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THE WRITING ON (AND OFF) THE WALL USC KEEPS EYE ON THE BOWL.

Byline: TOM HOFFARTH

To some, the hot-button sports issue on the USC campus these days ain't football-related.

According to the Daily Trojan student newspaper, there's a group called the ``Ping-Pong Posse'' - 300 strong - meeting two nights a week for intense slap-action competition that includes undergrads, graduate students, faculty and staff members.

The problem, according to paddle-wielding participants, is they don't think the university takes this sport seriously enough, offering up subpar equipment and inconvenient hours at the Lyon Center.

``Since USC wants to be an international university, it needs to see that the students who come from other countries would have another sport in mind other than American football or basketball,'' said Angad Singh, the posse's vice president, as quoted by the paper.

His timing is interesting, considering the Trojan pigskinners must feel like a Ping-Pong ball with all the bowl possibilities being knocked around in front of their faces.

Carson Palmer's posse goes to the Rose Bowl if UCLA beats Washington State on Saturday. Or it goes to the Orange Bowl, maybe the Sugar Bowl, if Washington State wins.

It could go - though it's crazy to think - to the Fiesta Bowl if Miami and Georgia can't get their final serves in. Or it could end up in San Diego if something else really stupid happens.

What a mess, eh Angad? And it won't be decided 'til Sunday morning.

Maybe if the BCS just settled all this logically - a round-robin table-tennis tournament with the top eight schools - it would lay the groundwork for what's really needed: an eight-team playoff for all the corn chips.

Then the real spinball wizard can be crowned. ...

--So Palmer doesn't win the Heisman. The fact he's jumped to the top of Mel Kiper Jr.'s ``Big Board'' - his list of the top 2003 NFL draft prospects - should be enough financial satisfaction. ...

--Dumb NCAA rulings can be changed, believe it or not.

The NCAA suspended two North Carolina basketball players for participating in a three-on-three charity tournament last spring that was raising money for cancer.

But then considering the governing body supports an annual tournament called the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, it did seem to make sense to reverse that decision. ...

--And then, the NCAA can't do anything about this:

All 10 home basketball games played by St. Vincent-St. Mary High in Akron, Ohio, will be carried on Time Warner Cable for $7.95 apiece.

That's because of LeBron James, the prep phenom who plays for the team and is supposed to be the NBA's top pick in 2003.

ESPN2 will also do one of his games. ...

--Have you really missed watching the Clippers on TV so far this season? ...

--There are supposedly bumper stickers on cars of Boston Red Sox fans that read: ``Our General Manager was Student of the Month at Brookline High School.'' ...

--Finally decided the Seahawks' unis do in fact cross that fine line between dirty ugh and dingy bleech. ...

--If Cedric the Entertainer is the ``Mac Daddy,'' as the Fox promos say, then what is Bernie Mac? ...

--Jazz backup center Jarron Collins turns 24 years old today. Which means twin bro and fellow Harvard-Westlake of Studio City product Jason, the Nets backup center, would be ... wait, give us a second ... it's not like we have a Stanford education. ...

--To see Hubie Brown with his arm around Jason Williams, counseling the young Memphis guard, begs the question: Why doesn't Nick at Night run ``Chico and the Man'' anymore? ...

--The only thing missing from that Jerry Jones-Jimmy Johnson made-for-TV reunion interview was analysis from Dr. Phil.
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Copyright 2002, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Dec 2, 2002
Words:593
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