Saturday, November 26, 2005

Mystery of Bush Messages Revealed

Many college football fans have noticed that Reggie Bush has been writing special messages on the tiny black strips he's been wearing under his eyes this season. Those strips, designed to mimic traditional eye black but without the smeary side effects, are worn to reduce glare from the sun or other bright lights.

Bush has been adding his own personal touch to the eye black strips, writing 619 or SE on them with a marker. The 619 is easy enough to figure out; it's the area code of his home city of San Diego. But what about the SE?

"It stands for South East [San Diego]," said Bush.

He says both messages are his way of saying hello to friends back home.

"I don't ever want to forget where I come from."

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Senior Bowl CEO Scouts Trojans

There was an unfamiliar face at USC practice last week, but he had a good reason for being there. Steve Hale, CEO of the Senior Bowl, was in Los Angeles to get a good look at the Trojans' senior class.

Part all-star game, part pre-draft showcase, the Senior Bowl features many of college football's top players. They're split into two teams, each coached by an entire NFL coaching staff and put through a week's worth of workouts. At the end of the week, they face off in Mobile, Alabama's Ladd-Peebles Stadium. This year, that game will be held on January 28th, 2006.

"We only take players who have completely exhausted their eligibility," said Hale in an exclusive interview. "There doesn't need to be any more incentive for players to leave college early than there already are."

But first, those players need to be selected, which is why Hale is visiting college campuses across the country.

"A certain cap is made for each position and from there we choose the best players, until the cap is reached," he said. "Unfortunately this method creates inconsistency, since each year the number of seniors varies per school. For example, this year there will be a disproportionate amount of players from the Deep South just because there are a great deal more talented seniors graduating."

Trojans eligible for the Senior Bowl include Frostee Rucker, Justin Wyatt, Taitusi Latui, Dominique Byrd, Scott Ware, John Walker and David Kirtman. Matt Leinart is also eligible but not likely to accept an invitation; he is already projected as a top pick and not expected to risk injury by playing in the game.

Even with plenty of players to scout, Hale said he tried to fly under the radar and keep his presence at practice from becoming a distraction.

"I know that Pete [Carroll] doesn't want to focus on anything except his next game, so I'm not going to put any pressure on him about the [Senior Bowl]. He had other things on his mind."

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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Bush or Leinart: Who Sells More?

UPDATE: Watch a video version of this story

There's an epic battle being waged between USC teammates Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush, but it's not over the Heisman Trophy. In fact, this competition can't even be settled on a football field.

Instead, you'll have to head to the USC bookstore, where number 5 and number 11 jerseys have been flying off the shelves.

Who sells more? That depends on the week, according to Gretchen Margolis, who supervises the jersey department.

"For instance, this week it's just going to be more Reggie Bush," said Margolis. "It just depends on which one does the most in the games."

Still, Bush's record breaking performance wasn't enough to sway one USC student considering making a purchase.

"I think I'd get Matt Leinart's jersey [if I bought one]," said Shelby Moore. "He's my favorite player."

Fans wanting a Bush or Leinart jersey have several options to choose from -- none of them cheap.

"The authentic jersey, which is the jersey the players wear, that's $150," said Margolis. "We have a replica jersey with the tackle twill numbers sewn on to it, and that's $70, and then we have a replica jersey, which is a screen print, and that's $50."

The bookstore also stock special jerseys just for girls, but only in Bush's number. "We never had Matt jerseys for girls," said Margolis, "but in the children's [sizes], we have both Reggie Bush and Matt and the girls will come in and buy the Matt Leinart jerseys."

But girls aren't the only ones buying number 11 jerseys.

"Matt Leinart's come in and bought a jersey," said Margolis. "He bought his own."

So were Leinart's personal purchases enough to push him past Bush when it comes to the all-important question of who has sold the most jerseys? Margolis was tight-lipped, but after some prodding, she revealed the answer.

"Reggie Bush."

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Trojan Profile: Dwayne Jarrett

Name: Dwayne Jarrett

Number: 8
Class: sophomore
Position: wide receiver
Hometown: New Brunswick, NJ

Siblings: none
Roommates: Matt Leinart

Girlfriend: No
Dream girl: Halle Berry
Most attractive characteristic in a girl: personality
Least attractive characteristic in a girl: insecurity or jealousy

Non-football role model: grandfather
Non-football highlight: making it to college
Best sport other than football: basketball
Career other than football: music producer

Formerly slept with a stuffed animal: Seriously, I never slept with one

Specialty in the kitchen: lasagna

Surprising fact: I sing R&B and church/gospel music

Scares you: having a close family friend pass away

Proud of: how I present myself

Favorite professional football player: Randy Moss

Opponent you dislike the most: Notre Dame

Funniest teammate: Fred Matua
Prettiest: Thomas Williams
Most athletic: Reggie Bush
Most humble: Matt Leinart

Funniest team moment: Whenever someone asks Pete Carroll to do "The Trojan" and he starts to dance

Pete Carroll in one word: Fun

NOTE: Congratulations to Dwayne for being named a Biletnikoff Award finalist

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