During a recent dinner meeting with a sports colleague who works in a college athletic department, we were discussing sports in general and the topic of rivalry games came up. We both graduated from colleges with big sports programs. Yours truly from UCLA. As we discussed rivalry games, the question was presented, does the UCLA versus USC football game have a name? I was actually unsure and did some research.
A quick Google search took me to Wikipedia, which presented me with the following: the UCLA versus USC football rivalry game does not have a formal name, maybe other than bragging rights to Los Angeles and possibly called "The Battle for LA." However, I never heard those words when attending games at the Rose Bowl or The Coliseum. However, one interesting note was the game's victor takes home the "Liberty Bell," which is painted in either Bruin blue or Trojan crimson red depending on who wins that years game. Another note: never once during my time as a student did I hear of this Victory Bell, nor did I see it (however it has a storied history, see articles below). I certainly never painted it, but it has been around since 1939, depending on the source. I attended 10 football games during my time at UCLA, and probably 5 more since graduating in 2005. So, I am not a casual fan. I still follow the UCLA athletic program and watch and attend games, particularly in football, basketball, and baseball.
In my search, research provided that UCLA and USC participate in the "Lexus Gauntlet" challenge, which I had heard of and continue to hear of (good advertising on Lexus's part). However, the Lexus trophy is presented to the school that wins the yearly challenge across all sports, not just football. Some of you may be saying, why does this matter? It matters because I am currently writing this blog. Seriously though, it matters because UCLA and USC have large and successful sports programs. It matters because this is rivalry week. UCLA has won 109 NCAA Championships to date, the most in the Country among all Division 1 colleges. USC has a storied football program. Both schools have produced terrific athletes. Yet, there is no official name for this highly anticipated game? For example, Oregon versus Oregon State has the "Civil War" game and presentation ceremony. Other programs have much larger presentations, award ceremonies, and advertising dollars placed into promoting the game. See these articles:
(Note: Wikipedia did have a list of trophies for rivalry games and the "Victory Bell" is the prize for at least four college rivalries not named UCLA versus USC. Maybe someone could come up with a name for this game).
So what is the solution or conclusion here? Personally, the UCLA versus USC is already highly anticipated, not to mention the money spent in attending and promoting these games. There is also enough bad blood between the two that a name might not really do much. That being said, it would be nice to have a name for this game. It would be nice to place a name on a rivalry that includes students from each school attempting to paint either the Bruin Bear red or Tommy Trojan blue under the cover of night. Also, the UCLA and USC campuses are a mere 12 miles from each other, which is the closest rivalry in terms of miles in the Country. I remember attending prep rallies prior to the UCLA versus USC games on Friday's, and participated in many "UCLA Eight-Claps" during Saturday games, while USC fans have the "USC Fight Song" and the "two-finger sign" (means Victory and ancient Trojan taunting going back many years). As to possible names for the game, considering all of the above, my suggestion: Unfortunately, "The Freeway Series" is taken by the Dodgers and Angels, so the "Battle for Los Angeles" might be good start. Happy Thanksgiving--I will be in Baton Rouge enjoying the LSU versus Arkansas rivalry game.