UCLA sticks it to USC over midfield logo-stabbing tradition

UCLA already has one stop against USC, and it’s still several days until Saturday’s Pac-12 Conference football showdown at the Rose Bowl.

The drum major for USC’s band will not be allowed to stab his sword into the UCLA logo at midfield during its traditional pregame performance. The Trojans drum major has been planting his sword in that way at games home and away dating back to the 1970s.

USC was told that if the sword is planted, the Trojans band will not be allowed to perform at halftime, a person in the UCLA athletic department confirmed. Other UCLA officials declined to comment.

Of course, there is always this sticking point: USC has won 12 of the last 13 games in the series.

While this was a hot-button topic for UCLA athletic department officials and fans, the head coaches for both teams declined to discuss it, citing larger issues … such as the game.


“We’re trying to block these defensive ends,” USC Coach Lane Kiffin said. “I’m not really worried about that.”

Said UCLA Coach Jim Mora: “I’m aware of it, but we’re going to be in the locker room. So I don’t think I’ll be out there laying down on the UCLA logo or anything like that.”

UCLA officials and fans have seethed about the sword ritual in recent seasons. The Pac-12 included a clip of USC’s drum major driving the sword into the Rose Bowl turf in a promotional video a year ago.

UCLA officials lobbied to have it removed and the conference changed the video.

In a statement released Tuesday, a USC spokesman said, “In the spirit of cooperation and sportsmanship and at the request of the UCLA athletic department, the USC marching band drum major will not stab the field before the game Saturday.”

Notre Dame, USC’s other major rival, has never requested that the USC band forgo the tradition in South Bend, Ind., a Notre Dame official said.

Times staff writer Gary Klein contributed to this report.