Photo Credit: Jerry Ting/Neon Tommy

2014 USC Preview: Ticket Pricing Edition

Photo Credit: Jerry Ting/Neon Tommy

Originally posted at TrojanWire:

A few seasons ago USC earned the top spot in the preseason polls thanks to the belief that quarterback Matt Barkley, and receivers Marquise Lee and Robert Woods would form a dominant offense. But not only did that team disappoint, but last season the Trojans struggled once again. Not only did it lead to the firing of head coach Lane Kiffin, it also led to relatively inexpensive USC games on the secondary market last season.

This season expectations are relatively high again, with USC landing a 15th ranking in the preseason polls. That number also directly relates to where they are for ticket prices on the secondary market. According to TiqIQ, USC has the 15th most expensive tickets in the nation this year with a $143.67 average. That’s a huge increase from the season before, when the average price dropped to $84.16 after the tough losses started to mount for the Trojans. Home games on the USC football schedule will be 71% more expensive than last season, which is one of the largest price increases in the entire nation.

But while expectations are up for USC, they’re also up for the entire Pac-12 conference. The conference has recently started to challenge the SEC for dominance in the sport with Oregon, Stanford and UCLA also looking like real contenders for the conference title and College Football Playoffs this season. In fact, overall the depth of the conference has improved mightily with competitive teams up and down the board.

That hype has even led to a price increase for one of the most hyped matchups in Southern California. UCLA and USC face off every year and last season the average was pretty high at $234.47, and a get-in price at $101 at the Coliseum. This season the game will be played at the Rose Bowl as a UCLA home game and the average price has increased 29%t for an average of $302.32. The get-in price didn’t increase much, with the cheapest ticket currently at $104.

That game isn’t the only one with expensive tickets. The team also hosts Notre Dame for a game that currently has a $257 average and an $82 get-in price. Notre Dame is another team like USC that has a successful history, but has struggled to live up to that hype that last several years. Granted they had a big outlier year a couple seasons ago when they made the national championship game behind an undefeated regular season. This season Notre Dame is ranked just a bit behind the Trojans at 17 on the AP preseason poll.

The next most expensive game of the seasons comes August 30 against Fresno State. The game currently has an average price of $135 and a get-in price of $43 for USC’s first home game of the season.

USC has struggled since Pete Carroll left, and the team received sanctions for breaking NCAA regulations. Entering this season with a new head coach in Steve Sarkisian, the team is hopeful that they’re heading in the right direction. So far that means a 15th ranking in the preseason poll, and increased ticket prices on the secondary market.

Trojan DePo: The Tao of Pete

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TrojanWire’s Devon Pollard poses with Seattle head coach Pete Carroll following ESPN’s Lunch with a Legend radio broadcast at Morton’s the Steakhouse in Santa Ana.

Reggie Bush aside, Pete Carroll stands as one of the most polarizing figures among the USC population. To many, he’s like the dad that ran out on the family just when things got rough, yet he swears he still loves you and your mom. To others, he’s a sort of transient messiah, flying from broken team to broken team ala Mary Poppins sans the wise cracking parrot umbrella. So which is it? Is he the coach that raised USC from the ashes, or the one who drove the greatest program since the dawn of the new millennium into the ground?

Please keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle at all times. You’re about to enter the Trojan DePo.

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USC/NBA Draft Q&A – Ridiculous Upside

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Danny Moloshok – AP

Since I was interested in hearing the perspective of some NBA talent evaluators or basically because I’m lazy, I brought in Michael Levin from SB Nation’s NBA Draft blog, Ridiculous Upside, to answer some questions about USC hoops and tomorrow’s NBA Draft. Hope you enjoy!

Q: USC doesn’t have a ton of NBA talent (only 5 players are currently on an NBA Draft roster), but some of the guys have been rather successful lately. O.J. Mayo remains one of the cornerstones of the Memphis franchise, and Taj Gibson had a fantastic rookie season this year with the Bulls. Does the recent success of ‘SC draft picks have any barring on this year’s draft eligible players?

A: Honestly, no. Because they come from a bigger program, sure, they’ll get exposed more. But no one is looking at Taj Gibson and OJ Mayo who are completely different players but having moderate NBA success and saying that Alex Stepheson is gonna be a stud. Players are typically evaluated on a case-by-case basis, with few exceptions. Ben Howland’s system in UCLA and Jay Wright’s at Villanova are ones that come to mind, because they’re uniquely different from the NBA game. USC does tend to run a more pro-style offense from what I understand, so that may play some advantage, but not much to guys that can’t hack it.

Q: Tim Floyd was a former NBA coach and did a great job at getting guys drafted while at USC (Gabe Pruitt, Nick Young, Mayo, and Gibson, were all drafted within a 3-year span). Obviously, he did his part. What’s the reputation of Kevin O’Neill as a developer of talent in most NBA circles? 

A: To be determined.

(Editor’s Note: Coming up with appropriate questions about USC and the NBA Draft can be rather challenging so your editor does realize that his last question was basically bull shit.)

Q: There’s been some talk that USC’s Marcus Johnson and Dwight Lewis may be drafted late in the 2nd round on Thursday. Is this the case? Or are they looking at just a training camp/summer league invite. Regardless, what’re the odds either players cracks the league this season?

A: For whatever reason, I like Dwight Lewis as a player. He’s a big guard with some (albeit limited) point guard experience that’s capable of getting hot from deep. But for a guy that doesn’t have the best court vision or awareness, he turns the ball over way too many times, and shoots too poor of a percentage. Marcus Johnson, on the other hand, I hate. He’s been in college for about 87 years and I haven’t seen any improvement in his game. I thought I saw some potential as a redshirt sophomore at UConn, but then he transfered, sat a year, had to deal with the coaching change, and blew. He shot sub-40% as a 6th year senior in the unconsciously weak Pac-10 and racked up almost 3 turnovers per game basically from the power forward position. Both seniors, both with a very little chance of getting drafted, unless they impressed some teams in workouts. I’d say D-League for Lewis and overseas for Johnson, but that’s just a hunch. 

Q: ‘SC is also graduating another draft eligible player in Mike Gerrity. It’s doubtful he gets drafted at all, but even still, what are the chances he plays professional next season (either in Europe or in the NBA). 

A: Again, I have an unnatural love for Mike Gerrity. I think I’d actually like him more if he was under 6’0, but that’s just because I like building an army of Gerry McNamaras. While I liked watching Gerrity play, here’s another skinny point guard that shot under 40% from the field with unspectacular percentages from the foul line and beyond. There were games where he’d involve his teammates, play scrappy on defense, and hit some key shots, but then he’d jack up ill-advised three’s, turn the ball over in crucial situations, and get pushed around on D. I think overseas right away. Good luck to the kid.

Q: NBADraft.net’s mock draft has former Trojan commit Renardo Sidney, who played at Mississippi State, going 29th overall to Orlando. How would you size up Sidney’s pro prospects? 

A: You’re looking at the 2011 Mock for Sidney. Freaked me out for a second though. He’s a kid with tons of talent, but really no idea how to use it yet and no way of proving it until he plays a full season at Mississippi State. He seems like a decent kid that’s handled all the crap well, but he’s just gotta play. Also, lose some weight, gain some muscle, and work on his footwork. We’ll see what he’s got in a few months. I’m excited to see him play on a bigger stage.

Q: Looking into the future, there’s been some talk that USC incoming junior forward/center Nikola Vucevic could make a big impact in the NBA ala Taj Gibson. What are your thoughts regarding Vucevic?

A: I think Vucevic got neglected by the media last season for a number of reasons. One, the west coast just doesn’t get the pub that the east coast does. Two, the west coast sucked at basketball last year — easily the worst season of any power conference in the past 20 years. Three, not participating in any postseason tournament hurt a lot. Next season, with Stephenson and Vucevic in the front court, they may be able to make some noise, but I think you’re a few years and a few big prospects away. I blame this almost all on Davon Jefferson — I hate him for breaking my heart. But back to Vucevic/Gibson. Yes, there’s a chance that if he gets some a more consistent midrange game and keeps the opposition off the board that he could make it as a backup PF in the NBA.

Once again thanks to Michael and the staff over at Ridiculous Upside for helping us out with this Draft preview.



Is Now the Time for a USC QB to Win a Super Bowl Ring?

UCLA has Troy Aikman, Notre Dame has Joe Montana, Stanford has John Elway, and USC has…Ron Johnson. Well, he didn’t actually play in Super Bowl XXXVII, but he has a ring! That counts, right?

It’s a constant taunt from USC’s rivals. Despite the Trojans’ success in pumping first class, Super Bowl caliber running backs, linebackers, defensive backs and receivers into the league, it’s the Trojans’ quarterbacks failure to win it all that sits like an albatross around their necks. But with four USC quarterbacks projected to start in the NFL next season, there’s 1 in 8 chance of a USC QB super bowl champion based on odds alone. And thems good odds.

Follow the jump to see my projections of which former Trojan quarter back is most likely to win it all.

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Football weekender info

If you’re going on the road this year to watch the Trojan football team play, here is the official information from the USC Alumni Association about the 2010 USC Football Weekenders.

Included are details about the alumni host hotels (with special USC rates), pep rallies and other events surrounding each game.

USC’s 2010 road schedule:  Sept. 2 at Hawaii, Sept. 18 at Minnesota, Sept. 25 at Washington State, Oct. 9 at Stanford, Nov. 13 at Arizona and Nov. 20 at Oregon State.  The Dec. 4 game against UCLA in the Rose Bowl isn’t included among the weekender info because it’s basically in town.

Football. USC-Arizona State Football Kickoff Set For 7:30 p.m.

The kickoff time for USC’s Nov. 6 home football game against Arizona State has been set for 7:30 p.m. Pacific and it will be shown live nationally on FSN, bringing the total to 11 of the Trojans’ 13 games with set start times in 2010. Kick times and televising networks for USC’s 2 remaining 2010 contests–Sept. 25 at Washington State and Dec. 4 at UCLA–will be determined 2 weeks prior to each game.

Sam Cunningham Elected to College Football Hall of Fame

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Former USC full back, Sam Cunningham, is a new member of the College Football Hall of Fame. Cunningham played at USC from 1970 – 1972. He won a national championship and was an All-American in 1972. He scored 4 touchdowns in the 1973 Rose Bowl defeating Ohio State Sucks 42-17 and was Rose Bowl MVP.

Cunningham is most famous for his performance against Alabama that convinced head coach Bear Bryant and others to integrate football in the South. Cunningham ran for 130 yards and scored two touchdowns in 12 carries in a 42-21 victory over the Crimson Tide in Birmingham, Ala.

Cunningham was drafted by the Patriots with the 11th pick in the first round of the 1973 draft and is the older brother of former NFL QB Randall Cunningham.

Other notable members of this years HOF class include:

Pat Tillman–LB, Arizona State (1994-97)
Desmond Howard–WR, Michigan (1989-91)
Randy Cross–OG, FUCLA (1973-75)

Cunningham was on the Petros & Money show this week. Click here to listen to the interview.

Sam Cunningham was on PMS [PMS]
Alvarez, Stallings elected as coaches [espn]

Dispatch from Galen: Wear Twins Transferring, Polee Recruiting Follow-up, & Other Hoops Notes

Could the Wear twins follow the path of Alex Stepheson, who left North Carolina to return to Los Angeles to play USC? (Photo Credit: Dailyme.com)

Could the Wear twins follow the path of Alex Stepheson, who left North Carolina to return to Los Angeles to play USC? (Photo Credit: Dailyme.com)

I figured since most of the “big shot” bloggers had cool, witty names for their columns and articles, I might try and pretend to be in their exclusive fraternity by dubbing this USC Basketball News & Notes piece – “Dispatch from Galen.” One, it sounds cool. Two, dispatch is an underrated word (yes, I’m nerdy enough to call words overrated or underrated). And three, references to Galen are tight. So, if you combine these elements, you have a pretty trendy title. So, even in the midst of a painfully slow offseason here for Kevin O’Neill and company, we got some USC/College Basketball tidbits that you might want to keep in mind.

For one, the biggest shakeup in the Southern California college hoops scene is the expected transferring of twin North Carolina forwards Davis and Travis Wear. The Wears, Orange County natives who played high school basketball at Mater Dei in Santa Ana, may be looking to return to the west coast much like former North Carolina transfer Alex Stepheson, who ended up at USC. From the Los Angeles Times

David and Travis Wear, twin forwards who helped Santa Ana Mater Dei High win two state championships, are transferring from North Carolina and are expected to draw significant interest from UCLA.

The Wears, who are both 6 feet 10, will have three years of remaining eligibility. Both strongly considered UCLA and Arizona out of high school before signing with the Tar Heels.

North Carolina announced Thursday the Wears would transfer. Their father, David Sr., said he could not comment on potential landing places for his sons until North Carolina filed paperwork officially releasing them from their scholarships, but he added, “I would imagine UCLA would be interested.”

There’s no question that UCLA should be the favorite to land the twins. Historically speaking, there is no question that the Bruins are the premier college basketball program in the Pac-10, and when it comes to the tradition between the two schools, USC pales in comparison. But when it comes to recent results, there is a very small gap that exists between the two programs. The Trojans have posted three consecutive wins over the Bruins, who are also coming off just their third losing season since 1948. For two players who are citing “geographic reasons” for leaving North Carolina, they have to be considering ‘SC – at least on some level. After all, it’s important to note, that when they were actually considering committing to Arizona a few years back, Kevin O’Neill was the interim coach of the Wildcats. 

I have no problem with calling the Bruins the favorites to land the Wear twins, but at the same, there’s no reason to think that O’Neill and the Trojans don’t have the guns to haul in two big fish like the Wears as well. 

Even still, there are some doubts regarding what kind of impact the they can make, as the Mater Dei products had less than stellar first seasons in Chapel Hill. 

Travis, who weighs 235 pounds, averaged 3.5 points and 2.2 rebounds in 32 games for the Tar Heels last season. David, who weighs 225, averaged 2.9 points and 1.7 rebounds but missed the last five games with a hip injury. He should be 100% healthy in another month, his father indicated.

To make matters more complicated, it doesn’t appear as if the North Carolina faithful were exactly clamoring to keep them around on Tobacco Road. From the message board over at WeAreSC.com:

I am a recent Carolina graduate who will be attending USC for Graduate school in the fall and trust me you do not want them. This entire season they have shown a lack of post skills. They play like two over-sized, under-skilled small forwards, which makes them essentially useless. They’re too big to guard smaller players but lack the ability to post up big ones.  Essentially, all they could do at UNC was rebound and shoot 15-footers.

Nonetheless, could USC afford to not actively pursue two 6’10” big men with the ability to rebound and knock down 15-foot jump shots? Absolutely not. I don’t see why a rocky start should or would be any deterrent for O’Neill’s staff. Not every freshman has a banner year in his first season at a school.

Remaining on the topic of recruiting, former Trojan commit Dwayne Polee Jr. finally decided where he will be attending college, as the LA native will reportedly sign with St. John’s in the coming days. (On a side note, the combination of a former Trojan commit playing for Steve Lavin has to make him absolutely despised in Westwood.) From ZagsBlog.com:

New St. John’s coach Steve Lavin has landed his first recruit since taking over the Big East program.

Dwayne Poleean athletic 6-foot-7 wing from Los Angeles Westchester High School, chose the Johnnies over Georgia and Oregon, which he visited last weekend.

“Yes,” he wrote via text on Thursday. “It’s somewhere where I can focus on school and basketball.”

Described as “the best dunker in high school basketball,” Polee averaged 21 points and 8 rebounds last season when he led Westchester to the state championship. The Los Angeles Times named him City Player of the Year.

Polee is certainly a talented player who would have been a big addition at any school. But frankly, I’m a little surprised he chose to go to a school in the Big East. For one, it’s considered to be the premier conference in college hoops, and as a result, there are some doubts as to whether he can be a big-time star, which would have been a more likely occurrence in either the SEC at Georgia or in the Pac-10 at Oregon. But even still, I like to think I speak for all ‘SC fans when I wish him the best with Lavin and company. His future is still bright nonetheless.

In the meanwhile, as this long offseason continues, I’d like to also point out that both Kevin O’Neill and Lane Kiffin will be making stop at seven California cities this month as part of the USC coaches speaking tour. From USCTrojans.com:

The tour stops are: May 19 (Langham Huntington Hotel in Pasadena), May 20 (Hyatt Westlake Plaza in Westlake Village), May 24 (San Diego Marriott Del Mar), May 26 (Hyatt Regency Irvine), June 2 (Manhattan Beach Marriott), June 4 (Renaissance Esmeralda Resort in Indian Wells) and June 10 (San Francisco Airport Marriott).

It’s a big difference from where things were a year ago, as last May, Pete Carroll and Tom Floyd, two incredibly charismatic and well-spoken guys, were making stops along the west coast to speak with boosters, alumni, and fans. Now, Trojan supporters will have the “privilege” of listening to O’Neill and Kiffin, who have never been incredibly well-regarded for their public speaking abilities. Not that either is inadequate, but neither really gets someone excited to throw down a bunch of money to listen to them talk. But even still, Kiffin may throw in a few UCLA digs, and it’s always fun to see how fast K.O. can get irked by something. If you’re interested, I hope you check it out.

Fight On!



Four Pac-10 players on Kiper’s big board

Two Pac-10 quarterbacks top Mel Kiper’s “Big Board,” while three other conference players rank among his top-25.

Kiper rates Washington’s Jake Locker No. 1 overall and Stanford’s Andrew Luck No. 2.

His analysis of Locker: “All the physical tools — size, arm, footwork. Accuracy should improve.”

And Luck: “Great arm, NFL smarts, solid footwork. Protoypical size and intangibles.”

Kiper has UCLA linebacker Akeem Ayers No. 20 (by the way, Kiper nailed that one: Ayers is the best player in the nation no one has heard of).

Wrote Kiper: “Budding star, an absolute physical specimen with ideal size. Ready to break out.”

USC defensive tackle Jurrell Casey is No. 22 and UCLA safety Rahim Moore is No. 25.

On Casey: “Penetrating, disruptive force, ideal in a 4-3. Still adding technique.”

And Moore: “A ballhawk; led the nation in INTs last year. Moves well sideline to sideline.”

Kiper also rated Moore’s status among the “most volatile,” comparing him to former Boise State cornerback Kyle Wilson, whose numbers slipped in 2009 because no one threw his way: “Similarly, Moore last year led the nation in INTs. He’ll need to grow as a player to remain impactful even when offenses are more aware of where he is during the game-planning process. It’s hard to imagine he’ll replicate those INT totals. If he does, he looks like a safe bet for the first round.”

Slick Rick is trying to stir the pot again

Interesting comment from Skippy in Dennis Dodd’s latest….whatever you want to call it.

[…] Neuheisel quickly got in line, accusing his rival of recruiting shenanigans. He is not the first, considering Kiffin piled up a half-dozen secondary violations at Tennessee.

“I know there were a number of kids that had opportunities because there were limousines sent to their homes by SC to come visit,” Neuheisel said. “A number of kids that we ended up signing were on the phone saying, ‘I don’t want to get in this car. Tell the driver to leave.'”

That would be another juicy, controversial addition to Kiffin’s NCAA resume if they, in fact, were limos. Neuheisel quickly corrected himself saying the vehicles were “town cars,” which are allowed by the NCAA.

Kiffin’s on-the-record response? “Tradition in the distant past does not help your recruiting. Because of what’s happened in the last nine years at USC, it’s refreshing to concentrate on coaching and recruiting and not have to gather outside attention.”

I could just imagine his off the record response.

What makes this laughable is obvious, lets see…half a dozen secondary violations vs. a letter of censure from the NCAA for 50 plus recruiting violations. I guess I should stay consistent…he should know, right? That Slick Rick would try to call out Kiffin by throwing out that comment and then quickly correcting it is an old lawyer trick.

The guy just can’t get USC out of his head. Pete Carroll is right…the guy is a sham, he is wasting the talents of one of the greatest OC’s in CFB history on a gimmicky offense.

Dodd also seems to forget that Kiffin was a head coach in the NFL before he was one in college. Skippy was an also ran in Baltimore…he basically carried Billick’s clipboard. With JaMarcus Russell pretty much a failure in Oakland it looks like Kiffin was right and that senile old fool Al Davis was dead wrong on Russell.

I chuckled at this quote from earlier in the article…

“I don’t think there is a program in the country that can go from a major school to an elite school faster than UCLA because of all the things we have,” Neuheisel said.

Yeah…let me know when you actually arrive at that destination…

You’ll just be arriving trying to park your car as we are paying for the check.

Skippy has to figure it out THIS year so that he can finally turn it around next year. The schedule and the O line he has in front of him will make that very difficult. If he doesn’t doesn’t contend for a Pac-10 title in 2011 he is toast…by then all the players on the roster will be his and we have seen how he has fared in the past when its just his kids on the roster…even if he beats SC just once that still might not be enough to save him if he doesn’t contend for the conference title.

Instead of worrying about Kiffin, Skippy should worry about protecting his quarterback…



Cal’s Alualu surprise 10th pick in NFL draft

Here’s a prediction: California defensive end Tyson Alualu is going to surprise some folks and end up a top-10 NFL draft pick.

Little late on that one, eh?

Alualu was the first Pac-10 player drafted Thursday night — which was projected by no one — going 10th overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars, while Bears teammate Jahvid Best was the only other conference player selected on Day 1. Best went to the Detroit Lions with the 30th pick.

Round 2 begins today at 6 p.m. ET. Expect the second round to include a number of Pac-10 players, including those who slipped during recent weeks, such as USC safety Taylor Mays and UCLA defensive tackle Brian Price.

Alualu is the highest Cal selection since Andre Carter was taken seventh overall by San Francisco in 2001. He is the Bears’ ninth top-10 pick in the draft’s history. And his selection was rated the “biggest reach” of the first day by Todd McShay.

Wrote McShay, “Jacksonville used the 10th overall pick to take California DT Tyson Alualu, who we feel is a good player but is only the No. 35 overall on our board. Top-10 money is pretty rich for a player like Alualu, especially when pass-rushers like Derrick Morgan and Jason Pierre-Paul would have offered much more value at that point.”

Another notable pick is the Seattle Seahawks’ selection of safety Earl Thomas at No. 14. That means former USC coach Pete Carroll wanted a safety but didn’t want Mays.

Ouch.

Got to admit: I thought at least one team would jump on Mays just because of his athleticism, much like it took only one team to make Tim Tebow a No. 1 pick (Denver).

Another observation: Former Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford going No. 1 overall is a good thing for college football. It shows players who want to come back for their senior season that even a major injury won’t automatically ruin your draft prospects.

Of course, Mays right now is probably questioning his decision to return, considering he likely would have been a top-15 pick in 2009.