LOS ANGELES -- USC coach Lane Kiffin said his Trojans "felt disrespected" by UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel's comments this week that the Bruins had closed the gap between the two schools in Los Angeles.
The Trojans agreed, saying they used the quote -- posted on the doors at Heritage Hall earlier in the week -- as motivation in their 50-0 win over UCLA on Saturday at the Coliseum.
“I was just waiting until after the game so I could speak on the quote. Now I can speak on it: They haven’t closed the gap on us,” Tyler said. “I don’t know what their coach was talking about. 50-0, that doesn’t look like much of a gap closed.”
"That quote really got to me."
Neuheisel didn't outright say that the gap had been entirely closed. He said the Bruins were getting it closer based on the fact that they were eligible for the Pac-12 championship game heading into the last regular-season game of the season.
"We get to line up against them again, so we'll see where the gap is after the ball game, but the gap has closed," he said in his Monday press conference. "We're much closer to them then we were when I first got here. I don't know that it's all the way done, we'll talk after the ball game."
Afterward, he said the Trojans were "clearly superior" to his Bruins during Saturday's game but said he didn't believe "that's the case at all times."
"I believe we can close the gap and believe we will," he said.
But the quote that USC's players saw was significantly different. Someone within the athletic department modified the quote significantly to say that "USC is not who they used to be," which Neuheisel did not say. But that made no difference to the Trojans, who were clearly offended by the comment -- or what they thought the comment was.
Said Tyler: “I wish their next coach much success.”
A number of USC's players said the Trojans similarly used the new jerseys UCLA broke out for the game as motivation. Cornerback Nickell Robey said Kiffin gave them a full report on what the Bruins would be wearing so they weren't surprised when they saw them in warmups.
“I felt like that was a desperation (move) for them,” Tyler said. “I guess they thought the white jerseys were going to be special for them.
"They’ll probably never wear those again.”