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Category: San Francisco 49ers

USC football: Troy Polamalu graduates with history degree

Lg0keunc Troy Polamalu has made history as a Super Bowl winner with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

On Friday, he went through graduation ceremonies at USC after earning his degree in history.

Polamalu, an All-Pro safety, left USC for the NFL after the 2002 season. He was the 16th player chosen in the 2003 draft.

Polamalu was among more than 30 current and former players who were scheduled to go through graduation ceremonies, including Tim McDonald, who also was an All-American safety at USC and an All-Pro for the San Francisco 49ers.

I wrote about McDonald's quest for his degree during spring practice, as his son T.J. prepared for his junior season.


Receiver Brice Butler will remain with USC

Nine Trojans selected in NFL draft

-- Gary Klein

Photo: Troy Polamalu. Credit: Gregory Shamus / Getty Images

USC football: Pete Carroll reluctantly revisits 'What's your deal?'

With Jim Harbaugh having left Stanford for the San Francisco 49ers, football fans are looking forward to the times Harbaugh goes up against the Seattle Seahawks and former USC coach Pete Carroll.

Their famous "What's your deal?" postgame exchange after Stanford routed USC, 55-21, at the Coliseum in 2009 is the stuff of legend.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee caught up with Carroll at the Senior Bowl and asked him about Harbaugh. You can read the complete post here.

Some highlights:

Carroll told Barrows he has no beef with Harbaugh and cannot understand why anyone would think otherwise. "If you write that, it's because you think that," Carroll said. "Because it's not true."

Carroll told Barrows he had no recollection of the incident: "You'll have to talk to Jim about that. I don't know anything about it. I don't care about it. It means nothing to me. That meant nothing to me. The other coaches get to do whatever they want, and I don't hold anything against them. I'm not one of those guys who is looking for issues with guys. They can do whatever they want to. I don't even remember the circumstances other than we were getting our butts kicked. Other than that I don't know."

Carroll told Barrows he expects a competitive rivalry to continue in the NFL: "He's a really good coach, and he's going to bring them a spirit and an enthusiasm the 49ers fans are going to like. I don't know him one way or the other. I think he's a really good coach, and I really respect him."

 --Gary Klein

USC Football: Receivers coach John Morton joins 49ers staff

John Morton, USC's receivers coach for the last four seasons, is leaving the Trojans to join the San Francisco 49ers coaching staff.

Usc-logo_175 Morton, who coached previously in the NFL with the Oakland Raiders and New Orleans Saints, will be reunited with new 49ers Coach Jim Harbaugh. Morton and Harbaugh were Raiders' assistants in 2002 and 2003 and Morton worked under Harbaugh at the University of San Diego in 2005.

"This is a great opportunity for John to further his career," USC Coach Lane Kiffin said in a statement. "We appreciate the great work he did at USC and wish him the best of luck."

Morton came to USC in 2006 as passing game coordinator and receivers coach. Former coach Pete Carroll named him the offensive coordinator before the 2009 season, but later hired Jeremy Bates as the quarterbacks coach and play-caller.

Bates joined Carroll as offensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks before the 2010 season, but Carroll fired him Tuesday, two days after the Seahawks were eliminated from the NFL playoffs.

--Gary Klein


Question of the day: Which NFL team that didn't make the playoffs is in best position to get there next season?


Writers from around Tribune Co. weigh in on the topic. Check back throughout the day for more responses, and feel free to leave a comment of your own.

Steve Svekis, South Florida Sun Sentinel

The San Diego Chargers and Dallas Cowboys would be pretty safe selections, and the Detroit Lions have loads of young talent and will surge if they can keep Matthew Stafford on the field. However, accounting for all factors that can put a team into the postseason, the St. Louis Rams are the belle of the ball. Playing in a soft division that was won by a 7-9 Seattle Seahawks, the Rams have the most important position taken care of, with Sam Bradford at quarterback. They do need to build up their interior offensive line and keep an eye on running back Steven Jackson, who is approaching 2,000 career carries and saw his yards per carry drop to a career-worst 3.8 this season. Still, it would be surprising to see Bradford, with a year under his belt, not get this team well clear of the field in the NFC West.

Ken Murray, Baltimore Sun

Five new teams made the playoffs this season -- down from six the year before -- and there is no shortage of candidates for 2011, if there is a 2011 season. Perennials like the Cowboys, Giants and Chargers will contend. Several other teams just need a competent quarterback to get back, including the Dolphins, Titans, Cards and Vikings.

But the teams that intrigue me most are the Bucs, Rams, Texans and Raiders. The Bucs have a difficult path in the NFC South, but Josh Freeman could make the difference. The Rams have a clear shot in the NFC West if Sam Bradford improves. The Texans have a marvelous offense and the makings of a defense that could, potentially, challenge the Colts in their division.

But the team that should make the biggest jump in 2011 is the Raiders, who went 6-0 in the AFC West and somehow still lost the division. Hue Jackson has resurrected Jason Campbell. If he's the next coach, he'll push them over the top.

Dan Pompei, Chicago Tribune

You can make a strong case that the Bucs, Rams, Chargers or Cowboys are near playoff locks for next year, but don’t forget the Lions. I know.  Ha, ha, ha. That’s funny. What’s not funny is that they won their last four games and officially finished as the hottest team in the NFC. The Lions won six games overall even though they started three quarterbacks and Matthew Stafford played in only three games.  This is a young, improving team that should hit its stride next season, in Jim Schwartz’s third year on the job. They have one of the best defensive lines in the game and some dangerous skill position players on offense. If General Manager Martin Mayhew can plug a couple of holes in the lineup, the Lions are going to be a contender in 2011.

[Updated at 12:43 p.m.

Sam Farmer, Los Angeles Times

Tampa Bay is a team whose arrow is clearly pointing up. OK, so they might not be the best team in the league, as Coach Raheem Morris said at the middle of the season. But they finished 10-6 and tied a franchise record by going 6-2 on the road. Josh Freeman broke a club record with a touchdown pass in 13 consecutive games, and LeGarrette Blount led all rookies in rushing with 1,007 yards. The thing I really like about the Buccaneers is the fact that they’ve had a lot of success, yet they’re very young. In fact, they’re the first team since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger to start at least 10 rookies and finish with a winning record. They have the potential to be good for a while.]

Photo: San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers prepares to throw down field. Credit: Ron Chenoy / U.S. Presswire

UCLA football: Former Bruin Randy Cross elected to College Football Hall of Fame

Randy Cross, a former UCLA offensive lineman, was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame, one of 12 players and two coaches who will be inducted this year, the National Football Foundation announced Thursday.

Cross played three seasons at UCLA, from 1973-75, helping the Bruins win the 1976 Rose Bowl. He was voted a first-team All-American his senior season. He played 13 seasons in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers, winning three Super Bowls.

Cross is the 13th Bruin to be elected to the Hall, joining former UCLA players Troy Aikman, Gary Beban, Kenny Easley, Tom Fears, Bill Kilmer, Donn Moomaw, Jerry Robinson, Al Sparlis, and Kenny Washington. Former UCLA coaches Terry Donahue, Tommy Prothro and Red Sanders also are in the Hall.

-- Chris Foster

NFL rules the TV rankings

Andre Frazier (left) tangles with the Cowboys' Terence Newman.

It's hard to argue the numbers.

While I wish more of you were watching "The Office", the best-written comedy on television as long as "Curb Your Enthusiasm" isn't giving us new episodes (and does anybody have a clue if there are going to be new episodes and, if so, when? Larry David, if you read this, please e-mail!), or "Desperate Housewives," which has picked up steam this season having moved five years in the future.

I can't blame you for not watching "Real Housewives of Atlanta." Or "Orange County." Those are my (not-so-secret) addictions.

But so far this television season you all are watching NFL football. Early and often.

The NFL sent out a release (below) that uses this season's Nielsen Media Research. Notable? Of the top 15 most-watched television shows this viewing season, 13 are NFL games. Only the "60 Minutes" edition featuring Barack Obama (sorry Pete Carroll) and the season premiere of "CSI" cracked the NFL domination. And I missed both those shows!

Program (Game)


1. FOX Sunday National (mostly Cowboys-Steelers), 12/7

25.7 million

2. CBS Sunday National (Broncos-Jets & Pats-Steelers), 11/30

25.5 million

3. CBS Sunday National (mostly Patriots-Jets), 9/14

25.2 million

4. 60 Minutes (Obama interview preceded by late SD-Pitt finish), 11/16

25.1 million

5. CBS Sunday National (mostly Steelers-Ravens), 12/14

24.4 million

6. FOX Sunday National (mostly Cowboys-Cardinals), 10/12

23.7 million

7. CSI (season premiere), 10/9

23.5 million

8. FOX Sunday National (mostly Cowboys-Giants), 11/2

23.3 million

9. FOX Sunday National (mostly Giants-Cardinals), 11/23

23.3 million

10. CBS Sunday National (mostly Colts-Packers), 10/19

23.2 million

11. NBC Sunday Night Football (Giants-Cowboys), 12/14

23.1 million

12. FOX Thanksgiving Day (Seahawks-Cowboys), 11/27

22.7 million

13. CBS Sunday National (mostly Colts-Steelers), 11/9

22.4 million

14. FOX Sunday National (mostly Giants-Steelers), 10/26

22.3 million

15. NBC Sunday Night Football (Cowboys-Packers), 9/21

22.2 million

Source: NFL, Nielsen Media Research

-- Diane Pucin

Photo:  The Steelers' Andre Frazier, left, tangles with the Cowboys' Terence Newman during Sunday's game at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. Credit: Gregory Shamus / Getty Images

Mike Singletary says his actions are 'pretty much me'

Mike Singletary

If 49ers head coach Mike Singletary was frustrated by his team's performance on Sunday, he is more so now. Someone leaked the fact that he dropped his pants during his halftime speech to demonstrate to his players that they "were getting their tails kicked," in Singletary's words.

He was on the (Dan) Hampton and (Laurence) Holmes show on Chicago's 670 AM this morning and talked about it.

Everything that happened during the game, after the game, or whatever, that's pretty much me. ... The thing with the incident where you hear 'he dropped his pants at halftime' or whatever. ... The locker room is really sacred, there are some things that -- what is said or what is done should stay in the locker room and it's not like I didn't have anything on after I had my pants on.

Singletary wants to find out who it was.

"It’s unfortunate," Singletary said on a separate interview on ESPN Radio 1000 in Chicago, according to "We will find out who is leaking information out of the locker room because what happens in the locker room should be sacred and stay there."

I'm just glad there is no video of that locker room speech. Boxers on or not.

-- Debbie Goffa

Photo: San Francisco 49ers head coach Mike Singletary at a news conference last week. Credit: Paul Sakuma / Associated Press

Last call: Penn State riot, Danyelle Sargent and Mike Singletary, and the Game of the Day.

Take one big football victory, add copious amounts of alcohol, and mix with a bunch of idiotic college kids, and what do you get? This:

Oh, and if you want to watch Danyelle Sargent ask Mike Singletary if he has heard lately from Bill Walsh, you might be able to catch it here, if you get to it before the link gets pulled down.

And finally, today's game of the day:

-- Houston Mitchell

Danyelle Sargent talks about video bloopers

Pushing the envelope, always pushing, that's how it is in many facets of the media business. Get everything first, especially if it is embarassing or titillating and better yet if a TV host can mock a poor, hapless sideline reporter.

Which leads to Mike Francesa, more famous in the East because of a loudly opinionated radio show he used to co-host with Chris "Mad Dog" Russo. Francesa now hosts a sports television show in New York called "Mike'd Up."

Danyelle Sargent_3 Someone involved with "Mike'd Up" got his or her hands on a raw feed of an interview Fox Sports sideline reporter Danyelle Sargent did with San Francisco 49ers Coach Mike Singletary before last Sunday's game against Seattle -- Singletary's first as the team's head coach.

According to stories in the New York Times  and Newsday, the unaired clip had Sargent saying to Singletary, "I hear that your mentor Bill Walsh was one of the first phone calls you made when you found out you had the job. What does it mean to you to be the head coach of the 49ers?"

Since most everybody, including Singletary -- but apparently not Sargent -- knew that Walsh died in 2007 this was obviously an embarrassing mistake. And it's one that was never supposed to be seen.

According to Dan Bell, Fox Sports' vice president of communications, the only video of the exchange was sent on what is called a "backhaul" feed.

In the newspaper business it would be akin to me shipping unedited copy from my computer to an editor in the L.A. Times office. The transmission from my computer is not meant to be intercepted and printed in papers around the world.

But the "backhaul" feed showing Sargent's interview was intercepted as it traveled from San Francisco to Fox editors in Los Angeles. The clip was posted on YouTube (it since was taken down) and Francesa aired it on his show.

Bell said the network and Sargent are "disappointed" that someone broke the industry protocol that prohibits competitors from airing video that was never aired by its rightful owner. Francesa said he didn't realize the clip had not been shown on national television, a claim Sargent doesn't quite believe.

Sargent has been working at Fox for two years, hosting a show called "The FSN Final Score" (it's on at 10:30 tonight on Fox Sports Net West). She is a Florida State graduate who, she said, "got my first job pulling cables. I'm not one of those women who just jumped onto network TV. I've paid my dues."

But this isn't Sargent's first brush with making an on-air mistake. She

Continue reading »

Totally Random

Brett and Deanna Favre Brett Favre’s image has taken enough of a hit lately that his wife has come to his defense in her family blog.

"This latest round of media scrutiny has been harder, more disheartening and seemingly unending," Deanna Favre wrote. "Brett does not, in any way, hold a vendetta against his former team. But that has not stopped some from scrutinizing his every move and blaming him for so many things that simply are not true.

"Some incidents, like the locker room pranks, appear funny [but they are still untrue]. Others, like the questionable phone calls to other teams are hurtful, distasteful, and ... still untrue as they have been reported.

"Because of this, lately, my heart has been so heavy. It is very hard to watch the daily toll this has taken on Brett."

Favre threw three interceptions in the New York Jets’ 28-24 victory over Kansas City on Sunday. Duly scrutinized, none of them could be written off as untrue.


Is the Big-12 overrated?

“With its sharpshooter quarterbacks and supercharged spread offenses, the Big 12 looks like college football's most cutting-edge conference. But is it possible that this high-tech corridor in the Great Plains is really just an echo chamber?” Darren Everson of writes. “Maybe the Big 12 has finally become the juggernaut its founding fathers expected when the league launched in 1996. But unsubstantiated hype could just as easily serve as the source of the conference's high rankings. Despite its flashy offense, none of the Big 12's national-title contenders has a major nonconference victory to its credit, and none has a standout defense.

“Those ordinary defenses bode most ominously. Based on recent statistical history, this season's national champion will not come from the Big 12. The last five Bowl Championship Series title-game winners all ranked among the country's top 10 in total defense.”

The last team without a top-10 defense to win the title? The 2003 USC Trojans, whose defense ranked 30th when they shared the championship with Louisiana State.


Mike Singletary’s first postgame new conference as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers has already taken on semi-legendary status, evoking memories of Dennis Green’s famous rant after his Arizona Cardinals blew a big lead against the Chicago Bears during the 2006 season.

“Passionate? Good lord. I haven't seen that level of genuine (yet controlled) fury and naked honesty by any coach or manager in a postgame setting, ever,” Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote after the 49ers’ 34-13 defeat against Seattle on Sunday.

“Had Singletary been selling kitchen knives, I now would own the 60-piece set.”

Singletary’s passion spilled over during the game as well. He benched quarterback J.T. O’Sullivan in the second quarter and ordered tight end Vernon Davis off the field for bad behavior in the fourth quarter.

   “That’s not a head coach the 49ers hired,” Ostler wrote, “that’s a bouncer.”

-- Mike Penner

Photo: Brett and Deanna Favre in December, 2003. Credit: Paul Sakuma / Associated Press

Maybe she meant to say George Halas?

Mike Singletary

Anybody who has ever done TV work knows it can be unnerving, and sometimes you say things you just don't intend to say. (KTLA's Damon Andrews once asked me if they were paying me by the "ums" ... )

Fox Sports sideline reporter Danyelle Sargent at first didn't seem to know what was wrong about her on-the-air question on Sunday to new 49ers Coach Mike Singletary before a game against Seattle.'s Mike Francesa talked about the gaffe.

What Sargent finally realized -- after listening to her producer, no doubt -- was that Singletary, recently promoted to head coach, couldn't have phoned legendary coach Bill Walsh to tell him the good news.

(An admirable postscript: In an appearance Tuesday on the Dan Patrick Show, Sargent said she was nervous interviewing Singletary -- her first sideline assignment -- and said she meant to say that the coach called Walsh when he first got into coaching. Also, the clip never aired. It was plucked off the raw satellite feed.)

-- Sam Farmer

Photo: San Francisco 49ers head coach Mike Singletary. Credit: Cary Edmondson / US PRESSWIRE


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