While the general consensus that SC is the at the top of the Pac 10 it was interesting to read some of the other impressions from those who covered media day outside of the local L.A. press.
It's pretty much agreed that the now over played comments by LSU's Les Miles had pissed off a lot of other schools in the Pac10 as well. I'm not really surprised, as you would expect the conference to band together against an outsider that has absolutely no clue as to what he is talking about.
"It," to use Carroll's phrase, is "that three letter word you're talking about."
You probably think he's referring to the aptly named "Les" Miles. Or to Miles' team "LSU."
...Because the "three letter" word that Carroll refers to isn't really about LSU, Les or the SEC.
The three-letter word is "gap." As in: The "gap" between USC and the rest of the Pac-10.
But that's also a misrepresentation. That's only what the rest of the college football world wants to think. They want to dump that gap exclusively on the Pac-10.
They don't want to take ownership of the fact that USC towers above all of college football, including the other five BCS conferences and Notre Dame.
I'm not sure if I buy into Millers' statement that SC is all that towers over college football. Had we won against Texas and had SC beat the bruins to get to the BCS title game earlier this year then maybe we could go down that road but until we win the BCS Title this year I won't. Those who follow the Pac 10 understand that this a pretty tough conference and while Cal may have been embarrassed by Tennessee the perception that the Pac 10 is weak is just pure crap.
I have seen where some have said that SC's double digit wins against Arkansas and the their shutout win of Auburn, AT Auburn a few years back, were against teams that were not the cream of the SEC. For those apologists I say get over it, when the games are booked no one knows how good the teams will be when they actually play. Arkansas and Auburn have always been in the top tier of the SEC so that argument rings hollow. I mean its not like they are playing Mississippi State, Ole Miss or Vandy. And this crap that Miles spews about a Conference Championship game is sanctimonious at best, the conference big wigs went for the money grab and the teams pay the price, so tough s--t.
Bud Withers of the Seattle Times has some thoughts as well.
In so many words, Miles said the Pac-10 is not a lot more physical than Dancing with the Stars.
"I would like nothing better than to play USC for the national title," he said. "I can tell you this, they have a much easier road to travel. They're going to play real knockdown drag-outs with UCLA, Washington, Cal-Berkeley, Stanford -- some real juggernauts ... [and] end up in the title [game]."
Funny thing, though. Miles failed to note that USC's two losses last year came inside the league, and that just about every time it meets quality opposition outside (see the mauling of Miles' alma mater, Michigan, in the Rose Bowl), it kicks booty and takes names.
So brazen was Miles' take that Bruce Davis, UCLA's all-league defensive end, rushed to the side of his crosstown rival.
"Les Miles has never come knocking on our door and asked to put them on our nonconference schedule," Davis snorted. "If we're so soft, schedule us. Let me know how your team feels after coming out here on the West Coast."
I like Davis' brash attitude, he says what he feels even if I slightly disagree with him. But he absolutely right about Miles and he has put a lot of pressure not just on his team but on the SEC as well. I am not interested in rehashing the whole SEC vs. the Pac 10 argument, as others are far more articulate at stating the case than I am. But the Pac 10 can more than hold its own and they will continue to make noise with some of the high-powered offenses we have seen in the past few years.
I do think there was some reality at media day. From Doug Haller at The Arizona Republic:
Carroll, entering his seventh year, wasn't buying the hype. He said the Trojans had a great off-season. His linebackers should be among the country's best, and Booty will continue in the role of past USC greats Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart. That is, as a point guard, someone who directs the attack, not stars in it.
"All the expectations just add to the fun and the buildup," Carroll said. "We are looking forward to putting together a terrific team. I don't know if we can do it, but we're going to go for it."
I agree with Doba, I think that will be Pete Carroll's toughest challenge in not allowing the hype to get the to the players heads. He can't control the hype, just like in 2005, but he can control the players although it will be a tough challenge.