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Neuheisel: UCLA has 'every right to claim this city'

Bruins head coach welcomes Kiffin to the Pac-10's best rivalry. Dave Miller

Print This January 17, 2010, 11:19 PM EST

Welcome to the Pac-10, Lane Kiffin.

At UCLA’s basketball game against USC on Saturday at Pauley Pavilion, Bruins head football coach Rick Neuheisel — flanked by a group of his players and their EagleBank Bowl trophy — spoke to the crowd at halftime to remind them that there’s more than just one football team in town.

“I guarantee, if you paid any kind of attention to what's going on in college football this last week, you can see the landscape is slightly shifting,” Neuheisel said. “A few of our guys, we want to welcome coach Kiffin to Los Angeles. We have competed with him before and we look forward to competing with him and this program again.”

Neuheisel owns a 1-0 career mark against Kiffin, as his Bruins beat Kiffin’s Tennessee Volunteers 19-15 in Knoxville last September.

Neuheisel spoke to Jill Painter of the Los Angeles Daily News after the pep talk and continued to prop up his program.

“We respect what USC has done the last few years,” Neuheisel said. “But there's change now. Until the new regime proves itself, we believe we have every right to claim this city.”

You can bet Neuheisel’s statements will be responded to in time by Kiffin. After all, the new USC head coach battled with Florida’s Urban Meyer before even coaching his first SEC game, accusing Meyer of breaking NCAA rules regarding a player they both were recruiting.

It’s safe to say that the UCLA-USC football rivalry won’t be taking a back seat much longer to some of the best rivalries across the nation. Neuheisel versus Kiffin should provide plenty of entertainment — both during the offseason and when the season kicks off in September.

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