Where Bruins and Trojans who can’t make it to the Coliseum can watch L.A.’s crosstown football rivalry

By Christina Campodonico

Rahim Javan bleeds blue  and gold at Sports Harbour in Marina del Rey Photo by Jorge M. Vargas Jr.

Rahim Javan bleeds blue
and gold at Sports Harbour in Marina del Rey
Photo by Jorge M. Vargas Jr.

It’s that time of year again when you have to pick a side, even if you didn’t go to UCLA or USC:  true blue or cardinal red.

One of college football’s biggest rivalries, the Bruins and Trojans have met on the gridiron 82 times since 1929. USC has prevailed 46 times (never mind all that sanctions business), UCLA 31 times, and seven times they’ve tied.

At 12:30 p.m. Saturday, a talented but struggling 7-4 Trojan squad squares off with an exciting 8-3 Bruins team on ‘SC home turf at the Los Angeles Coliseum.

And this year means business. Under the new NCAA playoff system, UCLA is ranked No. 1 and USC is No. 2 in the Pac-12 Southern Division, with the chance to play for the Pac-12 Championship on the line.

UCLA has won the last three outings, but as anyone who follows either team knows, when these two meet anything can happen.

For those who don’t have tickets for the game, area sports bars have you covered. Most are nonpartisan, but a few do lean Bruin or Trojan.

Rahim Javan, owner of Sports Harbour in Marina del Rey, is all-in when it comes to his alma mater, UCLA.

Javan was an All-American wrestler there in the ‘60s and an active member of the KELPS, the school’s first racially and religiously integrated men’s organization. The band of UCLA students traveled around in a school spirit wagon, spreading Bruin pride and the Southern California lifestyle. Javan proudly displays a large 1950s picture of the traveling KELPS spirit bus at Sports Harbour.

“I’m just all UCLA. I’ll always love UCLA,” he says.

But Javan is more accepting of his rivals these days, so don’t be surprised to see a few Trojan fans welcomed at Sports Harbor as well.

“I’m too old to hate anybody,” he says.

Most bars we polled preferred to play Switzerland, but there a few places west of the 405 where you can get on with your Fight On.

Del Rey’s 90 West leans more USC, but accepts all comers.

“We have a lot of USC peeps, but we also love our UCLA peeps,” says manager Liz Lewis.

Both Bruin and Trojan fans can stake a claim in El Segundo. Tavern on Main manager Xavier Flamenco says that the joint has “quite a following of Bruin fans.” He’s observed that the South Bay Bruins often assemble for viewing parties at the bar.

Meanwhile Standard Station owner Eryn Richmond notices a fluctuation in fans over the course of the day.

“In the daytime it’s UCLA, and in the in the night it’s USC,” he says.

Trojan fans may find the most company at Roger’s Exciting Tattle Tale Room in Culver City. According to Roger himself, the bar attracts mostly USC fans, even though Roger personally aligns himself with the Bruins because his kids went to UCLA.

But Roger doesn’t mind sharing territory with Trojan fans. He’s come up with a clever way of keeping the peace.

“We have nine [TV] sets — four and a half each,” he jokes. “May the best team win.”

Busby’s West holds a weekly Thursday night special for UCLA students, complete with drink discounts and limo service to and from the Westwood campus,  but the bar probably has the most practical solution to the cross-town rivalry on game day.

“We’ve got a big place,” says manager Joe Gomez, who notes that the venue has nearly 70 screens. “We usually separate them.”