In the last 15 years, I've covered nearly every USC road game where the Trojans marching band performs on the field, and there's always a moment in those games that makes me cringe.
It's the moment before the pregame show in which the USC drum major majestically — or is that tauntingly? — plants a sword in the middle of the opponent's field.
I hate it. I'm stunned other schools allow it. It feels like more than just a piece of metal digging into grass, it feels like a lack of respect burrowing under the stadium's skin.
I think about what happened in Dallas a dozen years ago, with San Francisco's Terrell Owens spiking a touchdown pass on the Cowboys' legendary midfield star and being angrily tackled by Dallas' George Teague. I think of the potential trouble faced by the Trojans band on any Saturday in this current violent sports environment, there being an inherent danger in a college kid spiking a sword amid a hostile crowd spiked with liquor.
So I think what UCLA did this week was not whiny, or petty, but smart.