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USC FOOTBALL

USC's Ayles apologizes for obscene gestures before Notre Dame game

In a photo widely circulated on Internet, he can be seen gesturing behind two Irish fans on the field for a pregame snapshot. Carroll says he's on public service duty as punishment.

October 20, 2009|Gary Klein

USC tight end Blake Ayles apologized Monday for making obscene gestures before last week's game at Notre Dame, an act that was captured in a photograph circulated widely on the Internet.

In the photo, Ayles can be seen gesturing behind two Notre Dame fans who were on the field for a pregame snapshot.

"It was all my fault, so I just want to say that I'm sorry," Ayles said. "I didn't mean to disrespect the school or anyone.

"I was just being stupid."

Ayles, a sophomore, said he was not aware of the photo until tight ends coach Brennan Carroll brought it to his attention Monday morning.

"He was just kind of like, 'C'mon man. Are you serious?' " Ayles said.

Coach Pete Carroll said Ayles would be "on active community service duty for some time," as punishment for the indiscretion.

Ayles is not the first USC player to have inappropriate pregame behavior captured in photographs or video that appeared on the Web.

Before last season's Rose Bowl, former linebacker Rey Maualuga was caught gesturing suggestively behind ESPN reporter Erin Andrews.

Pete Carroll said he spoke to Ayles and all of his players about the latest incident.

"They have to understand the magnitude of gesturing and making statements," Carroll said. "They are always representing this university and our program and they have to act in accordance with that."

Ayles said he learned his lesson.

"Just don't be stupid anymore," he said. "Everyone's always watching and one little thing can be blown up."

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Under review

Dave Cutaia, coordinator of football officiating for the Pacific 10 Conference, spoke with Pete Carroll on Sunday night and said he was in the process of reviewing the Notre Dame game, which was officiated by a Pac-10 crew.

Carroll had called to voice concern about several late-hit penalties against the Trojans and also a fake field-goal play that Notre Dame used to set up a touchdown.

Carroll said Sunday night that the Pac-10 had "outlawed" similar plays that called for a receiver to stay near the sideline, but Cutaia said Monday that the Pac-10 did not have rules that differed from the NCAA's.

Cutaia said he was awaiting tape with different camera angles before making any determinations about that play and others.

USC had used a similar play to score a touchdown a few years ago.

"I'm just mad that I was duped into thinking we couldn't do that anymore," Carroll said. "I like stuff like that. I love that play. It worked great for us."

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Impersonating Quizz

Diminutive tailback Curtis McNeal is playing the role of Oregon State running back Jacquizz Rodgers during scout team drills this week.

Rodgers rushed for 186 yards and two touchdowns in last year's upset victory over the then top-ranked Trojans.

"Both of us are little guys," said McNeal, who is generously listed at 5 feet 8. "We're both strong and both pretty fast. . . . I've just got to try and give the defense a great look."

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Quick hits

Defensive tackle Jurrell Casey, who had 10 tackles against Notre Dame, was selected as the Pac-10 defensive player of the week. . . . Fullback Stanley Havili (shoulder) is scheduled to have an MRI exam. . . . Linebacker Jordan Campbell (ankle) said he was close to returning. . . . Saturday's game is sold out, school officials said.

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gary.klein@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimesklein

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USC (5-1, 2-1) vs. Oregon St. (4-2, 2-1)

Saturday at the Coliseum

5 p.m., Channel 7

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