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May 17, 2010

And the answer is . . . in Monday's notebook

OK, here we go.

Every Monday, we'll answer your questions, and we'll answer some of our own questions, and we'll answer everybody's questions as we give you the scoop, and maybe an opinion or two, that you'll need to get you through your week.

And we'll start with a quick question about the future, the near future -- Tuesday night's "Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel" feature on Lane Kiffin (10 p.m., HBO).

Who will be the most surprised and disappointed with the way the Kiffin-to-USC story line goes here, especially considering an HBO press release touting "messy divorces in Oakland and Knoxville" and noting that "Kiffin has yet to deliver on expectations."

Most surprised viewers? Maybe USC fans who worried the worst, most negative possible spin would be aired here even though Kiffin story correspondent Andrea Kremer is as respected and fair an interviewer as you're likely to see on sports TV. USC fans will be surprised and mostly quite pleased with this personal Kiffin family portrait.

Most disappointed? Start with the folks from Tennessee. From students to fans to media, they come off barely better than the blubbering Al Davis, whose excerpted press conference firing of Kiffin will always be a resume enhancer.

This will not be a happy night in Knoxville. Vol fans aren't really all this ugly, not all the time, but you won't be able to tell it from this piece. Good thing it's on at 10. You wouldn't want the kiddies asking what some of those words painted on the campus rock and chanted in the students' cheer were.

And it's all you need to know if you ever wondered why Lane would leave for USC. He doesn't have to explain anything after this.

Then there are the Kiffins, from a calm, confident, loving-son Lane, portrayed as smart and driven but in a nice way, nodding to his dad, Monte, who is practically canonized in the piece, as he probably should be.

Then there's Lane's wife, Layla, with the cute Kiffin kids around her as she describes the trials of exiting Tennessee. It could not be more sympathetic. What hits the air will be more like something USC could use in a recruiting video.

Tell your friends from Notre Dame and UCLA that maybe they'd better not watch. This won't be a good night for them.

Next.

Should USC fans be worried that the first list of preseason All-Americans from Lindy's had just one Trojan, center Kristofer O'Dowd, on the second-team while ND and UCLA had two first-teamers.

They should not. No one put themselves in that position last year. USC players shouldn't get on those lists because they're from USC or because someone hyped them up but because they belong there.

So what about the postseason All-American teams? Do you expect any Trojans there? Who's got the best shot?

You have to think Shareece Wright will be hard to keep off these teams. Tough to imagine a couple of cover corners in the country better than he is. Wide receiver Ronald Johnson will have to stay healthy but if he gets deep enough times, he'll have a shot with his speed. So will at least one defensive lineman. Jurrell Casey is already a Top 25 ESPN NFL Draft projection for next season so that automatically earns him a shot but a healthy Armond Armstead also will get noticed. But we're back to it's all how the team does now. And that's the way it should be.

A couple of longshots . . . if USC runs the table or almost manages to?

How about one relative newcomer and one complete newcomer. Offensive left tackle Matt Kalil, if healthy, has the position, the physique, the pedigree and a name people recognize. And freshman Dillon Baxter, as a return guy/receiver/runner/all-purpose back is already famous. Give him enough chances and enough spin moves and who knows.

From his Blackberry, jabbajazz asks What will be USC's toughest game? And what's the over/under for Trojan wins?

Toughest: at Arizona or at Oregon State. Over/under for wins: my always-optimistic take: an even dozen. Until proven otherwise, USC has more talent than any team the Trojans play.

Bonus schedule question: What game should USC fans absolutely make sure they get tickets for?

Easy. At Stanford in the "What's your deal?" reunion game. Nice easy trip. Great campus. New stadium that gets you up-close to the action. And an appearance by what one would guess would be a mighty motivated USC team. Nothing better than a rivalry road game in college football.

Here's one from Big Ten (11) Country, which is still mostly the Midwest, for now anyway:

Other than how to make TV, and expansion talk, pay off, is there anything to be learned from the way folks in the heartland do business?

Here's one, from an AP report today: "Michigan will publicly release its response to NCAA allegations of major rules violations against coach Rich Rodriguez next week." Athletic director David Brandon says there will be "total transparency" and that any school-imposed sanctions will be revealed in the report, which will be sent to the NCAA on May 24 and made public the following day.

"Total transparency." What a concept. As cool as it is that USC is a private institution, there are times you wish the school didn't hold all its cards quite so close to the vest.

OK, so if this USC team didn't get even a second name on Lindy's All-American list, did any Trojans make a list worth touting last week?

You bet. Courtesy of uscripsit.com, there's an impressive list of USC football players who qualified this year to walk down the graduation aisle Friday. Of the 31 here, the amazing number is the 16 who will suit up in the fall. That's a real postgraduate group for the fall: They are David Ausberry, Allen Bradford, Jordan Cameron, Omari Crittenden, C.J. Gable, Stanley Havili, Zack Heberer, Joe Houston, Butch Lewis, Michael Morgan, Travon Patterson, Michael Reardon, Derek Simmons, Malcolm Smith, Scott Stephens and Christian Tupou.

Those graduates who have finished up include: Charles Brown, Preston Cavignac, Dan Deckas, Robert Erickson, Nick Garratt, Will Harris, Justin Hart, Omar Nazel, Garrett Nolan, Billy O'Malley, Alex Parsons, Averill Spicer, Cooper Stephenson, Kenechi Udeze and Spencer Vigoren.

Great job guys.

Dan Weber covers the Trojans program for USCFootball.com. You can reach him at weber@uscfootball.com.


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