The basketball season hasn't ended, but it's football season again, spring version, that is, for USC and UCLA.
The Trojans will open spring practice today, and the Bruins will start March 28.
USC has 15 returning starters, 8 on offense and 7 on defense. UCLA has 8 starters back, 4 each on offense and defense.
USC, however, will be without its starting backfield for the spring drills. Quarterback Rodney Peete, who is recovering from a hand injury, will be playing baseball. Fullback Leroy Holt is academically ineligible and is attending Santa Monica City College, and tailback Steven Webster is recuperating from knee surgery.
Split end Erik Affholter, who caught the game-winning touchdown pass in the Trojans' 17-13 victory over UCLA last season, and tight end Paul Green are among the starters returning on offense. Wide receiver John Jackson is on the baseball team with Peete.
Peete's counterpart at UCLA, Troy Aikman, will be available for spring drills. Aikman was a second-team All-American last year and was rated second nationally in passing efficiency.
Other Bruins who figure to contend for individual honors next season include linebacker Carnell Lake, cornerback Darryl Henley, defensive tackle Jim Wahlen and center Frank Cornish.
UCLA Coach Terry Donahue must find a replacement for fullback Mel Farr. Gaston Green, UCLA's school record-breaking tailback, is also gone. But Donahue has experienced replacements in Eric Ball and Brian Brown.
UCLA must replace three starters in the secondary, while USC still has three of its four starters in the secondary. The Bruins also lost three starters in the offensive line.
USC and UCLA were co-champions of the Pacific 10 Conference last year with 7-1 records, but the Trojans went to the Rose Bowl after beating the Bruins.
USC will open the season Sept. 1 against Boston College at Boston. UCLA will play host to San Diego State Sept. 3 before meeting Nebraska Sept. 10 at the Rose Bowl.