USC players know they need help to reach the Rose Bowl.
However, after they practiced Friday for the first time since routing Notre Dame, many members of the fifth-ranked Trojans said they could not bring themselves to openly root for UCLA today when the Bruins play Washington State.
If UCLA wins, the Trojans win the Pacific 10 Conference outright and will play New Year's Day in Pasadena. If Washington State wins, the Trojans will play in another bowl championship series game.
"I'm never a Bruin fan -- definitely more of a Washington State Cougar hater," safety Troy Polamalu said.
Linebacker Melvin Simmons, who transferred to USC from Washington State, said the Bruins would, grudgingly, have his support.
"We're not going to cheer them on, but we want help from them," Simmons said.
Offensive coordinator Norm Chow, who met with Utah Athletic Director Chris Hill on Monday, said he was contacted again by Hill regarding the Utes' head coaching position and probably would interview in the coming week.
USC Coach Pete Carroll has spoken to Hill on Chow's behalf.
"I'm always going to try and help our guys so they can get to the point where they can make a decision if it's the right thing for them," Carroll said. "And then I fight to keep them."
Defensive end Omar Nazel was not at practice because of academic responsibilities, Carroll said.... Redshirt linebacker Frostee Rucker worked out at defensive end. "Coaches' orders," Rucker said. "It's an opportunity to show them I can play two positions. I'll do whatever I have to do." ... The Trojans will practice this morning and then take a break until Thursday.
-- Gary Klein