The Daily Trojan reports the USC band will suspend a football tradition this weekend because of a request from UCLA, which hosts the annual crosstown rivalry.
As an alum of USC, I think the decision is a good one. But it comes in second to a decision made about five years ago that I still think is brilliant — both teams wearing their home uniforms, no matter the site of the game.
Allow me to give you the context of that story. And remember that the universities are located about 12 miles apart in Los Angeles.
Former UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel and former USC coach Pete Carroll agreed to bring back a tradition that dated to the many years when both schools played their home games at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Specifically, each school would wear their home uniforms, regardless of whether USC hosted the game (at the aforementioned Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum) or whether UCLA had the home date (at the Rose Bowl, where it had moved about 25 years ago).
The first year that policy was instituted, USC was warned by conference officials that wearing its home uniforms while playing at the Rose Bowl constituted a penalty and would result in it losing one of its first half timeouts. When told that would happen, UCLA’s Neuheisel said as soon as the officials penalized USC, he would call his own timeout.
Sure enough, when the first play of the game was completed, a yellow penalty flag was thrown. The game referee announced that because USC was wearing an improper uniform, it had lost one of its three first half timeouts. Within seconds, Neuheisel alerted the officials that he was calling a timeout.
Call it a moment when tradition and history stood tall.
Okay, I’m done with my stroll down memory lane.
But I again commend the leadership of both schools for savoring the rivalry but not at the expense of being cordial and professional.