. I do not believe one has to be Mormon to attend, but they must at least, out of respect for the institution, abide by the rules, in this case, the Brigham Young University Honor Code.

One of these rules includes chastity.

And now here comes the fun media outrage and debate. Was BYU out of line for being involved in the private life of one of their players? Were they right? Were they wrong? For once, that’s not the point.

If you go to BYU, you know exactly what you’re signing up for and thinking you “won’t get caught” in any situation of this gravity is basically asking for just that to happen. Though I usually don’t think it is my school’s or government’s business the way I conduct my day-to-day activities or actions behind closed doors, the fact is if your school is also a private religious institution then it is to be expected they monitor such behavior. As with any school, you choose to represent the institution and BYU isn’t the only school that wants an accurate representation of themselves. USC might want those that wear the cardinal and gold to be “faithful, scholarly, skillful, courageous and ambitions” but BYU wants their students to abstain from premarital sex. As a private institution, they are allowed to enforce said ideas as long as these ideas are made known. Because I was able to find them online, I’d say Davies will not be able to plead ignorance on this one.
I’ll be the first to admit I’d make a terrible Mormon. Granted I would get along with them rather well as I am a Christian and share many of the conservative values, such as chastity, with my Latter-Day compadres. But I love my tea. Coffee too. I wouldn’t go to BYU if that wasn’t something I’d be willing to give up.

Point proven. This isn’t necessarily about whether the school is “right” or “wrong.” Its about knowing what you signed up for and accepting the pre-disclosed consequences for your actions. Frankly much of the press has been supportive of the school actually following its own policy despite it being a tad different that others.This has never been about BYU. This is about one young man and one irrevocable moment.

This moment has the potential to define him as a man. And I don’t mean his skills in…well…you know. How he responds to this will prove to the world whether he can handle personal responsibility.

Or not.

Is Brandon Davies a boy who does not realize giving into your personal desires at the cost of your team is unacceptable? Or is he a man willing to accept the consequences for his actions and teach others to do the same?

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Worlds Collide: Athletes and “Dancing with the Stars”

This is a beautiful moment. The moment where I get to write about sports and dance in the same post. Let’s take a moment of silence to commemorate how special this is…

Okay. Done.

The hit ABC show Dancing with the Stars has been including athletes in their cast line up since the very beginning, but most of the these athletes were only known to the truest and most devoted of sports aficionados. However last season included recently retired Super Bowl MVP Kurt Warner and this season recently announced the participation of current 2-time Super Bowl champion Hines Ward.

Warner needed something to do post retirement. Previous athletes were looking for a reputation boost. But Hines Ward? He just appeared in his third Super Bowl, which despite the loss, was one of the best match-ups anyone had seen in years. Besides, he already had won two others (one of them coming against Warner himself). Most men I know would just like two tickets somewhere in the same stadium as the Super Bowl. Others, the same city would suffice.

But athletes love challenges. And more so, they love competition. With the show’s rising popularity, most people now consider DTWS a mainstream network show, not a B-list summer filler allowing more and more publicists to allow their clients on it without having a heart attack. Swallowing pride is not necessary. Just some Gatorade and protein powder. That Argentine tango has a few tricky lifts.

More so, this is a mutually beneficial relationship. As long as your player is by definition a “good guy” this creates the optimum environment for positive PR and the show brings in an entirely new demographic of viewers. Do I have say it? Money talks. People listen.

So no big deal right? Hines Ward doesn’t really need DTWS, but he wants it. And it couldn’t hurt either him or the show. Right? Right?

Michelle Beadle of Sports Nation on ESPN said earlier this week she was actually “embarrassed” for these athletes. All she sees is a desperate publicity stunt. I must ask Michelle something:

Have you ever even tried to dance?

Forget keeping up with professionals. Forget doing it well enough so you don’t fall on your face on national television. Let’s start with the idea of seriously trying to dance. And I’m not talking about the dougie…

One of the reasons I can relate to the athletes I work with on a daily basis is my dance background. I can’t help but empathize as I sit here icing my pulled hamstring that I’ve been trying to nurse back to health before an audition on Saturday. This is my NFL combine. Errrr…. minus the national attention and the 40-yard-dash.

I’ve been a ballet dancer for almost 16 years, but I just recently started salsa dancing. Salsa can fall under the “ballroom” category (Can you see where I’m going with this? Or I do I need fluorescent paint?). I thought nothing could be quite as difficult as ballet. And maybe that’s true, but that doesn’t mean its not difficult. On the contrary, I was learning skills and using muscles in ways I never thought I would. And I’ll admit it, in the beginning, I sucked. There is no nice way to put it. I couldn’t let my partner take the lead. I would get turned around at the drop of a hat. And I was like a whirling dervish trying to stop after a spin. But I kept practicing, invested in the right shoes and now I only hit my partner in the nose every other time we go out to a salsa club. Progress.

The point being, if DTWS is nothing more than a publicity stunt then it must be one of the hardest in the world in which only the most desperate characters decide to go on. But more likely, its a chance to improve one’s athleticism while having a hoot and keeping in shape during the off season. The good publicity just turns out to be the icing on sequined outfits.

I will admit one thing. I will not be rooting for Hines Ward to win, but rather to come in second. Another athlete of sorts, current rapper and former USC basketball player Percy “Romeo” Miller is a fellow Trojan and former acquaintance of mine (As in he introduced himself one day when I was waiting to interview another player. We talked a couple times when occupying the same space or nodded in acknowledgment of the other’s presence). I thus feel compelled to keep it in all the family. We already have Heismans, crystal footballs and crosstown gauntlets. I say it’s time for a disco ball trophy in Heritage Hall.

Kurt Warner showed that all MVP QBs have great footwork last fall on DTWS.

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A Time and a Place: The Rules of Rivalries

Let’s get a few things straight before I delve into my rant here. It will be well organized, but a rant it will be nonetheless.

1). As you know, I love the witty banter and relational benefits of well developed trash talking.

2) Even more, I love collegiate rivalries. It is where words become actions and battle schemes become war. But even war has rules of engagement.

There is a time and a place for everything. And one Alabama fan did not understand this.

Admittedly, the lack of judgment from this particular southern fanatic surprised me. Residents of the Bible Belt should be the first know the Ecclesiates  3:1 reference of “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven.” The only thing that rivals football in the south is God. In fact, I might fit in rather nicely there if I didn’t enjoy wearing flip flops in December so much. But I digress…

Let me tell you about one 62-year-old Harvey Updyke, Jr. Supposedly he has a daughter named Crimson and a son named Bear. He also poisoned the two famed 130-year-old oak trees at Auburn University’s Toomer’s Corner. Clearly this guy is a few parts short of the whole erector set.

Because had he known his Bible or his college football better he would have known that this was neither the time nor the place.

Every university has something called “Rivalry Week.” At my alma mater we call it “Troy Week.” It’s a celebration of all that is right with the nation of Troy juxtaposed to all that is..well..not. For one week all Hell breaks loose. It’s everything one school has to win the city that has everything. Dyed fountains and painted statues are a must. Flee flickers are prayed for. Then, just like that, the Easts and the Westwoods, the Reds and the Blues go back to angrily eying each other from across the freeway system. Because we know if its not the last week in football season, it’s not that week.

Certain targets are also better than others. Inanimate objects are optimum. Do just enough damage to shame the opposing school’s student body, but not enough to give your enemy enough claim for a lawsuit. Go far enough that its annoying as heck to try to clean up, but not far enough that you’ve permanently taken away a premium target for your institution’s future mischievous endeavors. You have to keep in mind posterity. Don’t kill the live mascot. Don’t dismantle the statue.

And don’t poison a living object older than your great-grandmother.

Sport is the Great Common Denominator. It’s serious enough to turn relatives into enemies and friends into family. It can unite a country. It can almost start a war. But it’s not so serious that at the end of the day, we all can’t remember it’s still just a game.

Sport is the Golden Opportunity. It’s serious enough to teach our children right from wrong, honor from shame. But…

That Updyke fellow took it too seriously. He told future generations of Bama fans that there is no line too thick to be crossed, no rule of decency too binding to be broken. Forget a time, forget a place. Live for yourself and no one else.

So do me a favor. Someone find Crimson and Bear. Show them this post. Teach them what their father failed to do. Because I really do not want to be forced to write another post about an SEC institution.

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What the Puck?! A Journey into the World of Hockey

To me, “puck” is a character on the hit show “Glee.”

And “offsides” is a violation of the neutral zone.

Over the weekend, however, my sports dictionary was expanded to include a few new synonyms for words I already knew and even some I didn’t. Thanks to my Russian hockey-playing friend from New York named Serge Liberovsky (I’m not even kidding. You think I’m smart enough to make this stuff up?) and the USC Hockey Team (yes, USC has a hockey team), I have for you a “Gridiron Glutton’s Guide” to the world of hockey. Previously, my hockey knowledge came from a combination of watching a Stanley Cup playoff or two, the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” story and the “Mighty Duck” movies. Boy, did I have a few things to learn.

First off, describing the game of hockey can be done using other sports. Take the speed and court size of a basketball game, add the ear-splitting, bone-crushing hits of football and throw in something to add a little extra challenge, in this case ice, and you have the game that most Canadians and Eastern Europeans are born innately knowing how to play.

If you’re a football fan this is seriously a sport you must consider investigating. Football fans are willing to spend hours in blazing hot temperatures, pouring rain and even the occasional snow storm to watch their team. Even if a hockey rink is a bit chilly for a Southern California native like myself, the fact is, it’s a controlled temperature that is easily combated with an extra jacket, a blanket and maybe even a hot cup of tea. It might not get any warmer, but it sure as heck won’t get any colder. And there is no wind chill factor.

A personal confession of mine is that I love to watch men being men. I’m not talking about fist fights. You can see that at an elementary school play yard. I’m talking about going to battle. This is something only the most testosterone-filled creatures with the fiercest loyalties to God and Country (whatever you consider your God or your country to be) can truly accomplish. This is one of the reasons I love football. And now one of the reasons I can thoroughly enjoy hockey. It’s battle. Masculinity at its finest. Power on parade.

They wear helmets and pads just like any pigskin player. In fact, the goalie wears more. Then again, if I had a three inch piece of hard rubber flying at my head, no amount of protection would ever seem like enough.

Now time for the basic vocab lesson that goes along with this guide. I promise it will be slightly more interesting than your third grade teacher’s. But only slightly. And hopefully somewhat accurate. Remember to be forgiving. I come from a world of grass and yards, not ice and blue lines:

  • Goalie: He’s basically a human target. He stands at the net always at the ready, prepared to sacrifice any limb necessary to stop the puck. And maybe a tooth or two.
  • Forwards (3): These are the offensive players. It basically breaks down to the center (think more QB, than offensive lineman), a left wing and a right wing. We could go into more detail, but let’s just start with that. Just like a QB can pass to his wide receiver, a center can pass to either wing to get the job done and puck moving.
  • Defensemen (2): In case you can’t take a hint, they are part of the defense (along with the goalie).
  • Icing: When the puck goes past  the red line and the second blue line all at once. Sometimes its allowed, other times its not. But this is a vocabulary lesson, not a rule book so we’ll just stop right here.
  • Freezing the puck: My friend and I named this “Serge-on-puck” while watching our goalie friend at the USC hockey game, but in reality its when the goalie throws himself onto the puck in order to temporarily stop action. It’s a literal human sacrifice.
  • Offsides: No violation of the neutral zone here (In hockey, that’s the space between the red and blue lines) This is when an attacking team’s player crosses the blue line before the puck on the way to the net.
  • Penalty (Minor or Major): Essentially, like any sport, things that are not allowed. If you’re really a bad boy they put on a time out. No really, there is a penalty box a player has to sit in for a prescribed amount of minutes according to his crime.
  • Power Play: No, its not a lotto. When a player goes into the penalty box, you can not substitute in another, thus leaving one team with more players and hence more “power.”

There were two outcomes to this game I attended. The first was the aforementioned knowledge. The second was a 5-2 loss to the Cal State Long Beach Forty-Niners. It really wasn’t pretty. Though I knew little about hockey, I knew enough to tell the Trojans clearly were a defensively minded team. And considering how many times Freshman G Serge Liberovsky was shot at in his first collegiate start, letting the puck in 5 times really wasn’t near as bad as it sounds. Mainly because he was shot at five times as much as Cal State’s goalie. And being the hopelessly optimistic person I am (as well as being completely biased towards my alma mater at times), I feel it is appropriate to mention that USC had already qualified for the Pac-8 (The Arizona schools don’t have hockey teams. Go figure) Championships in Seattle, Washington and will be defending their 2010 title this weekend.

And they’ll be doing it after converting one more fan to their precious past-time.

Freshman G Serge Liberovksy takes care of business in his first collegiate start

To further feed your sports knowledge, follow the USC Hockey Team on Facebook!

And on twitter: @USCHockey

Or if you just want some really interesting (or maybe just plain weird) pieces and pictures of different types of hockey (including unicycle hockey) check out wikipedia. It won’t disappoint.

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Cliche for a Reason: Adversity, USC and the Last Hurrah

Writers love clichés.

 We say we like to be original, but let’s be honest, a well placed cliché can get more people to pause and scratch their heads than the most original, mind-blowing, fortune cookie-esque tidbit you could possibly muster. And fortunately for me, sports is full of them. Coincidently enough so is my life at the moment.

You see I stand on the edge of the same precipice that many of contemporaries in the sporting world are right now. It’s called moving on. But not after looking over our shoulders to see how far we’ve come. The art of retrospection is, without a doubt, one of the most cliché moments in life.

The second most? Battling through adversity.

The USC Football seniors can, and did, both. Currently they are in the weight room, on the field, eyes on the prize and head in the clouds hoping for the moment they hear their name in April. But not after one of the most tumultuous four (or five) year runs in possibly the history of college football. And there I was to witness it all.

So it made perfect sense that before moving from my student intern-like position at USCTrojans.com to my more in-depth role at USCFootball.com that I too would look back before moving forward. Except as journalist, I had to capture it all to share with you.

In 2006, there was Allen Bradford and I shaking hands at our freshman orientation. There I was arriving at my first day of band camp, star struck, watching the entire football team on their picture day. There was CJ Gable starting as a true freshman tailback as I started as a brand new member of the USC Marching Band. And again, there was CJ, this time in my ballet class.

3 Rose Bowls, 2 degrees and 1 less Heisman later there is this. My skills, capturing theirs and all for you:

A very special thanks to my partner in the original “Team FlipsIt” Ben Weiss (@benmaxweiss) for editing and my now former boss Jordan Moore (@USC_Athletics) for advising. And to my Lord, for completely spoiling me with the best education,  quality mentors and enough front row seats to sporting events most middle-aged men would kill me for. I don’t deserve this life, but I promise to help others with it.

What? Come on. It’s a post about clichés. You had to be expecting it.

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Changing a Culture. Arrogantly: An interview with Lost Angeles blogger Zack Jerome.

The first interview I scored via twitter was with retired Super Bowl MVP Kurt Warner.

The second? Lost Angeles blogger Zack Jerome.

They say Rome wasn’t built in a day, but Zack Jerome built Arrogant Nation in a season. Two years ago, the Los Angeles based sports aficionado/social media strategist took the blogosphere not quite by storm. Posting almost five times a week, he usually mustered around 30 views. Upon his creation of what he calls “Arrogant Nation,” his readership numbers ballooned to the thousands and then some.

He’s known for his devil-may-care attitude towards the Trojans’ opposition and his never-say-die attitude toward cancer. At least to a traditional reader. But to USC Trojan fans, especially the student body, he has become a fixture in our cardinal and gold culture. And the biggest question is:

How? How in the world does one man worm his way into a culture filled with over one hundred years of tradition that includes everything from 11 national titles to 7, well, 6 bronze statues in Heritage Hall? And how does he do it in one football season?

Well he had a little help from the NCAA. You might have heard of them, especially this summer when they decided, among other things, that USC wasn’t going to a bowl game for the next two years (pending the appeal results). And when ESPN announced that it was the end of USC’s world as we knew it, Jerome decided that reports of the Trojans’ demise were greatly exaggerated. So he tapped into the Trojan Family and brought to the surface a very specific common denominator.

Arrogance.

Some call it pride. Others, a bond. Whatever you call it, it’s the force of nature that convinces all that the only place on Earth like USC is USC. But more importantly he told us to be proud of who we are when the rest of the world said we shouldn’t. He knew timing was everything and that out of the worst arises the best. Jerome saw the golden opportunity and seized it. And thus a grass-roots movement swept through the student body.

Below you’ll find an in-depth Q&A with the arrogance expert on cancer, his day job, why Matt Barkley will probably be remembered more for the strength of leadership than the strength of his arm and everything in between. And you’ll only find it here. Zack thought it would be more arrogant that way.

My conclusion: Zack and I are very different, yet oddly similar. We’re hopelessly optimistic people who love the drama of sports more than we do the statistics. And even better, we love writing about it.

So without further ado, an interview with Zack Jerome (answers in bold text):

STARTING WITH THE BASICS….

You do this for free. But have you ever hoped in the back of your mind someone would hire you as a columnist for their site? I do see you write other places but have any of them been a direct result of the Lost Angeles Blog?

I think every writer always is open to being picked up for something where they get paid, but I love being my own editor (because I’m an editor who doesn’t spellcheck).   Lost Angeles definitely got me the opportunity to write about the Dodgers for LAist, which was a great venue for me as a season ticket holder.  Jimmy Bramlett, their sports editor, has really been a friend in the community.  Still, selling out would require a big sale. 

 If you didn’t have the rather large following you have, would you still keep up the Lost Angeles Blog as consistently as you do?

I started the blog two years ago and used to get about 30 views a day.  Back then, I still posted almost five times a week.  If anything, I post less now because I want to make sure what I give my readers is cogent and more importantly, so arrogant that their laptops explode.

 What was your initial inspiration for Arrogant Nation?

I teared up when I visited USC the first time and saw the band come on the field.  I wanted to be a Trojan more than anything.  When I got into film school at USC, I sent back my acceptance without considering if I could afford it or mentioning my choice to my parents, which was an arrogant move.  I was going, loans, bank robbery, whatever.

After the rulings, I noticed how a lot of Trojans didn’t know how to feel about sanctions and a bowl-less season.  I realized that the NCAA should have zero influence over the pure joy of going to the Coliseum, throwing up the Victory V, admiring the Song Girls and rooting for your team.  So few years end in “championships”, but every USC game ends in a perfect Saturday as a human being.  A human being surrounded by good people, pretty girls and more likely than not, a victory.

USC students have always had this amazing arrogance, a term which I use affectionately.  It’s just this love of their school no matter what.  It’s leaving early because we already won.  It’s tongue-in-cheek and serious-as-cancer at the same time.  It’s amazing.  I’m at the Orange Bowl watching us kill Oklahoma for the “BCS” title my senior year and I am singing UCLA Sucks.  That’s USC.  We’re our own kind of beast.

My goal was to brand that emotion and movement and give the community a rallying point and a battle cry.  No matter what the NCAA says, no matter what our record, we’re undefeated in arrogance:  our deep love for the Trojan way.  The NCAA couldn’t govern a 1st Grade class.  They aren’t going to sanction our end zone.

You say a lot of really outlandish things. Where do you draw the line?

I don’t want to offend people to the point they vomit on their keyboards because laptops are expensive.  The truth is, I’ve worked for a long time to figure out what my voice is and apparently it involves scotch, bears and arrogance.  Maybe one day a pool filled with Veuve Cliquot. 

I don’t know, it’s stream of consciousness.  I’m not winning a Pulitzer anytime soon so why not describe something by saying it is a quest to drown in the toilet in front of people you don’t like?  Words are fun.  Be hell with a pen.  (George Lucas built a time machine to the future to read that sentence, which was his inspiration for the light saber).

The straight answer is that I draw the line at politics and religion.  I am not interested in arguing either with anyone for the most part.  Love they neighbor and keep it arrogant.  Think and worship as you please.  That’s the fun part about America.

You’re clearly a self-made man. What are YOUR rules for success (besides attending USC)?

I think the key is doing something because you love it.  A lot of people ask me how to create a successful blog and the answer is different for everyone.  The gist is to find your voice and use it every day.  Blogging is freeform in my mind and the more something I do gets a reaction, the more I explore it.

Another important rule is when you go hunting bears, always leave one alive so he may tell the tale of the battle and the bear community learns to fear your name.  I have been told that bears tell bedtime stories about me to keep their kids in line.  That makes me happy in a messed up sort of way.

Also, always help a Trojan if you can.  If they aren’t a Trojan, help them anyway, but remind them it was a Trojan who helped them and spread the glory of your school.

Have you ever lost or gained a client for your regular business based on your affiliation with this blog?

By day I am a social media strategist so I think my learnings from the blog help shape my knowledge of the space.  I take a very organic approach to what I do.  I listen to what’s being said and try and weigh in with my voice and start a conversation.

Specifically, I take great care to not blog about clients or even the industry most of my clients work in.  The blog is just my voice about the things I care about or bother me.  I really make every effort to keep work and Lost Angeles separate subject-wise.  The findings from both though are totally connected.

LET’S TALK FOOTBALL….

What qualifies you to write a sports blog in the first place? I don’t see any evidence of you actually playing any of the sports you write about…

Excellent point.  I played a largely unnoticed year of freshman football in the Marmonte League here in the Southern Section of CIF.  I was a pitcher up through JV in baseball.  I guess I should come back 6’4, 240 in my next life. 

Regardless, I think your readers decide if you are an authority.  I study the game.  People and personalities fascinate me.  Learning the sport is the easy part.  Understanding the game within the game is what drives me.  My sports writing has more to do with the theater of competition than the Xs and Os.

Did you expect to essentially become a part of the culture of modern-day USC football?

Not to this level, no.  I started noticing it when I delivered t-shirts to campus and people were really excited to meet me.  It was weird.  When I got invited to talk at Conquest, that was insane.  I wish health-wise I could have made it.  Next year…

There are lots of different roles that come together to form a team. I’d like to think I am doing something important for my school.  Will they let me stand on the sideline?  I don’t know.  Will I get to lead the band after a game?  I don’t know.  Am I helping the USC Football Team?  I think so.  I’m saying there’s life after Pete.  Pete was attracted to what we are, not the other way around.  We need to keep being us as a fan base, no matter what.

Side note, If you asked me in 2005 if I’d be better liked in the USC community than Reggie Bush, I’d have laughed. 

 What are your hopes for influence and growth of this blog for the 2011 football season?

I am hoping to continue growth, but it’s been going great.  Influence wise, I want to be on campus more.  I want to support Arrogant Nation themed events, parties, charities and bear hunts.  In a perfect world, I want a seat at the press box. I’d love USC to bring me in a little closer.  We’re a private school and essentially, we should be able to say someone with my tone is allowed to exist hand-in-hand with the university.

If not, I’m good leading the underground.  You guys are more fun anyway.   Arrogant Nation is going to exist no matter what.

How much do you actually research USC’s opponents for each post?

Depends.  Normally, I try to statistically grasp the situation and how it will come into play during the matchup, but the truth is, I am never going to research Washington State unless their quarterback gets caught trying to marry a farm animal.  I am not a huge Bill Simmons fan, but what I do like is that it is not always about the stats, more the stories and personalities.  I’d rather be thought of as a really wimpy version of Hunter S. Thompson than a really hardcore Bill Simmons, although I’d be stoked to drink scotch and talk sports with either (RIP, Hunter).

 Did you ever find out what Matt Barkley thought of your own post ode to him and his 2011 Heisman campaign?

Let’s leave it at I know Matt now and he’s a great guy.  He deserves the positive attention we’re going to bring him next season.  The guy could have left us when we were hurting, instead, he’s here and he’s doing on the field what I hope I am doing off the field for our students and alumni.  He’s motivated me and I hope I’ve done so for him. 

In a completely hypothetical situation that would never possibly happen, let’s say #7 gets hurt and can’t finish out the season thus taking him out of the Heisman race? How would you frame THAT one?

Then he’s winning the Injured Reserve Heisman, which is probably even more prestigious since I just made it up right now.  That said, he’s winning.

In a more plausible situation, what if he leaves early sans Heisman?

I have made it clear that I think no matter what Matt should finish out.  He has a chance to be the most special Trojan of his era, the quarterback who led us through sanctions.  If he leaves early for the NFL, so be it.  He’s a great guy, I want what’s best for him as does Arrogant Nation. 

It’s just hard to imagine him not having a statue on campus if he took us from Pete leaving, through sanctions, back to the Rose Bowl.  That’s more special than a three-peat in my mind. 

Plus, the statue they will build of me will need company.

Speaking of Matt, Barkley vs. Leinart? Which Monarch-turned-Trojan-QB-named-Matt wins?

Barkley, no question.  I loved Leinart as an undergrad, but to my earlier point, Barkley is on a journey that goes beyond championships.  Even if he simply kept us with a winning record through sanctions, it is the stuff of legends.  It is the total opposite of a spoiled athlete.  He could have left.  He stayed.  I thank Leinart for the memories, but Barkley is doing so much more for our future.  

What was your gut reaction when you heard Lane Kiffin was named head coach?

Initially, confused.  I was hoping Harbaugh took it.  In a matter of hours though, I realized we were dealing with a force of nature in Kiffin.  The guy plays head games.  The guy has a hot wife.  The guy wears a celestial white visor.  He is our guy.  Like Barkley, he took the job when the Jeff Fishers and Jack Del Rios wouldn’t have because of our situation. 

It’d have been a lot easier to stay in Knoxville and not get death threats.  Kiffin has become a mythological creature to me that is one part dragon, one part 90s action star, one part cowboy with a testosterone floater.  He won me over. 

It’s literally a dream of mine to take a photo with him where we both have visors on.  I want to be his social media advisor.  The guy is nails.  I’m with you, Kiff. 

LET’S GET A LITTLE PERSONAL….

With your popularity you have an incredible opportunity to help with cancer awareness and fundraising. Do you plan to take that opportunity? And how? Have you thought about participating in USC’s Relay for Life or teaming up with Jake Olson?

Absolutely.  I am taking my time developing my skin cancer awareness program with my wife and I think it will be both hilarious and life-saving, not unlike Bruce Willis.  I keep gravitating towards “Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself”.

What I hope is to be a living focal point for cancer research and fundraising.  Naturally, most funds are named for a beloved family member who has been lost.  Cancer is a scary thing.  It’s a scary word.  To my wife’s point, a group or foundation rallying around survival, someone who is still going strong may make it easier for people to get behind.

Livestrong does a great job at this, I found their material so helpful in the hospital.  I am hoping I can help create something on a more local level dedicated to skin cancer, a real concern in Southern California.

You’ve shown your softer side with your wedding video and basically every time you mention your wife. How would SHE describe you?

She’d probably tell you I was compulsive to the point I can be exhausting.  When I have a good meal, I want to talk to the chef, buy the ingredients, master cooking it, teach other people.  I’m like a golden retriever in a field of new smells. 

That said, she encouraged me to start the blog.  She’ll roll her eyes at me from time to time, but she laughs at my bullshit harder than anyone I’ve ever met. 

To be more concise, she’d probably describe me as her best friend.  I’d agree with her.

AND BECAUSE IT’S ALMOST THAT TIME….

If Super Bowl had been the Jets vs. the Seahawks, who would you propose Arrogant Nation root for? Their former coach? Or their former quarterback?

Pete is gone.  I’ll always pull for him, but it’s all Sanchez for me.  Rex Ryan is crazy arrogant.  He is into his wife (especially her feet) and they are just a team of arrogant quotes and actions after arrogant quotes and actions. 

Your final pick for the 2011 Super Bowl Champ is….

Steelers.  It will bore me to death, but Steelers.  All they do is run the ball and stop the run.  They are going to do it.

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Let’s (Trash) Talk

Let me tell you about one of my best friends.

She’s a “God and Football Girl” just like me. Except she’s jewish. And a Cal alum.

Despite our obvious differences, we understand how the other person works. The intense passion for faith and overly large men in pads running into each other at full speed is a combination not found in everyone today, especially people who carry two X chromosomes. But it creates more than understanding.

It creates the perfect atmosphere for trash talking.

Fortunately whether its football or basketball (I like the Lakers. She likes the Celtics) I’m always on the winning side of the rivalry. About the only thing we do agree upon is our mutual disdain for Stanford and UCLA. And the SEC.

Did I mention she also grew up a Buck-Eye fan? Yeah. About that trash talking…

I really don’t think I like the world “trash” any more. It has such a negative connotation and let’s face it. It’s fun. It’s a staple in the wonderful world of Sports. Like ESPN. Like bombshell blonde european tennis players. Like Al Davis calling his former head coach a liar the day he hires his next victim. And it has certainly strengthened my friendship with said Cal alum. Its done far more good than harm. And I predict it will continue to do so til I lie in my (much better looking) cardinal coffin and she in her blue.

But one of the reason its works is that we both know the rules of engagement for this time-tested practice. They aren’t written down anywhere. Its like the secret handshake underneath the table. Nothing ever needs to be said. We both just know.

There’s been a lot of talk about this sort of talk lately. We sports media type like to talk about what other people talk about. We actually make careers from it.

And Iam proposing that the Jets knew the rules. The Patriots didn’t.

For instance, I’m sure Wes Welker is putting his foot in his mouth right about now (pun completely and wonderfully intended). Belichick and the Patriots are known for keeping their mouths shut and letting Ryan and his ‘knucklehead’ not-so-rookie QB do all the talking. But Welker decided to take matters into his own hands with a few comments about feet. The problem?

It’s not the Patriots M.O. And it was personal. Ryan’s wife supposedly has a foot fetish.

It was really personal.

Then you have Bart Scott. He landed his jet and then took off on probably one of the best tirades since the dawn of sideline reporting. He made it clear to “all the non believers” that you can’t spell AFC Championship without J-E-T-S and backed it up with statistics and everything (i.e. according to Scott, the Jets have the 3rd best defense in the league whereas the Pats have the 25th best). And yes, even though it happened after the game I still put this in the category of “trash talking.”

So whats the difference besides Welker’s subtly and Scott’s lack thereof?

One kept things on the field. The other took things off. Way off.

Additionally, it works for the Jets. It’s just a part of who they are as a team, who they are as a whole organization. It’s hardly a sign of a dysfunctional family. On the contrary, there isn’t a team out there that seems to love their coach more than our green and white back flipping friends from the east. I have that in common with the Jets. If I’m not talking, something must be wrong.

Sometimes the line is as vague as the midcourt line on Oregon’s new basketball court. Other times it as clear a Waterford crystal football. But when you cross it, be careful. The other team might be just mad enough to beat the pants off of you.

And one thing is always certain:

No matter how much you talk, your actions will always speak louder than your words.

 

Braylon Edward's actions speak for how he feels about the Jets going to another AFC championship game.

 

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