If you’ve been paying close attention during the past six months, you know I don’t much care for USC football coach Pete Carroll. And, to think, I didn’t think my opinion of him could get any lower.

Paul Yarbrough

Paul Yarbrough

Then comes the final minute of Saturday night’s UCLA-USC game at the Coliseum.

UCLA takes a timeout while hopelessly trailing 21-7, while on defense. That apparently tweaks Carroll, who ordered his quarterback to take a knee on the previous play. You have to understand what goes on around the line of scrimmage when a team takes a knee or appears ready to do so. The officials will inform the defense, so there are no cheap shots. I’m sure that was the case at the Coliseum late Saturday night when Carroll and the Trojans took advantage of the situation to score a few more points while losing so many more on the class-meter.

When they come out of the timeout, Carroll orders a long pass that results in a touchdown and adds to the acrimony between the two schools and head coaches. The officials did a great job of maintaining order, but you know we haven’t heard the last of that. Can you say, “Rivalry renewed”?

When he can exact revenge, you know UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel will do so. And here’s hoping Arizona can post 50 on the Trojans on Saturday. Oregon could have scored 60 against the Trojans on Halloween, but Duck coach Chip Kelly showed some class at the end — something Carroll is sorely lacking.

I am just amazed how Neuheisel is taking as much heat for this timeout as Carroll is for his classless act. I’m sorry, but calling a defensive timeout while trailing late in the game to send a message to YOUR team, is not a case of rubbing it in. Throwing a 50-yard touchdown pass, while leading, after taking a knee, is. Just typical Trojan behavior, however.

It’s kind of funny how the Pac-10 football season unfolded. At the time, we thought Washington’s win over USC in Seattle was a watershed moment. But it didn’t take long to realize that Washington hadn’t improved as much as we thought it had, or that USC had fallen a lot further than anyone dared to suspect.

In addition to losing at Washington, the Trojans laid an egg in Eugene and gave up 50-plus points to Stanford at the Coliseum. The Trojans aren’t in the Rose Bowl hunt and, in fact, look like a great candidate for El Paso’s Sun Bowl.

The Pac-10’s Rose Bowl berth will be determined Thursday night at a sold-out and amped-up Autzen Stadium, where the winner of the Civil War game between Oregon and Oregon State will be headed toward Pasadena on Jan. 1.

I’ve had the good fortune of attending quite a few Rose Bowl games, and it is always special. But I’m not sure I could have pulled it off this year, not at a ticket face value of $145.

I will guarantee, however, that whoever represents the conference against Ohio State on New Year’s Day, Oregon will be well represented.

Noozhawk columnist Paul Yarbrough can be reached at pyarbrough@noozhawk.com.