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O/NSO: Welcome wagon edition

By Greg Katz – WeAreSC

The Obvious: This week, six early entry freshmen arrived on campus, and this weekend comes one of the biggest and most important official recruiting gatherings of this recruiting cycle.

The Not So Obvious: So many new faces coming and going this week and weekend, but none bigger than the No. 1 recruit in the country in defensive tackle Rashan Gary (Paramus, New Jersey/Paramus Catholic). Although considered the longest of longshots with Michigan said to be the frontrunner, the big kid (6-4, 287) brought his mother along for the official visit to L.A., which could be the Trojans ace in the hole. If Gary has relatives in the L.A. area, that “longshot” tag could be transformed into “have a shot.”

The Obvious: As of the moment, it is unknown whether the Trojans have hired a defensive line coach.

The Not So Obvious: Well, maybe the Trojans have hired a new defensive line coach. If anybody will know about it, it will be Rashan Gary. It’s hard to convince a player to come to a university when he doesn’t know who his position coach will be. Of course, it wouldn’t be a shocker for this weekend if Trojans “interim” defensive line coach and former Trojans All-America Kenechi Udeze (above photo) spends quality time with Gary.

The Obvious: On Monday, quarterback Matt Fink, receivers Michael Pittman and Josh Imatorbhebhe, offensive lineman Nathan Smith, defensive lineman Oluwole Betiku, defensive back C.J. Pollard enrolled in classes for the spring semester.

The Not So Obvious: Besides the six being eligible to participate in spring practice, Trojans fans and the program don’t have to worry these six talented “freshmen” signing a letter of intent the first week of February.

The Obvious: Former Louisiana Tech defensive backs coach Ronnie Bradford has been hired as the new Trojans defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast.

The Not So Obvious: It’s a homecoming of sorts for both Pendergast and Bradford, who worked under Clancy when both were on the staff at Cal (2010) and with the Kansas City Chiefs. Bradford fits the Trojans coaching mold with an NFL background and having been an accomplished DB for ten seasons. He also was a seven-year assistant coach in the NFL with Kansas City and Denver. At Denver, he coached three-time first-team All Pro corner Champ Bailey and two-time Pro Bowl pick Dre’ Bly.

The Obvious: Ronnie Bradford’s previous coaching stop was at Louisiana Tech, which is in the same conference as Western Kentucky.

The Not Obvious: While all the current attention is understandably directed at the relationship between Bradford and Clancy Pendergast, don’t lose sight of the fact that since Louisiana Tech plays in the same conference as Western Kentucky, which provided the Trojans with new coaches Tyson Helton and Neil Callaway. Obviously Helton and Callaway had first hand knowledge of Bradford and his LTU defensive backfields. This season, Bradford’s Louisiana Tech team lost, 41-38, to Western Kentucky in Conference USA.

The Obvious: The “Los Angeles” Rams are returning to their original stomping grounds, the Coliseum, and it’s possible that the “Los Angeles” Raiders could be joining them, depending on the fortunes of the “San Diego/Los Angeles” Chargers.

The Not So Obvious: If the Raiders join the Rams in the Coliseum in 2016, the head coaches of both teams will be former USC Trojans stars. Jeff Fisher is the head coach of the Rams, and former USC All-America linebacker Jack Del Rio is the head coach of the Raiders.

The Obvious: Former Trojans linebacker coach and recruiting coordinator Peter Sirmon has left to become the defensive coordinator for Mississippi State.

The Not So Obvious: Sermon’s departure was not a shock. Of course, one could argue that the timing isn’t good with the recruiting season now back in full swing. However, the truth is that the Trojans have zeroed in on a handful of remaining recruits for the Class of 2016, so the immediate effects will be that problematic.

The Obvious: Defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast and head coach Clay Helton must now find a linebackers replacement coach for the departed Peter Sirmon.

The Not So Obvious: One candidate is already on staff and that would be current running back coach Johnny Nansen, who played linebacker while at Washington State.

The Obvious: Former Trojans assistant coach Kennedy Polamalu has been promoted to offensive coordinator for UCLA.

The Not So Obvious: Well, the O/NSO says that for all those that wanted to see what a Kennedy Polamalu offense at USC might look, they will likely get to see it against the Trojans at the Rose Bowl in 2016. UCLA head coach Jim Mora said that Polamalu would now make use of a fullback and the tight ends and concentrate on making a physical offensive line.

The Obvious: Former Trojans assistant Marques Tuiasosopo has been hired by UCLA as the Bruins quarterback coach.

The Not So Obvious: Tuiasosopo’s father is Manu Tuiasosopo, a former all-conference defensive lineman at UCLA in the 1970s.

The Obvious: Bill Hancock, Executive Director of the College Football Playoff (CFP), announced Monday that USC President, C. L. Max Nikias, has been named chairman of the College Football Playoff Board of Managers.

The Not So Obvious: If you aren’t up to what is the CFP Board of Managers, it governs the College Football Playoff business, property and affairs. The board develops, reviews and approves annual budgets, policies and operating guidelines. It has authority over all aspects of the company’s operations.

The Obvious: And finally, there is a segment of the USC population that believes that President Max Nikias does not care all that much about football.

The Not So Obvious: Whether you buy into that argument, there is no arguing that if he didn’t really care about USC and college football in general he wouldn’t have accepted the position. In any case, being part of the CFP process is bound to have a profound effect on Nikias one way or the other.

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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