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O/NSO: Strike up the band edition

By Greg Katz – WeAreSC

The Obvious: There is nothing more symbolic at a USC football game than when the drum major of the Trojans Marching Band plants his/her sword in the ground at the 50-yard line, which brings Trojans fans to their feet.

The Not So Obvious: It was recently announced that the new iconic drum major for the Trojans in 2016-17 will be junior Chris Wodniak. “The drum major is the figurehead, the pinnacle of student leadership in the Spirit of Troy. It is, in fact, an elected position within the ensemble, someone who has marched with the band for three or four years,” said assistant band director Jacob Vogel.

The Obvious: Under the direction of legendary director Dr. Arthur C. Bartner, the Trojans drum major in the renowned Trojans Marching Band is generally a member of the band who plays an instrument.

The Not So Obvious: This coming year’s drum major, Chris Wodniak, plays the trombone. Wodniak said, “The drum major position goes out to the best candidate regardless of what section they come from. I believe the last trombone drum major was five years ago. After that, there were three trumpet players and a mellophone/alto sax player.” Who knew?

The Obvious: In many ways, the drum is the focal point of the Spirit of Troy.

The Not So Obvious: Chris Wodniak agrees and said, “The drum major is the face of the Trojan Marching Band and the embodiment of Trojan Nation: the students, our athletes, the USC staff, our alumni, and fans all over the world. It personifies our endless pride, unwavering spirit and resilience no matter what happens.”

The Obvious: Clancy Pendergast is in his second go-round as defensive coordinator for the Trojans

The Not So Obvious: But did you know that Clancy graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture? Who says the grass isn’t greener on the other side?

The Obvious: The USC Trojans Athletic Depart unveiled a new website this week to promote interest and information regarding the upcoming major renovation plans for the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

The Not So Obvious: The new website (http://coliseumrenovation.com/overview) is a glitzy, updated presentation on plans to upgrade the Trojans home football game experience. There is even a short, spirited video narrated by former Trojans basketball player and recognized Hollywood star Tom Selleck. The video seemed to highlight the historical USC past in the Coliseum rather than the new improvements.

The Obvious: The plan for execution of renovations plans for the Coliseum is set to begin after the 2018 season.

The Not So Obvious: Since the projects inception, most Trojans fans have waited for what seems like forever and a day to get the construction started. For those waiting patiently, the final game of the regular 2018 season figures to find the Trojans hosting Notre Dame.

The Obvious: The new Coliseum renovations website is divided into six separate sections.

The Not So Obvious: For those keeping score, the six sections include an overview, history, FAQ, News, become involved, and contact us.

The Obvious: In the first section, the Coliseum overview discusses four important elements of the project.

The Not So Obvious: Those elements include “ensure that the game-day experience provides all fans options to enjoy the stadium’s new amenities while recognizing the loyalty of our long-time fans, provide our football team with a first-class facility and a tremendous home field advantage. Create long-term revenue streams so that USC athletics can sustain its excellence across ALL sports for generations to come, and, of course, to preserve the historical integrity of the Coliseum.”

The Obvious: There are expected to be a number of new Coliseum enhancements for the fans.

The Not So Obvious: Among the proposed enhancements are “replacing every seat in the stadium and installing handrails throughout the stadium, adding aisles, widening seats and increasing legroom in many sections, building a new structure on the south side of the stadium that will include suites, loge boxes, club seats, a new concourse, a new press box, restoring the iconic peristyle to more closely resemble the stadium’s original design, and updating/installing Wi-Fi technology throughout the venue.

“Improving audio and video, including two new large screens at the east end of the stadium, adding new concession stands, and improving existing stands, upgrading entry concourses, installing new field and stadium lighting, and replacing the electrical, mechanical and plumbing systems to meet current standards.”

The Obvious: Austin Thomas, who was hired three months ago for the Trojans position of USC Assistant Athletic Director and Director of Player Personnel, has left the Trojans to return to LSU.

The Not So Obvious: It was a curious return to LSU by Thomas who had come back to USC for a second time and certainly knew Clay Helton well, and there is no evidence of a split between the two men. On the surface, this appears to be a case of family considerations, another managerial promotion, more money, intense recruiting by LSU head coach Les Miles, and/or maybe there is more than meets the cardinal and gold eye. Then again, if Thomas and his family were truly happy in L.A., it wouldn’t have mattered what LSU offered.

The Obvious: Prior to Austin Thomas taking on a prominent role as a major cog for the Trojans as what amounts to a recruiting director’s position, Trojan football recruiting had been in the hands of former linebacker coach Peter Sirmon, who has since left to be the defensive coordinator at Mississippi State.

The Not So Obvious: Despite the departure of Thomas, it should be noted that the official title of Recruiting Coordinator was and still is under the responsibility of linebackers coach Johnny Nansen. There figures to be little recruiting interruption with the upcoming and vital June recruiting camps run by the Trojans.

The Obvious: And finally, the Dodgers hosted a four-game series this week against the New York Mets at Dodger Stadium.

The Not So Obvious: Prior to Wednesday night’s baseball game at Dodger Stadium, Trojans head football coach Clay Helton was on the field, all smiles and wearing an “L.A.” cap. Perhaps Helton will return the favor with Dodgers skipper Dave Roberts attending one of the Trojans home games.

Greg Katz
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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