His team on defense and trailing 21-7 with 44 seconds remaining, UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel called for a time out. Back on the field, USC quarterback Matt Barkley took the snap and connected with receiver Damian Williams for a 48-yard touchdown. The Bruins looked completely dumbfounded on the play, leaving Williams with plenty of room to make an easy grab. Of course, Neuheisel and his team didn’t seem too pleased.
The Trojans (8-3, 5-3 Pac-10) followed Williams’ dramatic score by jumping and yelling on their sideline before moving onto the field in unison. They appeared to be taunting the Bruins (6-6, 3-6), who then came across midfield to challenge them before coaches and officials kept them apart.
After the game, Neuheisel and USC coach Pete Carroll exchanged possibly the shortest handshake in the history of college football. The announcers on the Fox Sports telecast were trying to blow up the situation and I hope people don’t buy into it. Both coaches live to compete and this type of stuff is expected.
The bottom line is that Neuheisel called a meaningless timeout when his team was obviously beaten. Sensing Neuheisel intended to keep this game going, Pete Carroll went for a final score. I have no clue why the Bruins neglected to play defense on Williams’ touchdown. If Neuheisel did indeed call the timeout to discuss a defensive strategy, then his team failed to listen. On the other hand, if he just wanted to irritate the Coliseum (which is how it looked), then Carroll had every right to order a deep pass.