USC is losing the crosstown rivalry battle

first_imgEveryone currently at USC was lucky enough to grow up during one of the greatest sporting periods in the history of our storied university. From 2002 until 2011-2012, USC enjoyed a period of success that is almost unmatched by any university in the country. I like to call this the golden era of Trojan athletics.While USC won numerous NCAA championships during this era, the one aspect that made the past decade so extraordinary and unique was our continued dominance over our crosstown rivals, the UCLA Bruins. Nothing was better than watching the Trojans beat the Bruins year after year.Though every discussion with a Bruin fan usually starts and ends with football, the Trojans’ dominance extended past the annual battle for the Victory Bell. The Trojans own the overall football record and were in the middle of winning 12 out of 13 matchups, capped off by an impressive 50-0 win that would become immortalized on one of my favorite shirts.However, it was USC’s ability to compete with UCLA in sports the Bruins were known to dominate such as soccer, tennis and water polo that made this era so special.The Trojans men’s water polo team won eight national championships, including six consecutively. The women’s soccer team defeated the Bruins in the NCAA tournament in 2007 en route to their first-ever national championship. UCLA, which dominated men’s tennis in the 1970s and 1980s, has watched USC win six out of seven championships.Every UCLA pundit will point out UCLA’s basketball history, including back-to-back trips to the Final Four in the mid-2000s. Yes, UCLA was better than USC at basketball during this period. Yes, UCLA won multiple championships in the 1970s. However, it was USC standing tall toward the end of the decade, looking poised to take over basketball dominance in Los Angeles before the whole O.J. Mayo scandal.So can anyone tell me what in the world happened? How could this dominance of a decade-plus years suddenly disappear in the span of two years?The Trojan football team has been outplayed and outclassed by our bitter rivals for three years now. Our basketball team hasn’t won a game over UCLA in the past five tries. Our six-time defending national champion water polo team saw its championship run end at the hands of the Bruins, who defeated the Trojans 9-8 in the 2014 title game. To cap it off, UCLA won the baseball national championship, a sport in which USC used to dominate, in 2013.There are a lot of reasons for this drop off, mostly stemming from the harsh NCAA penalties and sanctions the university has faced the past five years due to the Reggie Bush and O.J. Mayo cases. Other factors include the fact that USC cannot offer full scholarships for sports like baseball, track, golf, etc. due to Title IX rules.I want to make this clear, though -— losing happens. I don’t expect the Trojans to beat the Bruins every time, even though that would be ideal. What I expect is for the players who represent the cardinal and gold to give it their all, especially in a rival game.This past Wednesday night, I attended the USC versus UCLA basketball game. The Galen Center was as full as I had ever seen it, student section filled and all. I was filled with hope that our young and upcoming basketball team could put a bandage over the bleeding.Boy, was I wrong. After a tight first half, USC was blown out in the second half and ended up losing 83-66. It wasn’t the fact that we lost or even that we got blown out. It was the fact that our team played with such a lackluster effort.What made coaches like Pete Carroll and John McKay and players like Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush so great was the fact that they hated to lose to UCLA. To them, UCLA was more than a game — it was a determining factor of their success. There’s no need to panic — yet. Second-year men’s basketball head coach Andy Enfield has the Trojans headed in the right direction, landing two more ESPN Top 100 recruits to pair alongside freshman standout guard Jordan McLaughlin.The football team finally had its scholarship sanctions lifted, leading to several ESPN 300 recruits committing to USC.The Trojans are shaping up to have a lot of national spotlight on them in the coming year in almost every sport, though the real spotlight will be on whether the Trojans can get it done against the Bruins.Nick Barbarino is a junior majoring in business administration. His column, “Beyond the Arc” runs Fridays.last_img

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