According to reports from Tempe, 8 head football coaches from the Pac-10 are lobbying to cancel the second half from conference matchups. The coaches contend that playing an entire game unfairly benefits USC and is harmful to the competitive balance of the league.
In each of its past two contests, USC has trailed a conference foe at halftime, only to dominate the second half and emerge victorious. Last week Oregon led the Trojans 13–10 after 30 minutes, but the Ducks were outscored 35–0 the rest of the way. Today USC seemed in serious danger, trailing Arizona State 21–3 at halftime. However, once again the Trojans put up 35 in the second half, triumphing by a 38–28 margin. In total, the two-time defending national champions have outscored opponents 140–28 in the second half this season.
This situation does not sit well with rival coaches. “The system is completely biased towards Southern Cal,” fumed the leader of one Pac-10 program. “They have so many great football players and are so much deeper than anyone else, it’s completely unfair that they get to play a whole football game.” Added another coach, “Why are they so afraid to play only the first half? All that playing another half accomplishes is to wreck our football players’ self-esteem. Are you proud of yourself, Pete Carroll?”
California’s Jeff Tedford is the lone dissenter among USC’s foes. He referenced Cal’s victory over the Trojans in 2003, as well as a close call last year. “I think we can beat them in a 60–minute game,” proclaimed Tedford. A reporter responded, “C’mon, seriously!” To which Tedford replied, “Yeah, really!” The reporter added, “Dude, quit messin’ with me.” The exchange continued for another five minutes with no further progress.
The angry coaches are hopeful not only that the measure will be passed, but that it will be applied retroactively. Under that scenario, USC would be 2–2 and effectively eliminated from the national title chase. Hearing this news, Mack Brown, Frank Beamer, and Bobby Bowden immediately announced their support for the proposal.
USC head coach Pete Carroll remains unfazed by the development, stressing that this week’s practices will assume that the entire 60 minutes will be played in the upcoming Arizona game. Whatever the outcome of the measure is, the following week’s contest at Notre Dame will be unaffected as the proposal only applies to conference games. Knowing this fact, Irish head coach Charlie Weis is hoping that Joe Montana, Rocket Ismail, and Paul Hornung in their primes will be available on October 15.
The controversy is certain to be the central story in USC’s remaining Pac-10 matchups. It remains to be seen whether the resulting debate lasts for 30 or 60 minutes.