It's been about 13 years since I slept on a sidewalk. In Pasadena, that is. And it was fantastic.
I was going to the Rose Bowl the next day, and didn't know yet that my Bruins would fall to Wisconsin in "the" Rose Bowl. Nestor and I sat in the stands, and those memories won't leave me soon, or ever.
It's been only slightly less long ago, it seems, that I last posted as a front-pager on BN. I think it was after that day of hope a few years ago that Ryan and I sat down with our newly hired coach Rick Neuheisel.
It's a funny thing, looking back. It's been 20 years (holy crap!) since I first stepped onto campus in Westwood as a freshman. It was only weeks later that I went to my first football game at the Rose Bowl. And that's when my second most significant love affair began. I wrote about it a bit, in one of my first posts on BN, here .
In case you are wondering, this isn't going to be a regular post, with news, insight or analysis. There'll be none of that. This is a story, some catharsis, and maybe a bit of a confession.
You see, while I used to, I do not support UCLA athletics financially anymore. Let me explain why I have reached this decision and why I think all other Bruin alums, students and season ticket holders should consider doing the same.
Let's walk it back.
In 1994, I graduated. That same year, I bought season tickets in the "young alumni" section.
In 1998, I finished graduate school (don't ask where ), got a good job, and started contributing in earnest to the athletic department.
In 2001, I started that most important love affair, and soon after made my wife-to-be an honorary Bruin.
In the years that followed, so much has happened. Until recently, I could have counted the games I missed at the Rose Bowl on one hand. Children learned to walk on the golf course. My donations (and number of season tickets) to UCLA grew and grew along with my career.
In early 2011, much of that stopped. For two decades, my support of UCLA hadn't waived. Yet, buffeted by so many of the disappointments with UCLA athletics so well chronicled here, I stopped. For me, it ended when Dan Guerrero decided that students shouldn't be first at Pauley . I cancelled my season tickets. I gave up my seating priority accrued through years of donations to the Wooden Fund. I stopped going to the Bruin Touchdown Club. I secretly felt remorse, and wondered what I'd do on those magical Saturdays.
And here's the confession part. In a lot of ways, I haven't missed it. Don't get me wrong, I have in ways. But, after so many years of heartbreak, through ups and mostly downs; through hurricanes, and Lavins, Dorrells and face-palmingly inexplicable events to date, I've had enough. And last Thursday was so cartoonishly over the top bad I can hardly express it.
As freesia said a few days ago, "to call that game embarrassing is embarrassing to the word embarrassing."
Here's where I put a fine point on it. I don't support UCLA athletic anymore with my pocketbook (sorry, Ben). I can, in not insignificant ways, support UCLA football. I just don't. And I won't again until Dan Guerrero and, secondarily, Rick Neuheisel, leave UCLA in the hands of people not mired in the decay of the Morgan Center who take those hallowed four letters seriously, and stop squandering the boundless opportunity to let UCLA flourish, if given only a bit of real attention and commitment.
I can't be alone. In fact, I know I'm not. I can't call some friends donors anymore, because, well, they aren't. And those that have pledged to things like the Pauley renovations are embarrassed to have done so, and have reconsidered.
Until there is a wholesale regime change at UCLA, I call on all of us to cease any and all financial support to the athletic department until Dan Guerrero resigns or is fired. I wish it hadn't come to this, but it has.
Keep emailing, calling, etc., but this is where my cynical side tells me that more is needed. If you have not signed the petition calling for Dan's removal sign it now. We've been patient. So very patient. We've supported the team, so long and so well. We will always support that athletes.
But, it's time. Time to act. Now.