Dan Weber / USCfootball.com

USC celebrates SoCal BMW Crosstown Cup win

Big day at USC as the Trojans celebrated getting the Crosstown Cup -- a new and improved SoCal BMW trophy -- for winning the in-town rivalry with UCLA on a day when 144 athletes graduated and some big awards were given out.

Big deal, this SoCal BMW Crosstown Cup. Really big deal.

The thing weighs about 160 pounds, is easily three feet tall and needs a couple of guys with a dolly to move it around.

So the question Thursday was where to display it after celebrating its arrival on the USC campus after its initial year in Westwood in the newly sponsored award for the long-time rivalry. No one here realized it was this big a deal since USC didn’t see it last year.

But winning the Crosstown Rivalry for the 10th time in 15 years got USC athletes, coaches and fans a close-up look at the humongous cup replacing The Gauntlet. “You could make it a giant planter,” SID Tim Tessalone said. Indeed you could.

And as the talk of where to display it, the first thought was it could go just about anywhere in Heritage Hall. No one was going to be able to lug it off.

It was that kind of happy day at USC with the jacaranda in full bloom and the campus already celebrating some of the early graduation ceremonies before Friday’s full-scale commencement with $200 million dollar donor Larry Ellison of Oracle fame the main speaker.

In the afternoon Thursday, new graduates Robert Woods and Giuliana Olmos spoke for the class of 144 Trojans in the Athletes Graduation at Galen Center.

Then longtime learning specialist Mimi Butler was given a first Legend of Troy award by Pat Haden, who would receive his own Legend of Troy Award from the graduates and current student-athletes. The ceremony closed with a seven-minute video from all 21 sports teams honoring Haden with tributes from student-athletes Caroline Cordrey and Robby Kolanz.

But it was the morning celebration for the Crosstown Rivalry win that got things going. USC swept 10 sports, beat the Bruins 115-70, and did it while winning football and men’s basketball convincingly.

“We’re finally pulling our weight,” Clay Helton said of his Trojans’ 40-21 South Division-clinching win in the Coliseum. “This is a great day to be a Trojan.”

Great day for Andy Enfield, whose team’s three wins over UCLA, by an average 19 points a game, were the highlight, Clay said. The football team’s win was great but the basketball sweep was really impressive.

“It’s really tough to beat a team – a rival – three times in the same season,” Helton said with a nod to Enfield. “I think that’s the more impressive thing in all of this.”

But Haden, who will retire as AD at the end of next month, hadn’t retired his sense of slipping in a zinger or two as master of ceremonies. “We don’t pay you enough to wear a coat?” he asked as Enfield walked up in a shirt and tie, no coat.

“It’s California, Pat,” Andy said to a nice laugh from an standing-room only crowd in the McKay Center classroom/auditorium and then waiting a couple of beats . . . “and you’re retiring,” to an even bigger laugh.

But the highlight of the day had to be the USC women’s beach volleyball team, fresh back from winning the first-ever NCAA beach volleyball championship, USC’s 101st NCAA crown and 124nd overall national team title.

Head coach Anna Collier got into the spirit of things noting to her players that since NCAA rules prohibited BMW from “giving you all a BMW, I’m hoping they give me one – preferably gold.”

Junior All-Americans Sarah Hughes and Kelly Claes were honored for their 73-match win streak (48-0 this year), in a season in which they lost just one set.

But the All-Americans clearly had plenty of fun. “There’s still sand in our trophy,” Hughes said.

And in a classy sendoff to their season and the Crosstown Rivalry, they talked about pulling for UCLA to win its way to be the team they faced, not Florida State, in the championship match. Then they told UCLA “we’ll meet you next year.”

Nice rivalry when that’s the takeaway.

You can follow me on Twitter at @dweber3440 or email me at weber@uscfootball.com.

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