Carroll does his part to get out the vote

Klein is a Times staff writer.

USC Coach Pete Carroll refuses to participate in the coaches’ poll that is a component of the Bowl Championship Series standings formula, but he said Monday that he was thrilled to cast a vote in the presidential election.

Asked why he declines one opportunity and participates in the other, Carroll grinned and said, “This is the real deal.”

USC is No. 7 in the BCS standings. With his team preparing for Saturday’s game against No. 21 California, Carroll took time during a team meeting to encourage players to vote.


“It’s just an extraordinary election in our lifetimes,” Carroll said. “I tried to make it topical for the last month or so, to have fun with it, so when we get to this date we can talk about the importance of voting.”

Several players said Carroll’s nonpartisan pitch to vote resonated.

“It’s life outside of football so I think it’s a good thing,” junior running back Stafon Johnson said.

Said senior defensive lineman Fili Moala: “This is the election that really matters. There’s a lot of stuff going on in the world. If you don’t make a push now, you might as well crawl under a rock.”

Senior offensive lineman Jeff Byers, from Colorado, is among the out-of-state players who cast absentee ballots.

“It’s important to have an opinion, and win or lose, it’s important to know you cared enough to vote, that’s what makes democracy special,” Byers said.

Defensive lineman Kyle Moore, a Georgia native, said he registered in California a few years ago.

“My mom said, ‘Make sure you vote,’ ” Moore said.

As for Carroll, he said he was voting for Barack Obama.

“It’s time,” Carroll said. “I’m excited for it, for everybody. Most of all, I’m excited to be represented by him around the world.”

Ellison recovering

Senior safety Kevin Ellison had knee surgery in the morning and was walking on campus after practice.

“I feel good about where I’m at right now,” said Ellison, who did not play in last Saturday’s 56-0 victory over Washington after injuring his right knee on Thursday.

Ellison said he had cartilage removed from his knee during a 40-minute procedure.

“I’ll be smart about what I do,” he said regarding a timetable for his return. “I don’t play things extra safe. Hopefully, I’m going to play football for a long time. When I’m ready to step on the field, I won’t step out halfway. . . . I’ll make sure I’m right.”

Quick kicks

Tailback Joe McKnight, who did not suit up for the Washington game because of a toe injury, practiced and said he would play against Cal. . . . Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian said he had not been contacted by Tennessee regarding its head coaching job, but would assess the possibility if he were. Phillip Fulmer announced Monday that he would step down after the season. . . . Trojans coaches put younger players through an extra scrimmage session after practice and will make it a regular part of the Monday routine, Carroll said. . . . Tight end Blake Ayles did not practice because of bruised knee. Fullback Stanley Havili did not practice because of illness, Carroll said.