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The O/NSO: 2019 Holiday gift giving edition

The Obvious: Given what USC Trojans fans have gone through this season in game, coaching, administrative, and now recruiting dramatics, the holiday gift giving season couldn’t have come at a better time.

The Not So Obvious: So, let’s put aside all the cardinal and gold controversy because it’s time for the O/NSO’s annual holiday gift-giving distribution to those we hope either have a sense of humor or take it to heart. But most importantly, Happy Holidays to all our WeAreSC readers, followers, and even detractors!    

The Obvious Gift for USC President Carol Folt: A Holiday Bowl win because the backlash of a defeat to Iowa will activate the Caltech Folt-Bohn-Helton seismological laboratory and its cardinal and gold seismograph to record-breaking recording levels.

The Not So Obvious Folt Gift: Knowledge, experience, understanding, and, of course, integrity regarding what it takes to be the president of a university of a legendary college football program and how to maintain it.  

USC President Carol Folt (photo above) will be in San Diego for the SDCCU Holiday Bowl Classic.

The Obvious Gift for Trojans’ athletic director Mike Bohn: See Carol Folt.

The Not So Obvious Bohn Gift: For his Heritage Hall athletic director’s office, a beautifully framed, wall-sized pre-recruiting day Bohn quote: “Recruiting is going dramatically better than anybody wants to admit.”

Before signing day, Trojan fans would like to know who told athletic director Mike Bohn (photo above) that “Recruiting is going dramatically better than anybody wants to admit.”

The Obvious Gift for head coach Clay Helton: See Carol Folt and Mike Bohn.

The Not So Obvious Helton Gift: For his John McKay Center head coach’s office, a beautifully framed, wall-sized quote from Trojans’ legendary Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Matt Leinart : “USC recruiting?? Wow! Oregon is the new USC in recruiting on the West Coast… back in my day no one dared to recruit So Cal. Now it’s open season and Oregon is hunting!”

Trojans’ head football coach Clay Helton (photo above) needs the gift of explanation why the Trojans’ recruiting Class of 2020 was devoid of any blue-chipper in California’ s Top 25 ranking (247Sports Composite) of players.

The Obvious Gift for offensive coordinator Graham Harrell: Since it appears that you will be sticking around for a few more seasons, ten more Kedon Slovis-type quarterbacks in your Trojans’ quarterback coaching career.

The Not So Obvious Harrell Gift: A copy of the best-selling football book, “The importance of a running game if you want to win at the national championship level.”

With a new million dollar per year contract spanning three years, does OC Graham Harrell (photo above) need any holiday gifts?

The Obvious Gift for Trojans’ quarterback Kedon Slovis: A 2020 offensive line that keeps you out of harm’s way.

The Not So Obvious Slovis Gift: The good sense to stay the class kid that you are and not change when all the inevitable Heisman Trophy talk begins.

The Obvious Gifts for quarterback JT Daniels: See Kedon Slovis.

The Not So Obvious Daniels Gift: Another chance to take one more snap as a Mater Dei Monarch.

Quarterback JT Daniels (photo above) will need the gift of good health to compete this spring against Kedon Slovis.

The Obvious Gift for Trojans’ sophomore wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown: All-Pac-12 first team in 2020.

The Not So Obvious St. Brown Gift: Patience to let the game come to you and dispelling the ridiculous rumors of your entrance into the NCAA Transfer Portal.

The Obvious Gift for wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr.: A 2019 All-American. Oh, you say you already have that gift?

The Not So Obvious Pittman Jr. Gift: A great 40 time for NFL combine scouts.

All-America wide receiver Michael Pittman (photo above) will receive the gift of a good performance at the NFL combines.

The Obvious Gifts for wide receiver Tyler Vaughns: The good sense to return for your senior season.

The Not So Obvious Vaughns Gift:  Reflections regarding wide receiver teammate Michael Pittman Jr. and seeing all the honors and awards Pitt received – not to mention a higher draft standing – by electing to return for his senior season.

The gift for junior wide receiver Tyler Vaughns (photo above) is the good sense to return for his senior season.

The Obvious Gift for wide receiver Velus Jones: A 100-yard kickoff return in the Holiday Bowl.

The Not So Obvious Jones Gift: A book deal chronicling “My Life in the NCAA Transfer Portal.”

Kickoff specialist Velus Jones (photo above) receives the gift of a 100-yard kickoff return in the Holiday Bowl.

The Obvious Gift for quarterback Matt Fink: Peace of mind knowing you showed everybody just how much a team player you are.

The Not So Obvious Fink Gift: See Velus Jones.

The Obvious Gift for running back Vavae Malepeai: Good health

The Not So Obvious Malepeai Gift: Being lined up in a two-back set. In a “normal” offense under a Pete Carroll, you could have been a Stanley Havili.

Running back Vavae Malepeai (photo above) receives the gift of being in a two-back set along with Kedon Slovis.

The Obvious Gift for Trojans’ running back Markese Stepp: A healthy ankle

The Not So Obvious Stepp Gift: A legitimate chance to start in 2020 and show once again that you are the closest thing to LenDale White than we’ve seen since “Thunder” graduated.

The Obvious Gift for defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast: A defense that creates four turnovers in the Holiday Bowl.

The Not So Obvious Pendergast Gift: Appreciation for being a class act despite some intense scrutiny. 

Defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast (photo above) get the gift of four turnovers in the Holiday Bowl.

The Obvious Gift for true freshman tailback Kenan Christon: More carries in 2020.

The Not So Obvious Christon Gift:A very successful USC track season.

The Obvious Gift for new running back coach Mike Jinks: Good decision-making when all four of your gifted running backs –Vavae Malepeai, Stephen Carr, Markese Stepp, and Kenan Christon– return in 2020.

The Not So Obvious Jinks Gift: An opportunity to convince OC Graham Harrell that you have too many good running backs to keep three of them on the sidelines.

Running back coach Mike Jinks (photo above) receivers the gift of decision-making when it comes to how to use his four healthy, standout backs.

The Obvious Gift for new secondary coach Greg Burns: Continued satisfaction watching your young secondary mature in 2020.

The Not So Obvious Burns Gift: A healthy Talanoa Hufanga at strong safety.

Trojans’ secondary coach Greg Burns (photo above) could use the gift of a healthy strong safety Talanoa Hufanga.

The Obvious Gift for defensive back Chris Steele: A chance to settle down after your whirlwind drama from last spring at Florida to where you are today.

The Not So Obvious Steele Gift: A California state championship for your beloved Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco High. Oh, you say you got that one recently. Never mind.

The Obvious Gift for offensive tackle Austin Jackson: The good sense to depart to the NFL only if you’re going to be taken in the first round.

The Not So Obvious Jackson Gift: A huge smile from your grandfather, Melvin Jackson, who was a starting tackle for one of John McKay’s legendary national championship teams.

Offensive left tackle Austin Jackson (photo above) gets the gift of good sense when deciding whether to leave early for the NFL draft.

The Obvious Gift for Trojans recruiting coordinator and linebacker coach Johnny Nansen: The signatures of some 5-star players during the February signing period.  

The Not So Obvious Nansen Gift: A sit-down luncheon with Oregon-bound inside linebacker Justin Flowe (Upland, Calif.) to learn what went wrong with his USC recruiting, although the O/NSO suspects you already know the answer.

After losing out on blue-chip insider linebacker Justin Flowe to Oregon, the gift for insider linebacker coach Johnny Nansen (photo above) is a 5-star linebacker signed in February.

The Obvious Gift for special teams coach John Baxter: Improved special teams play if you’re still the special teams coach at USC in 2020.

The Not So Obvious Baxter Gift: A job as a sportswriter or social media blogger after your coaching days are over.    

Special teams coach John Baxter (photo above) receives the gift of being a social media blogger or sportswriter if he isn’t retained for 2020.

The Obvious Gift for sophomore corner Olaijah Griffin: Ten more pounds gained in the off-season.  

The Not So Obvious Griffin Gift: Being a rap star when your football days are over.

The Obvious Gift for Pac-12 officials: Same as last season, a referee camp supervised by SEC officials.

The Not So Obvious Pac-12 Officials Gift: Same as last season,the good sense not to call a hold or pass interference on what seems to be after every explosion play.

Pac-12 game officials (photo above) receive for the second year in a row the gift of being sent to a referees camp supervised by SEC game officials.

The Obvious Gift for sophomore safety Talanoa Hufanga: A healthy shoulder for 2020.

The Not So Obvious Hufanga Gift: A 2020 season that will elevate you into the conversation of being one of USC’s all-time great safeties.

The gift for strong safety Talanoa Hufanga (photo above – No. 15) is a healthy shoulder for 2020.

The Obvious Gift for Trojans offensive line coach Tim Drevno: A 5-star offensive lineman.

The Not So Obvious Drevno Gift: Another Austin Jackson.

Trojans’ offensive line coach Tim Drevno (photo above) gets the gift of a 5-star offensive lineman for the holidays.

The Obvious Gift for running back Stephen Carr: Continued good health.

The Not So Obvious Carr Gift: A chance to regain your freshman form before you got hurt.

The Obvious Gift for new defensive line coach Chad Kauha’aha’a:  More defensive line sacks in 2020.

The Not So Obvious Kauha’aha’a Gifts: Another Jay Tufele.

Trojans’ D-line coach Chad Kauha’aha’a (photo above) receivers the gift of another Jay Tufele.

The Obvious Gift for tight end Erik Krommenhoek: Some more play calls for the tight ends.

The Not So Obvious Krommenhoek Gifts: A career in the NFL with a team that fits your skillset.

The Obvious Gift for talented freshman defensive end Drake Jackson: A first round NFL draft round selection when you become eligible in a couple of years.

The Not So Obvious Jackson Gift: A chance to be reunited along the Trojans defensive line with current Corona (Calif). Centennial blue-chip recruit Korey Foreman (6-4, 250), Class of 2021.

True freshman defensive end Drake Jackson (photo above) gets the gift of being a future first-round pick in a future NFL draft.

The Obvious Gift for freshman defensive tackle Jay Tufele: A 2020 first-team All-Pac-12 season. Oh, you say you too have already gotten that gift in 2019?

The Not So Obvious Tufele Gift: Okay, how about the gift of being a 2020 All-American and joining an elite group of former legendary USC defensive linemen. 

If he returns to the Trojans next season and doesn’t enter the NFL draft, the gift for All-Pac-12 defensive lineman Jay Tufele (photo above) is an All-American season and then a high NFL draft pick in 2021.

The Obvious Gift for center Brett Neilon: Continued growth as the linchpin of the offensive line.

The Not So Obvious Neilon Gift: No bad snaps in 2020.

Trojans’ center Brett Neilon (photo above) receives the gift of no bad snaps in 2020.

The Obvious Gift for center Justin Dedich: A position switch to guard so that both you and Brett Neilon can be on the field at the same time.

The Not So Obvious Dedich Gift: To remain humble and dedicated to USC football and your teammates.

The Obvious Gift for Trojans’ punter Ben Griffiths: A chance in the Holiday Bowl to really uncork some awe-inspiring punts.

The Not So Obvious Griffiths Gift: A long NFL career after your days at Troy are done.

The obvious gift for punter Ben Griffiths (photo above) would be a long and profitable career in the NFL.

The Obvious Gift for wide receiver Drake London: A leaping touchdown reception in the Holiday Bowl.

The Not So Obvious London Gift: A successful transition from football to the Trojans’ basketball team.

True freshman wide receiver Drake London (photo above) gets the gift of a successful transition from football to the USC basketball team.

The Obvious Gift for Traveler: A box of cardinal and gold sugar.

The Not So Obvious Traveler Gift: A new rider that isn’t too heavy for you in the saddle. 

With a new rider for next season, the gift for Traveler (photo above) is somebody who doesn’t weigh too much in the saddle.

The Obvious Gift for the Coliseum: Some sellouts in 2020.

The Not So Obvious Coliseum Gift: Some statues of former USC football greats surrounding your outer shell.

The Coliseum (photo above) receives the gift of some 2020 sellouts.

The Obvious Gift for Trojans’ defensive end Christian Rector: An opportunity to make an NFL roster.

The Not So Obvious Rector Gift: Patience and discipline when Iowa tries to run a reverse to your side of the field.

The Obvious Gift for kicker Chase McGrath: A field goal to win the Holiday Bowl – if needed.

The Not So Obvious McGrath Gift: A 2020 field goal to win the Pac-12 Conference title – if needed.

Placekicker Chase McGrath (photo above) gets the gift of winning field goal against Iowa in the Holiday Bowl.

The Obvious Gift for sophomore outside linebacker Kana’i Mauga: A starting position in 2020.

The Not So Obvious Mauga Gift: A chance to show why you were so sought after having capped a tremendous prep career in Hawaii.

The Obvious Gift for the USC Song Girls: A great night of television exposure in the Holiday Bowl.

The Not So Obvious Gift for the USC Song Girls: No controversy in 2020.

The obvious gift for the USC Song Girls (photo above) will be a lot of TV exposure in the Holiday Bowl

The Obvious Gift for junior inside linebacker John Houston Jr.: More weight without losing your speed.

The Not So Obvious Houston Jr. Gift: A chance to play some outside linebacker, a likely position for the NFL.

Inside linebacker John Houston Jr. (photo above) receives the gift of being moved from inside to outside linebacker in the NFL.

The Obvious Gift for Trojans radio voice Pete Arbogast: A box of chocolate “How do you do’s.”

The Not So Obvious Arbogast Gift: Induction into the USC Athletic Hall of Fame.

The not so obvious gift for Trojans’ radio voice of nearly a generation Pete Arbogast (photo above) is induction into the Trojans’ Athletic Hall of Fame.

The Obvious Gift for Dr. Arthur C. Bartner: Reconsideration of your decision to retire after the conclusion of the spring semester.

The Not So Obvious Bartner Gift: Same as last year, a statue of you directing the band in front of the USC Music Department Building.

Retiring Trojans Marching Band director Dr. Arthur C. Bartner (photo above) gets the gift of a statue in front of the music department building.

The Obvious Gift for freshman inside linebacker Palaie Gaoteote IV: A switch in spring ball to outside linebacker so you can rush off the edge.

The Not So Obvious Gaoteote IV Gift: Former Trojans’ All-World linebacker Chris Claiborne as your new linebacker coach if Clay Helton has the good sense to bring in Claiborne – if there is a staff opening – into the program.

The Obvious Gift for WeAreSC analyst and former Trojans DB Darrell Rideaux: A chance to play one more game in the Coliseum.

The Not So Obvious Rideaux Gift: A return to the USC post-game radio call-in show.

The O/NSO gift for WeAreSC analyst Darrell Rideaux (photo above): One more chance to play DB in a USC game in the Coli.

The Obvious Gift for former Trojans all-star linebacker Kevin Bruce, WeAreSC author of Defensively Speaking and former All-Pac-10 linebacker: More great “defensive” columns in 2020.  

The Not So Obvious Bruce Gift: One more chance to relive playing Notre Dame in 1974’s insanity “Comeback” win, and one more opportunity to relive playing Ohio State in the thrilling 1975 Rose Bowl Game. Are you up for those gifts?  

The gift for WeAreSC staff writer Kevin Bruce (photo above) will be more great columns adding his special perspective on the Trojans’ defense and program in general.

The Obvious Gift for WeAreSC staff writer/columnist Chris Arledge: Continued brilliant columns and continued use of metaphors as only you can, combining USC football and world history.

The Not So Obvious Arledge Gift:  A luncheon date with Carol Folt, Mike Bohn, and Clay Helton. Carthago delenda est.

WeAreSC columnist Chris Arledge (photo above) gets the gift of a luncheon with Dr. Folt, AD Mike Bohn, and head coach Clay Helton.

The Obvious Gift for WeAreSC publisher Erik McKinney: Continued success and sanity as the publisher of WeAreSC.

The Not So Obvious McKinney Gift: Some sleep.

The Obvious Gift for the family of late WeAreSC publisher Garry Paskwietz: Peace of mind knowing that your son/brother left a legacy and website that continues to be loved by USC football fans around the world. Thank you for all your support.

The Not So Obvious Family Gift: A 2020 USC football team that keeps smiles on your faces and a smile on Garry’s face as he looks down upon all of us.   

The obvious gift for the family of late WeAreSC publisher Garry Paskweitz (photo above) is peace of mind knowing that GP left a beautiful legacy and website that continues to be loved by USC football fans around the world.

The Obvious Gift for all Trojans fans: And finally, a magical USC football season in 2020.

The Not So Obvious Fans Gift: Okay, I’ll say it again and again… a national championship in 2020. One can dream, can’t we?



Greg Katz
Author
Greg Katz

Now in his 58th 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 staff writer 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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