It's always dangerous to read intent into people's comments when you aren't actually there listening to them speak, so we'll cut

Southern Cal coach Pete Carroll

some slack.

But, talk about highlighting the negative. All Carroll did Friday at the first Rose Bowl news conference with Joe Paterno was harp on Joe's failures.

"He's persevered so much," Carroll said as if Paterno was not the winningest coach in Division I-A college history. "I've thought about it, and to me it's not all the games that he's won; it's how he's survived the pressure of all the big games that you lose over that many years."

Hello, Pete. It's only been 126 losses since 1966. That's an average of fewer than three losses per season. That doesn't seem so hard to take.

"The losses are so difficult and so challenging," Carroll continued. "It's amazing that he's been able to keep the right attitude and stay on top of the game for so long."

Yes, amazing. Job for life. Idolized by millions. Rich as Midas. Sounds tough to take.

"It's kind of an unnatural experience he's put together," Carroll said. "And he's still full of the devil."

Unnatural? What is Joe, an alien? The devil? Joe's more like Uncle Charlie than Satan. Get a clue, Pete.

Free kick

Michael Lev of the Orange County Register

last week likely depressed fans of the 2009 Penn State team when he reminded them that Southern Cal might have 10 of 11 offensive starters back next season. Here is how Lev put it:

"That's the tantalizing prospect awaiting USC after the NCAA granted senior guard Jeff Byers a sixth year of eligibility. Byers said [Dec. 19] he plans to use it to be part of a unit he believes can become 'one of the most prolific offenses in college football history.'

"The odds of that happening improve greatly if quarterback Mark Sanchez returns. He has said he will make his NFL draft decision sometime after the Jan. 1 Rose Bowl vs. Penn State."

Byers joked that if Sanchez leaves, "I'm going to kick his butt."

- Compiled by Gary Miles