USC billboard near UCLA campus blacked out

Move over, Mississippi--the Billboard Wars have gone west.

According to the Los Angeles Times Monday, USC has put up a billboard within virtual spitting distance of UCLA's Westwood campus, one with Matt Barkley's Heisman candidate's visage and the slogan "WE PLAY TO FINISH"--the "LA" in a noticeably different color. Times photographer Mel Melcon shot this picture of the billboard Monday:

"We need to change that. Oh, we need to change that," Bruin Darius Bell said. "This is our neighborhood."

Surprisingly enough, someone did change it. 

The Times reported Tuesday -- with the photo to prove it -- that the billboard has been covered up by a black, um, covering.

So who's responsible?

"We didn't have anything to do with it," UCLA athletics spokesman Nick Ammazzalorso told the Times.

USC, in a fit of guilt over their ungentlemanly behavior towards their L.A. neighbors?

"We did not agree with or were we involved in the decision to take the billboard down," USC athletics spokesman Tim Tessalone said.

The billboard company, then? It seemed unlikely, with Regency Outdoor Advertising co-owner Brian Kennedy a "prominent USC donor," per the Times. But after several hours of mystery, Kennedy admitted Regency had elected to move the billboard over USC's objections.

The rivalry between the Bruins and Trojans seems to be ratcheting up this offseason, what with Jim L. Mora's (reprehensible) "we don't have murders a block from our campus" comments and now USC's oh-so-coincidentally placed Barkley billboard.

Just as Mora denied that his comments about UCLA's safety had anything to do with USC, so the Trojans have denied that the billboard placement had anything to do with UCLA.

"It's not a board to taunt," Tessalone said.

Sure, Tim. And we're sure it looked like a Spinal Tap album cover Tuesday for reasons that had nothing to do with Barkley, USC, UCLA, its location, etc.

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