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Taking Ken Norton and USC to task rattles some cages

Readers comment on column about the accusations by the Trojans against UCLA concerning recruiting tactics.

January 04, 2009|T.J. SIMERS

Pete Carroll, who started it, has now declared the Ken Norton rhubarb "over."

But not so fast there, Uncle Pete, because as you know, these people live among you:

Unnamed High School Coach: "I can't comment on the accusations made by Norton. But I will say that having been a high school coach at some of the biggest schools in AZ I can tell you without a doubt USC does NOT recruit '100% pure' as the assumed satire in your article suggests.

"I was a coach at a high school in Phoenix and we had Zach Miller (currently with the Raiders). He was the No. 1 TE in the country at the time. Pete Carroll came to our practice to look at him. Huge news . . . anyway, it was clearly a non-contact period for coaches . . . he disappeared from practice and I remember all of us thinking, 'where did he go?' Anyway, I remember kind of giving him a wink and saying did he want to meet Zach and he made a big thing out of saying he couldn't at the time.

"As our practice concluded, players started to walk off toward the locker room . . . I was with the boys walking in. As I walked into the locker room who did I see? There was Pete in there glad handing players and pulling Zach into a corner to get in a few quick words.

"I could see that Pete eventually noticed me . . . he was just below a sprint out the door. How that guy got into our locker room ahead of a key to open the doors is beyond me . . . perhaps he coaxed a janitor into letting him get in or said he had to use the restroom, but I'll never forget that . . . you can mention the story but because I do have to deal with coaches I wouldn't want my full name used."

As Rick Neuheisel might tell you, it's just amazing the things unnamed people have to say about recruiting.

FOR THE RECORD: I forwarded the e-mail to USC and, through a spokesman, Carroll said he recalled the spring recruiting visit, which was legal, he said, while noting a UCLA coach was also there.

He said he left practice to go to the bathroom and while leaving the locker room several members of the team came in. He said he shook hands with them and kept going, which is known as a "bump" and does not violate NCAA rules, he said.

Miller signed with Arizona State.

Steve Briseno: "Sounds like Pete doesn't like being pushed now that the Bruins have a new Sheriff in town."

The last time we had a new sheriff in town it wasn't too long before he (Kevin Malone) was selling cars.

Dean Gallo: "Die."

Tough to tell if you're a USC or UCLA fan.

Stan Richman: "I confess. Last week at the local Starbucks I mentioned to a few Bruin colleagues that it would be great to have Norton back. Low and behold the SC alum working the counter heard me. Well, it must have traveled from one Starbucks SC counter guy to the next."

I can understand how the SC counter guy thought it was the only tip he was going to get from Bruins customers.

Steve & Monika Hawkins: "[We] are the parents of Morrell Presley, the TE who switched schools. After reading an article in the Daily Breeze where [Norton] has used my son as one of his sources, my wife and I are truly upset. First . . . it is a violation to use a recruit's name, but he did so. What does that make him? Secondly, Morrell made a perfect statement: 'I am an offensive player, why would Norton going to UCLA matter to me?' Obviously Ken was called to the table by Carroll and this was the only acceptable way to show his commitment to the program.

"My son has never used Ken Norton as a deciding factor in his choice. He likes Ken but Ken is not the TE coach. I have on multiple occasions told Ken that Rick and [Norm] Chow have never used negativity in their recruitment of Morrell. Matter of fact they give SC complete respect for what they have done. But [SC is] convinced Rick is doing something."

FOR THE RECORD: Norton never used Presley's name in the Daily Breeze story. The story reads: "Norton confirmed the allegation that UCLA was using his name to sway recruits. Sources said there were multiple instances this happened, and that [Presley] was one of those cases."

Now Norton might have mentioned Presley's name off the record, making Norton one of the sources for the story, but I don't believe it. I can't imagine a USC coach trying to cause problems for UCLA.

Jon Pelmear: "It is very interesting to examine Neuheisel's choice of words [in his statement]. He says that neither he nor his assistant coaches have told any recruits Norton would become the defensive coordinator at UCLA if the job becomes open. He does not say that neither he nor his assistant coaches have told any recruits that Norton would possibly or likely become the defensive coordinator in that event. Neuheisel's words of denial were carefully chosen. Typical Neuheisel."

As opposed to Norton, who maybe used carelessly chosen words?

Ron Hartman: "The [Norton] column again demonstrates you are a fraud, probably ill and should be removed. . . . Most legitimate reporters would have sought a statement from the other side. Not you. You printed their press release. You are the sleaziest guy that ever walked this earth. I am sure Neuheisel loves you."

So far he's playing hard to get.

FOR THE RECORD: Carroll said USC heard from six recruits that UCLA was spreading misinformation about Norton, but none of them has stepped forward to date.

The only response so far has come from Paul Molina, a 45-year-old fat guy with two bad knees who said he was being recruited by Neuheisel to play linebacker under the watchful eye of Norton.

You've seen UCLA play. It's believable.


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