With 6:37 remaining in the fourth quarter, Stanford scored its seventh touchdown of the game to take a demanding 48-21 lead over the Trojans that all but assured a victory.
That’s when Cardinal coach Jim Harbaugh decided to go for a two-point conversion attempt that would give his team an even 50 points against the Trojans’ once-daunting defense.
The play was stuffed at the line of scrimmage, but USC players and coaches were still upset. It appeared as though Stanford was trying to show the Trojans up on its home turf.
After the game, USC coach Pete Carroll met Harbaugh at midfield to shake his hand, and, according to sources near the exchange, the conversation went as follows:
“What’s your deal? What’s your deal?” Carroll asked.
“What’s your deal?” Harbaugh replied.
And the conversation ended.
USC senior safety Taylor Mays refused to comment about the two-point conversion attempt but was seen walking toward Stanford’s bench and glaring at Harbaugh immediately following the play.
After the game, both coaches tried to downplay the two-point attempt for the media.
“I thought it was an opportunity, the way we were coming off the ball, the way our players were playing — that it was the right thing to do,” Harbaugh said.
When asked about the play, Carroll responded, “I’m wondering just like you.
“In that situation, they get to do whatever they want. Sometimes, you make the decision for your own team’s sake.”