Here’s your shot (not in the rear end): Talk to Canseco, about, you know, stuff…

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That headline may be longer than this blog post:

CNN’s L.A.-based “Larry King Live Tonight” (6 p.m., replayed ad nauseum) has an “exclusive” with Jose Canseco “regarding Mark McGwire’s steroid use and Canseco’s claim that he introduced McGwire to the banned substance. Canseco will take viewer calls and emails.”

He will also take donations. Especially at his website (linked here).

If you can’t wait, Canseco already talked to AOL.com’s Fanhouse (linked here) on why McGwire had to come out: “He pretty much had to. There’s was going to be a time where he’s going to have confront these issues. The media wasn’t going to stop until it got a final answer.”

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Play it forward: Jan. 11-17 on your L.A. sports calendar and beyond

Highlights of the week ahead in sports, both here and afar:

MONDAY

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NHL: Kings vs. San Jose, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSN West, 1150-AM:
Yup, Kings and Sharks. Again. Just like last Monday. Just like a new episode of “Ice Men of A Certain Age.”

TUESDAY

NBA: Lakers at San Antonio, 5:30 p.m., KCAL-Ch. 9, 710-AM:
So sad to see the former champion Spurs in this situation: Aging ungracefully, players breaking down, just spinning their wheelchairs toward … a few games out of the Southwest lead behind Dallas, 15-6 at home, 12-4 since a 9-9 start. Are they zombies?

WEDNESDAY

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NBA: Lakers at Dallas, 5:30 p.m., KCAL-Ch. 9, 710-AM:
Don’t make the Lakers put a beating on the Mavs the same way they did a coupla Sundays ago. It’ll just make Mark Cuban mad. Really mad. Guess it all depends on whether Lamar Odom shows up or not.

THURSDAY

NHL: Kings vs. Ducks, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSN West, 1150-AM, 830-AM:
A recent New York Times story (linked here) wonders if the Kings, despite finally being in playoff contention, are capturing any attention in L.A., since TV ratings are down a bit and attendance is only slightly up from last season. There’s even a quote from new left-winger Ryan Smyth: “It’s not a hockey market, for sure.” But we love this one from team head businessman Luc Robitaille: “People says it’s a basketball town, but if it was, more people would go see the Clippers. It’s about winning.” BINGO! And winning games like this against your crosstown rivals, who’ve had several big playoff runs (Cup champs, ’07, lost in the finals, ’03) in the time since the last Kings’ playoff appearance (’02) goes a long way.

Golf: PGA Tour: Sony Open in Honolulu, at Waiale, first round, Golf Channel, 4 p.m. (final round is Sunday, Golf Channel, 4 p.m.):
They gave John Daly a sponsors’ exempt for this one. JD probably thinks it means he can have all the free Sony goods he can carry to the back of his pickup. Sure enough. But then see how far you get trying to driving it off the island.

FRIDAY

NBA: Lakers vs. Clippers, Staples Center, 7:30 p.m., FSN West, Prime Ticket, 710-AM, 980-AM:
Last meeting, last Wednesday: A shocking 11-point Clipper triumph, thanks to Baron Davis showing up, and Pau Gasol not showing up and Kobe Bryant shooting 10-for-30 to get to 30 miserable points. This time, it’s on the Lakers home floor. That oughta change any misconceptions that this was just a blip on the radar.

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SATURDAY

College basketball: UCLA vs. USC, Pauley Pavilion, 4:30 p.m., Prime Ticket, 710-AM, 570-AM:
Remember a couple years ago when it was all about O.J. Mayo meeting Kevin Love for the first time? Yeah, good times. Take stock in where these two programs lie now. The Trojans are under a self-imposed ban of post-season play, all because of Mayo. The Bruins haven’t been getting much love, even after a surprising victory over Arizona State in their last Pac-10 tilt. It’s a whole new day in the tank-top rivalry. And why do they stage this at such an awkward time?

NBA: Clippers at Cleveland, 7:30 p.m., Prime Ticket, 980-AM:
LeBron James shot a commercial for McDonald with Larry Bird and Dwight Howard that’ll air sometime during the Super Bowl. Sorry, Shaq, you didn’t answer the casting call for “Superman-like NBA center.” No Shaq Big Maq on the horizon.

NHL: Kings vs. Boston, Staples Center, 1 p.m., FSN West, 1150-AM.:
The Bruins might want to take this one outside, to the rink across the street at LA Live. It ain’t Fenway Park, but we do what we can in SoCal.

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NFL playoffs: Arizona at New Orleans, 1:30 p.m., Channel 11; Baltimore at Indianapolis, 5:15 p.m., Channel 2:
They worry that the Saints haven’t won a game in five weeks. They also point out that the Colts haven’t won a game in four weeks. There hasn’t been a team in L.A. that’s won an NFL game before Christmas Eve, 1994. How long we forget.

SUNDAY

NFL playoffs: Dallas at Minnesota, 10 a.m., Channel 11; New York Jets at San Diego, 1:40 p.m., Channel 2:
“The stars are aligned perfectly for the Chargers,” says NFL Network analyst and former NFL coach Steve Mariucci. “You have a team that has balance in all three phases of the game. They have a bye, so they’ll be fresh and healthy. They have 11 wins in a row. I don’t think any of these AFC teams want to be the seed that has to travel through San Diego.”

Tennis: Australian Open, first round: 4 p.m., ESPN2
According to the laws of physics and the properties of the Southern Hemisphere, we should be surfing off the coast of Brisbane in a counter-clockwise motion rather than getting ready for the first Grand Slam event of the year.

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Our Daily Dread: The guy who’ll pull us out of the economic depression: Jimmy Johnson?

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I have no clue what to do with my 401(k). Which, at last pained glance, was about a 101(z).

But I sure as heck know I’m not going to let Jimmy Johnson tell me how to piss it away.

When he was “calling the shots” with the Dallas Cowboys, Johnson’s better trades were probably … none. Owner Jerry Jones pulled the strings.

When he’s making picks on the NFL on Fox set, Johnson’s better exchanges were probably … can’t think of any. Usually, Michael Strahan, Howie Long, Terry Bradshaw or even Curt Menefee make more sense.

When he’s advising anyone on how to spend their money in the stock market, Jimmy Johnson better be serious.

Not that one equates to another — but yes, we are implying that — we still are confused: Why is a former football coach selling infomercial viewers as someone who you can trust with your money? It comes up again because the company in question, Better Trades, is pushing hard again in 2010, having more dazzling seminars in the Carlsbad/San Diego/Escondito area — near you, kinda — and wants you to know more about ‘em (linked here).

How ’bout them seminars?!?!

In the same way you probably wouldn’t buy a Deion Sanders Rolling Hot Dog Cooker just because you had some success with the George Foreman Grill, what makes you think getting stock advice from a former NFL and current TV analyst like Jimmy Johnson will change your financial future?

(Lenny Dykstra, are you listening?)

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Again, we have no Better Business Bureau connections. And we can’t always trust information that’s out there on the Internet (right or wrong). Especially from a guy who has gone from the NFL sideline to someone looking like Oral Roberts.

We have a good nose, and we smell something about as fishy as something JJ would pull up on the side of his boat off the Florida Keys. This is more financially flamable than a can of 99-Cent Store hairspray.

Let’s hear more from unsatisfied customers?

There’s a website that exist called BetterTradeScam.com (linked here) It’s a typo. Kinda. It really is BetterTradesCam — the Cam doesn’t have an “s” in front of it to spell “Scam.”

That’s just poor planning right there.

Think about how much better trading advice you get from that E*Trade baby in the high-chair before you read further, shankasaurus …

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Someone asks Wiki.Answers.com: Is Better Trades a scam? (linked here).
Answer posted: “If they really figured out a way to consistently beat the market, they would be a hedge fund – not trying to sell a get rich quick scheme to anyone watching their informercial. Every trade has a 50/50 chance of going up or down. I’m guessing people that can’t get this system to work are told they need more coaching and training (ie they need to spend more money). I hated Jimmy Johnson as the Cowboys coach, and I hate him even more now.”

More than a year ago, a blogger named NotASportsBlog.com (linked here) had a warning posted about this company. Some of those who responded:

“This fast talking has-been coach has one thing in common with the Mr. Madoff, they are cool dudes with no consience. Johnson is selling you a scheme of buying puts and calls in the most riskiest of all investments, “Option Trading”. You might as well go to your local casino. How the SEC does not shut this clown down is amazing. Attend one of his statewide “seminars” a/k/a get you there and then he’ll get you fired up as if it were a 2 minute drill at the super bowl and you have a 9 point lead. His handlers will be there taking your money. # 1 Scam of 2009. Stay Away and report this dude to the SEC.”

Another:

“I cannot believe the experience I had North of Boston at a Jimmy Johnson seminar called Better Trades”. This guy and his staff are scamming people who have no idea how risky his advice could be. My advice to anyone thinking about or considering paying this guy money to enter the biggest casino in the world and playimg “Roulette” is “DON’T DO IT”. This entity should be reported to the SEC before another Bernie Madoff tragedy emerges.”

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Thank you, may I have another:

“It’s a shame that Jimmy Johnson decided to sell out his fellow countrymen in these bad economic times. The “advice” that is being promoted in this infomercial is dangerous. There have been many studies done that prove it is impossible to time the market. This is incredibly irresponsible advice. He should be ashamed of himself. Is he that hard up for cash that it’s worth trashing his reputation and maybe causing people to lose their life savings? It’s really sad.”

More searches for “Better Trades Scam” produce this one (linked here):

“The part they fail to tell you is that upon attending that free seminar, you will be pressured to part with your hard earned money in order to attend their “real” 2-day seminar. How much, you might ask? How does $3,000 sound?? You read right, $3,000! These people are experienced salesmen that really lay it on thick and won’t take no for an answer. So you end up giving them your $3,000 in hopes that you will make much more than that once you learn their system. But wait, there’s more. After you reluctantly give up your $3,000, they hit you with another bombshell. In order to really make the information that you learned in the seminar work, you need the trading software. You know, the one they show on the infomercial that lets you know when to trade? Well apparently that software is sold separately for a whopping $6,000! Well, what good will it do you to have wasted the $3,000 on the seminar, if you don’t have the software you need to make money. Are you starting to see the patterns in the Better Trades scam? It’s the infamous bait and switch tactic applied over and over.”

Why would Jimmy Johnson want to lend his name, face and reputation to this kind of business?

We’ll leave that one floating out there and see if we can come up with some answers….

Meanwhile, back to your ballgame…. But first, another commercial message:

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Jim Caldwell likes to watch TV … invite him over this weekend and see for yourself

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By Michael Marot
The Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — When Jim Caldwell tunes into this weekend’s NFL games, he’ll be looking for more than his next opponent.

The Indianapolis Colts coach may find himself rewinding plays for another peek, getting an early jump on next week’s scouting report.

Thanks to high-definition TVs and DVR recording, Caldwell can go from casual weekend watcher to scouting report director in the blink of an eye and in the comfort of his own home.

Yes, technology has changed things in the football world and Caldwell intends to take full advantage of the first-round bye the Colts earned by winning their first 14 games.

“HDTV certainly gives you a pretty good vantage point. You can pick up a lot of little things and take note of the severity of injuries,” Caldwell said. “You can see how the entire thing kind of transpired, and with the advent of DVR or TiVo, you can run it back and look at it. Nowadays, it’s pretty phenomenal.”

To die-hard football fans, this is no revelation. They have been relying on the same tools since these devices came out.

But coaches? And players? They’re onboard, too. It seems to be a trend at the Colts complex.

Continue reading

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The Media Learning Curve: Jan. 1-8

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In passing, just a sad week overall at the Media Learning Center.

We press forward.

== Some more nice words in the broadcasting community about the passing of Rory Markas includes one from former KCBS Channel 2 collegue Keith Olbermann (linked here) on his MLB.com blog: “People like him have not only a great gift, but are themselves a gift to the rest of us.”

==Another by Dodger Talk co-host Ken Levine (linked here): “May he always be the voice of the Angels – Los Angeles or otherwise.”

==Another from a couple of Orange County filmmakers who used Markas’ baseball calls in a movie that’ll come out later this month called “The Yankles” (linked here).

==And Pete Arbogast had a nice little piece on WeAreSC.com (linked here). If only he spelled “Markus” correctly. Rory Markas and I go way back. “I’ve always wanted to do this job again….just not this way. I will do my best to honor his memory and do the best job I can do.”

== More on the memorial service last Saturday in the Pacific Palisades for former KFWB-AM sportsanchor Rod Van Hook (linked here).

== The Thoroughbred Times (linked here) reports that TV writer David Milch and director Michael Mann are working on a horse racing drama series called “Luck” that focuses on the culture of thoroughbreds. Shooting is scheduled to start in April probably at Santa Anita. Milch is also the owner of thoroughbred racehorses, including two Breeders’ Cup champions. The site also reports (linked here) that NBC and ESPN Radio were given Eclipse Awards.

== If Craig James leaves ESPN as a college football game analyst — and after his participation in the Texas Tech scandal, his credibility is in question — he’s always got some political aspirations that could come back and bite Mike Leach on the rear end (linked here).

== Beware: Joe Theisman is on your early NBC NFL playoff telecast Saturday (linked here)

== And if you think this blog entry is too long, newspapers stories are worse (linked here).

== AND FINALLY:

More cowbell, to get us through the weekend:

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‘You are about to see a big headline that shakes up the major college football world’

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That’s what a “source” has told either ESPN’s Chris Mortensen or John Clayton about the Seattle Seahawks’ pursuit of USC’s Pete Carroll as its new head coach, after an early-morning firing of Jim Mora just one year after an 5-11 season.

Carroll did not return messages to ESPN, but a “league source” told ‘em that Carroll “is interested in the job and is trying to persuade USC offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates to join him in Seattle — as opposed to Bates pursuing the same position with the Chicago Bears.”

The Seahawks, who also need a new GM, did not confirm Carroll as a leading candidate but also did not deny it.

Keep reading more into this at the ESPN site (linked here).

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The Media Learning Curve: More on Rory Markas

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At LARadio.com — now free to read, but we subscribe anyway — there were more comments from those in the broadcast business about the passing this week of Rory Markas (which we had more about in today’s column, linked here).

Paul Sakrison, the operations director at the Angels-owned KLAA-AM (730), set up a tribute site (linked here) and said: “In a market with such incredible talent, Rory was in the upper tiers.”

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830-AM Angels talk host Jeff Biggs: “Not only was Rory undervalued as a broadcaster, he had some of the best wit of anyone I’ve ever known. Just a great guy, I’m really going to miss him. God gave Rory an extra year, and he really made the most of it. … Rory did so many things, and so many things well that I think he got lost in the shuffle a little bit, especially in the shadows of the Hall of Famers we’ve had here in So-Cal. But as a baseball broadcaster, I would put him third all-time here locally behind Vin Scully and Dick Enberg.”

And from 710-AM’s Steve Mason: “I think that the highest compliment that can be paid to any broadcaster is that they are a pro. Rory was a pro, plain and simple. Always smiling. Incredibly accessible both as a broadcaster and a person. You could throw any situation at him, and he would handle it well. I’ll miss hearing his voice on summer nights, and the first Halo victory of the new season will have a certain sadness because it will happen without Rory’s trademark line.”

Trying to move on:

== The NFL Network has the five-part documentary, “Full Color Football: The History of the American Football League,” starting today at 5 p.m. The series, shown earlier this year on Showtime, has a new intro by John Madden. After tonight’s episode 1, the others air on three consecutive Thursdays, starting Jan. 14. Episodes 4 and 5 are on Jan. 28 at 6 and 7 p.m.

== The MLB Network will air “Holy Land Hardball,” a documentary about the formation of the Israel Baseball League in 2007, on Sunday at 7 p.m. It follows founder Larry Baras, former Red Sox GM Dan Duquette and the IBL staff from the league’s first tryouts in Massachusetts to the first pitch on June 24, 2007 in Petach Tikva, Israel. The IBL had one 45-game season among six teams in the summer 2007. It was directed and produced by Brett Rapkin and Erik Kesten of 24/6 Studio Productions.

== Shaun White, Kelly Clark and Hannah Teter will be in the U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix from Mammoth Lakes (Channel 4, 10:30 a.m.) trying to secure a spot in the U.S. Olympic halfpipe team. Pat Parnell, Tina Dixon and Todd Richards call it.

== AND FINALLY:

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== ESPN’s Jon Miller is among the 10 finalists for the Ford Frick Award, awarded for excellence in baseball broadcasting and included in an induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame this July.
The winner will be announced Feb. 1 (linked here)
Miller would have our vote. And not just for his standard wardrobe.
In 32 seasons with the Rangers, Red Sox, Orioles and Giants (where he’s been since 1997), Miller has been ESPN’s polished lead voice the last 20 years.

The other finalists:
Skip Caray: He did Braves games on TBS for 33 years (1976-2008) became part of the first three-generation call of a game in 1991 with his father (and 1989 Frick Award winner) Harry Caray and his son Chip Caray.
Billy Berrora: The Mets’ Spanish radio and TV play-by-play man the last 17 years.
Tom Cheek: The last 28 of his 32 seasons calling baseball were with the Toronto Blue Jays. He died in 2005.
Jacques Doucet: Spent 34 years doing the French network call on the Montreal Expos.
Lanny Frattare: Spent 33 years with the Pirates, from 1976-2008.
Graham McNamee: Called games for 13 seasons for Westinghouse and NBC and covered 12 World Series.
Joe Nuxhall: The former pitcher spent 38 years with the Reds (1967-2004). He died in 2007.
Herb Score: The former pitcher did Indians games for 34 years (1964-97)
Dave Van Horne: Has been with the Marlins the last nine seasons after doing 33 seasons as the English voice for the Montreal Expos.
Maybe someday down the road, Rory Markas will be in the discussion.

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Clippers’ Smith: Not guilty, here’s your $25G, let me go

The Associated Press

Clippers TV analyst Michael Smith pleaded not guilty today to stealing $735,000 from a golfing buddy in a failed development deal.

Orange County district attorney’s spokeswoman Farrah Emami says Smith posted $25,000 bond in the Santa Ana court. A pretrial hearing is scheduled for Feb. 5.

Smith and business partner Bruce Furst are charged with grand theft. They are accused of persuading a friend into using his home for collateral on a $735,000 loan to finance a Dana Point development deal. The market collapsed, the deal went sour and the victim is expected to lose his home.

Smith and Furst face up to five years in prison if convicted. Furst posted bail Monday.

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On the MLB Net’s new-found clout

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By Rachel Cohen
The Associated Press

SECAUCUS, N.J. — Willie Mays visited the MLB Network studios earlier this week, sitting down for a long interview to air at a yet to be determined date.

Network president Tony Petitti figures there’s no way they could have landed Mays if not for the presence of the person interviewing him, Bob Costas.

Costas and MLB Network’s newest big-name hire, Peter Gammons, certainly aren’t in charge of coming up with programming ideas to fill out the schedule. But Petitti views their roles as generating content as much as providing credibility to viewers.

“Because it’s Bob, guys come to the table,” Petitti said after Gammons made his MLB Network debut Wednesday, sharing a desk with Costas during the Hall of Fame announcement show. “They’re more on their game; they’re more engaged. I don’t think I can overstate it. We needed that. … Peter will be in the same category.”

As the network heads into its second year, Petitti still describes it as a “secondary tool” for fans, who might flip over after watching their favorite team on a local channel. That modest-sounding goal may seem contradictory to what he calls the critical development of the network’s first year.

“We invested a lot of resources into our on-air talent,” Petitti said. “At the end, what the audience really relates to is who’s giving you the information. That’s the key thing — who they hear from, what the ability is.”

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Within the first few minutes of Wednesday’s broadcast, Gammons and Costas were each comfortably playing their parts as they shared the desk with Harold Reynolds and Matt Vasgersian. Gammons told a story about the camaraderie among Hall of Famers, how so many of them called Robin Roberts after his wife died; Costas emphatically opined on whether the institution had become the “Hall of the very, very good” and not its original intention.

Gammons announced Dec. 8 he was leaving ESPN after two decades to join MLB Network. He expects to put together long-form pieces about topics such as the practice routines of certain players.

“I call it attention span television,” he said. “That’s no criticism of anybody — I understand the whole world of clickers. People who are watching Major League Baseball Network are not sitting there with a clicker in their hands. It’s a very different mindset.”

It’s a mindset he believes works particularly well with baseball, a sport that he likes to say is “very appealing to people who are mathematics majors at MIT.”

Asked what he brings to the network, Gammons said, “I guess just some perspective.”

“I’ve done it for a long time. … Just adding to the love of the game,” he said. “People being passionate about things, it’s really important.”

He’ll be talking to an audience tuned in specifically to hear about baseball, day after day, game after game.

“As popular as football is, 90 percent of football programming is speculation,” Costas said. “Should Brad Childress have yanked Brett Favre? Why is Brett Favre angry? What’s the effect in the locker room? What do you think will happen on Sunday? But it’s only Tuesday, and we already asked this question Monday, but we’ll ask it again on Wednesday.”

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The gospel of championship pigskin performance according to St. Pete Carroll

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During a few hits on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” on Wednesday, guest analyst Pete Carroll joined the “GameDay” crew on the set inside the Rose Bowl — complete with an earpiece and a drive-through microphone. The USC football coach had this to say about this, that and the other things concerning tonight’s BCS championship game between Alabama and Texas, without going Corso and putting a pair of Longhorns on his head as he opined:

== On what the coaches can do to keep their teams relaxed:
“The most important thing is you want your team to be confident and trust in the preparation and be prepared … so you want to convey that in your actions and your body language … you want them to be comfortable and be ready to go.”

== On how these are coaches with experience in title games, and how it helps them:
“Probably Mack’s message all along has been, ‘we’ve been here before, we know what it takes, we know what it’s like’ … and try to convey that everyone can be comfortable. It’s not something too big for them. I’m sure Nick is doing the same thing.”

== With veteran players, should that be a factor?
“Still, (confidence) can get shattered if you make a mistake – coach gets out of wack, or the players kinda lose it. It can knock them off that normal mindset that you want them in.”

==On what will be the deciding factor:
“These teams are so close and they’re so together it’s going to come down to the team that avoids the big error, and I think it’ll come in the form of turning the football over. I’ve always bent that way. If they can get through clean without giving that football up, scoring and field position, that team is going to have the best chance to win.”

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After host Chris Fowler points out that USC is 53-0 under Carroll when his team wins the turnover battle (he’s 97-19 overall, so that must also imply that the Trojans aren’t bad when they don’t win the turnover margin, either), Carroll also said:

“They are great football teams, evenly matched, I’ll always think it’ll come down to who takes care of the ball best. And we’re talking about turnovers. You’ve got an Alabama team that just doesn’t give it up. So Texas is really going to have to be on it to do a good job and at least match up. We’ve got tremendous success in the year’s past in winning games with the plus-turnover ratio. So which ever team does that is going to win the game.”

For the record: In the 2006 Rose Bowl, Texas had the turnover margin over USC, 2-1, in winning 41-38. In the 2005 Orange Bowl, USC won the turnover margin against Oklahoma, 5-0, in a 55-19 win. In the 2004 Rose Bowl, when USC defeated Michigan 28-14, each had one turnover.

==On the defensive mindset preparation:
“They’re different defenses now. Alabama plays much differently than Texas does. Texas is more of a base defense … Alabama’s gonna take a lot more shots at things and come after then in a number of different ways, mix their coverages and make it more difficult and rely on scheme maybe moreso than on the athletes.”

== On the familiarity of Alabama head coach Nick Saban and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart on Alabama with Will Muschamp, the Texas defensive coordinator who worked with both of them back at LSU … Can it help Alabama prepare? Do you see anything there? Is it similar to when you go up against Nick Holt at Washington?
“No, you’re going have conversations that go a little deeper than normal, because you know how a guy thinks and why he does what he does, and you have to guess more at times with an opponent you don’t know as well, so there’ll be some inside stuff, but that stuff, in my opinion, kinda gets washed out. You think it’s going to make a difference, it does give you some confidence in your preparation, but it’s not necessarily going to be the deciding factor.”

After Corso chimes in with: “There’s so much paralysis through analysis. You spend all this time talking about it… just let ‘em play,” Carroll added:
“That’s probably why they stay in the ‘spring football’ mode as long as they can, you don’t get too much gameplan going until it’s time, to keep it fresh and sharp.”

Expect more Carroll comments on ESPN’s 3 p.m. “SportsCenter,” leading into “College GameDay” from 4-to-5 p.m. ABC Channel 7 has a BCS preview show from 5 to 5:30 p.m. leading into kickoff at about 5:38 p.m. on Channel 7.

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