USC Coach Pete Carroll said Friday that quarterback Mark Sanchez should not get caught up in the euphoria of his outstanding Rose Bowl performance as he considers whether to return for a final season or make himself available for the NFL draft.
Sanchez was selected as the Rose Bowl's offensive most valuable player after passing for four touchdowns and running for another in the Trojans' 38-24 victory over Penn State on Thursday.
"That's the kind of emotional stuff that should not weigh significantly in this decision," said Carroll, who will meet with Sanchez and his family next week.
Sanchez, a fourth-year junior, completed 28 of 35 passes for 413 yards without an interception against the Nittany Lions.
"It's common for people to think that if you have a big last game it makes a big difference," in possible draft position, Carroll said. "But that's not how it works. . . . It's the body of work that tells the story of who you are."
Sanchez passed for 34 touchdowns with only 10 interceptions in his first season as the Trojans' starter.
The deadline to declare for the draft is Jan. 15.
"I'm excited that I have a great coach to talk about it with," Sanchez said after the Rose Bowl. "He's the one who has brought up everything to me, and he'll give me all the right information."
Tailback Joe McKnight's injury-filled season ended with not one, but multiple toe injuries against Penn State.
Carroll said McKnight suffered four dislocated toes on his left foot while carrying the ball in the second quarter.
"No one I've been around has ever seen anything like that," Carroll said.
McKnight rushed for 13 yards in five carries and also caught a nine-yard pass before he was hurt and forced to leave the game.
He was on crutches afterward, his left foot in a protective boot.
"I spent half of it in the locker room so didn't see too much," he said of the game.
McKnight was one of many Trojans players stricken during training camp with what players described as "jock itch" and he also suffered a fractured finger when a teammate accidentally slammed a door on his hand.
McKnight also was slowed by a hyperextended elbow and an injured big toe on his right foot.
McKnight finished the season with 659 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns. But he could shake up the tailback rotation if he returns to spring practice and training camp in more durable condition.
"Joe's a tremendous talent, but you've got to be available," Carroll said.
Carroll said he expected to have a quarterbacks coach in place by the end of the week and that Carl Smith remained the front-runner. . . . Carroll said he had not been contacted by any NFL teams regarding head coaching jobs. "I'm happy and thrilled and fired up to be here," he said. . . . Carroll on the Trojans' inability to reach the Bowl Championship Series title game: "I'm always going to regret that we were unable to get there. We had a chance to be undefeated. We had a real legitimate shot at it.". . . . Carroll said he would speak next week with tailback C.J. Gable, who expressed frustration with his role several times this season and said after the Rose Bowl that he was still deciding whether to return next season.