This weekend is the annual Southern Cal-UCLA football game out in Los Angeles. The game alternates between the Rose Bowl and the LA Coliseum, two of America’s most famous sports stadia. The two schools have a classic rivalry, are both great academic institutions and carry traditions back through the decades. So why does re-instituting one more tradition get people so riled up?
This week, Pete Carroll announced that USC would be wearing their home, red uniforms while UCLA, the actual home team, will be wearing their home blues. What’s the big deal? Well the NCAA actually has a rule stating that away teams must wear white. So in order to have a color-on-color game, Southern Cal will have to forfeit one timeout in each half.
Now, this is not a match-up that many people expect to be particularly close so I don’t think the extra timeouts will be that big of a deal for USC. But the fact that they’ll be penalized at all seems like a joke. Prior to the 1982 season, every match-up between USC and UCLA had both teams wearing their home uniforms. Carroll is trying to bring back some of the old school rites that made this game such an interesting one over the years.
As someone who thinks way too much and way too often about uniform choices, I applaud the decision. Who cares about the timeouts. They know they’ll have less going into the game so they can safe-guard against having to use them and game-plan accordingly. But uniform traditions are, I think, really important to sports. Look at how stupid the Detroit Lions or Chicago Bears look when they have ventured away from their traditional looks. There are certain teams and schools who have storied pasts that really matter and the longer they stick with their famous uniform designs the better.
A good example of this is when Ohio State slightly altered their uniforms a few years ago. The entire state of Ohio was up in arms over a slight variance in the sleeves of the new uniforms. That’s how people should think when it comes to weird or alternate uniforms.
So, I’ll happily tune in to see the blue-red game on Saturday. And if Southern Cal ends up losing because they don’t have an extra timeout to bring on a kicker at the end of the game, I won’t feel sorry for them. They’ll have still made the right decision in my book.