Read More »
“I thought it was a good idea,” Buehler said. During a team meeting Saturday morning, Buehler mentioned the idea to Collins. He also thought it was a good idea. “So we talked to Coach and he liked it,” Buehler said. “They had a really cool thought,” Carroll said later. They went straight to Pete and pitched the missing-man formation to him? “Yes,” Buehler said. “We went straight to Pete, ah, Coach Carroll. He liked it.” Was there any hesitation about speaking to Carroll the morning of a game? “No,” Buehler said. “Will’s a fifth-year senior. So he feels free to talk to Coach Carroll. He went up and did the talking. I just kind of sat back and looked on.” Juniors such as Buehler tend to remain a respectable distance from their coach. Initially it was quiet in the Coliseum when USC lined up with only 10 men on the field. “The crowd figured it out after a while and started cheering,” Buehler said. “It was a cool experience.” He had a satisfied smile as he talked about it. Deservedly so. “I was standing next to Coach Carroll, and he shook my hand,” Buehler said. USC took a delay-of-game penalty, the officials moved the ball back 5 yards, and Buehler went out to kick the point after touchdown. Suddenly, attention and pressure was on him. How could he miss this kick? “Good thing I didn’t miss,” he said. Now he was chuckling. “It’s a PAT,” he said nonchalant. “It’s pretty routine.” Nothing about the event was routine. The tough part of the evening was the emotion-charged pregame ceremony at midfield when Athletic Director Mike Garrett and Carroll presented the framed jersey. “That was harder than I thought (it would be),” Buehler said. “It brought so many memories back.” There were tears in his eyes as he watched the Danelo family and the video tribute to his buddy on the large screen at the peristyle end of the Coliseum. “Seeing his parents out there,” he said, “it just made me melt down. “I miss him terribly. He’ll always be with us. He was 21. He was in the early stage of his life. “He always said, `Living the dream.’ When you asked him how he was doing, he said, `Living the dream.”‘ When you’re 20, as Buehler is, you’re not supposed to have to learn how to deal with tragedy. That’s for later in life, when you already have at least a few emotional scars. Unfortunately, what we learn is we are not in control. Adding to the tribute, a banner with Danelo’s favorite message was hanging at the end of the tunnel leading from the dressing rooms to the field. The last thing the players saw in big, bold letters before going out to play football was “JUST LIVIN’ THE DREAM.” “It’s never really quieted down,” Carroll said. “Nobody here has really gotten used to the thought of Mario not being with us.” This was a moment when the game was secondary for the football coach. “I think the opportunity to make a statement for the family is a beautiful thing,” he said. “But it doesn’t really help. “It’s just what you have to do to make sure they feel the love (as) they try to find some reason here.” firstname.lastname@example.orgWant local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Following their first touchdown against Idaho, they sent only 10 players out for the point after touchdown. Kicker David Buehler remained on the sideline. That was a special tribute for Danelo, No. 19, the USC kicker from San Pedro High who died in a fall from a San Pedro cliff in January. “The guys who were really close to Mario, they were the ones who came up with the thought,” USC Coach Pete Carroll said of the empty-man formation. Buehler, also a kicker, and snapper Will Collins are the guys who approached Carroll about lining up without Buehler on the field. The chain of events started with a friend of Buehler’s father coming up with the idea. Father told son. They have a large 19 written in the end zone of the football practice field at USC as a daily reminder of Mario Danelo. They honored Danelo before the opening game of the season, Saturday against Idaho, presenting his parents and family a framed No. 19 Trojans football jersey. They had a moment of silence for Danelo before kickoff. Nice, nice and nice.