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T.J. Simers

Why not take a stab at sportsmanship?

In a USC-UCLA week filled with swordplay after a season of coaches' misdeeds, athletic directors come off as hypocritical.

November 16, 2012|T.J. Simers
  • The USC band will not be allowed to perform at halftime if the sword is planted into the Bruins logo before the game.
The USC band will not be allowed to perform at halftime if the sword is planted… (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles…)

In the name of good sportsmanship, what's going on around here?

I don't know the gladiator or whatever USC calls the brute with the sword, but I believe he's a college kid.

And if you're a college kid like every other college kid and someone tells you not to do something, what do you do?

You do it.

If there is one thing we've always been able to count on from our younger generation it's defiance.

The whole college experience is pretty much built on it: protests, sit-ins, marches or whatever.

So now we have UCLA telling USC it cannot continue its tradition of sticking a sword into the ground.

As petty as some might consider it, it's just hard to believe Lane Kiffin doesn't have something to do with it.

But it was apparently important to UCLA, making a rule and attaching a punishment if violated. The Trojan band will not be allowed to perform at halftime if USC messes with UCLA's grass.

(I know there is a line there, but I don't intend to cross it.)

Why would UCLA think USC is suddenly going to start following the rules? I have UCLA fans telling me all the time USC never follows the rules.

As for one kid, like the gladiator, ruining it for everyone in the USC band, I can't imagine college kids listening to adult logic.

Arthur C. Bartner leads the USC band and he seems agreeable to the change in Trojan tradition, saying in a letter he doesn't want to ruin the Trojans' fan experience.

But he's an adult and he has to say things like that.

And truthfully, as USC alumni what would you find more entertaining? Sticking it to UCLA, or hearing the band in the background while standing in line to go to the bathroom?

At the very least I would like to see the USC gladiator strut out to the UCLA logo with one of those blow-up swords, a little deflated since that's also a Trojan tradition, and tap the grass.

All in the name of good sportsmanship, of course.

But come on, isn't this whole sword ruckus hypocritical with the adults from both schools sticking it to each other whenever they can?

In yet another bizarre twist, we have the athletic directors from both of our institutions of higher education insulting everyone's intelligence.

They released the following press release: "UCLA and USC urge fans attending next Saturday's football game to exercise sportsmanship" with both Dan Guerrero and Pat Haden weighing in.

What a deterrent that will be to the louts who drink too much, cuss and go stupid now that Guerrero and Haden agree: "This rivalry should be celebrated with graciousness and class."

This coming from two guys who have allowed the school's coaches to go unchecked as shaky role models at times.

Both coaches began the season by lying, Jim Mora denying he meant USC when talking about murders near campus and Kiffin misleading everyone on how he voted in a poll.

Mora publicly abuses one of his school's sports information directors and calls a tweeting hacker a "scumbag" while suggesting he be jailed.

Kiffin storms away from the media, condones deceit by changing numbers of his players and now there's more Tennessee-NCAA fallout.

It's great ammunition for those USC and UCLA fans who like to get down and dirty and crude while exchanging comments online.

Now throw in the student manager, it yet to be explained why he would deflate some footballs, while both Kiffin and Haden claim they know nothing about it. And some don't believe them.

Did you ever think the day would come when Haden wasn't believable?

Now it's being written that Kiffin's job might be on the line, the tipping point the deflated footballs, and yet he's never been linked to them.

Whoever wins the UCLA-USC game, Mora or Kiffin, everything else will be forgotten.

A win will elevate Mora to another level, comparisons to Pete Carroll maybe taking root.

Prone to pop off, by his own admission, whatever he has to say now will probably be hailed as gospel.

If the Trojans win, recruits will continue to acknowledge USC as the top football program in the city while Kiffin prepares for Notre Dame and the national spotlight.

He'll also be 3-0 against the Bruins, improving his chances of offering a snide remark and it being taken as funny now.

It's a big game that means a lot, all right, but let's keep in mind good sportsmanship is what really matters the most.

Yeah, right.

::

Terry Donahue and I spent almost three hours together talking over lunch last week.

I look at my phone Friday and he's calling again. The guy just won't shut up.

He says he's working in his KidWorks office a few days ago when Bob and Marion Wilson call.

They've seen something in the paper about Terry's dedication to his brother's memory, the KidWorks' center in Santa Ana named after Dan Donahue and the extraordinary work being done in gang neighborhoods.

"Bob tells me he's sending a check for $100,000 to KidWorks — one hundred thousand dollars," Donahue gushes. "As painful as those three hours were that we spent together last week, it was worth it."

Like I said, there's no shutting him up.

"Go Bruins," he says.

t.j.simers@latimes.com

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