Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in the wider Bruin Nation! While we don't have a lot to be thankful for when it comes to our hapless Athletic Department, ran by a tool busy sipping chianti while our major revenue programs crumble, we do have a lot to be thankful for as Bruins. First, all of us behind the scenes here at BN are thankful or all of you, the folks who come this little community, provide insightful commentary, bring unique and interesting perspectives, and really make writing for and managing this little corner of the internet a lot of fun (even though Chianti Dan is busy making our lives as Bruin fans miserable). Heck, we're even thankful for the small army of folks who simply come by to just read what we write. And of course, we're all thankful for the supportive spouses and family who put up with our frustrations, anger, and disgust (which frequently manifests itself into outbursts at the TV such as "f**k Rick, grow a pair and go for it you son of a b**ch!" or "why the f**k do you keep playing the Wear twins Ben!").
We should also give thanks to the good fortune we all have to call ourselves UCLA Bruins. It's been a rough decade for us as fans, but when we step back, we had the wonderful pleasure of going to the greatest university in the world. We're thankful for the opportunity to trek from the Hill down Bruin Walk on sunny Southern California days, thankful for the chance to study in the shadow of the iconic Royce Hall, and thankful for the chance to wade through the Inverted Fountain. The list really could go on forever. In short, it's great to be a Bruin, and so while we're suffering as fans, all thanks to Dan Guerrero's incompetent, bamboozled, and failed Reign of Error, we still have a lot to be thankful for.
So with that said, let's turn to a special edition round-up of the bits and pieces of news from around the UCLA-iverse on this Turkey Day after the jump.
- Starting with some basketball notes, Mark Medina with the Los Angeles Times noted that former UCLA forward Matt Barnes was honored by his high school alma mater, Del Campo High School in Sacramento, yesterday when they retired his jersey. Barnes, a two-sport stand-out at Del Campo, briefly considered playing football earlier this decade, which is looking like it wouldn't have been a bad decision as the NBA lockout continues to drag on.
- Speaking of former Bruin basketball players, Fox Sports' Michael Martinez has a profile of former UCLA center and part of the original Ben Ball Warriors, Ryan Hollins, who is preparing for life after basketball during the lockout by getting acclimated to broadcasting. Hollins, as we've seen of late, will start working UCLA games for Fox Sports. Moreover, RH talks about the current Bruins squad, nothing that there is a "lot of room for improvement" but that this team has the talent to make the Final Four. Well, RH might know a little something about being a Final Four player, but there's one problem with his theory: there's a certain stubborn coach who refuses to pull out players who simply aren't getting it done (Zeek and the Wears) while shafting more athletic guys with a higher upside (Powell, Parker, and in the past, Stanback and Moser).
- In non-revenue sporting news, Helene Elliot at the Los Angeles Times sat down and profiled UCLA men's water polo head coach and current U.S. national men's water polo team player Adam Wright, in which he discusses his two ultimate goals: a UCLA championship banner to bring home to Westwood and a gold medal for the good ol' USA in London in 2012.
- Turning to football, let's start with a true Bruin warrior on the field, Derrick Coleman. Despite playing with a hearing disability, Derrick has really stepped up for the Bruins, often carrying UCLA in spite of Rick's play-not-to-lose mentality. Over at ESPN, Ramona Shelburne profiled (HT LA Bruin) the bruising running back from Fullerton. It's a really good read and great story about an awesome Bruin. I'm going to be sad to see Derrick leave this team: we need more Bruins like him.
- Speaking of current UCLA football players, the Los Angeles Times has a profile of former walk-on and current interception leader Andrew Abbott, in which he discusses the challenges he overcame being a prospect overlooked in the shadow of his Mater Dei teammate,
Pete Carroll's Love ChildMatt Barkley.
- While everyone's mind is on getting their share of turkey, stuffing, gravy, etc., in every Bruin and Trojan's mind, Thursday marks only two days from the annual blood-match between UCLA and U$C. It's a huge game: cross-town rivals face off to take control of the prized Victory Bell. And more often than not, fans use a victory over U$C as a way to justify an otherwise sub-par season as "successful." Well, despite what the Neubs may say, a victory over U$C should absolutely not buy Rick a stay of execution as UCLA's head coach. Even hacks like T.J. Simers can see that Rick keeping his job on the back of a win this Saturday is bad for UCLA's long-term prospects, but great for Lane Kiffin and his USB Trogans. We made the mistake of giving Karl Dorrell a reprieve following 13-9, and that only set us back further. We cannot make the same mistake again.
- Speaking of the game, even the Trojans are perplexed as to why Chianti Dan and his team of professional idiots at the Morgan Center are rolling out an all-white uniform set for this Saturday's rivalry game, which was just recently reverted back to the traditional home-and-home uniform arrangement, following a battle with the NCAA. It's not often that I find myself agreeing with Lane Kiffin and Pat Haden, but the UCLA-U$C game is not the time for uniform gimmicks: it's the time to see the blue and gold of our Bruins lined up across from the cardinal and yellow of U$C. The fact that Lane Kiffin, a guy who went to Fresno State, gets it, and Chianti Dan, a Bruin alum, doesn't, is disconcerting to say the least.
- Finally, in an annual tradition, the athletic student managers from UCLA squared off against their counterparts from U$C on the football field. Despite "coaching" from U$C QB Matt Barkley, the Trojans came up short, losing to the Bruins 57-55 in triple overtime. The win for UCLA marks the first time the Bruin student managers have won since 2006. That following Saturday, 13-9 happened. Could this be a good omen of things to come for the Bruin faithful on Saturday?
Alright folks, those are your special edition Turkey Day Bruin Bites. Have a wonderful long holiday weekend and be safe in your travels. Fire away with your thoughts, additions, comments in the thread.