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USC players appear to be losing interest in Rose Bowl
The USC players' tepid response to the televised announcement they would play Illinois was the first warning sign that a third straight trip to Pasadena was getting a little stale.
"Next year, I'd like to go to the Orange Bowl or somewhere else different, " defensive end Kyle Moore said. "That would be nice."
His sentiments were echoed by his teammates.
"I'm sure a lot of guys would like different venues," linebacker Clay Matthews said. "It's almost like it's become so familiar, we don't have to think about what to do."
Imagine the thrill of a third consecutive trip to Disneyland as your bowl field trip. Or another trip to the Beef Bowl.
"Yeah, I hear ya," safety Kevin Ellison said. "I guess we'll be getting on all the rides again, like the teacups."
Carroll took immediate action and planned a getaway to PalmDesert for three days to give preparations for "The Grandaddy Of Them All" a face lift.
"I wouldn't say it's monotony, but I tried to keep it fresh," Carroll said. "It dawned on me that we could take advantage of this."
NCAA rules prevented the Trojans from going more than 30 miles from campus, so the desert getaway was changed to three days of practice at the Home Depot Center in Carson and two nights at a luxury hotel in Santa Monica.
"It's cool getting a change of scenery," Ellison said. "That's smart, coming out here."
Carroll said he would return to Home Depot Center if the Trojans play in the Rose Bowl again next year and said the different practice site increased the team's focus.
"I really liked it," he said. "The players really enjoyed it. It felt special to be here. The installment week is critical, and this is a good way to increase awareness. There's no question (it would be good) to do something like this again."
"They tell us all the time the stories of being in Miami and the party after the Orange Bowl and how warm it was," Moore said.
It also rained, and the team hotel was nowhere near South Beach, but at least it was 3,000miles away from home. Even a trip to a water park in Hollywood, Fla., felt new for the Trojans, who can go to Disneyland any time.
"I'm not a big amusement park guy," Matthews said.
Perhaps things would seem a little more intriguing for the Trojans if the Rose Bowl did them a favor when choosing an opponent. Although teams like Kansas, Missouri, Hawaii and West Virginia were available, the Rose Bowl went for tradition and took the Big Ten Conference's second-place team, Illinois.
That gives USC little chance of making a major move in the rankings by playing the second-to-last-team eligible to be picked for a BCS bowl game.
That decision prompted the lack of enthuasiasm when the team gathered for the bowl announcement, highlighted by an administrative assistant clapping and yelling in a vain attempt to elicit some emotion.
Matthews skipped the announcement.
"I knew we were going to play Illinois," Matthews said. "I thought they would keep it in the Big Ten."
Moore, who is from Georgia, wanted to play the Bulldogs. Unfortunately for him, the Southeastern Conference team was protected by the SugarBowl from being picked for the RoseBowl.
"I would have been up for that game," Moore said. "I've got a lot of friends on that team, and they all play offense. I would have loved to play against them."
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