December 1, 2008

USC will pay price to wear home jerseys at UCLA

The USC football team has had penalty problems all season long. Only five more teams earn more yellow flags each game.

Saturday at UCLA, it appears they'll be starting the game with a penalty already called on them.

Monday, USC coach Pete Carroll told the media and his team that they'd be breathing life into a tradition that's been dead since 1982 where both UCLA and USC wore their home jerseys when the two teams meet.

By wearing their cardinal jerseys Saturday, the Trojans will be penalized and will lose a timeout in each half.

"It might (cost us). I don't know. I don't care about that right now," Carroll said. "We'll play without it. I think it's worth it. I think it's a fun thing to do, and I think our fans will appreciate it over time."

Carroll said he has investigated all avenues that would allow for USC to wear its home colors without penalty.

"I talked to Dave Cutaia [coordinator of football officiating for the Pac-10] about what we could do," Carroll said. "He checked into it in anticipation that it might come up. And, there's nothing we can do about it."

The Orange County Register has reported that the Pac-10 has spoken to the NCAA about changing the rule and could hear back from the NCAA by Tuesday.

Still, Carroll is content to play without the two timeouts if he has to.

"I've been thinking about it for years. I've been trying to restore it. I always thought it was a really cool tradition," he said. "We're finally going to do it and hopefully start a nice tradition."

Carroll said he called UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel shortly after the former Washington coach took over across town.

"I know Rick liked the idea, too," Carroll said. "We're not trying to surprise them like Notre Dame throwing on the green jerseys or something like that."

Carroll said he doesn't feel he's disrespecting UCLA by playing without two timeouts.

"I set it up by talking to him at the start of it. It's not a surprise. I'm not trying to pull anything over on anybody," Carroll said. "I just think it's a cool thing to do, and maybe it isn't. We'll find out. I'm not really worried about it."

Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian said the lost timeout won't affect the USC offense.

"It's tradition. It's what this game used to be. It's just like anything," he said. "It's like a call coming in late, and you have to burn one early in the game.

"I think it's good for the tradition and good for the rivalry. For people who grew up in Southern California, that's how they know the game."

But if the NCAA doesn't grant a waiver for the game and the Trojans go ahead with their plans, fans at the Rose Bowl won't be seeing just true blue and cardinal on the field.

They'll be at least a little yellow out there, too.

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