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THE INSIDE TRACK | T.J. SIMERS

The Whining Doubles if Game Isn't Televised

November 14, 2000|T.J. SIMERS

As you know there are three kinds of people in Southern California: Trojan alumni, Bruin alumni and just plain common folk who never get anything to brag about.

Now some of you commoners might have been married formerly to Trojan alumni before you discovered there is no way to make them happy, or worked with Bruin alumni before they were hauled off for smoking funny cigarettes.

The problem here, of course, is there's no avoiding these people--they are everywhere, which makes you wonder if these institutions just give away degrees to speed up the process of soliciting donations from the alumni.

Whatever your contact with these diploma-hugging prima donnas, you probably understand the significance of this hype-filled week to these people, who wait all year to claim bragging rights. It's very important to these college graduates to validate their superiority over the school on the other side of town.

If USC beats UCLA Saturday, in what is really one of the year's most meaningless games, you will have Trojan alumni walking around all proud because their lousy team beat the other guy's mediocre team, which will make life worth living again. It won't matter that this victory will be certified a fluke.

Last year USC beat UCLA, and someone on the Trojan coaching staff sent out cards showing the Coliseum scoreboard and the final score. Merry Christmas to one and all, and in your face, Bruin fans.

If UCLA beats USC, well, you probably live next door to one of them, and you know what Bruin fans are like. As an example, I bring you an unsolicited e-mail from David Rhodes, UCLA class of 1987:

"A Trojan fan and a Bruin fan were fighting over a magic lamp when suddenly the genie appeared," wrote Rhodes. "The genie said, 'If you two will stop fighting, I will give each of you one wish.'

"The Trojan thought for a moment and said, 'I want a huge wall, 150 feet tall all the way around USC to protect our heritage. Make it so no one can get in or out, especially any of those Bruins.' The genie blinked his eyes, nodded his head, and the Trojan's wish came true.

"Turning to the Bruin, the genie asked, 'Now what is your wish?'

"With a huge ear-to-ear grin on his face, the Bruin replied, 'Fill it with water.' "

They train Bruin fans to think like this, of course. On Monday they handed sledge hammers to students and provided a Saab painted in USC colors and had the Sons of Westwood smash it to pieces.

USC students, like their football team, are more docile. They have been invited to bring sleeping bags and mattress pads to watch the screening of "The Matrix" near Tommy Trojan tonight. The science-fiction theme is in keeping with the Trojans' chances of beating the Bruins.

As the week continues, we're going to be surrounded by adults who think Saturday will determine what kind of year they are going to have. I'm not sure, however, if I'd like my self-esteem riding on the leg of a USC kicker.

At this point, however, the battle for bragging rights is not scheduled to be seen on local TV. And this is going to make the just plain common folk, who could not care less about the big game, very upset--because as they could tell you so well, there's going to be no hearing the end of it from the Bruin and Trojan alumni.

And believe me, they know how to make noise.

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THIS JUST IN: UCLA Coach Bob Toledo--with not even the hint of a smile on his face--said Monday, "I will try to outcoach Paul Hackett this Saturday."

I would think placing a cardboard cutout of Toledo on the UCLA sideline would do the trick.

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ACCORDING TO RELIABLE sources at USC, economics major Jay Womack, the student-body winner of the "Carson Palmer Challenge" conducted on campus Monday will not start for the Trojans.

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I THINK IT'S pretty obvious what Coach Wade Phillips is doing in Buffalo. Rob Johnson will start and Doug Flutie will be the short reliever.

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THE QUARTERBACK-POOR Chargers, who have thrown 78 interceptions in the past 42 games, picked him in the eighth round of the 1993 draft and cut him a year later to make room for Jeff Brohm.

How much would they pay now to get (Rams' quarterback) Trent Green back?

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IF AL DAVIS one day is successful in returning to Los Angeles, I'm betting they start the season 0-1 after the NFL schedules Mike Shanahan's Broncos as the Raiders' opening-day opponent.

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MIAMI HAS MOVED into second place in the BCS poll, but by most accounts, if Oklahoma and Florida State do not lose again, Miami's only chance to play in the national championship game is running up the score on Syracuse and Boston College to enhance its computer numbers.

It's not as if Miami will have to overcome a tradition of sportsmanship.

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THE GENERAL MANAGER for the New York Mets said the team will no longer pursue Seattle Mariner shortstop Alex Rodriguez because Rodriguez wants his own office, a plane and a separate marketing staff, although the player's agent disputes those demands.

The marketing staff could be a problem. But we know the Dodgers can provide a private plane, and I see no reason to give Jim Tracy an office.

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DIDN'T YOU LIKE it better when USC President Steven Sample wasn't returning phone calls and you thought there was still a chance he might not be so high on Athletic Director Mike Garrett?

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TODAY'S LAST WORD comes in an e-mail from Paul:

"It seems to me that the Trojan faithful are doing a perfectly good job of making fools of themselves--booing their team, throwing bottles, firing their mascot--and now you're helping them with your gutless columns."

Good point. All future gutless columns will be about the Bruins.

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T.J. Simers can be reached at his e-mail address:t.j.simers@latimes.com

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