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Rick Neuheisel and Pete Carroll Were Both Wrong for UCLA/USC Ending

The UCLA/USC crosstown rivalry is always heated and contentious, regardless of how well or poorly the teams are performing. One team may dominate the rivalry for a stretch of time but that doesn’t take away from the overall significance the fans place on this game. Out of all the years that the game has been played, we may have never seen a contest end with such heated emotion as we did on Saturday. With the game already out of hand at 21-7 and under a minute to play, Rick Neuheisel called a timeout to stop the clock and stop USC’s kneel-down efforts. The first mistake was made by Neuheisel who did not concede defeat and take his medicine. Bottom line, your team is not very good, they got beat by a better squad, admit the defeat and try to get better for next year. If UCLA wasn’t letting up and continuing to compete then there’s nothing wrong with USC continuing to compete.

USC was in the wrong for jeering, showboating, and taunting after scoring the touchdown. Scoring the TD on UCLA after the Bruins decided they weren’t going to go out quietly was enough of a statement; the touchdown was thoroughly embarrassing. The sad part is that it wasn’t the players acting independently that produced the skirmish at the end — they took their lead from their coach, Pete Carroll. Carroll acted childishly, unprofessionally, and without class. His team was better, they had proven it on the field, and they had embarrassed UCLA with the final score. Why not let the TD speak for itself? It surely sent Neuheisel a message to submit when you’ve been beaten, so why give the Bruins a chance to win the second game — the postgame fight? In both regards, each coach was in the wrong and should learn from his behavior. It’s also seemed like Carroll was taking out his aggression and frustration from the Stanford game out on the Bruins. Neuheisel may have ignited it by refusing to quit but Carroll went overboard in the celebration. He should have saved that for Harbaugh. Here’s the video of the UCLA/USC fight after the game:

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Pete Carroll Must Have a Short Memory

jake-lockerIt’s fun to watch Pete Carroll and see the head games that he employs. Remember when he got pissed that Mark Sanchez declared for the pros early and he said Sanchez wasn’t ready? Not only does he look bad for that especially now that Sanchez looks really good, but he also realized how wrong he was and he started backtracking. He then explained his behavior saying he was “testing” Sanchez. I’m not sure who bought that because it was Carroll clearly trying to cover his tracks. Well Carroll used a similar tactic this week after suffering the upset loss to Washington (now you know why he was so pissed Sanchez was leaving). He tried to diminish the achievement by Washington by pumping them (specifically Jake Locker) up:

“I’m not saying [Locker] played the greatest game ever against us,” Carroll said chuckling. “I think the guy from Texas did. But I just think he’s one of the really, really fine complete athletes. I don’t know why I’m blowing him up all the time, but I just really like the guy.”

“I think this guy is the best quarterback we’ve played against,” Carroll said. “I thought Vince played the best game I’ve ever seen anybody ever play.”

Well to answer what Carroll’s thinking, here’s the logic: pump up Locker and Washington and then the loss no longer seems as bad. His goal is to get everyone to repeat his logic. Now don’t get me wrong here — Locker is a fine quarterback who is a huge part of Washington’s success, but to call him the best guy they’ve played against? Aside from the talented Kellen Clemens and Dennis Dixons they’ve faced, Aaron Rodgers to me would easily be the best quarterback they’ve played against. From what I remember, Rodgers led Cal to an upset win over USC and the next year took them down to the wire at the Coliseum, completing 20-something straight passes in the game. Like I said, he must have a short memory.

Pete Carroll Backtracks on Mark Sanchez Trashing, Calls it a Test

I gave Pete Carroll the benefit of the doubt the first time around when he strongly disagreed with Mark Sanchez’s decision to leave school early for the NFL. I understood that Carroll was motivated by his desire to run a strong program and also his desire to see Sanchez develop more before going pro. I also speculated that the move could hurt Carroll in recruiting since recruits would see that Carroll doesn’t always support their decisions. That must be the case because Carroll looked like Deion Sanders backpedaling off his initial comments when he spoke at Sanchez’s pro day:

“He made a point to really go to bat for Sanchez,” a scout said. “You could tell he meant it.”

Carroll told the group that his public frosting of Sanchez — including the comment the player made a “bad choice” — was meant to test his resolve, to see if he truly had his heart set on turning pro right away or if he would waffle. Sanchez didn’t waver.

“He told us, ‘I challenged him. I wanted him to make the right decision,’ ” the scout said. “He said, ‘I love the kid. I support him. I think he’ll make a good pro.’ “

If there isn’t more of a b.s. line that the one where Carroll said he was testing Sanchez’s resolve, I don’t know what is. Carroll should have kept his feelings to himself from the start so as not to reflect poorly upon himself or Mark because he ended up making both look bad when he questioned the decision. Ultimately I don’t think Sanchez’s stock will be adversely impacted by the remarks. Clearly Carroll now realizes the error of his ways. That excuse was just too lame though — we could have done without it.

Will the Mark Sanchez Conference Cost Pete Carroll in Recruiting?

It’s really tough to judge Pete Carroll based on his answers to questions regarding Mark Sanchez’s decision to leave school early for the NFL draft. Carroll’s clearly motivated by his desire to run a strong program, and having Sanchez back for a 5th year would ostensibly put the team in its best position to win the Pac-10 and compete for a BCS title. At the same time, he recruits and coaches his players and develops strong relationships with them over the years. Wouldn’t he want the best for those players and want them to take his advice when he feels so strongly about a subject? Given the numbers and history of quarterbacks leaving school early, I understand why he advised Sanchez to return to USC, putting his own motivation aside. But I also understand why Sanchez left and can’t blame him for it.

Mark Sanchez had the game of his life in the Rose Bowl and really could not be leaving on much of a higher note. It’s not a guarantee that his stock will improve just by staying another year, especially considering the all-world performance he put on in Pasadena. Couple that closing note with Tim Tebow and Sam Bradford returning to school, and the choice to leave for the NFL seems like a logical one for me. If Sanchez’s goal is to get drafted as highly as possible and to make a lot of money, this is probably the right move. Furthermore, Sanchez is a senior in school standing, and if he’s really motivated to become a pro, who’s to say he won’t do well? And even if Carroll disagrees with the move, why tell the media?

I don’t understand how it helps Carroll to tell people that he disagrees with the move. What good does that do him or the program? Couldn’t that be used against him by other coaches in recruiting? Maybe potential recruits saw that and didn’t like it. That’s not to say that Carroll won’t be able to get great players — he still will — but that wasn’t a good sign. Though USC will still be strong next year, perhaps Carroll may be feeling some pressure from having coaches on his staff leave and one of his top players go pro. Look at Nebraska, Florida State, Tennessee, and Miami and some of the other dynasties of the past 15 years. You dominate for a good five years or so, then after that, things start going downhill. It’s inevitable, and this might mark the first step for USC.

If you haven’t seen video of the conference yet, here it is via Hot Clicks:

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Rick Neuheisel Should Burn Timeouts Too

Look, I don’t know exactly what Pete Carroll’s doing here or what sort of motivation he has. All I know is that he wants to wear his red jerseys against UCLA on Saturday while the Bruins wear the blue. It’s something the teams did back in ’82 when they shared the Coliseum as a home, and I have no problem if they relaunch the tradition. People have been suggesting that this is a cocky move on Carroll’s part, as if he’s saying he can beat UCLA without needing his timeouts. Whatever. I’m not sure if that’s exactly what he’s saying, but that’s possible. No big deal to me. At some point something will backfire if that’s the underlying message, even if it’s not UCLA causing the move to backfire. I mean how much can you really expect out of a team whose quarterback has thrown more touchdowns to defensive players than his own team this year?

I really think this is a moot point and moot argument because the I’m guessing the NCAA will allow them to do this for the rivalry game without facing a penalty. Perhaps it’s just much ado about nothing. If not, Neuheisel should just burn the timeouts himself to make it even with Carroll. I’m all about pride and don’t like getting shown up, so that will level things out. Of course it will still be a 40+ point blowout, but at least Neuheisel can go down without losing his dignity in the process. Otherwise it would be a slap in the face to the school to say they got beat by a team willing to give up its timeouts. Why don’t they just spot us 40 points to begin with? Or maybe Carroll’s just trying to give USC fans a nice sendoff before he takes the San Diego Chargers soon-to-be-vacant head coaching/GM job …

Pete Carroll, Will Ferrell, Captain Compete Pull off a Halloween Prank

Between running a national powerhouse football team, recruiting high schoolers, handling the media, and dealing with BCS jokers, USC coach Pete Carroll sure has a lot on his plate. Despite the pressures of trying to go undefeated each season and win a national championship, the guy sure has managed to set up pretty awesome pranks. He’s staged mock arrests, and LenDale White had a mock suicide once. But this Halloween prank might be the best. Via SC Playbook:

As practice was wrapping up and the team gathered at midfield, suddenly one of the video assistants that was taping practice from a scissor lift high above started yelling and fell from the lift and out of sight.

Seconds later, the door to Howard Jones Field flew open and Will Ferrell, in his Capatin Compete costume, emerged with the fallen video assistant safe in his arms, to the relief of several wide-eyed players.

Captain Compete then gave the team some words of wisdom before being interrupted by a loud explosion. A man then ran onto the field on fire.

Captain Compete saved the day once again by dousing the burning man with Gatorade.

Of course, the whole incident would not be complete without pictures of the events! Photos courtesy of SC Playbook. And may I ask one thing? Why does Will Ferrell always manage to wind up wearing nothing but a speedo?

**UPDATE: See video of the whole prank below**

Video of the incident via The Wiz of Odds:

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Pete Carroll Should Not Go to Atlanta

Much like I said about Cam Cameron last week, coaches looking to make jumps need to ponder the situation they’re going to. Some people get so blinded by the thought of a promotion that they go to a bad team, perform poorly, and get canned for good. I’m not saying that Pete Carroll wouldn’t be able to turn around the Falcons or that he wouldn’t get another head coaching offer if he failed in Atlanta, I’m just saying it’s not a good situation to walk into.

In Atlanta, you have no quarterback, and not too many playmakers on defense. Though they’re in a good spot under the cap, they don’t have too many weapons to speak of. Additionally, you’d be working for Arthur Blank whose nose seems to be in the middle of all the football business. I highly doubt Carroll wants that around. Sure it would be good money, but why would it be worth it? What’s Atlanta going to give him, four years to turn it around? That’s about how long it would take — four or five to be fair. I don’t know if Blank would have that patience, or if Carroll would either. Not to mention, Carroll would go from being a top college coach to being a loser, or at best, mediocre in the NFL with the Falcons. Why would he want to do that?

I just do not see how it would be in Pete Carroll’s interest to leave USC for Atlanta. He has it made in So Cal. The alumni love him, he dominates the Pac-10, and he has a great recruiting base. His squads are perennial national title contenders that always receive respect from pre-season voters. I’m not sure exactly how much he makes, but I’m sure he’s living comfortably. Money can be enticing, but the situation would have to be the selling point for me if I’m Pete Carroll trying to prove I can win in the NFL. It’s the situation, not the money, that’s most important.