By Chris Le
USC coach Pete Carroll, the coolest coach in college football, just got a little bit cooler.
Carroll announced on Monday that the Trojans will wear their home, cardinal red jerseys against UCLA this Saturday at the Rose Bowl. This is in violation of the NCAA rule, which mandates visiting teams must wear white jerseys. As a result, the Trojans will sacrifice one timeout.
It is an homage, Carroll says, to the days when USC and UCLA shared the Coliseum. The last time both squads wore their home colors was in 1982. Carroll wanted to bring back this tradition earlier in his stint with USC but thought again.
The fact that UCLA (3-5) has been horrible this season, I’m sure, helped convince Carroll to pull the trigger this year. Shortly after Carroll’s announcement of the resurrected custom, many thought it was a slight to the Bruins, a show of confidence that the Trojans won’t need a timeout against their hated rival.
UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel quickly brushed off these assumptions and even shared excitement for Carroll’s idea. It is reported that UCLA, in a nod of sportsmanship to offset USC’s disadvantage, will immediately call a timeout to start the game.
Less than 10 miles separate the USC and UCLA campuses, so it pretty much is a home game for both sides. If the Bruins were hoping for their home crowd to be their 12th man on defense, they should think otherwise. UCLA’s marketing director Scott Mitchell says USC was given 25,000 tickets for the game, twice the usual amount given for this rivalry game.
With the home jersey tradition now intact, it’s unfortunate that the customary competition won’t be there. The Bruins, who hover near the bottom of most Pac-10 offensive statistics, won’t find much daylight against a Trojans squad that leads the nation in points allowed (a stingy 7.8 per game) and total defense (210.5 yards per game). UCLA will look every bit the 32.5-point underdog and will be outclassed in all facets of the game.