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USC brass is surprised at UCLA's uniform plans for football game

Coach Lane Kiffin and Athletic Director Pat Haden would prefer to see both teams wear home jerseys, but the Bruins apparently will don all-white uniforms and helmets.

November 23, 2011|By Gary Klein
  • USC Coach Lane Kiffin was surprised to learn that UCLA will be debuting a new uniform during Saturday's game.
USC Coach Lane Kiffin was surprised to learn that UCLA will be debuting a… (Justin Edmonds / Getty Images )

So much for tradition.

USC Coach Lane Kiffin and Athletic Director Pat Haden said Wednesday that they were surprised to learn that UCLA plans to wear an alternate uniform design when the teams play Saturday at the Coliseum.

On Tuesday, UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero announced on his blog that UCLA would "be unveiling a uniform that we have been working on with the Adidas design team for several months." The Bruins are expected to wear all-white uniforms and white helmets.

If that happens, it would end a three-year run during which the schools renewed a tradition of both teams wearing home jerseys — UCLA blue, USC cardinal — for the annual match-up.

"I guess it's no more," Kiffin said.

Before UCLA moved from the Coliseum to the Rose Bowl in the early 1980s, both teams wore home jerseys. Thereafter, the visiting team wore white.

Bruins Coach Rick Neuheisel and former USC coach Pete Carroll restored the tradition in 2008.

"I don't understand it at all because everything I've been told is that Rick was behind this whole thing and I know that our players and fans really enjoy it," Kiffin said of UCLA's plan. "But it's their choice."

In 2008, NCAA rules required that visiting teams wear white jerseys.

Carroll had the Trojans wear cardinal for that year's game and was charged with the loss of a timeout as a penalty. In a prearranged show of sportsmanship, Neuheisel immediately called time out so both teams would play with the same number.

In 2009, the NCAA Football Rules Committee approved a rule change, allowing teams to wear jerseys of contrasting color.

Haden said the Trojans would wear cardinal next season at the Rose Bowl and that he hoped the home-jersey tradition would begin anew.

"I think it's really cool," he said.

Meantime, Kiffin said his team would not be distracted.

Notre Dame wore new helmets and Colorado broke out a rare uniform combination against the Trojans.

"We've talked about it all year," Kiffin said. "The game's about the prep, not the about the hype around it."

Getting close

USC tailback Curtis McNeal needs 119 yards rushing to reach 1,000 this season.

McNeal thought his opportunity might be in jeopardy after he "banged" knees with another player during a special-teams drill Wednesday and had to be helped from the field by training staff.

But McNeal, who sat out the rest of practice and was scheduled to undergo further examination, said he would be ready to play against the Bruins.

"I want to play well and end with a bang," he said.

Quick hits

Defensive linemen Devon Kennard and J.R. Tavai did not practice. Defensive lineman DaJohn Harris was limited. … UCLA defeated USC, 57-55, in triple overtime Tuesday night in the annual flag-football game between student football managers.

gary.klein@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimesklein

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