Nov. 13, 2000
LOS ANGELES - As much as UCLA coach Bob Toledo wants his team tobeatcrosstown rival Southern California on Saturday, he feels for embattledTrojanscoach Paul Hackett.
While the Bruins (6-4, 3-4 Pac-10) are assured of playing in a bowlgamenext month, the Trojans (4-6, 1-6) have fallen on hard times, and Hacketthasbeen under heavy fire in recent weeks.
'That bothers me,' Toledo said Monday. 'Paul and I aren't closefriends,but we are friends. It makes you feel bad. It's not just him, it's hisfamily,it's the assistant coaches, it's the university.
'You don't win, people get on you. That's hard, (but) that comes withtheterritory.'
Even if the Trojans beat UCLA and No. 11 Notre Dame on Nov. 25, itmight notbe enough to save Hackett's job. Hackett, who has two years left on hiscontract, and Toledo were assistant coaches on John Robinson's staff at USCfrom 1976-78.
The Trojans beat the Bruins 17-7 last year to snap UCLA's eight-gamewinningstreak against them. It was USC's first win in the series since 1990, whenToddMarinovich's 23-yard touchdown pass to Johnnie Morton with 16 seconds leftgavethe Trojans a 45-42 victory - the second-highest point total in the 69-gameseries.
This year's matchup at the Rose Bowl has been a sellout for severalweeks,meaning a crowd of about 90,000 is expected.
Despite their problems against UCLA in the 1990s, the Trojans lead theseries 35-27-7. Until last year, Toledo was a perfect 8-0 in the series -threewins as a USC assistant, two wins as a UCLA assistant, and three wins as theBruins' head coach.
'I have seen so many people rise to the occasion, it brings out thebest ineveryone,' he said. 'It kind of makes or breaks your season - you have tolive with these people 365 days a year.'
Toledo said almost all of UCLA's injured players, and there areseveral,especially on defense, should be able to play Saturday.
'How long they participate is another story,' he said. 'They might lastone play. There is no tomorrow, no reason to save anything.'
One of those injured players is linebacker Robert Thomas, who missedmuch ofUCLA's 35-28 loss to No. 6 Washington last weekend because of a stressfracturein his left foot.
'It's pretty painful,' Thomas admitted. 'Oh, I am playing, definitely.I've got to play, it's SC week. Nobody's hurt during SC week. That's the wayitis around here.'
Thomas smiled when asked how he felt about the Trojans.
'They're our rivals, there's a lot of hatred between us,' he said. 'Allrivalries have hatred. It's nothing personal, it's USC vs. UCLA.'
Bruins quarterback Cory Paus is looking forward to playing against theTrojans for the first time. The third-year sophomore missed last year's gamebecause he broke his collarbone the previous week.
'I don't particularly like SC,' Paus said. 'I've heard people aroundheresay, 'I don't care if you lose every game you play as long as you beat USC,'only they say it a little differently than that. I heard that the last timeIleft the Rose Bowl.
'They've had a pretty tough year, we have, too. We've been a littlemorefortunate than they have.'
So does Paus feel sorry for the Trojans?
'No, I don't,' he replied. 'It's tough to lose some close games. We'velost some close games, too.'
By JOHN NADEL
AP Sports Writer
TODAY | 6:00pm PTLive
Tue 2/28 | 7:00pm PTLive