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Lateness cost Moore a start

Times Staff Writer

One of USC’s most hotly contested position battles was still smoldering a bit Tuesday, three days after Everson Griffen surprisingly became the first true freshman defensive lineman in more than two decades to start a season opener for the Trojans.

Junior end Kyle Moore said Griffen supplanted him in the starting lineup against Idaho because Moore was 10 minutes late for the team bus Friday afternoon.

“Coach [Pete] Carroll told me, ‘You’re not starting if you’re going to be late,’ ” Moore said. “I got caught up with my family -- it was my fault. . . . I won’t ever be late again.”

Moore’s lapse allowed Griffen to become the first true freshman since Tim Ryan in 1986 to start an opener on the defensive line.

During training camp, Moore and Griffen had to be separated by teammates after Moore chided the freshman for being slow in drills because of back soreness.

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The same week, Carroll summoned Moore to his office after an incident on the field with offensive guard Chilo Rachal.

The 6-foot-3, 265-pound Griffen said Carroll told him in the locker room before the game that he would start.

“It was a dream come true,” said Griffen, who did not record a tackle. “Overall, I think I did pretty good for my first college game.”

Moore made four tackles. He was credited with a sack, a forced fumble and fumble recovery after the ball slipped out of the hand of Idaho quarterback Nathan Enderle with the 6-6, 275-pound Moore in pursuit.

“Everyone was saying ‘scoop and score!’ but I just had to drop to the ground for it,” Moore said.

Fresh off a victory over Nevada, Nebraska officials Tuesday announced that Coach Bill Callahan’s contract had been extended with incentives that could push his compensation to about $2 million annually.

Carroll, meanwhile, is believed to be among college football’s best-compensatedcoaches.

“The university has always been awesome and has always been real thoughtful and dealt with me in a great way and great manner. Everything is great,” Carroll said.

Carroll, who signed a five-year contract worth approximately $1 million annually when he was hired by USC to replace Paul Hackett in December 2000, earned nearly $3 million in 2004 when the Trojans won their second consecutive national title, according to sources. In December 2005, Carroll said he had finalized a contract extension that would keep him at the school “for the long haul.”

He declined then, and also Tuesday, to disclose details.

“I never even think about it,” he said.

Junior linebacker Rey Maualuga reported for practice with his hair cut short, the long black locks that made for a menacing appearance on the field gone.

“My mom’s been nagging me, ‘Cut it! Cut it!’ ” Maualuga said. “I wanted to present myself in a different way. Teammates say I’m not going to look as mean on the field. But it’s not going to change the way I play.”

Safety Taylor Mays practiced but was scheduled to have X-rays on his wrist, according to Carroll. . . . Freshman tailback Marc Tyler worked out for the first time since the first few days of training camp. The Trojans were not in pads. “I’ve been waiting forever,” said Tyler, who broke his leg last season at Westlake Village Oaks Christian High. “I can’t wait to get hit.”. . . Backup quarterback Mark Sanchez (thumb) passed a Nerf football as a way of easing into practicing next week. . . . Senior tailback Chauncey Washington (shoulder) said he would run “to get my legs back” this week and would return to contact next week. . . . Center Matt Spanos (triceps) went through a few drills, but Carroll said that if the senior came back quickly he would “have to play a different position,” because of the injury. Spanos has played guard and tackle. . . . The Trojans practiced on the artificial turf at Cromwell Field because the regular practice fields were re-sodded. Carroll said kickers would practice on the turf each day and the full team would also work out there before the Nebraska game.

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gary.klein@latimes.com

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UP NEXT

at Nebraska (1-0)

Sept. 15, 5 p.m., Channel 7


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