Here are a few snippets from the UCLA Athletics event in the OC on Saturday night.
Firs, that house was ridunkulous! The event was held on the homeowner’s tennis court. He wasn’t a Bruin alum though, interestingly. When I met him, he said "let me know if anyone important comes in". LOL! He was a very nice guy though.
Second, the hostesses (I believe it was the Dance Team?) …yeah. They were very sweet and fun.
Third, the event was really well organized, very professional and well done. There was an 80’s cover band that started playing after dinner, they were really good…and CRN went on and played guitar and back up vocals for their cover of Jessie’s Girl!
That was awesome!Fourth, let me tell you. UCLA has nothing to be envious about in terms of successful alumni. Just the parade of cars at the Valet was a sight to behold! But then, talking to various people in the crowd was just incredibly impressive. There is no doubt in my mind that there is a lot of potential in that crowd and they are already doing quite a bit.
It was really funny though. I had my camera, which is a Canon Rebel DSLR, and people thought I was with the press so they gave me funny looks or were at first cautious in their conversations! Very funny. I should have brought my wife’s little digital point and shoot. People didn’t know how to use my camera (even though it’s not that complicated) so I missed out on having my picture taken with CRN, Tyus and Toby Bailey. It was actually pretty embarrassing with CRN. He asked this really nice lady to take the picture but she was having trouble. She tried 4 or 5 times to get it to work and CRN was gracious enough to stick with it and smile! In the end…she still didn’t get it right but I pretended she did so that CRN could go continue schmoozing.
Let me tell you, people love CRN. He is like a rock star but talks to everybody! The only time he was kind of ignoring people was when we were watching the last two innings of the baseball game. He was really into it, and so were lots of others.
CRN really took care to not say anything about U$C. The whole time, he kept saying that it’s their problem and we need to take care of our business. People made jokes left and right and he didn’t budge. I loved that. He didn’t gloat at all. I quickly asked him what we had in the QB recruiting pipeline and he just said we’re on it. I didn’t press because he really did have to talk to a lot of people. He had just flown back from Oregon and played golf that day too.
The most interesting thing that he said was about recruiting strategy. He said many schools make offers way too early, and it is much better to wait and do it late. Perhaps if some of the idiots in the media bothered to ask him why UCLA doesn’t have early commits, they’d find out what’s going on instead of being worrywarts.
Finally, I know a lot of us don’t think much of Donahue, but CRN went out of his way in his speech to thank him for the mentoring and for the opportunities and TD got a standing ovation. He said Donahue laid out the blueprint for a successful program and he would use it to get UCLA back to the top just like he did at Washington. I have no problem with that because I think he’s right. TD might have come up short in terms of his conservative coaching, but he really did a great job of building a program and building a great recruiting platform. With that platform and CRN’s coaching style, I think UCLA could be a great program. The results on the field in the next 2 years will be quite telling.
Here are three great stories that CRN had about Coach.
They first met in 1979. CRN told him he was a walk-on and Coach said "well I would have guessed that". Hilarious!
Then, in 2008, they had breakfast at VIP’s. They finished, the check came and Coach picked up the check (he always picked up the check). Just then, Coach’s granddaughter shows up and says "Am I too late, did
you guys finish breakfast?". And without missing a beat, Coach gave CRN a wink and said "no honey, we’ve just been waiting for you." Then they had breakfast again!
Finally, as CRN was about to come out to the field before the Tennessee game, someone came and gave him a note. He put it in his pocket and the guy said "you should really read it now". So he opens it and it’s a note from Coach. It says "there will be peaks and there will be valleys, but the true Bruin fans will always support you".
At halftime, he told the players he had gotten a note from Coach and that they would win that game because Coach had a "pipeline upstairs". LOL! They won the game. The next week, we lost to BYU 59-0. CRN says "the guy said there would be peaks and valleys…I just didn’t think it would be in week 1 and week 2!". Awesome!
The other guy who was very popular was Tyus. Man, it was great to see him again. I went up to him and he actually remembered me (not my name), after almost 20 years! I can’t tell you what a great guy he is, but you all already know. We spoke a lot about Italy and shared stories, he really loved it there. He’s definitely looking to get into coaching and has been talking to CBH. We’ll see what happens. I would be doing back flips if he joins the staff:
Another guy I loved talking to was Brandon Brooks, the women’s water polo coach. What a cool guy. He’s from Hawaii. I teased him about how Rowing was the sacrificial lamb to save water polo. Anyway, he was just great to talk to and very down to earth, asked me to go support the team when they play UCI next year, and I just might do that.
I spoke with Jamaal Wilkes…about investment strategies! LOL! He’s a great man, but Big Red is right…dude doesn’t talk much! Still though, we talked a little about Coach and how he might be having an even bigger impact now that he’s passed away…a bit like Obiwon.
The person to whom I spoke most was James Washington. Man, that guy is funny. We were cracking up, and he was giving me matrimonial advice LOL! We talked about his camps and he said he’s really lucky because CRN had committed some of his staff to the camps so that makes a huge difference. Anyway, he’s the only one I actually managed to get a picture with…only because the guy who took the photo was an actual photographer!
Finally, I spoke a bit with Mike Roll. What a great guy. I thanked him for this last season and said he made it a lot easier to watch…he didn’t expand on that LOL! He’s been working out tons for NBA teams and had just had a workout with the Lakers. I told him how we appreciated his hoops IQ, and team defense and with his shooting he should make a team and he was very gracious and humble. He’ll probably end up in Europe, which he was still excited about, noting how much fun Tyus had. I was going to ask him more…but we were in line for the bathroom and I didn’t want to be waiting for him when he came out LOL! Interestingly though, he came with his buddy Terrence Green, with whom he played in high school. Terrence was a basketball walk-on for the Trojies…but I tell you, he was a good kid. Sure, he was trying to keep a low profile, but he was a nice kid.
Anyway, I’m sure there were quite a few amazing athletes there that I didn’t recognize, but that’s the gist of it. It was a great Bruin event!