USC Now mailbag: It’s (almost) all about the uniforms

USC uniforms

USC’s football uniform has changed very little over the decades.

(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

OK, I get it. USC fans who emailed were emphatic that they do not want changes made to the Trojans’ uniforms.

What’s interesting is that some fans who responded via Twitter do want changes.

If I were still in college and needed a project idea, I’d graph the responses in search of a correlation.

That would be fascinating.


Too bad -- for all of us -- I’m no longer in college and don’t have time.

It’s more appropriately spent responding to some of your inquiries.

The current uniform is great and needs no changes. This is football, not a fashion show. As for the metallic-tinged helmet, I like them with the away uniform, not so much with the home uniform.

--Frank Bignami


Frank, that’s funny.

In one sentence, you state that football is not a fashion show. But in the next, you critique the fashion.

I’m hardly a fashion expert, but I’ll give it to you -- the metallic-tinged helmet looks fantastic with the white away jersey, but clashes terribly with the home cardinal jersey.

We don’t have to follow Oregon and many other universities who have to lure athletes to their school with neon-colored uniforms. USC players are known by their numbers, No. 32 O.J. Simpson, No. 33 Marcus Allen, No. 11 Matt Leinart, No. 5 Reggie Bush, club No. 55 Junior Seau, Chris Claiborne and Willie McGinest, and the list goes on. It’s a team sport that plays as a unit, not individuals. Keep the tradition.

-- Andy Taypan

USC does not have to change jerseys now.

But if the Trojans are not in the College Football Playoff soon, they could risk becoming irrelevant to young athletes who do not know the tradition but do know that Oregon has been in contention for championships recently and provides the slick fashion that young players desire.

All of the numbers you mentioned, except for 55, are retired or, in the case of Bush’s No. 5, put into deep storage.


Some players seem to understand the significance of numbers at USC.

Adoree’ Jackson lobbied to wear No. 5.

Coach Steve Sarkisian said this spring that he had to explain the significance of No. 35 (worn by standout linebackers such as Riki Ellison, who played at USC as Riki Gray from 1978 to 1982) to freshman linebacker Cameron Smith. So you have to wonder if the number tradition resonates with this generation.


I am an old Trojan (+76) and saw my first Trojans game in the 1940s. I was brought up to honor my parents, my nation and tradition. The Trojan tradition has grown with Traveler, the great Song Girls, the world-class band, but the uniform has basically remained the same, with a few small changes. USC is not a go-go team, it is a lifetime tradition, and that tradition must remain in the look of the uniform. The helmets are OK to change, but to change the essence of Cardinal and gold, please. Never.

--Rock Lubin

Sounds reasonable.

The metallic-tinged helmet was a subtle update and nice alternate to the traditional one.


Tradition counts for more at USC than, say, Oregon. Until recent years, when Chip Kelly arrived at Oregon, Oregon had no significant winning tradition in football. They weren’t even on the radar. So perhaps they feel a greater need to get attention by creating more modern uniforms. Players want themselves to be visible, much more so than their uniform. They are here to become candidates for the NFL and a lucrative career and possibly to get a USC degree. What uniform design they wear is probably pretty insignificant to most of them. 127 years of football and so many national championships and so many Rose Bowl wins don’t make uniforms the focus of much significance. They have never won games and they have never lost games based on their uniform.

--Russ Doyle

Strong point, Russ.

Some programs, such as Oregon, don’t have championship traditions that date back decades and will use any means necessary to create buzz and draw attention.

The Ducks have certainly succeeded with the never-ending chatter about their uniforms and subsequent success on the field.

Is it coincidence that Oregon has played for the national title twice in the last five seasons? USC last played in a title game in the 2005 season.

USC -- regardless of the season record -- is always in the conversation because of its tradition.

I admit it, I’m an old-timer. But I like the shape of the bottle Coke comes in just fine. You can’t claim a brand tradition if you change the packaging every couple of years, or in Oregon’s case, every week. I don’t care for the reflective helmets either -- they clash with the red jerseys. And I’ve always loved being able to say that ‘SC was one of only three teams (not sure if that number is still accurate, but it’s a very, very low number) that chooses not to put individual names on the backs of the jerseys. Football is a team sport. The focus should be on the team, not on the individual.

--Ken Stringer

Those old hourglass bottles are pretty cool, and it seems like the Coke tastes better from them.

That is a valid point about brand tradition, which the staff uses daily to recruit players.

Each time USC takes the field, the team is recognized immediately.

That is not always the case with teams that change uniforms each week and often wear colors that deviate from their brand tradition.

USC is the only team to never put last names on the back of jerseys, which now makes the Trojans unique. The Trojans would probably don an alternate jersey before a name would be placed on the back of it.

Is there anything going on with the coaching staff? I know that we lost our offensive line coach. I was hoping for Coach O to come back, but that is no longer an option.


Daniel, you just made my Friday, which is hard to do given there are already 100 reasons to love the last day of the traditional work week.

Coach O?!

C’mon! You are still talking about Ed Orgeron?

Time to let it go. Seriously. He’s coaching at Louisiana State and showing his players how to tackle bags

Offensive line coach Tim Drevno left after one season to join Jim Harbaugh at Michigan.

Bob Connelly replaced Drevno, and players say they like him.

Graduate and volunteer assistants are usually announced in the fall.

USC has to wait for two more recruiting classes to be at full strength. Has the coaching staff made any efforts to look from within the university itself for potential walk-ons with prior high school experience? With the NCAAs’ new rules allowing non-scholarship players to participate in training table, I have to believe that there are more than a few “diamonds in the rough” on campus that would love the opportunity to be a part of USC football and take advantage of the healthy grub.

--Matt Hurray

The team typically holds a tryout for walk-ons during fall camp. Other hopefuls come and go throughout the season and in the spring.

Several walk-ons played in spring practice.

But seriously, this is USC.

The football program is not in dire straits. Coaches don’t need to walk the campus and persuade guys to try out.

Sarkisian and his staff have mapped out a recruiting plan that utilizes blue-shirt recruits to try to get the roster to 85 scholarship players as soon as possible.

With the information coming out about NCAA bias in 2010, is anyone in the 2015 NCAA office voicing any remorse, concern, or emotion whatsoever about what went on five years ago? How about other NCAA schools? It’s fine to be competitive on the football field, but when it comes to fairness of the governing body, does anyone besides USC care?

--Tom French, Hermosa Beach, Calif.

The Todd McNair vs. NCAA case is ongoing, so comment from the NCAA probably is not forthcoming.

I have not seen any published reports that include other schools commenting about the McNair case. They are probably monitoring it in case they one day find themselves under investigation by a governing body and enforcement staff that has come under immense criticism.

There was a walk-on quarterback from Hawaii last year who has a scholarship to play volleyball. Do you think he has a chance to play? I read that he is a multi-sport athlete from Punahou High.


Larry Tuileta is a walk-on with the volleyball and football team, a team spokesperson said.

He is listed as a redshirt-freshman quarterback on the football roster. It is unlikely he will play.

The volleyball team is preparing for the MPSF Tournament. Tuileta is an outside hitter and has 137 kills in 23 matches.

Questions about USC? Email me at or tweet @LindseyThiry and I will respond to select messages in a weekly USC Now mailbag.