College Football | Ending of USC-UCLA game generates debate
What is a bigger breach of football etiquette: Calling a timeout when your opponent is running out the clock with a 14-point lead, or responding to that timeout by throwing a long touchdown pass?
LOS ANGELES — What is a bigger breach of football etiquette: Calling a timeout when your opponent is running out the clock with a 14-point lead, or responding to that timeout by throwing a long touchdown pass?
The debate continued Sunday after the action-packed final minute of USC's 28-7 victory over UCLA on Saturday night.
Bragging rights, bowl prospects, two bad offensive performances and the USC defense's rebirth were seemingly forgotten as people judged the degree of sportsmanship shown by USC coach Pete Carroll and UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel.
"They can't disrespect us like that," said USC quarterback Matt Barkley, who threw the 48-yard TD pass to Damian Williams with 44 seconds left.
"I don't forget much," said Neuheisel, a former Washington coach.
The scenario seemingly came close to igniting a brawl, with both teams edging toward midfield to exchange taunts before calming down. Carroll and Neuheisel — who exchanged a brief handshake after the game — publicly claimed they had no problem with each other's actions.
"It is just the heart of a competitor, just battling," Carroll said. "We just wanted to win the game and have fun. When the moment was there, it wasn't thinking about what [others] might be thinking. You are either competing, or you're not."
Both teams' competitive fires were fully stoked by the sequence that began when USC stopped the Bruins near midfield on downs with 54 seconds left, preserving a 21-7 lead after Allen Bradford's second touchdown run 36 seconds earlier.
Barkley knelt with the ball on the next play — but Neuheisel called the first of his three timeouts, drawing boos from USC fans.
"I was trying to make them punt, and maybe if they run, we cause a fumble," Neuheisel said. "They have their take on it, but I was trying to get the ball back. People can make their own conclusions. ... I don't blame them for doing it."
USC play-caller Jeremy Bates suggested a play-action pass, and Carroll eagerly agreed.
"Jeremy had the thought," Carroll said. "I said, 'That's a heck of a call, man.' "
Two weeks earlier USC was on the other side, as Stanford went for a two-point conversion with a 27-point lead in the fourth quarter of a 55-21 thrashing of the Trojans.
• The top six teams — all undefeated — maintained their spots in the Bowl Championship Series standings. It is hard to imagine a scenario where the winner of Saturday's Southeastern Conference title game between No. 1 Florida and No. 2 Alabama would not earn a berth in the Jan. 7 BCS National Championship Game in Pasadena, Calif.
Texas, third in the BCS standings, is virtually assured of a national-title shot if it beats Nebraska in Saturday's Big 12 title game. Texas Christian is fourth in the BCS standings, with Cincinnati fifth and Boise State sixth. Bids to the BCS bowls go out Sunday.
• Coaching carousel: Virginia fired Al Groh; Marshall's Mark Snyder and Valparaiso's Stacy Adams resigned; Memphis hired ex-Louisiana State assistant Larry Porter; Florida State's 80-year-old Bobby Bowden said he wants to work another season; and no decision has been announced on the fate of Notre Dame's embattled Charlie Weis.
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.
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