Emerald Bowl Notes

SAN FRANCISCO - The USC Trojans ended the season with an impressive 24-13 win over the Boston College Eagles Saturday night. Look inside for news on Stanley Havili, Everson Griffen and Pete Carroll's congratulatory phone call from a baseball legend.

Legend, Line One

Well after USC's 24-13 win over Boston College, head coach Pete Carroll came flying out of the coaches office slapping fives with everybody in sight, a huge grin plastered on his face. The energetic coach even knocked over a chair because he was so enthused.

Carroll, who has had his share of big wins, wasn't celebrating USC's season-ending victory at AT&T Park in San Francisco. He was celebrating the fact that his childhood hero, Willie Mays, had just given him a call to congratulate him on the win.

"I just told him much he meant to me as a young kid growing up and all of my friends too. He just was everything and has been my hero," Carroll said. "I don't even know how to categorize what he is. I used to watch him so closely and pay attention to how extraordinary and unique he was."

The grey-haired coach was as giddy as a child on Christmas morning, and said he was taken back to his childhood when he picked up the phone and Mays was on the other end.

"I feel like I am twelve when I talk to him," he said. "I feel like I am playing little league again."

Carroll even took the opportunity to remind the legendary baseball player of one his favorite memories as a young Giants fan.

"Late in the Dodger game, Frank Johnson gets a base hit to right field, Willie's on first and its 2-2 late in the game, and you know he's going to third for sure. He goes to third and takes the big turn, starts back towards third, and then takes off for the plate. There is a big play at the plate and he scores. It's just hero stuff.

He said, ‘I remember that play, (Jim) Lefebvre tried to throw me out.'"

It was the perfect ending to a homecoming visit for USC's leading man.

Wright Makes Instant Impact

After a nearly two year absence from game action due to a neck injury and academic issues, USC cornerback Shareece Wright started Saturday night and reminded everyone why he is regarded as one of the best players on the team.

The junior cornerback from Colton made one of the biggest plays of the night when he intercepted a pass from Dave Shinskie at midfield early in the fourth quarter.

"I just wanted to make a difference and make a change in the game," Wright said. "The pick happened and I am happy for it."

Freshman quarterback Matt Barkley turned the turnover into 7 points just two plays later and the Trojans were on their way to another bowl victory.

"It feels good to be back involved with the team and making a difference," Wright said after the game.

While Wright has been sidelined since the second game of the 2008 season, fellow cornerback Kevin Thomas wasn't surprised to see him make an immediate impact Saturday night.

"He's a playmaker, a physical corner and a presence on the field and we saw that tonight," Thomas said.

Havili Gets Bowl Redemption

Saturday's Emerald Bowl offered a chance at redemption for Stanley Havili, who missed last year's Rose Bowl after being ruled academically ineligible. And the versatile fullback certainly took advantage of the opportunity.

"I felt like I let my team down last year and I was happy to be out here with the team and play some good football," Havili said.

Havili keyed USC's 24-13 victory over Boston College with a career-high 6 receptions for 83 yards and two touchdowns, including a 53-yard pass and catch on the Trojans' first drive of the night.

After the game, the draft eligible junior insisted that he plans to return for his senior season.

Griffen's Gone

USC defensive end Everson Griffen wasted no time in letting his intentions to declare for the NFL Draft public. The junior from Avondale, Arizona let it be known just minutes after USC's 24-13 win over Boston College in the Emerald Bowl, that he planned to forego his senior season and enter the 2010 NFL draft.

"I'll be going into the draft," Griffen said while standing on the field at AT&T Park. "I'm declaring for the draft. That's how it is. I've been knowing for a while. I was waiting to this point, and I'll be entering the draft in 2010."

Griffen will enter the draft after a 2009 campaign in which he recorded 44 tackles and a team-high 8 sacks while receiving All-Pac-10 second team honors.

Sideline to Sideline

While most people tuning into the Emerald Bowl probably wondered why both teams were on the same sideline, but USC head coach Pete Carroll actually raved about the unusual logistics of the game that forced both teams to share the same side of the field.

Carroll said it reminded him of a basketball game and enjoyed the ability to have some interaction with Boston College head coach Frank Spaziani during the game.

Shareece Wright had an interception in his first game back.

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If you have any questions, comments or suggestions you can reach Kevin Carden at kevin@scplaybook.com

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