For many Bruin and Trojan fans, the UCLA-USC rivalry culminates with one specific event: Game Day.
However, many place equal importance on the tailgate beforehand.
Since USC will host this year’s football game, many fans will tailgate around the Coliseum or throughout the USC campus. Members of the Los Angeles Police Department and the USC Department of Public Safety will be on hand to ensure that the typical pre-game festivities do not get out of control.
“Regardless of the opponent, everyone in the department of public safety works on game day,” said David Carlisle, captain of the USC Department of Public Safety. “We expect a larger crowd, but we don’t necessarily expect greater problems.”
He added that though alcohol consumption typically generates a few exceptions, fans tend to be well-behaved.
Fans cannot bring alcohol into the Coliseum and must pass through security check points before entering the game.
“We don’t have the resources to see who is 21 (years old) and who is not,” Carlisle said. But he added that students caught in possession of alcohol or under the influence will receive a citation and be removed from the venue.
The security measures implemented at the rivalry game are not specific to USC. Security forces face similar demands and use similar protocol when the game is held at the Rose Bowl.
Mike Dowling, assistant athletic director at UCLA, said despite the large crowds or rivalry mentality, most fans tend to behave themselves.
UCLA Athletics security personnel work with university police and the Pasadena Police Department to monitor alcohol consumption in general as well as among minors and hold individuals to the rules in its “Fan Code of Conduct.”
He also said students caught causing problems at the UCLA-USC tailgate could find themselves reviewing their statuses as students with the dean of students because a game at the Rose Bowl is considered a campus activity.
“We have found this to be very effective,” Dowling added.
Security personnel are not alone in facing challenges on game day. Many Bruin fans feel that tailgating at the Coliseum presents unique obstacles in relation to parking, transportation and the behavior of fans on both sides.
“Tailgating at the Coliseum is very difficult,” said Robin McGrath, social chair of the UCLA Rally Committee Alumni. “You have to get there very, very early to find a decent place.”
But, the difficulties often do not prevent devout fans from attending.
“I always say I’m not going to do this again next time, but every year I realize I just can’t miss it,” said Steve Bennett, co-president of the South Bay Bruins alumni group.
He also said though the challenges of tailgating often make him question his desire to attend, he has scheduled his travel plans to ensure that he could attend this year’s UCLA-USC game.
Transportation to and from the game can also prove problematic. In order to avoid the challenges of parking and problems with drinking and driving, individuals sometimes head to the game in a party bus.
Kevin Wilkerson, president of PubClub.com, said that his company typically sends one or two buses to the UCLA-USC football game to allow fans a safe means of transportation after imbibing in the celebration of the game.
But, he added that because of the timing of this year’s game, which takes place the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend, PubClub.com will likely not have enough interest to organize a bus to the event.
Many fans see the atmosphere that results from heckling with the opponents as one of the event’s main deterrents.
Ryan Fainstein, vice-chair of the UCLA Rally Committee, said he and other members of the Rally Committee carried large boxes of materials for the game past groups of USC fans yelling taunts and stomping stuffed bears on leashes.
McGrath said she does not enjoy the UCLA-USC tailgate as much because of the negativity of the rivalry.
But, the hassles that the Coliseum presents do not necessarily impede enjoyment of the game.
“It’s a fun college atmosphere when you are (taking part in) the rivalry,” Bennett said. “You are proud to be an alumnus, depending on who wins.”