UCLA and USC retreated to neutral corners Thursday.
The Bruins came out swinging. The Trojans came out with an open letter.
UCLA put an end to one tradtion -- the USC drum major stabbing the turf with a sword -- then went wild with their own annual event.
Thursday’s bonfire brought out some of the rivalry’s rancor.
“We hate those dudes across town,” UCLA senior fullback David Allen told the crowd. “We’re taking it back this year.”
Meanwhile, across town, there was displeasure with UCLA not allowing the drum major to stab the field.
Keith Yoerg, the current drum major who applies the pre-game coup de grace to the sod, released a statement admonishing UCLA for preventing what he called a USC band tradition done in every stadium “for 40 years, including Stanford, Cal, Notre Dame, UCLA and bowl games.”
UCLA officials threatened to ban the band from performing at halftime if the drum major stabbed the field. Athletic department officials have refused to comment, but privately they have questioned whether it demonstrated good sportsmanship.