The birds will sing a little sweeter.
When USC and UCLA kickoff at 1:30 p.m. in the Rose Bowl, both will be wearing their home jerseys.
The Trojans and Bruins both used the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum as their home field until 1982, and as a result would clash in Cardinal and Powder Blue. That year, UCLA moved to the Rose Bowl and shortly thereafter the NCAA passed a rule requiring visiting teams to wear white.
USC coach Pete Carroll wanted to bring back the tradition for awhile, but may forfeit one timeout in each half as a punishment for failing to have his team in the proper uniform. He made the announcement on Monday afternoon.
At news conference a few hours earlier, UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel had indicated that he also wanted to restore the tradition and would have agreed to burn one of his own timeouts in the first half in order to be fair and help make it happen, but that giving up a timeout in the second half was too risky. Negotiations had apparently stalled, and Carroll might have made his decision unilaterally. It’s unclear now if Neuheisel will burn a timeout in either half — assuming there’s a penalty at all.
Depending on who you talk to, there’s still speculation that referees could delay kickoff until USC changes back into white jerseys, or perhaps even that the NCAA could grant a waiver so that the Trojans will not be penalized at all. That ruling could come as soon as Tuesday.
A few months ago, ESPN’s Dave Dameshek and this blog were vocal supporters of restoring the tradition, and we put together a petition with 1292 signatures. This blogger is still confused why the NCAA waiver request wasn’t submitted earlier (yes, we reminded the people who needed to make it happen).
Ultimately, it’s silly to have so much red tape for a no-brainer policy. The important thing for officials is that the jerseys contrast. That’s what the rule is in basketball (where home teams typically wear white), and nobody really knows why the rule was made this way in football. One old wives tale is that when game films were in black and white, a certain coach would have his team play in colors that appeared contrasting in person, but were almost indiscernable on tape. The gimick would have made sense in the 1960s, but remember that the rule is a product of the 1980s.
— Adam Rose
Photo courtesy USC athletics