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USC, Michigan find time for Disneyland

12/30/2003

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Southern California quarterback Matt
Leinart flashed some of his surfing-inspired dance moves with
Donald Duck. At the other side of the stage, Michigan running back
Chris Perry boogied with Mickey Mouse.

USC coach Pete Carroll grinned and politely declined Goofy's
invitation to rock out.

The top-ranked Trojans and No. 4 Michigan took a break from Rose
Bowl practice Friday afternoon to play tourist at Disney's
California Adventure.

"It's great to be here," Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said.
"When we left home, it was 27 degrees and there was 7 or 8 inches
of snow.

"I told Chris Perry as we were coming in here, `How many times
in your life are you going to get to ride in a convertible down the
main street at Disneyland and have people cheering you? So enjoy
it.'"

Perry smiled and said that when he heard the Beach Boys music
and saw the Disney characters cavorting, "It just got into me. I
had to dance."

The coaches and several players took the stage in an
amphitheater at the theme park, cheered on by several hundred fans
wearing USC sweatshirts and several dozen others sporting
Michigan's colors.

Behind the stage were several towering rides, including the
California Screamin' roller coaster -- with riders screaming plenty
-- and the Sun Wheel, which had gondolas suspended from a vertical
wheel with a 168-foot diameter.

Although USC is only about 35 miles up Interstate 5, many of the
USC players had never been to the California Adventure park.

Trojans defensive tackle Shaun Cody wasn't in any rush to get on
one of the thrill rides.

"If I do ride any of those, I'll shut my eyes and hang onto
Kenechi," Cody said, referring to teammate Kenechi Udeze. "I'm a
feet-on-the-ground kind of guy."

Unlike Cody, Perry was eager to go swooping up, down and around.

"I'm heading for the rides that you can't get on unless you're
taller than the sign," he said. "Those are the good ones."

Leinart, who grew up not far from Anaheim, said, "I've been to
Disneyland a ton of times, but this is my first time here. I'm
looking forward to getting on some of the rides and having some
fun."

Wolverines offensive lineman Tony Pape said he was "crazy about
roller coasters," adding that he was happy the weather had cleared
up.

"People are always saying it never rains in Southern
California, but it been raining quite a bit since we got here and
yesterday it was pouring and the wind was blowing hard. I was
beginning to wonder what was going on," he said of the winter
storm that swept through the area a day earlier.

The temperature was around 70 degrees, with the sky clear and
sunny while the Rose Bowl participants visited the park, and Pape
said, "This is more like it."

Carr chuckled and shook his head as a Disney publicity official
asked him if he wanted a park guide to escort his "25 friends and
family members" around the park.

"They're not with me, aren't my friends or family," Carr said.
"I guess it's just somebody trying to get free rides."