"Coach, do you have time for a picture with Traveler?" the man in the red coat asks Pete Carroll on his jaunt to the Rose Bowl field. Let's pause and go to an alternate reality: Nick Saban bites this guy's head off and is later seen picking out locks of hair out of his teeth, right? Not Carroll. "Oh, always," he replies, enduring his detour with a smile on his face and even a token joke.
There were 93,923 people at the Rose Bowl on January 1, 2008, and Carroll was without a doubt the most relaxed in the lead up to the Grandaddy of Them All. Whether he's joking with referees, discussing strategy with Kirk Herbstreit ("The quarterback will kill you if you let him run, though. You have to tackle the guy. You can always slow down the dive stuff, it's the other way around."), waiting for Lee Corso to figure out how to work his digital camera or calling his high school basketball coach, Carroll is the coolest cucumber in the refrigerator.
By the way, Illinois quarterback Juice Williams carried 15 times for minus-19 yards and USC won the game, 49-17.