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UCLA could score points in rivalry by scoring some points

August 29, 2012|By Chris Dufresne
  • A billboard not far from UCLA's campus that featured USC quarterback Matt Barkley was removed Tuesday by the company that owns the space, one day after The Times reported about it.
A billboard not far from UCLA's campus that featured USC quarterback… (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles…)

I love a good rivalry as long as it doesn't involve violence, poisoning trees or kidney failure.

Last spring, before Louisville and Kentucky faced off in the NCAA tournament, two fans exchanged blows ... at a dialysis center.

Oh ... mercy ... nurse.

When I covered the L.A. Raiders years ago, front-office dynamo Al LoCasale burst into the media room one day in El Segundo and ordered a Denver writer, in town to do advance work on the upcoming game, to leave.

The guy thought LoCasale was joking. Silly guy.

The directive, straight from Mr. (Al) Davis, was clear: "Get the BLEEP off the property."

Rivalries are generally harmless and childish and make otherwise boring days interesting.

Flash forward to Tuesday and "Barkley Gate."

USC boosters with deep pockets had every right to erect a billboard of star quarterback Matt Barkley in the heart of UCLA territory. It was UCLA, after all, that years ago initiated a campaign proclaiming the "football monopoly" was over in Los Angeles.

Except, it wasn't. USC has won 12 of their last 13 games against UCLA.

There was also no reason for the Barkley billboard to come down. Trojans spokesman Tim Tessalone said it was "not a USC decision."

UCLA could have used Barkley's smug mug as a daily reminder.

UCLA's best counterattack, of course, would have been to put its own billboard up on Figueroa. The problem is UCLA football right now has nothing to say.

Last year's final score was 50-0.

Until UCLA wins a game, it has very limited billboard options:

"We'll always have 2006"

"The UCLA promise: Mora is not less"

"New board game in town: we finally have a 'Clue' "

Years ago, Al Davis (a former USC assistant) was wrong to kick that Denver reporter off the Raiders complex. What was he going to see? Everyone watching the Raiders knew Davis was going to throw deep and underuse Marcus Allen.

Davis did have one thing right, though, in the rivalry game.

Just win, baby.

It's still the only game in town.


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