USC’s Barkley billboard in UCLA country? Here today, gone tomorrow

Matt Barkley's face didn't hover over UCLA very long.

Earlier this week, the Los Angeles Times reported that a USC billboard with Barkley's game face and the words: "WE PLAY TO FINISH" with the LA in "PLAY" highlighted appeared in Westwood near the UCLA campus. But on Wednesday, the paper reported the billboard, which created quite a stir on the UCLA campus, had been blacked over.

Both USC and UCLA officials say they had nothing to do with the billboard coming down, but Regency Outdoor Advertising, a company co-owned by Brian Kennedy, a prominent USC donor, decided taking the billboard down was in the best interest of both schools. The billboard, which is one of 30 in the L.A. area, has since been moved to another location.

When UCLA players heard about the billboard, it prompted some animosity.

"We need to change that. Oh, we need to change that," Bruins Y-back Darius Bell told the L.A. Times. "This is our neighborhood."

Of course, USC associate athletic director for marketing Craig Kelley told the Times the board was not meant as a knock against UCLA and that anywhere the billboard landed would have caused some sort of controversy.

"You have certain locations you can choose that are favorable and have high visibility, and we chose the ones that would work best for us at the time based on what was available.

"Anywhere we put a board, if it's not here in downtown Los Angeles, people look at it as their territory.

"It's a positive.… That's really what that board is about: Finishing what you start. That crosses all platforms and all schools."

Now, whether this was taunting or not, UCLA can't pretend to be guiltless in this whole rivalry. This is the same university that allowed former coach Rick Neuheisel to take out an ad in the paper declaring the "monopoly was over." And just a couple weeks ago, coach Jim Mora Jr. made an off-hand remark about the safety of UCLA's campus, which was immediately interpreted as a backhand to USC.

This is part of the rivalry and until UCLA holds up its end of the bargain and makes the football games between these two teams competitive, USC can claim superiority in all parts of the city.

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