Pac-10: Finally... USC

By Jason Owens - July 27, 2006

The moment seemingly everyone's been waiting for finally arrived. USC coach Pete Carroll spoke to close the session of press conferences before a late lunch. With almost every coach having to field questions about the turnaround of USC this year after losing two Heisman winners, Carroll got to speak for USC directly.

"It's great to be back here," Carroll said. "We find ourselves in a position where we were a few years back. Three years ago, we lost our quarterback, a running back and many other key players. Now we're facing those same issues again. Hopefully we'll respond just as well."

That will be tough, considering the hype suggesting the Trojans as one of the best football teams of all time before their loss to Texas in Rose Bowl in January.

But there is a lot of talent in L.A. USC's receiving corps may be the best in the nation, led by All-American Dwayne Jarrett, who apparently is clear of any eligibility issues that arose from an apartment he shared with Leinart.

Carroll says the Trojans' secondary is the biggest and fastest he's ever had. There are four freshman running backs expected to give Chauncey Washington a run for the starting tailback job.

And for Carroll, that appears to be the crux of the 2006 team -- competition.

"Competition is a central theme at our program and it's going to be at a high this year," Carroll said. "We have a lot of guys that can play and battle for playing time. There are a lot of exciting things that are going to unfold for us at camp.

Carroll did get around to addressing the issue that everyone is asking about, and he doesn't have an easy answer.

"Each year has its own issues," Carroll said. "This year it's how to replace the Heismans."

But I wasn't so excited to see USC as I was to finally get a laugh out of today's events. As I spoke of earlier, the Pac-10 media day was set up as an all-business affair, and that's how it's played out. But USC center Ryan Kalil finally broke the ice with a remark on his role at media day after the last two media days helped turn former Trojan Matt Leinart into a quasi-celebrity off the field.

"I didn't want to come," Kalil said. "But the team had a vote to send the best-looking guy."

Posted by Jason Owens at 05:44 PM on July 27, 2006

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