The UCLA Bruins tried to declare themselves equals to the USC Trojans in Los Angeles with a billboard several years ago with disastrous results. Now, they’re breaking up the college football monopoly on the field and on the recruiting trail and with today’s National Signing Day, could finally overtake their cross-town rivals.
Back in August, it looked like the status quo was alive and well. USC, despite NCAA scholarship limits, were putting together a historically good class and were ranked as the preseason No. 1 team coming out of their postseason ban. Then things started to go south. The Trojans lost five of their last six, including a 38-28 defeat at the hands of the Bruins. They tumbled out of the top-25 and became the first preseason No. 1 team in history to finish with six losses.
Those struggles on the field took their toll on the Trojans’ epic recruiting class. Seven of their highly coveted recruits decided to look elsewhere, including defensive end Kylie Fitts, who eventually flipped to UCLA. Another former Trojan commit, Eddie Vanderdoes, is also considering taking his talents across town to the Bruins. If he does, it will be a huge slap in the face for the Trojans and another heated chapter in the rivalry between Jim Mora and Lane Kiffin.
Even without Vanderdoes, though, UCLA is poised to have the best recruiting class in the Pac 12, a title that the Trojans have owned for years. UCLA has commitments from eight ESPN 300 recruits and could also snag the No. 4 rated inside linebacker Isaac Savaiinaea and No. 1 rated dual-threat quarterback Asiantii Woulard. Bringing in that talent would give UCLA a top-five recruiting class, eclipsing USC’s still very good 2013 class and asserting their dominance in the Pac 12 South once again.
USC can justify their recruiting woes with the fact they have 10 fewer scholarships to work with thanks to the NCAA sanctions, but it will be little solace to frustrated Trojan fans as they watch their “little brother” program stand over them. For everything Jim Mora did right in his first year with the Bruins, his biggest accomplishment may have been breaking USC’s stranglehold on college football in Los Angeles.