A week after exonerating USC safety Taylor Mays for a penalty that was called against him at Notre Dame, the Pacific 10 Conference on Monday suspended an official for not calling a facemask penalty against the two-time All-American.
The conference did not identify the official who made no call when Mays hit Oregon State receiver James Rodgers after a touchdown catch in the Trojans’ 42-36 victory over the Beavers on Saturday at the Coliseum. Rodgers’ helmet came off as a result of the hit.
“We have taken this action in light of the blatant and dangerous nature of the missed call,” Pac-10 Commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement. “We have full confidence in our highly trained and qualified staff of football officials, but they, like the coaches and players, are accountable and must meet the high expectations placed upon them.”
Dave Cutaia, the Pac-10’s coordinator of football officials, could not be reached for comment.
“I didn’t mean to rip the dude’s helmet off,” Mays said early Monday, before the Pac-10 announced the official’s suspension. “Right after it happened, I got up and said, ‘Hey, I wasn’t trying to be dirty.’
"[Rodgers] knew that and I knew that.”
The 6-foot-3, 235-pound Mays has made a series of bone-crunching hits throughout his career, many after launching himself into the air. He was called for two penalties at Notre Dame, one for hitting a receiver out of bounds and another for a late hit on a receiver who had caught a pass over the middle.
The conference ruled the first penalty was unwarranted because the receiver was in bounds. It said the second penalty was questionable because Mays’ helmet grazed the receiver’s.
“That’s how I understand the game is to be played -- it’s physical,” Mays said. “I’m not trying to hurt anybody. I’m just trying to hit somebody as hard as I can.”
Coach Pete Carroll said a penalty should have been assessed for Mays’ play against Oregon State, but when asked if he thought Mays was a headhunter, Carroll said, “There was nothing about intent or anything like that. Taylor is an extraordinarily aggressive football player. He’s about as aggressive as you can get. . . .
“This play in particular that we’re talking about was him just reaching out and a guy going by him and that’s all he got. That’s all that happened on that.”
Mays said he would not change his style.
“All I can do is keep playing,” he said. “I can’t slow down how I play.”
Bradford is eager
After rushing for a career-best 147 yards and scoring two touchdowns against Oregon State, junior tailback Allen Bradford is not becoming overconfident.
“You have to remain humble and come back and do it again,” he said.
Carroll and Bradford were among the last players and coaches out of the locker room after the game, and Carroll said they sat down in a corner and “reveled” in Bradford’s performance.
“It’s just opportunities now, I think, from this point forward,” Carroll said. “He obviously has great stuff and now we have to feed it to him and give him a chance to do his thing.”
Tight end Anthony McCoy (ankle), who did not practice and had his right foot in a boot, said that he expected to play against Oregon. Rhett Ellison would start in McCoy’s place if the senior cannot play, Carroll said. . . . Joe McKnight practiced with his left hand wrapped to protect bruised knuckles suffered against Oregon State. . . . Fullback Stanley Havili (shoulder) did a few drills but is awaiting clearance from doctors. . . . Ronald Johnson began working with the first-team kick-return unit. . . . Offensive lineman Michael Reardon suffered a concussion against Oregon State and is nursing a neck injury. . . . Safety Drew McAllister watched the second part of practice in a wheelchair after possibly aggravating a hip injury.