Pete Carroll apparently just could not resist.
Asked Tuesday to assess the job Jim Harbaugh is doing as Stanford's first-year coach, Carroll praised the former NFL quarterback's competitive attitude and said, among other things, "Jimmy never did make himself into a statesman. . . . He's not real politically correct all the time, and I don't think he cares."
After Carroll completed a lengthy answer, he paused five seconds for dramatic effect, then added, "He has not checked in with me about any of my career moves. I expect a call late in the week."
Carroll's final statement was in reference to comments Harbaugh made last spring when he said Carroll would be at USC only one more year.
Carroll initially told The Times: "If he's going to make statements like that, he ought to get his information right. And if he has any questions about it, he should call me."
Carroll has since spoken with Harbaugh several times and continues to make light of the comments.
"Coach Carroll has always been cordial," Harbaugh told reporters Tuesday during a conference call.
Later, during his weekly news conference with Bay Area reporters, Harbaugh said he was not worried that his comments would become bulletin board material for the top-ranked Trojans, who play host to the Cardinal on Saturday.
"The focus of the game will be on the two teams that are playing," Harbaugh said. "It'll be played on those merits."
Stanford receiver Evan Moore agreed.
"They don't need bulletin board material, let's be honest," he said. "I doubt it's the centerpiece of their conversations down there."
Despite USC's mistake-filled 27-24 victory over Washington, Harbaugh said he stood by a statement he made during Pac-10 media day in August when he declared, "There is no question in my mind that USC is the best team in the country and may be the best team in the history of college football."
"As sort of a college football historian, there's no question that this SC team ranks right up there," he said.
Tailback C.J. Gable will meet with coaches today to decide whether to have season-ending groin surgery or to put off the procedure.
The sophomore, averaging a team-best 11 yards a carry, did not play against Washington and was examined by a doctor Tuesday. Carroll said he spoke with Gable and would discuss the options with the player's family before deciding on a course of action.
"It's really important that everyone is on the same page," Carrroll said. "He wants to play, he hates not playing. But he has the facts now too."
Sophomore Stafon Johnson (foot bruise) did not practice and appears unlikely to play against Stanford. Senior Chauncey Washington sat out the final drills because of numbness in his right shoulder, but he said he would return today.
Sophomore Allen Bradford got extensive work with the first-team offense.
Trojans quarterback John David Booty visited with 2004 Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart on campus Monday night.
Booty said Leinart talked about the Arizona Cardinals' quarterback situation and also offered some advice in the aftermath of Booty's struggles against Washington.
"[Leinart] talked about where he felt at times like I felt after this last game. . . . He just wanted to encourage me to continue to be a leader and be confident and be the stud of this group and lead these guys," Booty said.
Booty dismissed speculation that he might have arm problems.
"Even the best pitchers in the world go out and get jacked around some days," he said. "It just happened to be that day for me, I guess."
Redshirt freshman Zack Heberer continued to work at left guard with the first-team offense. . . . Carroll dismissed an ESPN report that he would consider leaving USC to become coach of the San Diego Chargers if Norv Turner was fired. . . . Defensive back Josh Pinkard had knee surgery last week and said he had begun light rehabilitation exercises.
Times staff writer Thomas Bonk contributed to this report.