What USC football moment would you go back in time to change?

USC football star Reggie Bush. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
USC football star Reggie Bush. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

If you had a time machine, what USC football moment would you change?

The history of USC football is littered with what-if moments, especially this last century.

But here’s another what if: What if you had a time machine and could go back to change one moment in Trojan history?

What moment could realistically change the timeline and bring more joy into the lives of Trojan fans?

The 2006 Rose Bowl is full of USC football moments to alter.

A hat tip goes to @USCanalytics on Twitter who poked fun at Reggie Bush’s lateral against Texas in the 2006 Rose Bowl with a time machine meme, prompting this entire discussion.

That moment has certainly gone down as one of the great “what if” moments in USC history.

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Bush caught a pass from Matt Leinart early in the second quarter and traversed downfield 37 yards when he made the inexplicably bad decision to lateral to a walk-on Brad Walker.

The first question that comes to mind is why on earth did Bush think the lateral would work? Walker had no idea it was coming and Texas’ Michael Huff recovered it and handed the ball back to the Longhorns.

The second question is why was a sophomore walk-on even on the field at the start of the second quarter of the national championship game? Nothing against Walker, but that’s a head-scratcher too.

Either way, the importance of the moment may have been blown up over the years. It was a fumble in the second quarter. It was hardly a guarantee to change the tide of the game.

The thinking goes like this: If USC had scored a touchdown on that drive, they would have been up 14-0. The ensuing Texas drive made it 7-3 instead. Obviously, it swung momentum.

However, USC had the better of the third quarter and led 38-26 midway through the fourth. The game wasn’t won or lost in the second. It all came down to the fourth.

The pivotal fourth-and-two when LenDale White was stuffed had a more undeniable effect on the outcome of the game. Maybe the better strategy would be to use that time machine to convince Pete Carroll that Bush needed to be on the field for that history-changing moment.

Alternatively, you could pull Darnell Bing aside just before the final Texas drive and remind him of the importance of keeping his hands away from the opposing facemask. If not for his penalty, the Longhorns would have faced a fourth-and-five near midfield.

Other moments could have had national title implications over the years.

What if someone had been in Pete Carroll’s ear telling him to take John David Booty out of the game when he broke his finger against Stanford in 2007?

What if someone had warned USC of the Jacquizz Rodgers threat ahead of the 2008 matchup between the Trojans and the Oregon State Beavers? What if someone had cautioned Mark Sanchez about throwing an interception as USC chased a final game-tying touchdown in the fourth quarter of that very game?

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What if the goal was not to ensure a life-changing victory, but spare Trojan fans from future harms? Would it be worth whispering in Mike Garrett’s ear to play nice with the NCAA? How much would it change if the powers that be avoided hiring Lane Kiffin or Steve Sarkisian? What about taking the chance on Ed Orgeron?

So what moment would you use a time machine to change USC history?

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