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Talk about it in The Peristyle
This USC team is in a completely different place, even if these Trojans are going to need a "second Thursday" practice tomorrow to please Lane Kiffin after Wednesday's first spirited, but hardly error-free, go-round in helmets and shorts, but no pads. That one may have been a little too loosey-goosey.
In a different place? Are you kidding, Dion Bailey seems to be saying with all the stunned emotion of Jim Mora Sr. in that famous NFL postgame meltdown.
Dion Bailey has gone from never having played a down in college to the role of a leader -- and he's hardly alone here.
Different place? They're in a different universe, Bailey says with a big grin. "I'd never played a down of college football -- and I'd never played linebacker. Hayes [Pullard] had never played a down of college football."
And now, coming off USC's 10-2 season and second-half surge, they're freshmen All-Americans and All-Pac-12 guys and maybe even more importantly, when a veteran Trojan like Matt Barkley says, as he did Tuesday, that he's "never been around a team with so many leaders," the names Bailey and Pullard are there.
From barely followers a year ago to leaders now.
"I was just following the leaders," Pullard says. "I watched how T.J. [McDonald] and Nickell [Robey] did it and tried to do it like they did."
And the cycle starts over with an incoming freshman Kevon Seymour, who was talking about his transition to backup corner in a couple of weeks. "We have tons of leaders, guys who stay after with us, guys who aren't even at our position like Hayes and Dion. They just tell me to keep my head out there. Don't let things get to me."
Seymour hasn't, putting on 16 pounds (up to 182) on his slim frame since his arrival in late July.
But if Seymour has Pullard, Pullard said he had Barkley "and back to Rhett Ellison, the way he went about things."
And so it goes, from one class to the next, from one side of the ball to the other.
WILL ANDREW KNEW IT WAS 50-50
Leadership comes in lots of forms and former walkon linebacker Will Andrew was displaying it after practice Wednesday, three days after he'd learned he wouldn't be getting his scholarship again this season.
"I knew it was a 50-50 thing and it was totally out of my control," said Andrew, who was the one 2011 walkon scholarship winner not to have his renewed this week when the NCAA sanctions numbers crunch cutting USC to 75 scholarships caught up with him.
Will Andrew will take not getting his scholarship like "a Trojan" and "f!ght On," he said.
"I tried not to worry about it," said the 6-foot-2, 235-pound Andrew, a fourth-year human performance major from Huntington Beach who will graduate this spring. "But I kept an eye on it."
And that won't change for Andrew, who is on several special teams this season and has a knack for the football from his middle linebacker spot. "Anything could happen," Andrew says of the Trojans' thin linebacking corps. And if a scholarship should open up, could he still get one into the season?
"I'm not sure," he says. But of this he is sure. "I'm going to still be out there and be a Trojan and 'f!ght On'." And maybe for a fifth and final season since he's just a redshirt junior. "I'd be interested in another year," he says.
And yes, it does strike him, he says, of how the NCAA scholarship limits do punish the innocent and uninvolved. "It has gone through my mind," he says. But not just for himself and his own situation. "It''s not unique to me. None of these kids here had anything to do with it."
Kiffin, who called Andrew in late Sunday with the news, said he's also not going to let it weigh him down, choosing to look on the upside that "he was fortunate to have one for a year," a thought Andrew seconded.
And no, Kiffin said, he wasn't going to let himself think about how the NCAA exempted schools not on probation from going over their scholarship limits to take a Penn State transfer, as USC did with Silas Redd, but not those on probation like USC and Ohio State. Their scholarship limits weren't flexible, the NCAA said.
"Whatever the NCAA allows us to do, we do," Kiffin said, choosing not to focus on whether USC was singled out here.
FOX FOLKS HERE
Wednesday was the day for the Fox Network's main college football crew to come out to USC for the LA-based network. Which meant Fox new studio host Erin Andrews with analysts Charles Davis and Eddie George, in a USC t-shirt, and play-by-play guy Gus Johnson, who started by visiting with AD Pat Haden.
A self-described "SEC girl" from Florida, the New York-based Andrews considers USC her good luck charm in the business that's taken her from sideline reporter to College GameDay to now Fox Studio Host and Major League Baseball postseason reporter. Her first big ESPN a.ssignment came in USC's opening bowl game against Virginia Tech in 2004 when she spent three days in preseason here prepping for that game.
"That's right," she says. "But I was with TBS for some games the year before, and always consider Carson [Palmer] that year and USC the place where I got my real start in college football."
Simi Vehikite was back on the practice field Wednesday. Not sure yet what his exact status is with the team.
SIMI MAY BE BACK
He's served his time, served even more time when INS said his papers weren't in order and held him for another month after being released from jail on two felony convictions in May for leaving the scene of an accident and for a blood-alcohol reading of .08.
But on Wednesday, senior Simi Vehikite, who has already walked in the athletes graduation with his classmates last spring, was back on Howard Jones Field in jersey No. 39 and working on getting in shape. Kiffin had promised last spring on his sentencing and separation from the team that he'd give him another chance after he'd served his time, learned his lesson and paid his debt to society.
And now it may be working just that way. Would Vehikite somehow qualify for a scholarship? Is there one available? Can he play without one? None of those question were answered Wednesday although Simi told us he would talk to USCFootball.com Thursday.
A 5-11, 225-pound special teams player with six tackles and a pass deflection in 2011, the former Kapolei, Hawai'i, high school player came to USC as a fullback before moving over to linebacker.
QUOTING THE KIFFINS
* It's 'Showtime': Never thought we'd hear these words from Lane Kiffin but there's an absolute realism that he admitted that coaching a major sport in Los Angeles is different. "There's a Showtime element to it, a style factor to it. It was here before with great runs in multiple sports . . . L.A.'s a town not fired up about winning 14-10 and showing up."
* Hardly a Hall of Fame genius:
With all the praise that has been coming USC's, and the Kiffins' way this week from former USC offensive coordinator Norm Chow, Monte Kiffin drew the line at Chow's calling him one of the all-time great defensive coaches in the game's history and a sure Hall of Famer. "He must not have seen the film of our game at Hawai'i two years ago," Kiffin said of the Trojans' 49-36 no-tackling
Freshman CB Kevon Seymour is learning from USC's "tons of leaders," he says.
It's OK that USC will need a "second Thursday" to get things right for Saturday's opener (4:30 p.m., Fox) against Hawai'i at the Coliseum. They have time, Kiffin said -- 72 whole hours to get it right. And getting a "Thursday practice" right means no repeating plays and getting all the rapid-fire subbing correct on the fly . . . Lots of energy but not as much precision in a hard-working effort with more heart than head . . . MLB Lamar Dawson has been promising people he'd be back Saturday and now says he will. Hey someone has to call the signals and he's the acknowledged smart guy in the middle of the USC defense . . . Backup redshirt freshman DT Christian Heyward, called "Pops" by his teammates because he doesn't look like a freshman, is much improved in the last three weeks with a quicker his first step and better use of his hands say the O-linemen working against him . . . He'd be a key to USC's four-man DT rotation . . . Barkley said it first yesterday about the billboard featuring him, one of USC's 30 in the LA area that went up in Westwood near UCLA. "They didn't ask me before it went up and they didn't ask me before it went down." . . . USC's Haden echoed Barkley Wednesday with: "They didn't ask me either. You know, we've got a lot of fans on the West Side, too." . . . Best thing about watching a.ssistant Marvin Sanders do his thing with the DB's is how he can actually run the demo stuff live and full-speed with them . . . CB Brian Baucham and LB Marquis Simmons could not have picked a better time to get back. Both are now backups with the second group and Kiffin said both could play Saturday, even Simmons despite his having not been in camp with his academic difficulties . . . Max Wittek may have looked a bit nervous Tuesday knowing he had just been named the backup QB but that no one else knew. Wednesday he looked much more comfortable and in charge and knowing he belonged out there. Big difference in a day . . .When you see those special white with pink/orange soccer/kicking shoes both Kyle Negrete and Andre Heidari got from Nike as leftovers from NFL brea$t Cancer Awareness games, don't expect them to give them up. They love the shoes that fit like Italian leather driving gloves with titanium cleats and bottoms and some sort of super-light synthetic fabric skin. But they're glad they don't have to pay for them. The tab, if you wanted to get a pair off the shelf, Heidari says would be "about 400 dollars." Former NFL All-Star Greg Townsend Sr. was back on the sidelines which always means good things for DE Greg Jr. . . . You know these guys are going hard, and it's hot and humid early in the morning when you can see the cardinal numbers bleeding through the defense's white jerseys -- as they were today.
Dan Weber covers the Trojans program for USCFootball.com. You can reach him at .