Category Archives: USC

Total Media Coverage, subverted

I’m told that this coming Friday, which ought to be July 3 unless my calendar skills have regressed back to post-BCS championship game levels, I should not attempt to drive on U.S. highway 101. This is because there will be a viewing of Michael Jackson’s body at Neverland Ranch, and the type of people who would fly in from Germany or the Philippines to get a view of the King of Pop’s (presumably) preserved corpse are also not the type of people who are willing to carpool. Likely they are willing to carpool, but carpooling is probably not an option given the scale of the M.J. Experience, which is the name I have given to both the actual group and the phenomenon.

I got a hint of the power of this phenomenon when I made a joke about child molestation in front of a co-worker after she told me he had died. I have a tendency to say uncouth things in moments of great delicacy, and this was no exception. She reared up – this isn’t just idle metaphor: she really did rear up like an angry bear, or a horse that finally got tired of stupid humans – and told me off. It turns out there are many, many people who love(d) Jackson, and “Billie Jean” is enough to make them catatonic with pleasure if it wasn’t also invoking one of the pantheonic demigods of dance. I stuck by my guns because who doesn’t love a pederast joke in a time of duress? Still, it made me think. All these years I believed that Jackson probably did something bad with those kids, or maybe with one of those kids and the rest piled on (sorry, had to stick another one of those poor-tasters in there); either way, the guy creeped me out. He was never convicted, though. He just lost a number of trials-by-public.

This is a country that prides itself on things like the assumption that the accused are innocent until proven guilty. Have I been wrong all these years to assume Michael Jackson must’ve done something bad? Was he, in reality, just an eccentric person capable of immense genius and sensitivity? We’re all a bit weird, after all. I haven’t surgically altered my face to look more like white America, but I do clip my toe nails into the toilet occasionally. The truth is that I don’t really know anything that can’t be gleaned from Wikipedia or my poorly recalled experience with Moonwalker (the movie, the video game and the arcade machine), but my comment was enough to get a rise out of a normal person who felt involved in Jackson’s death in a way most people aren’t capable of expressing, but likely has something to do with a connection with someone you ought never to have connected with in the first place if our modes of communication were still in, say, a 17th century state, and maybe this is why people genuinely care about Jennifer Aniston’s love life.

Which brings me to Reggie Bush. It’s hard for me to watch New Orleans Saints games because of Bush. Sedrick Ellis helps, as does Billy Miller – and I never thought Miller would still be in the league in 2009 but I approve, you freckled spot-of-brightness from the nineties – but it’s so easy to focus on Bush for the obvious reasons of talent, speed and convulsion-inducing-impossibility. It makes me feel terrible inside because I know Reggie Bush is guilty of violating numerous NCAA rules during his time at USC.

Or do I? I thought I knew. I tell a lot of people he’s guilty. “He had a souped up Impala, man. The sheer stupidity of it, driving around in that thing as the star tailback of the most visible program in the nation!” as I writhe on the floor at the thought of such betrayal, showing off the stigmata. I talk about how proud I was watching the 2005 Heisman ceremony, how I was moved to tears when Reggie teared up and talked about his step-dad, and about how I felt when I read that LaMar Griffin was at the center of the accusations of cheating.

(Cheating? I suppose it would be, but to this day “cheating” doesn’t encapsulate everything. If Bush is guilty then he’d have been ineligible, which means his presence from the 2004 to 2005 seasons would be cheating, yes, but more than anything I feel the crime is actually greed and arrogance. Greed for taking that money and arrogance for thinking he could sweep a relationship with a guy named Michael Michaels under the table. Plus he pretty much disappointed in every bowl appearance he made.)

(That really is the kind of justification I make to myself while standing in line at the deli. I need help.)

I still feel betrayed. I remember the 2005 game at Washington. The poor, poor Huskies were several seasons away from the ultimate in futility, but they were still so crappy I had to justify my presence in Seattle with two rationalizations: the seafood, and Reggie Bush. Neither disappointed. Bush took a punt back using nothing but refraction and a pair of double jointed ankles. He made it look like he was running around a bunch of shades (the afterlife kind, not the venetian kind.) Every single Husky fan I talked to said the same thing: “We are going to lose, and lose big. I just hope Bush does something amazing.” They weren’t disappointed, which is odd since they’re technically rooting for the victims but still: the Chinese could appreciate the awesomeness of the Golden Horde even as it rolled over them. #5 wasn’t wearing a fur hat or launching plague-ridden corpses into European cities that day, but he r-and-p’ed the shit out of Husky Stadium. I’m not sure if Tyrone Willingham would’ve preferred facing Bush or Khan. I’d like to think Willingham was like me, and like those Husky fans: he was just happy to have a seat for the Best Show in College Football. Reggie was like that. He made everyone feel like they were watching history being made.

(So, yes, I guess it would be cheating having a paradigm-shifting non-eligible tailback on your team. Access to the Speed Force only heightens that distinction. I guess my love of USC football makes it seem like a technicality, which is the segue way into the next paragraph but how do I get out of this parenthetical?)

My love of USC football made the accusations of cheating seem like a technicality. But I was – am – convinced of Bush’s guilt. This has nothing to do with school pride and an attendant wish to visit swift, Old Testament justice to someone who’s besmirched the name of the university. It doesn’t even have to do with a desire to clear the university’s name. Neither of those are factors, particularly because I went to UC Santa Barbara.

I think it has something to do with the 2004 opener against Virginia Tech. USC was favored by a couple of touchdowns but the Hokies, true to their late season form, were performing admirably. Correction: they were being assholes by not giving up. I wasn’t at Fed-Ex Field. I was watching the game at my neighbors’, and everyone of course hated USC. (Understandable, and not in that smug way. The factors which led to my USC fandom were uncontrollable, and had they not aligned so I, too, would hate USC. It’s simple fractals.) They were all, rightly so, giving me shit for a terrible passing interference call that benefited the Trojans. I did not help anyone by being drunk and telling them to fuck themselves. Reggie Bush ignored us all and single handedly won the game. He made Frank Beamer’s brilliant game plan moot, he made senior Tech QB Bryan Randall’s heroics null, and he made 80,000 plus Hokie faithful sad. This made me so happy I held a bottle of bourbon to my heart and swore on the soul of Kentucky ricks everywhere (in Kentucky) that I would give anything to see USC play for the national championship that year.

Bush made all that happen. He went from promising freshman to savior of the world in one game. The play where he turned a slip screen into a demonstration of the presence of God in the Creation was the play I hung my hat, firmly, on the back of a stool in a bar called “Reggie Bush Will Lead Me To The Promised Land”, and if that’s too much religiosity in a sentence about the 2004 BCA Classic you clearly haven’t heard me talk about the 2005 Notre Dame game. I spent three plus years in that bar, which includes more than a year after he declared early because I think I believed, particularly after USC lost in Corvallis in 2006, He would come back despite NCAA regulations against such. Little did I know.

So on some level I invested at least a sliver of my spiritual well being into Reggie Bush. He was capable of rendering pleasure (see: mostly every play during the 2005 season) and pain (see: lateral) more readily than any sports figure I have ever encountered. It’s kind of grotesque how easily he made me happy just by being in a huddle.

Everything I’ve read makes me think he did something wrong during his last two years at USC. I want this investigation to be over already, but it’s not going to be over this season or any time soon. I could care less about Tim Floyd and the money-gobbling new Memphis Grizzly, because that is basketball. It does not matter. But Bush? He’s hurt me. I’m not sure if there’s a USC fan convinced of Bush’s innocence but  I can imagine their reactions to talk about guilt, lack of institutional control, etc.: reared up like an angry bear, or a horse that finally got tired of stupid UCLA fans. I can understand such USC fans. They might well have given their heart over to a supremely talented tailback. It happens if you’re lucky enough to be a fan when Bo or Herschel or Reggie carry the ball. There’s no shame in devoting a bit of your essence to that kind of hero worship because they make their qualifications for such worship so obvious with a simple off-tackle or sweep. It does leave you vulnerable, though.

There are going to be a lot of devoted Michael Jackson fans in Santa Barbara on Friday. Maybe they were moved by his music, or his gentleness, or the awesomeness that is “Smooth Criminal”. I never imagined there could be that much in common between us, but it took a poorly judged pedophile joke to bring the realization: they believe Jackson was innocent, I believe Bush is guilty, and it seems like neither the twain shall meet evidence to the contrary so long as death and the NCAA stay true. Love clouds all judgment. That’s why courtrooms never smell like perfume.

For the record, though: not even a returned Heisman, vacated wins or NCAA sanctions can take away the sweetness of the Bush Push. Not all cheating is wrong.

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It has become apparent I must be stopped, no matter the cost

The loss to Oregon State caused me to withdraw from the internet, television, newspapers and all forms of mass communication including but not limited to tin can-and-wire, shouting, smoke signals, imagined telepathy, real telepathy, gazing, ham radio, nostril flaring via elaborate mirror setups running along the beautiful oceanic stretch of Highway 1 from Cambria to Santa Cruz, the maritime code book, and talking. This is the first time I’ve been online since that terrible, terrible Thursday.

Apparently David Foster Wallace is dead.

This happened sometime around the fourth or fifth touchdown USC scored against poor, hapless, resurgent Ohio State, which was a week and a half before Oregon State, which means I am an idiot of elephantine proportions. Perhaps idiot isn’t the right word, but I do feel idiotic.

I like(d) DFW. “Genius” gets thrown around a lot these days, but he was a genius. More to the point of this blog, he was also an athlete who admired what athleticism represents, whatever that is (and DFW never claimed to know.) More than anyone else in the world he made me feel it was alright to ascribe awe, religiosity and mysticism to sports. He readily admitted, even after writing three essays about tennis and tennis players and an 1,100 page novel involving a tennis playing main character, he still couldn’t explain how Roger Federer does what he does. I have come to terms with the idea that I will never truly understand what happens on a college football field until I become a member of a Division I-A college football coaching staff and, in excruciating detail, review the tape. DFW, like Brian – whose own DFW obit I took, in absurdly monstrous dullness, as just a kind of “Hey, this guy is great. He’s not dead or anything. I simply wanted to explain how great he is,” further spiraling me into obtuse hell: I read most of it, glossing over some bits and recalling, very fondly, the beauty of footnote #17 from “Roger Federer as Religious Experience” but I still somehow missed the bit about suicide and, filing it in my internet cabinet of Things To Read And Do Later, assumed Brian was making a very accurate comparison between himself and DFW, and, yes, that’s all about as stupid as it gets – would very likely have been the kind of guy who’d break down game tape and watch it fully and comprehensively no matter the current situation, be that terminal illness, coitus or crippling spiritual agony due to a loss.

I can only imagine a DFW essay about college football. Very likely he would be funny, sardonic, baffled and intrigued. There is something about the suffocating, all-consuming coverage of college football he’d riff on, and in extremely humane and agreeable terms. He’d have done it recursively, and then doubt himself in that pathologically remarkable way that, for me, more than the footnotes, abbreviations and clauses, made DFW DFW. He also had an eye for detail that made its best effect in his essays, which were always fair to their subject and more often than not the kind of thing that made you think, “Holy shit, are all magazines full of this kind of stuff? What have I been missing out on after decades of not reading The Atlantic? Fuck fuck fuck,” but actually not that howlingly despairing because it’s a salve to the soul not reading more stuff by guys much, much smarter than you, but still: he was good, and you knew it the moment you read paragraph one, i.e. pages 1-6.

And it took me almost a month to find out DFW is dead. I suppose that’s the kind of detail he’d have included in an essay about college football: this guy is serious about the game, he obsesses about it, he doesn’t even know there’s a recession going on much less the fact that the author is dead by his own hand, etc.

So where does this leave me? This isn’t some promise to myself about being more involved with the world. I will continue to be obsessed with college football. And it’s completely absurd to think I won’t be devastated the next time USC loses.

I think I need to write more. That’s about it. I haven’t written much over the past year, so that’s a pretty solid hard fact to bang my head against. It’s been a pleasant nine months of stationary 40-hours-a-week life. I have money in my pockets and whiskey in my glass and a heavily monopolized daily routine of work, friends and ritual. Not traveling reminds me of the non-romantic bits they exclude on the Travel Channel: gas station showers, shitty cheap food, constant paranoia, 14-20 year old British citizens, etc. It really is nice to be in one place for an extended period of time without worrying about an expiring visa. But re-reading DFW’s essay on Roger Federer recalls the warm comfort I felt in my sternum, radiating outward with gauzy familiarity, after recognizing a fellow traveler in the well invested but rarely believable realm of Sport-As-Truth, Or-At-Least-A-Kind-Of-Truth. Some guys choose comic books or jazz or cars or porn as their personal cross to bear, a fetish they believe reflects the world in ways very few people realize. This kind of devotion to genre is admirable from within, occassionally repulsive and incomprehensible from without. Knowing everything there is to know about DC cosmology, or Charlie Parker, or 1967 the automotive year, or the shifting axis of power between central Europe and the San Fernando Valley: these things matter to devotees because they are the accumulations of Biblical or rabbinic or whatever-text knowledge, which is not itself understanding but at least one way towards understanding.

I firmly believe DFW and I can agree that sports matter. He was a giant who will be remembered for his words, and for killing himself and depriving the world of an intellect so radiant it literally hurt to read his work, a throbbing behind the eyes that came directly from those areas of your brain responsible for piecing together clauses and signalling, klaxon-like, the approach of someone so far above you it’d be better if you’d just bury your head in a pillow instead of continuing to read this wonderful but depressing thing. I don’t think a young DFW imagined he’d be remembered as a sportswriter, but I do think some of his most personal moments on paper came via sports. They were so very often relevatory, so very often the kind of thing I needed to read at 3 a.m. I crave that. I had, I think, forgotten I crave that after two or three months of monotonous sifting of beat reporters’ resigned repetition of each other’s words and the absurd and ill-conceived talking points of columnists and talking heads, from spring ball to the day before Oregon State.

Now I want to find my lost copy of Consider the Lobster, and maybe finally garrote the person who never returned A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again. They both contain essays on sports, the kind I’ve been talking about: beautiful, meandering, a little bit sad, always authoritative but never dogmatic, occassionally miraculous, and very much willing to stand back and say, “That’s just grotesque.” He had the chops and the rep to write this kind of stuff and actually get it published, full formed, without tacking on the neat little coda all sports stories are required to have. It’s literally insane they let him do this kind of thing. It wasn’t like DFW was this physical force of nature like Hunter S. Thompson, who’d pull a gun on you rather than have a foul adjective edited into mere libel. He was a dove. But he wrote like a convict: deep in it, unafraid of censure, maybe even a little addled by the walls and the solitary but somehow still a bit sweet, like doing time is enough to make innocence seem more tangible. It’s amazing stuff, and, shit, it’s about tennis – but I crave it. Truth be told, though, I’d much rather write right now even though it’s obvious I’m not going to fully satisfy that craving by writing what I want to read because 1) I’m no DFW and 2) it’s a craving that cannot be fully satisfied. Still, it seems like the important thing is to write.

USC 41, ASU 16; but it’s gonna be a more interesting post if things don’t go smoothly so, just this once, for David Foster Wallace, maybe I’m hoping things don’t go that smoothly.

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I do not recommend speaking to me the next two weeks

Much like the euro-to-dollar rate, my thought processes since Signing Day in February featured a long inevitable exponential: a steadily rising exchange rate of anticipation leading up to September 13, with a single blip on August 30 representing both the University of Virginia and the NYSE spike caused by the dollar-boosting announcement that we’d be converting our national currency to the euro.

Essentially: yesterday’s 52-7 tune up can now be safely described as what it was, a tune up. One game at a time, we have a tough opponent ahead of us, they won an NCAA record five games by two points last year, Chris Long has a sandwich named after him, blah blah blah.

This game was pretty much decided the moment Jemell Sewell bowed out of that whole school thing. Everything since then has been lip service to Al Groh and Virginia, two institutions that have a long history of being serviceable but not the kind of specters that make an entire off season tingly in all the right places.

For that, you need Ohio State in a night game at the Coliseum. I am indeed all-a-tingle, and take that how you will. (Given that the vast majority of people reading this site arrive through Google searches involving “Kirk Herbstreit wife cheater” and “Mark Richt ass lover” I can assume all interpretations will involve BDSM of some kind.) (And God bless you all.)

So. For approximately half a year I’ve been going through the motions of life, doing things like waking up and showering and working and occasionally imbibing delicious alcoholic beverages and pretending to myself that this is normality. But is it possible to pretend to yourself when that very same self is sitting quietly in a corner hunched over Phil Steele’s 2008 College Football Preview, gently rocking back and forth humming Tribute to Troy and mouthing the same words Robert Oppenheimer spoke at Trinity, New Mexico, “Now I am become Death, destroyer of worlds”? Oppenheimer needed a 2,500 year old Sanskrit text to describe the awful majesty of mankind’s mastery of the atom, but the old warhorse never had to go through an off season thinking about the second ranked Buckeyes and their Heisman candidate showing up in Los Angeles for the game of the year. This is actually important stuff, and it irks me that someone else got to quote that Bhagavad Gita passage for something as inconsequential as the first detonation of a nuclear device in the last year of the greatest war humanity has ever inflicted upon itself.

The son of Animal is coming, people, and I need deeply religious visions of Apocalypse to reference.

Which is why no one ought to speak to me for two weeks. I will still be going through those motions: wake, shower, work, drink. That will not change. But my interiors will be harnessed for something other, something greater, something necessary. I’m thinking now of a certain kind of ascetic that’s found in almost every major religion. Some mysterious inclination leads men to spend years sequestered and bent over paper, papyrus, brass or keyboard, writing out the many names of God in the belief that a summation of the totality of the Word will one day lead to revelation. Some chant it, some inscribe it on their own flesh with whip and blade, and some merely think it over and over but their effect is the same: a wholesale dedication to a monumental task. This isn’t exactly a bad approach in that it has the same probability of success as anything else. It’s certainly illustrative of one thing: men are capable of commiting their lives and energy to any venture so long as they can believe their work will affect the universe.

So you may see me going about my business as normal for the next fortnight, but be not fooled: inside, I am chanting – in all the languages of life – the myriad names of Winged Victory. They are legion, and they are always sweet. Bring on The Ohio State University.

And don’t mention a thing about Beanie Wells’ foot. If you’ve ever seen this guy run you understand, like I do, he’ll play two Saturdays from now. No. 28 knows you only get two shots at Ragnarok, and he isn’t waiting for the second half of the home-and-home to show up.

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If it had been anyone else…

I would’ve said, “What the hell are you doing you stupid bastard? Just run in and flip the ball to the ref and let’s get a touchback,” except with a lot more fucks and shits.

Instead I said, “YYYYYYYYYYYYYYYEEEEEEAGGH!!! Fucking shit yeah!”

He did get knocked over after sticking the landing, but whatever: SportsCenter Top 10.

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Prediction…

No matter what happens tomorrow, Karl Dorrell will be fired.

And USC will win.

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USC home games in Pasadena? What. The. Fuck?

The story is carried by the Times and, more ominously, by the USC athletics’ site. USC has been at the Coliseum for 80 years and has renewed its lease on, from what I understand, a year-by-year basis. The Coliseum Commission has offered a 2-year lease. USC wants “improvements such as bathroom and concession upgrades, new seats, new gates, new lights, and a new sound and video system” for the Gray Old Lady, which, after the long and thus far futile courtship of the NFL, is basically a request to at least partially run and improve the facility because, again, the Coliseum was hoping a pro team would swoop in and excrete gold plated shitters everywhere. That’s the breakdown of it in simple human gold plated shitter terms.

But it’s that running the facility part that’s getting the Coliseum Commission to be total jackassed buffoons about everything – even if USC…

…has offered to fund a minimum of $100 million over 10 years toward the repair and restoration of the Coliseum.

But, again:

As part of that deal, the school would be in charge of running the venue.

The above quote makes it seem as if the university would be the sole manager which doesn’t seem to be the case to me. Either way it looks like the two parties are at an “impasse” right now, though I don’t know how realistic it would be for the Coliseum to give up its longest running, most faithful and highest profile tenant.

But, hey, at least they’re voicing their complaints about USC.

“As far as we’re concerned, they asked us for two years and the commission gave it to them,” said Pat Lynch, the Coliseum’s general manager. “If they asked us for five years, we’d give them five. If they asked us for 10, we’d give them 10. We can’t read their minds.”

Really, Pat? Really? That’s the problem? Because USC has gone above and beyond the call of duty by physically projecting, with mouths and pens and paper and voice boxes and stuff, what’s on its mind.

“Although we have been a faithful tenant of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for 80 years, we must now seek other alternatives for the good of our football program and our fans,” said Todd R. Dickey, USC’s senior vice president for administration. “The Coliseum has not benefited from substantive physical upgrades or preventive maintenance for more than 10 years because the commission has focused on attracting an NFL team that would renovate the stadium.”

Yeah the bathrooms could be improved. I suppose it’d be nice if the JumboTron was actually in sync with the audio, but that’s me. That whole Trojan Nation thing beneath the torch is pretty stupid, sure. But considering how old it is and how long it’s gone without “substantive physical upgrades” I think the Coliseum is fine as it is – it’s got chair backs and it’s not Cal’s Memorial Stadium, so I think those are two things that don’t need changing. And beer. We must have beer again.

The 2008 and 2009 future schedules of USC and UCLA each have one date when the teams would play a home game on the same day, but that logistical problem is just a small reason why I can’t see this “impasse” resulting in USC leaving to play in the Rose Bowl – and USC is actually closer to the Rose Bowl than UCLA, but obviously a stadium right off campus is just a bit closer than that. If it does happen, though, I seriously doubt the fickle Los Angeles fan bases will manage to sellout the Granddaddy even with the Trojans playing games there. USC can’t even fill the Coliseum to capacity when it’s No. 1. Can anyone imagine a USC-Oregon State game at the Rose Bowl? 75,000 would be optimistic. Ugh, what a nightmare.

Don’t even get me started on trying to get out of the golf course parking lots.

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Chauncey!

Chauncey Washington’s 220 yards were a career best, but no one ought to be surprised. I had Chauncey penciled in for greatness because, as we all know, former CIF Southern Section Division X players who make it to DI-A are the shit.

(Actually, I can really only think of three off the top of my head: Chauncey, Desmond Reed and Napoleon Kaufman. But they are all of them the shit.)

(Also, I have to hand it to Cal. Their throwback jerseys were thoroughly whatever in terms of asthetic appeal, but they triumphed over Washington’s throwbacks in one very important aspect: if you’re going to put on throwback jerseys, it’s important to don clothing that makes you look more like LSU and less like Notre Dame.)

The game ball must obviously go to Chauncey, but I finally got to watch USC play and I was completely unsurprised to see SS Kevin Ellison completely dominate the field. He missed two tackles but one of those was due to him trying to pop the ball out and another happened because Cal’s Justin Forsett ran like a greased up, incontinent Thor on his way to Asgard’s bathroom. (This imagery is not mine: it’s Neil Gaiman’s. That English bastard has a lotta nerve writing things before me.)

I do have to admit that, as I was sitting at a Buffalo Wild Wings in Knoxville full of nervous hatred, I jumped up and screamed “FUCK YOU” at Cal QB Nate Longshore after he got picked off by Terrell Thomas. I didn’t really mean it, Nate. It’s just that Desean Jackson got so little TV time I had to scream at somebody.

Jackson, who had two catches for 41 yards and two punt returns for zero yards against USC in 2006, had five catches for 64 yards and one punt return for zero yards in Strawberry Canyon on Saturday night. The above picture shows Thomas tackling Jackson on a punt return and also sums up Jackson’s contribution to the game.

Jackson looks like a cross between a gazelle and Edwin Moses, the eternal 400-meter hurdle champion who won 107 consecutive finals from ’77 to ’87, and in actual meatspace this bestiality analogy does Jackson no justice: #1 will out run anything with less than three legs and pat himself on the back while on the podium, but the gazelle and Edwin Moses were creatures of action and very rarely fonts of bombast and ego. Gazelles – when not hampered by the lack of a voicebox and higher thought – usually offered helpful, non-self centered advice only in African myths and folklore, and Moses – when not burning a hole in someone’s face with his I-may-very-well-want-to-kill-you-at-the-end-of-this-race stare – spoke of the self only in terms of winning: “I have the killer instinct,” Moses said. “It’s ego. When I’m on the track, I want to beat everyone.” I suppose if ESPN had been around during Moses’ streak he might very well have, when confronted by a couple dozen mics after every win, spouted off something ridiculous. He didn’t, though. He just ran and won. Gazelles don’t get asked for quotes much, either, but I’m pretty sure they just run and eat grass.

Desean Jackson called out Terrell Thomas in ESPN The Magazine’s college football preview, saying that Thomas needed the help of triple coverage and, by logic, shouldn’t have been talking trash.

Asked about the Thomas incident, Jackson told writer Bruce Feldman, “That dude was just talkin’ to be talkin’. If Pete Carroll told his 10 other players to focus on everything else and it was just me and Terrell Thomas, oh man, I’d expose that dude. But being the best player, you gotta deal with that stuff. It just makes you better.”  Apprised of Jackson’s comments on Wednesday, Thomas said, “He had two catches and we won — that’s all I care about. He can take it as an individual matchup. I enjoy the competition, but we play a team game. . . . It wasn’t just me. It was the whole defense.” Jackson also said he would rather defeat the Trojans than win the Heisman. “Honestly I don’t need to win it if we beat SC,” he said. [Can’t find working link to LA Times article.]

I think it’s pretty obvious who got the better of whom here, so I won’t bother pointing that out. I will say that you should never, ever talk about winning Heismans and beating your rival and which one you’d rather do. Cedric Benson once said he’d rather win the Heisman than beat Oklahoma, perhaps not realizing that to do the one he had to do the other. Jackson is a fine player and will more than likely make someone else’s pants soggy with fear-urine when he opts to leave for the NFL, and I am grateful for it because I really only have one pair of jeans. I am also grateful because one of my favorite athletes of all time is Muhammad Ali, who perhaps invented but nonetheless perfected the art of trash talking and who dominated his sport for fifteen years. Trash talking is a wondrous thing, but only if you win. Those who jaw to the extent that Jackson has should be lifted up on high when they follow through and laughed at when they lose. I am now laughing at Desean Jackson, and rightly so. If you respect yourself, college football and the theory of trash talk, you should join in.

Now bring on the Holiday Bowl!

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OH NOOOOOOS

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Not to pile on or anything…

That’s Desmond Reed. He’s running past Notre Dame/Green Bay safety Tom Zbikowski, on the same field where he injured his leg in 2005. If this picture looks eerily similar to the (former) banner picture, think nothing of it except this: it holds almost exactly the same kind of emotional significance for me, which is to say a lot. I dunno how long I’ll keep this as the banner. Probably for just a few days/weeks/months/years, depending on my mood.

Thanks for the ticket, by the way. Sweet ass seats!

[Photo courtesy of Joe Andras of WeAreSC.com.]

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QB controversy

This is actually the first mid-season QB controversy I’ve ever been a part of. I didn’t know enough to actually care who started between John Fox and Mike Van Raaphorst in 19-whatever. When Carson Palmer was at USC it was pretty simple: Palmer over Van Raaphorst and Fox, even if #3 threw a bazillion interceptions. Even after the Cal loss Leinart seemed like the guy to stick with (the doubt lasted about 6 days, anyway). Booty’s tipped passes vs. Oregon State and UCLA didn’t really seem like big dents in his resume.

But now? Mark Sanchez looked so good against a woeful Notre Dame team that I just don’t know. He’s exciting. He gets me tingly. I don’t care what that says about me, or you, for that matter.

So this is all pretty new to me. It’s taken about a decade for me to witness a QB controversy. My pick? Sanchez.

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