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O/NSO: Magazine wars edition

By Greg Katz – WeAreSC

The Obvious: Following on the coattails of Athlon’s 2016 College Football Preview, The Sporting News and Lindy’s college football previews arrived on newsstands this week, and each magazine as its perspective on both the national picture and, of course, the USC Trojans.

The Not So Obvious: Both The Sporting News College Football Yearbook and Lindy’s have regional covers that feature Trojans wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (above photo) and UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen.

The Obvious: Most preseason magazines have preseason All-America teams.

The Not So Obvious: The Sporting News and Lindy’s have Trojans wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster as first team selections while offensive tackle Zach Banner is first team on Lindy’s and second team on Lindy’s preview. Smith-Schuster is also a first team selection on Athlon while Banner is a second team preseason All-America selection.

The Obvious: Adoree’ Jackson, the Trojans All-Pac-12 corner, is considered one of the nation’s premier athletes.

The Not So Obvious: Jackson is a second team Athlon All-American at corner, but in The Sporting News he is a second team kick returner and not a recognized preseason All-America corner. Lindy’s does not list Adoree’ on either its first or second team preseason All-America teams.

The Obvious: Each college football magazine has preseason national rankings.

The Not So Obvious: In The Sporting News, the Trojans are ranked No. 15 and goes on to say, “Last year, Clay Helton took over for embattled coach Steve Sarkisian halfway through a turmoil-filled campaign to flip USC”s season and lead it to the Pac-12 Championship Game. But the Trojans are still coming off a six-loss season and face a show-me opener at AT&T Stadium against Alabama. The quarterback battle between Max Browne and Sam Darnold should be interesting. And cornerback/wide receiver Adoree’ Jackson is one of the nation’s most exciting players. Give Helton the benefit of the doubt in his first full season.”

The Obvious: Some consider Lindy’s the foremost preseason college football magazine.

The Not So Obvious: In Lindy’s preseason national rankings, the Trojans are No. 17. Lindy’s says, “We’ll trust the Trojans have moved past all the coaching turmoil and a six-loss season in which they still managed to win the Pac-12 South. Expect a repeat in the division.”

The Obvious: Alabama, the Trojans opening opponent in 2016, is the consensus No. 1 team in the country, according to The Sporting News, Lindy’s, and Athlon.

The Not So Obvious: Regarding the Crimson Tide, TSN says, “Nick Saban’s “Death Star” continues to spin, and the Crimson Tide will seek a fifth national championship since he took over as head coach in 2007. The quarterback battle is the preseason focus again, and this time junior Cooper Bateman and redshirt freshman Blake Barnett are fighting for the job. That’s the biggest question for a team that returns back big-time playmakers such as wide receiver Calvin Ridley and defense end Jonathan Allen. It’s the same old challenge, but the Crimson Tide are equipped for a repeat.”

The Obvious: Until dethroned, Alabama remains the best of the best.

The Not So Obvious: Athlon says, “The adversity and motivation that drove last year’s run disappeared into the sea of confetti and streams on the field at the University of Phoenix Stadium. Now all Alabama has to do is the same thing again this fall. Expectations aren’t leaving with the first-round draft picks the Tide will replace this fall. The target will be as big as ever as Saban begins Year 10 in Tuscaloosa.”

Lindy’s says, “Saban’s defense, even without longtime defensive coordinator Kirby Smart (Georgia head coach) is again as impenetrable as a locked IPhone. The skill on offense will prop up the new quarterback. Make it six national titles overall for Saban. He has the best players.”

The Obvious: Athlon’s national magazine arrived on Monday, and it figured that there wouldn’t be a Trojan gracing part of the cover.

The Not So Obvious: Featured cover photos in Athlon’s national magazine included Ohio State QB J.T. Barrett, Clemson QB Deshaun Watson, Alabama LB Reuben Foster, and Florida State RB Dalvin Cook.

The Obvious: The Trojans will appear on ABC/ESPN this coming football season, and the first exposure will be against Alabama on ABC, Sept. 3, at 5 p.m. PT.

The Not So Obvious: In ESPN college football broadcaster news for the upcoming season, Samantha Ponder joins the ABC Saturday Night Football telecast as a reporter, while play-by-play commentator Joe Tessitore moves to the ESPN College Football Primetime game. Additionally, Steve Levy, who returns to a weekly college football play-by-play role, forms a team with Brian Griese to call action on ABC or ESPN on Saturday afternoons.

The Obvious: The Pac-12 has announced that it’s reducing the number of late night football games for the coming season.

The Not So Obvious: In order to have earlier kickoff times at either 2:30 p.m. or 6 p.m. PT, the conference needed the approval of ESPN and FOX. Considering the Pac-12 usually gets leftover options after the two networks have selected games of high profile interest, just how shocking was it really that the ESPN and FOX found no real ratings their to the Pac-12’s “scraps game”?

The Obvious: In The Sporting News Heisman Trophy race, Stanford’s All-World running back Christian McCaffrey is as a favorite to win the award.

The Not So Obvious: Trojans all-purpose performer Adoree’ Jackson is listed as a Heisman multipurpose candidate, but he is not considered a favorite.

The Obvious: And finally, the Pac-12 has passed a rule that a school will be fined a large amount of money if its fans run onto the field after a game to celebrate.

The Not So Obvious: Let the old O/NSO tell you something. If the Trojans beat UCLA or Notre Dame – especially on a game-winning field goal, it would be money well spent, and don’t think that the Trojans management is going to cry all the way to the bank if they beat the Bruins and/or the Irish in dramatic fashion.

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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