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T.J. SIMERS

Never let it be said he isn't right on USC-UCLA game

It's a Page 2 fact that Pete Carroll displayed poor sportsmanship near the end of the game, and those who think Rick Neuheisel asked for it when he called a timeout are wrong.

December 01, 2009|T.J. Simers
  • USC Coach Pete Carroll reacts after the Trojans scored on a 48-yard pass play against UCLA with 52 seconds left on Saturday.
USC Coach Pete Carroll reacts after the Trojans scored on a 48-yard pass… (Alex Gallardo / Los Angeles…)

The wife likes to say, "You think you're always right."

I'm not surprised she would state the obvious, although I've detected almost a derogatory ring to her voice at times.

Now I would guess most people think they are right when they speak, with maybe the exception of Plaschke, who is always wrong and must know it by now.

The burden that comes with always being right, of course, is the frustration of hearing from those who get it wrong and don't understand I'm always right.

You take the UCLA-USC game, and the Page 2 fact that Pete Carroll displayed poor sportsmanship near the end of the game, which led to his players taunting UCLA and showing no class.

Amazingly enough in checking The Times sports online poll at 12:30 Monday afternoon, there were still 49% of the 15,112 voting who thought Rick Neuheisel asked for it when he called a timeout in the final minute with his team trailing, 21-7, and USC taking a knee to run out the clock.

That's 7,341 voters who are wrong, and although ordinarily one would think it's just Plaschke sitting there voting over and over, I'm told our system doesn't allow Plaschke to vote more than once.

That probably also prohibits anyone from voting more than once.

I sometimes wonder, though, what it's like to be wrong. A few years ago I predicted UCLA would beat USC just to see what it might feel like to be wrong and UCLA won, 13-9. I'm just never wrong.

I've asked the wife many times what it's like to be wrong and have never really gotten a satisfactory answer, even when she's agreed to start talking to me again.

This one was so easy too. Carroll's team had a 14-point lead, the ball, and while knowing UCLA still had three timeouts left, Carroll knew the game was over.

He knew if UCLA used those timeouts, it was still just a formality before the game was over, or he would have never allowed his quarterback to kneel.

It's irrelevant what Neuheisel did.

Some people say Carroll was being gracious in having his quarterback take a knee, but in doing so he was putting Neuheisel in position again where he couldn't win.

If Neuheisel lets the clock run out, it's his problem dealing with UCLA supporters who would want to know why he gave up, leaving three timeouts unused and his own players questioning why you don't play hard to the very end.

If Neuheisel called a timeout, as some people have suggested, it was license for Carroll to embarrass UCLA.

As a man of principle, Carroll being a good sport and having his quarterback kneel with less than a minute to play, why not remain a man of principle knowing three timeouts were not going to change the outcome?

If anything, it was a shaky football decision made by Carroll, an incomplete pass as good as another timeout for UCLA. Most classy coaches probably call a running play if they are going to do anything other than kneel.

The best thing that can be said about Carroll after showing such poor sportsmanship -- he didn't go for two points after USC scored.

His players, though, taking the lead of their leader, began acting as poor winners -- jumping up and down on the sideline and moving onto the field to taunt UCLA.

USC President Steven Sample was honored on the field between quarters, and how proud he must have been of his school's attempt to belittle UCLA. Isn't it supposed to be student-athletes competing for a pair of institutions of higher learning?

Plaschke, like so many of you, took the wrong view of the way the game ended, although you can't really be too hard on Plaschke.

He was downright ticked off by Neuheisel's decision to take a timeout because he was under deadline pressure, and although he just might be the best columnist writing on deadline in the country, even the best sometimes crack.

Had Neuheisel used all three timeouts, Plaschke might've missed deadline, which is obviously why he was so thrilled with Carroll's decision to score and end the game.

He had already written a whole column, more than likely another award winner about a tuba player or drummer -- blind, deaf and with no arms or legs turned down by UCLA but now a Trojan with the tagline presumably, "Fight on."

He had to rip that up, though, the game almost turning into a riot and right on deadline -- no time whatsoever for me to explain to Plaschke what to write because I was on deadline.

Plaschke called Neuheisel a "brat" in his column because Neuheisel was "unappreciative" when Carroll laid down the terms of UCLA's surrender. Doesn't Carroll come off more the brat after responding to Neuheisel's timeout with a bomb?

Plaschke also has Neuheisel hitting Carroll with an olive branch, although I saw him only shake Carroll's hand. Maybe it was just a small branch, well-concealed, and Neuheisel was poking him with his other hand.

You have to give Carroll credit for being classy, I guess, and not mentioning in his postgame news conference that he had been poked by Neuheisel.

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