Yogi Roth is definitely unique among the people I've come across in covering college football over the past decade. Roth, a 27-year-old former University of Pittsburgh wide receiver, has spent the past four seasons working a variety of jobs for USC football. The last two years Roth has been a graduate assistant who worked with the Trojans' QBs, and apparently he's made quite an impression on Pete Carroll and his staff.
Lane Kiffin once tried to hire Roth as an assistant wide receivers coach for the Oakland Raiders. A few weeks ago, new Washington coach Steve Sarkisian, a former USC offensive coordinator, wanted to hire Roth as the Huskies' QB coach. The offers speak to the impression he has made inside the Trojans' program, but aside from apparently being a pretty sharp young coach, the guy approaches life in a truly inspiring way. Most of the people I know are so cynical and suspicious by nature, and Roth is the complete opposite.
While at Pitt, he became an intern to the mayor and to a state representative. Later, he interned at a law firm and worked as a substitute teacher. At one point after graduation, he worked as a sideline reporter for the Panthers' football games. He also relocated to Australia, where he became an avid surfer and did things like scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef and hiking through Tasmania and into the Outback. He has surfed in Bali and lived in a beach hut, as well as lived with a family on the Fiji Islands and slept on a dirt floor in a home with no running water or power.
He says that he has enjoyed everywhere he has experienced, but that Los Angeles has become home. Pete Carroll proved to be the ideal mentor, and the two often engaged in big-picture philosophical discussions long past midnight around the Trojans' football offices. Anyone who watched the recent "60 Minutes" piece on Carroll and his efforts in the inner city got a sense of the coach's spirit, and it's one Roth is trying to carry forward.
Roth, who lives about 100 feet from the ocean out here, declined both the Raiders job and the chance to be a receivers coach in the Pac-10. He would've loved to get the USC QB coaching job, but Carroll wanted someone with more experience and a play-calling background. (Earlier this week, Carroll hired former Broncos coach Jeremy Bates.) Roth says he'd still love to coach but for now is embarking on another journey -- this one to South America, where he is trying to spread a grass-roots message of Carroll's "Win Forever" philosophy, bouncing from Santiago, Chile, to Easter Island, Buenos Aires and Brazil for Carnival.
After landing in Chile, Roth sent back this dispatch to explain what's going through his mind as he begins his journey:
"Day 1: As I sat on the plane today heading for Santiago, I wondered what it was that made me want to travel all these years. Was it something in my childhood that led me in this direction? A book? A film? What was it? I'm sure it was a combination of my grandparents immigrating from Israel after the Holocaust, my great, great, great grandfather sailing around Cape Horn and receiving his passed-down journal when I was eight years old, my grandmother taking her grand-children around the world when we were young and my general childlike curiosity. But I also feel it is my strong yearning to understand how this world operates.
"For the majority of my life I've had this belief that there is a language of the world and that it is peace. Meaning, cultures are naturally positive and willing to aid all walks of life and they are taught to hate and groomed towards negativity. Thus, I set out a goal every time I leave LAX to seek this language of the world in various cultures such as Australia, Bali, Fiji, Peru, Chile, Israel and others. And every time it has proven true. Also, during the past four years I've had the opportunity to be exposed to Pete Carroll's Win Forever philosophy, and like a surfer and the North Shore, I was drawn to it.
"It is a basic approach to life that focuses on actualizing your own potential. As coach Carroll has proven by winning Pac-10 Championship after Pac-10 Championship, Winning Forever has to do with the obvious, but it has more to do with becoming the best at whatever you are doing. For instance, becoming the best coach you can be, the best father, the best husband, or the best friend. This approach proves that to be great, one only has to dream it, make an affirmation regarding their goal, and simply compete to achieve it. Then, you will maximize your potential and Win Forever.
"So this trip is about taking this Win Forever approach to life and seeing how far it can spread to the world. I want to expose others to a philosophy that coach Carroll engrained in a team, university, culture, city, and nation that goes beyond football as well as the one my parents integrated in me.
"Thus, I will begin the search to know what Winning Forever means to a 14-year old soccer player in Santiago, a local fisherman in Easter Island, a cab driver in Buenos Aires, and a dancer during Carnival in Brazil. And if they are unaware of what this basic concept means to them, then maybe I'll be able to do what I've done for the past four years at USC teach. Educate others on the process of finding out who they are, what they stand for, and ultimately, realize their potential. A tall task and relatively outlandish for a 27-year old I'm sure, but what better time to try it and what better place than South America during their summer."
I'll check in with Roth more as he continues his journey in the coming weeks.
• The coach at Tucker High in Atlanta has banned South Carolina, and AJC blogger Michael Carvell said it was the right move, considering how recruit Jonathan Davis was treated:
"Davis committed to South Carolina last month, and then had his scholarship yanked away last week. What happened? South Carolina is not allowed to comment because of NCAA rules. But the Charleston Post and Courier reported that ex-Gamecocks assistant Ron Cooper offered Davis and accepted his commitment against the wishes of the South Carolina staff. Then when Cooper took a job with LSU, he wasn't around to fight to keep Davis on the recruiting board. Steve Spurrier accepted blame and said it was confusion among his assistants, according to Stephens. And Cooper is the easy scapegoat. He's gone. But the responsibility is with Spurrier, who is in charge of the program. All things South Carolina fall under his domain. Spurrier is one of college football's greatest coaches because of his tough personnel decisions. But Spurrier should have handled communication of this decision better."
• Syracuse's new staff is working hard to chase some big-time line recruits, reports Donnie Webb.
"One of them is DE Craig Drummond from Chicago. Another is offensive tackle Andrew Tiller (6-5, 320) of Nassau Community College. Tiller has visited Syracuse, but wants to work in a last-second visit to Miami. He's being recruited in Miami by former SU assistant Jeff Stoutland. There's danger Will Robinson, but based on Tiller's relationship with John Anselmo, the former Nassau head coach hired by Doug Marrone to coach the Orange defensvie [sic] backs, Syracuse is the team to beat."
• With former Tennessee QB Tee Martin's becoming the New Mexico QB coach and not taking the Oregon receivers coaching position, the Ducks now have two slots on their staff open, wide receivers coach and D-line coach, reports Rob Moseley.
Marshall DL coach Jerry Azzinaro is considered the favorite to get one job, since he worked with Ducks head-coach-in-waiting Chip Kelly at New Hampshire and is well regarded from his days at Syracuse. A possible option for the receivers-coach job is Boston College wide receivers coach Ryan Day, a New Hampshire guy. Kelly recently told me he believes Day will make a great college head coach sometime down the road.
• If you think it's been musical chairs among SEC coaching staffs, you're right, as my colleague Chris Low details here.
• The shift of former Auburn linebackers coach James Willis to Alabama probably assures blue-chip LB Petey Smith will join the Tide.
The massive Smith, a surprisingly nimble guy so squat he makes Rey Maualuga appear lanky, told CrimsonConfidential.com: "I'm going to Alabama. Alabama is just a better school, and that's where I want to go."
Smith has a close relationship with Willis, who was recently lured by Nick Saban from Auburn.
• Good breakdown of Big East recruiting by former Ohio State recruiting coordinator Bill Conley.
"Right now, it looks like Rutgers and South Florida are in the lead for the top class. Watch out for Bill Stewart's West Virginia Mountaineers to close hard and challenge the Scarlet Knights and the Bulls for the best class."
• How is Jake Locker's rehab coming? Ted Miller has an update.
"The broken thumb, which sidelined Locker for four months, is mostly better. He's throwing again and is shooting to be 100 percent before spring practices begin. While he doesn't yet have a finished playbook -- Sarkisian and offensive coordinator Jim Michalczik are still working out the details -- Locker knows his days as a glorified running back leading a spread-option offense are over. Sarkisian runs a pro-style offense, which means the Pac-10's best running quarterback now needs to be a pass-first quarterback. He'll line up primarily under center, instead of the shotgun, and he'll be asked to use play-action instead of the read-option. The new scheme will help prepare him for running an NFL offense in the future, but he'll need to improve his 48.7 career completion percentage to make that happen.
"'I think it could help develop me in that aspect,' he said. 'It's more set around a drop-back pass theme.'"
Onetime UF commitment Greg Reid, the nation's No. 2 cornerback prospect, announced Tuesday night that he has eliminated the Gators from his list of possible suitors, reports Scott Campbell.
"Reid had been committed to Urban Meyer for nearly a year before de-committing from the Gators a few weeks ago during the week of the Under Armour Game in Orlando. Although he removed his name from UF's commitment list, many speculated that he would reaffirm his commitment to Florida on his official visit this past weekend. However, the visit proved to be disastrous. Consequently, the nation's No. 15 player dropped Florida all together. With UF out of the picture, many speculate that it is now a two team race between Florida State and Georgia, with Florida State having the early lead. Seminole head coach in waiting Jimbo Fisher dropped by Lowdnes High School for a visit earlier this week, and he was accompanied by defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews. With FSU putting the full-court press on the Under-Armour All-American, Georgia has made sure to equal the effort. The Bulldogs plan to visit Reid sometime this week before his next official this weekend. The 5-foot-9 defensive back was originally scheduled to visit Alabama, but it appears that Bama may be pushed to the side, and the playmaking defensive back will likely officially visit new Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin in Knoxville, instead. Reid is expected to make his decision on signing day."
• Move over, BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Here comes UCLA DB recruit Stanjarivus McKay, who apparently is just called "Stan" by his friends.
• Kansas City/Rockhurst QB Nathan Scheelhaase is working hard at recruiting for Illinois, writes Bob Asmussen.
• Here's an interesting quirk: UVa could have three southpaw QBs next year, as Doug Doughty writes:
"UVa has told recruit Quintin Hunter from Orange County that he will get a shot at quarterback, which means that the Cavaliers will have three left-handers among their quarterback candidates next year -- Hunter, fellow recruit Ross Metheny and Jameel Sewell, who is back in school after a year's academic suspension."