As an homage to Saturday tradition, USC will wear their red jerseys as the road team, violating an NCAA rule stipulating that visitors must wear white. The Pac-10 will dock the Trojans a timeout. UCLA, in the spirit of fair play, will call another timeout. After two ludicrous delays at the beginning of each half, the game will proceed.
The rule’s intent is clear. Two teams can’t wear the same color. It’s confusing for both spectators and participants. It wouldn’t be prudent. But, with USC and UCLA, where the colors are clearly distinct, why insist on white? If anything, it’s easier to distinguish cardinal and sky blue than white and sky blue.
Colors are fun. They spice up the wardrobe. They enhance the visual spectacle. Imposed white is not necessary for order. Both teams wear their natural color. If the colors are too similar, the away team defers and wears white. It works in European soccer. It can work for the NCAA.
The NCAA allows all other manners of uniform insanity. Nike teams once wore mismatched sleeves. Teams may wear the same color jersey and pant. The University of Oregon can singe the retinas with a different variation of unpleasant in each game. Allowing both teams to wear home uniforms would not be nearly as distracting or uncouth.
If a blanket rule change is just too zany to contemplate, make this a special rivalry thing. Keep the rule in place. When there is a rivalry game, instead of taking away timeouts, have the visiting team pay a nominal “fine” to a charity or a scholarship fund. (This should be about academics after all.)
When the Maize and Blue play the Scarlet and Gray, they should be wearing Maize and Blue and Scarlet and Gray. Alabama should wear crimson and Auburn should wear blue. It should be the same with Cal-Stanford and, if feasible, every other rivalry.
USC wearing red is neither cheekiness nor intimidation. They’re going to battle. The colors testify to the occasion’s majesty. Hopefully, UCLA breaks out the sky blue next year.