Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The UCLA-USC travesty

The trouble with the kind of stunt Pete Carroll pulled at the end of the UCLA-USC game -- a Hail Mary pass that succeeded after taking a knee at 55 second and Neuheisel calling a timeout -- is that nothing can be done to counter it for a full year, and while it will probably provide motivation next year, next year is a long way off.

I don't condemn Carroll. Both coaches, who don't seem to0 like one another at all, kind of made the game about their egos rather than their teams. I didn't think Neiheisel's timeout call was all that outrageous; he had three left, his team had just finally marched down the field and scored a touchdown, and while at 21-7 they weren't going to win it, if they got the ball back and scored again -- or even mounted a respectable drive -- it would have ended the season on a high note. But there was ego involved, and definitely in-your-face-sucker ego on Carroll's part.

I wonder if Pete Carroll's ego hasn't begun to get in the way of his judgment. The Hail Mary was defensible but still bad judgment. Competitors, especially athletic competitors, tend to be impulsive, and the call was just that. I think he also fell in love with Matt Barkley, his Freshman QB, which led him not to give others a shot when Barkley, after a first few really nice games, started playing like a Freshman. He used to make good half-time adjustments but lately (except against UCLA) USC has fallen apart in second halfs. He may be reluctant or too proud to change things when change might have been called for. This season -- especially if Arizona beats the Trojans Saturday, which is possible -- should have been a blow to Pete's ego. We'll see how he responds next year. If they return to dominance I may reconsider.

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