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Considering USC will likely be playing its next two games at the Rose Bowl within 26 days of each other, it makes sense to call the Rose Bowl the Trojans' home away from home. Pete Carroll, however, is taking that saying to another level.
Carroll decided Monday night that the Trojans would be wearing their home uniforms on Saturday at the Rose Bowl against UCLA, marking the first time that both USC and UCLA will be wearing their home uniforms in the rivalry game since 1982, when booth schools called the Coliseum home.
The decision, however, comes with a price, as USC will be penalized one timeout in each half due to an NCAA rules change implemented in 1983 preventing both teams from wearing their home jerseys.
"I've never coached cherishing the timeouts like other coaches do," Carroll said. "We rarely use them. This isn't going to surprise (UCLA). It's not like Notre Dame wearing green jerseys. We're the ones being penalized."
With the Trojans being a 32-point favorite against the Bruins, maybe Carroll doesn't think the timeouts will be much of a factor in the game. But Rick Neuheisel, who could spoil the Trojans' bid to play in the Rose Bowl and send them to the Holiday Bowl with an upset, doesn't think losing a timeout in the second half is worth it.
"I agreed when we first talked about it [in August] that I would take a timeout right after he got penalized in the first half and then we'd play with two timeouts each in the first half," said Neuheisel. "But when they said we had to do that in the second half too, I thought it was too costly. I wouldn't do that."
Carroll, who has wanted to bring back the home jersey tradition since 2001, brought up the idea to former UCLA coaches Bob Toledo and Karl Dorrell. Carroll finally decided to "go for it" this season.
"It might (hurt us). I don't care," Carroll said. "We'll play without (the two timeouts). I think its fun and our fans will appreciate it."
There is still a slight chance USC might avoid the loss of timeouts if the NCAA changes the rule before the game. Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hansen said USC's request had been forwarded to Rogers Redding, secretary of the NCAA football rules committee, and that he expected to have a decision by Tuesday.
Either way, Carroll said he was committed to bringing back the tradition and would be willing to sacrifice timeouts in the future if the rule wasn't changed to keep the tradition going next year and beyond.
"It's something we've been thinking about for a while," Carroll said. "From talking to coaches at UCLA over the years and seeing the teams wear their home jerseys growing up, it's something we're going to start up again this weekend. This has always been a colorful matchup and we hope everyone enjoys this recognition of both the past and the present state of the rivalry."
UPDATE: Here is Rogers Redding's new interpretation of the rule in question on Tuesday. Bottom line is USC will only be assessed one time out following the opening kickoff, and Neuheisel plans to call a timeout immediately after that so both teams will play with two timeouts in the first half with no further penalties.
"Players of opposing teams must wear jerseys of contrasting colors. If the home team wears colored jerseys and the visiting team does not wear white jerseys, the visiting team will be assessed one timeout following the opening kickoff of the game. The game will proceed from that point with no further penalty for the violation."
The Pac-10, by the way, intends to request at its next meeting with the NCAA Football Rules Committee to eliminate the portion that says one team must wear white and simply have the rule state that the teams must wear jerseys of contrasting colors.