Clearly, this was all about football. We lost, again. I am extremely frustrated. I wanted to list all the things that we did wrong, but so many of you beat me to it already. Instead, I am going to describe what it was like in the nose bleeders at the top of the Rose Bowl.
Firstly, the Blue Out Rose Bowl campaign did not reach enough Bruin fans. All around me, they were wearing UCLA gear that were gray, white, navy blue, yellow and even pink! I do give thanks to whoever pointed it out first that it was wrong of me to wear a gray shirt and I hope the word keeps spreading to many others. Second, the attendance was rather pathetic, IMO. I counted the 2 SUC sections at both end zones and the countless SUC fans all over the stands, it was darn close to half and half! Half SUC thugs in mustard and ketchup!
Lastly, and most importantly, I was sickened with our lack of passion. I attended a few of our rivalry games and it seems like each year our fans are less passionate. Since the beginning, I saw both SUC sections really enjoying themselves. Singing, swaying, holding up their pathetic two finger gesture, and every single one of them was wearing the same ketchup color...not one in gray or black or even pink.
From beginning to end, they had an incredible time at our home field. It was like I was the Grinch and I was staring down, admiring the Who's down in Whoville singing and having a time of their lives. I don't know about anyone else who attended, but it was a rather empty feeling inside. Why is that? How did that happen? What happened to us, the BRUINS?! Sure, I can blame the fans for not bringing their passion to the game. Heck, I could even blame our band for their uninspiring performance at halftime (and I'm a Muse fan!)
So on my long and empty drive home, I kept thinking, how can a visiting team step into hostile grounds against their rival show up and have the time of their lives? My verdict, it's our culture. By that I mean we have been trained to accept mediocrity in football.
Bruin fans have lost all passion from the last few years of embarrassing football. We no longer have any swagger when we come face to face with SUC fans. What are we supposed to say after we've said every year that next year we'll get them? I'm sad to bring this up but we've become the Clippers in the Lakers and Clippers rivalry. Every year we're supposed to be better. Every year we're supposed to get some new young players that will get us over the hump. Every few years, we're supposed to get this coach that will take us to the top. Every year those awesome recruits get injured. To top it off, just like the Clipper owner doesn't want to spend money, neither does UCLA...I know we're a public institution.
So to the story headline, what's beyond football. Well, it's no accident that once SUC started winning, their academic rankings have shot up. I know, it's disputable, but you can't deny they're making a move. One reason I know they are improving is their ability to hire great professors...including taking them away from UCLA. If anyone remember Prof. Cole from that always popular Communications 10 class, he was one of the best. SUC bought him over. My guess is the recent revenues from the games and sales of their fan products have helped. However, more than anything, it's easy for alumni to open their wallets when you have a winning product that is nationally recognized. George Lucas, Snoop, Will Farrel have all in some way started contributing after the rise of the recent SUC football program. Let's face it, everyone loves a winner. UCLA does not have that. To hire better professors, we need donors, we need money. With our name being embarrassed over and over again, it's hard to hit up alumni, and donors who can just as easily associate their name or business with a winning school right across town.
Working within the school system, I can assure you that SUC's popularity among teachers and counselors have gone up dramatically. Countless high school students are being encouraged to apply year after year, something that was exclusive to UCLA. I know, most counselors are clueless and don't know better, but again, it affects our rankings (which no matter how meaningless to us, it matters to the donors and alumni). Let's say I was a millionaire who never went to college and both Oregon and Oregon St. approached me for a donation. Well, let's see, if I'm donating, I want my name to be out there and I'm sure Oregon St. isn't going to help me much for the tens of millions that I will be donating. Sad, but in the end, it's all still a business.
Which mercifully, comes to my last part of this rant. No matter how much better our football program gets next season, I think CRN has to go. This is why. It's not 5 wins, or 6 wins, or even 7 wins. It comes back to the culture. Chetey Petey has created a culture across town that made them feel invincible. Gave them a sense of entitlement. Gave them the swagger. We know KD didn't and I'm sure now CRN is not going to either. I looked beyond our recent losses thinking at least we will be better for the SUC game. From the top of the Rose Bowl, it was quiet and uninspiring. I kept telling my wife what play they were going to run next. Boring, unimaginative, zero creativity. No, I'm not looking for a circus act, but give the fans something to be excited about, something to cheer for...and oh we were desperately trying to cheer for anything.
A true story, the loudest BRUIN fan in my section, an old timer, fell asleep during the third quarter. I don't buy the excuse that we don't have the money to get a better coach or who are we going to get if we let go CRN. Someone told me Sark already took Washington to a bowl game this season! Not sure if it's true but the talent is out there. We don't have to look for a "name" coach if we don't have the money. We have to look for a coach that can bring energy, discipline and that will establish an identity to this program. How well known was Kelly before Oregon found him? Neither was Peterson at Boise St. Neither was Harbaugh at Stanford. CRN brought energy but no identity. While we thought we would be a QB school, we have recruited little to no star QBs to this program. The time to look for a friendly, media appealing, loyal UCLA grad/former player and great inspirational speaker for a coach is over. We need a coach who is all business. Don't care if he smiles, don't care if he knows where Westwood is located. He just needs to know how to win.
I really think we do need to start with a clean slate. We need to build a new culture in Westwood. Being soft is not going to bring in money to keep our academics running in this time of economic crisis. At the same time, when the much more successful school across town is knocking in the academic race, getting donations will only get that much harder. Think of donations as recruits, they want to be in a place that will make their name famous. At this time, UCLA is slipping. I am not concerned about things like football and basketball as much as I am concerned for what our school is really known for, our academics...
Sorry everyone for the nonsensical and wordy rant. This night has been all about being uninspiring...