USC Incurs Major Penalty Before the USC-UCLA Game Even Starts

Lisa Horne@LisaHornePac-12 and Big 12 Lead WriterDecember 3, 2008

When the game's first kickoff around 1:30 PST occurs in the Rose Bowl, the USC Trojans will immediately use one of their time-outs. No, they aren't going to huddle quickly on the sideline and talk about how they're going to stop the tremendous on-slaught of power running by the Bruins. In fact, they will continue on with play as if the magic scoreboard just deleted one of their time-outs all by itself- because that's exactly what it will have done.

Pete Carroll announced on Monday that his team will be wearing their cardinal home jerseys, despite the policy of mandating that the visitors - in this case, the Trojans at the Rose Bowl - have to wear their visiting team jerseys.

The penalty was swiftly handed down after Carroll's announcement- USC would lose one time-out per half, for a total of two time-outs. Carroll expected it, and still didn't flinch.

However, the NCAA revisited this policy and on Tuesday, determined that USC will only lose one timeout - in the first half - and that's somewhat of a bonus. "It's better than it was," Pete Carroll said. "It's twice as good as it was."

But why does USC want to not even play within the rules? After all, this team is one of the most penalized teams in the country, averaging over eight yellow hankies and seventy-five yards per game (No. 118) in penalty yardage.

USC and UCLA have had a long tradition of wearing their home jerseys to all of their games, and Carroll wants that tradition renewed. Rick Neuheisel, coach of the UCLA Bruins, apparently likes the idea as well, and in a show of great sportsmanship, will burn a time-out in return to make the timeouts lost to each team equal.

This, my friends, is what a healthy rivalry is all about.

Respecting tradition, trying to keep it alive, and taking a penalty to make a stand. The coach of a four-plus touchdown underdog is burning a timeout to even out the time-outs and stand side-by-side with his cross-town rival. This is as good as it gets.

The Trojans-Bruins rivalry is played every year in two of the most beautiful stadiums in America. One represents a fine tradition of grand bowls in a beautiful arroyo, while the other holds Olympic records and dreams deep within its walls.

Seeing the brilliant cardinal jerseys of the Trojans and the gorgeous blue jerseys of the Bruins on the same field within those old, history-rich walls of the Rose Bowl is reason enough to let this tradition begin its revival.

To be fair, some teams have similar home uniforms (Arizona State and Minnesota, USC and Iowa State, Michigan and Notre Dame) and this rule of visiting teams wearing their visiting jerseys (usually white) makes sense.

But USC and UCLA play each other every year, and their unis could never be mistaken for another. "The rule is really designed for someone to not mess up the competitive situation if the jerseys are too similar," Carroll said. "I don't think it applies here."

No, it doesn't, and the PAC-10 is actually looking into possibly modifying this rule.

In the meantime, we shall see if the loss of time-outs comes into play this Saturday. It probably won't, but if it did, would the stand still have been worth it? One team has a BCS berth at stake, and another has city-bragging rights for two out of the last three years, if they win.

The game could be a blow-out, or it could be a nail-biter, but one thing's for sure- it will be a magnificent feast for football nation's eyes.

* Carroll quotes courtesy of the Orange County Register


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