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IMHO Sunday: Fathering a passion

By Greg Katz – WeAreSC.com

In my humble opinion, cardinal and gold thoughts on what I see, what I hear, and what I think.

Color him Father: Even though my late dad, Howard, was a staunch UCLA fan – mainly because because his oldest brother, Jack, was a UCLA graduate – Father’s Day will always remind me that the man that helped create me also took me to my first USC football game, a mighty hot Sept. 22, 1962. The game was won by the Trojans, 14-7, over the No. 8 Duke Blue Devils, and it was the beginning of a USC national championship season under John McKay. Despite his blue and gold allegiance, Dad always thought of USC as the New York Yankees of college football, the highest of compliments.

Color him Father – Part 2: Dad was the man that took me to the 1967 USC-UCLA football game, perhaps the greatest in the history of the historic series. I remember him watching the Trojans warm up and saying to me, “Just watching O.J. Simpson stretch scares me.” Of course he was referring to The Juice’s ability. When the Trojans won 21-20 on Nov. 18, 1967, he took the loss gracefully, the classy man that he was.

Color him Father – Part 3: And Dad was the person that took me to my first Dodgers game in the Coliseum on May 7, 1959. It was Roy Campanella Night and an exhibition game against the Yankees, and I remember dad lighting a match like the rest of the 93,013 in attendance to honor the fallen Dodgers catcher. As the old rock and roll song says, “Color him father, color this man love.” Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

Bring on the Bulldogs: If things go according to plan with the Coliseum renovation timeline, the Trojans will open the “new” Coliseum against the Fresno State Bulldogs on Aug. 31, 2019. Given the reduced seating numbers (77,000) and the huge Bulldogs following, it figures that home opener in 2019 figures to be one hot ticket.

Bulldogs second take: Okay, as legendary Chicago Cubs sportscaster Harry Carry used to say, “Let me hear ya good and loud!” I know, you’d rather have the Georgia Bulldogs than the Fresno State Bulldogs raise the curtains on the redone Grand Old Lady for all the obvious reasons. Well, tighten your chinstrap. Fresno State is coming to town two more times in 2022 and 2025, respectively. On the bright side, at least the FSU games are spaced out.

Two platoon: This past week’s summer workouts saw a surprise when sophomore offensive tackle Chuma Edoga unexpectedly played some defensive line. More a revelation to onlookers than to Chuma, it should be noted that many current Trojans, like Edoga, were two-way players at the prep level.

Generations ago: There was a time that a two-way player was commonplace at Troy. In fact, the starting quarterback of the Trojans 1962 National Champions, All-Conference Pete Beathard, played in the secondary and All-American Damon Bame was a combination starting left guard and linebacker.

Miles and miles: A native Texan from the Dallas area told me recently that the distance from Dallas-Fort Worth Airport to AT&T Stadium in Arlington is actually shorter in distance than going to the game from downtown Dallas.

Miles and miles – Part 2:
The driving time to get to AT&T Stadium from either DFW or downtown Dallas depends on traffic. In traffic, the trip could take more than 45 minutes. Since the game is on Saturday, I am told the traffic shouldn’t be all that bad.

How’bout them Cowboys: For those arriving on Thursday into Dallas ahead of Saturday night’s game between the Trojans and Alabama, you might want to know that the Cowboys will be hosting a preseason game against in-state rival Houston Texans on Thursday night at 7 p.m. CT. Tickets were available.

How’bout them Cowboys: If you need a little more than a nudge to see the Cowboys play the Texans on Thursday night, the Cowboys roster has former Trojans All-America and All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith.

How’bout them Texans: The Houston Texans will have a pair of Trojans, depending, of course, on roster cuts. It figures that linebacker Brian Cushing will be playing on Thursday night, and there is the possibility, depending on roster cuts, of seeing rookie fullback Soma Vainuku.

From the press box…

Homeboys: Rookie” Kevon Seymour and veteran Nickell Robey are former Trojans teammates participating in a Buffalo Bills mini camp. Seymour said, “I remember being at USC it was the exact same thing. He (Robey) brought me under his wing. We’d sit together in the film room… Once I found out I was going to be here I was thinking I’ve already got a guy here to lean on… He’s just trying to have my back and be that mentor and big brother here that I don’t have.”

High praise: Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan has given high marks in mini camp to Kevon Seymour. Honest Rex said, “He has done a great job. He has already elevated (his play). He certainly looks the part right now.”

The weighting: Because it says so on the current roster, so you’ll be interested to note that junior offensive guard Damien Mama is now listed at 325 pounds, down from his freshman weight of just under 400 pounds.

Remember him:
As if we have forgotten Trojans junior center Toa Lobendahn, completing his rehab from knee surgery, the big concern early in his career was putting weight on and keeping it. In the latest roster numbers, Toa is now listed at 295 pounds.

Monsters of the Midway: They keep getting bigger and bigger, so it should be no shock that incoming Trojans offensive tackles Frank Martin (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei) and E.J. Price (Dacula, Ga./Archer) are listed at 6-foot-5, 310 pounds and 6-foot-6, 325 pounds, respectably.

More preseason AA lists: Phil Steele’s national preview has four Trojans on his various levels of preseason All-America teams. Steele’s first team Trojans includes WR JuJu Smith-Schuster; second team OT Zach Banner, DB/PR Adoree’ Jackson, and LS Zach Smith; and third team LB Cameron Smith.

Cover boys: Trojans all-purpose performer Adoree’ Jackson was one of four Pac-12 players on Phil Steele’s West Region cover. Joining A.J. on the cover is UCLA QB Josh Rosen, Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey, and Washington FS Budda Baker.

The post-game show…

It’s all relative: Former Utah Utes defensive lineman and newly announced Trojans graduate transfer Steve Tu’ikolovatu has NFL bloodlines. His uncle is former Ute and NFL defensive lineman Sione Pouha, recently a Utah student-assistant coach.

It’s all relative – Part 2: Last season while participating for the Utah Utes, Steve Tu’ikolovatu had four tackles against the Trojans in the Coliseum.

Senior Citizen: Steve Tu’ikolovatu will be the oldest player on the 2016 Trojans roster. “Stevie” will be 25-years-old when the Trojans open the new season.

Another gem: While incoming freshman corner Jackie Jones has caught the eye of a lot of summer workout observers, another emerging shining star is former Prep All-America wide receiver Tyler Vaughns, who has shown in the early going he catches everything in sight and in traffic. Up to this point, Vaughns appears to be unfazed by his new surroundings.

The schedule challenger: Most in college football agree that the Trojans schedule is arguably the toughest in college football. Interestingly enough, the Trojans last opponent on the difficult 2016 regular season schedule is Notre Dame, and Irish fans are already claiming they have as tough a schedule as the Trojans.

The Irish schedule: FYI, in 2016 the Irish will see the Big 12 (at Texas), the Big Ten (Michigan State), the Pac-12 (Stanford, at USC) and five opponents from the Atlantic Coast Conference this season, per its agreement with the ACC. As ESPN points out, “Those are opponents from four of the Power 5 conferences, and next year, Notre Dame will host Georgia.”

The advance: Speaking of schedules, did we mention that the week before the Trojans travel for a huge game at Stanford on Sept. 17, the Cardinal will host Hall of Fame coach and former Trojans assistant Bill Snyder and his tough Kansas State squad? K-State is coming off a disappointing 6-7 mark in 2015 and the first sub- 500 record since 2010.

Rock of ages: Kansas State coach Bill Snyder ranks second as the second most winningest active coach in the country behind Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly. As for his Trojans roots, Snyder was an assistant under legendary John McKay way back in 1966.

The last word: Happy Fathers Day to all, and if your father is still on the planet, cherish Dad as if there might not be another. After all, you’ve got only one genetic father.

Greg Katz

Now entering his 59th season of either writing, broadcasting, or just plain watching USC football, WeAreSC columnist Greg Katz began his affiliation with the website back in 2001, introducing his well-received O/NSO (The Obvious/The Not So Obvious) column and later adding his respected IMHO Sunday opinion and tidbits column. Greg, a former ESPN.com college football columnist covering USC, is also a member of the Football Writer's Association of America. He is also known in Southern California as a professional public address announcer, having called the the 1996 Rose Bowl Game between USC and Northwestern. Greg also holds a master's degree in athletic administration and was a former varsity high school coach of 27 years.

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