Why Bother Playing Next Saturday?

Over at the LA Times, Trojan Alum - Adam Rose (who is also the lead blogger for "What's Bruin") - is already lamenting the prospect of Southern Cal playing in the 2009 Rose Bowl on All Things Trojan:

Is the Rose Bowl good enough?

Once you get over just how disgusting it is for a headline like the one you see here (I almost threw up in the back of my mouth while typing it), it's actually a fair question.

USC, unless they stumble into the BCS National Championship game or stumble against a completely outmatched UCLA team next week, will be in Pasadena on January 1st playing Penn State. It'll be the Trojans' fourth straight trip, and fifth in the last six years. The one year they missed was due to a bigger engagement -- a national title game in Miami. Had Oregon State beat Oregon on Saturday, the Trojans held out hope for another BCS game -- most likely the Fiesta, but possibly the Sugar or maybe even the Orange.

Adam then runs a poll on his blog asking his readers (Trojan fans) whether they "are satisfied with the Rose Bowl over another non-title BCS game," clearly making plans beyond next Saturday.

Adam's colleague and Pete Carrol's biggest cheer leader - Bill Plaschke - is also upset about Trojans going to the 2009 Rose Bowl (emphasis added):

With Oregon State's championship-costing loss to Oregon, the Trojans are but a slam-dunk victory over UCLA next week from returning to the Rose Bowl for the fourth consecutive season, a development that can elicit only one bit of intelligent analysis.

Whoop-de-darn-do.

As written here before, Pasadena is a nice place to visit, but the Trojans don't want to live there.

They don't need it for reputation. They don't need it for recruiting.

They needed a Fiesta against a high-scoring Big 12 team, some Sugar against a traditional SEC power, anything that could enhance their national presence and propel them into next season's polls.

They don't need another Rose bouquet against another Big Ten vase.

At this point, I should apologize to those e-mailers from Penn State, who were outraged when I included the Nittany Lions in a list of slow teams from the Midwest.

LOL ... Bill is not even worried about "e-mailers" from UCLA.

Why should he? Lot of well intentioned and knowledgeable UCLA football fans are already waving their fight flags pointing to a Saturday where they are expecting Trojan's dominating defense to eviscerate UCLA's anemic offense (from Bruin Report Online's premium football forum)...

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... leading to the ultimate rock bottom for this program resulting from years of mismanagement under Bob Toledo and Karl Dorrell:

Scbeatsucla09brev_medium

I understand the frustrations underlying those posts (and some of them in fairness are well reasoned and articulated ... even thought they come with jarring titles). And, I am not sure I need to go to the stats because if we look at them they will pretty much support the basis for some of the comments we are seeing above.

Over here over the years we have always taken pride in building a community which is realistic and which forms opionions based on facts and numbers.  So all that said ... why even bother getting ready for Saturday?

Why should our guys who have been busting their rear ends all year under a new head coach even bother showing up?

CRN points to the 1989 game as a possible answer:

The Bruins figure to be heavy underdogs against the fifth-ranked Trojans, but Neuheisel said he had an answer for that too.

The 1989 UCLA team entered the USC game with a 3-7 record. Quarterback Bret Johnson was inexperienced, just like current quarterback Kevin Craft.

"You know, a lot of similarities," Neuheisel said.

The Bruins would have won that year if kicker Alfredo Velasco's 54-yard field goal attempt had not bounced off the crossbar at the Coliseum. The final score was 10-10.

I know, I know. I have already heard the rant about how Craft is worse than Bret Johnson. If you want to do more of that attacking a kid who has shown incredible courage and heart all season without voicing a single complaint in public about the unreal beating he has taken behind a fragile OL ... please find a message board.

I remember that game really well watching it as a high school student. But for me it was the 1992 game that framed my mindset for this rivalry as a student and I will stick with that no matter what the circumstances are around this game.

I am not going to go into details of 1992 all over again. I think we have shared the John  Barnes story enough of BN.

I will also stick with players like Norris who have found a way to persevere and give his best effort despite having a difficult season on the field. Norris is sticking with the program and his coaches' message of unity:

The message Neuheisel, and his coaching staff, sent to the Bruins after the (ASU) loss was one of unity. It was the same message delivered several other times this season, and it is being received.

"We just have to keep fighting. That's all we can do," Bruins cornerback Michael Norris said. "We'll never be divided, because that's poison to a team. That's cancer. We're not going to let that happen."

Well, I think it would be a good idea to take the cue from Norris and rest of our players and stick with them and our entire team this week. I am not asking that we need to go all rah rah and delude ourselves re. our chances next Saturday. But at the same time, that doesn't mean we concede this game.

GO BRUINS.

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