I have been writing and rewriting this fan post for a few days now, trying to best express what I saw on Saturday. First, a bit about my days as a Bruin. I enrolled at UCLA in 2002 and since that day I have absolutely bled blue and gold. I have gone to roughly 80% of the football games since my first game against SDSU in Toledo's final season as HC. I nearly got fired for leaving work early to get home to watch UCLA in its first Final Four under CBH. I wear some piece of Bruin gear to my school (I teach at a middle school) nearly every day of the week. I am, in every sense of the word, proud to be a Bruin.
But, here comes the twist...rather than go to our homecoming game last weekend against our little brothers to the north, I went to the (duh duh DUH) SC-Stanford game....Let me explain; my fiancé's father is a huge football fan who sometimes gets VERY nice seats to both SC and UCLA games. He happened to have tickets to the game last weekend and invited me (anybody who is married, engaged, or close to it knows that you do NOT say no to your significant other's father. you just don't). So, lo and behold, I was a Bruin lost in a sea of ketchup and mustard.
So, what did I leave with, besides a reaffirmed distasted for the $C faithful? I left with a strange sense of envy. From the moment that the Toejam band walked on the field to the very last moments of the 3rd OT, the Colliseum was absolutely rocking. The fans in attendance were standing on every 3rd down, making constant noise when Stanford had the ball, and were just plain excited to be there. It was as energetic as any game I had been to at the Rose Bowl since 13-9 (I have never hugged so many strangers as I did that day in Pasadena). And this was for a MEDIOCRE SC TEAM! They are not going to win the Pac-12 South. They will likely lose 1 or 2 more games. They don't even really believe in their coach. In spite of all that, the atmosphere at the Colliseum was pretty incredible.
Why do I bring this up? I mean, it really, REALLY feels odd complimenting anything associated with the University of Second Choice. But, more than anything else, it makes me wonder what UCLA is doing wrong. Why has the most fun part of the Rose Bowl been the action outside (which, ironically, is now being curbed)? Why can't the Rose Bowl have an electric atmosphere, especially when we schedule quality opponents (Tex, Tenn, etc.)? I love our alma matter. I love UCLA athletics. I love being a Bruin. But, after spending the day across town last weekend, I wanted to echo what has been said so eloquently on this site in my own words. We need a culture change at UCLA. We need an AD that puts football first (basketball will ALWAYS be a priority...and I do believe in CBH for banner #12). We need a coach that EXCITES the fan base. We need UCLA football to be not just relevant, but electric. Let's hope that whatever direction DG (or whomever is our AD) takes us leads to Saturdays that are the highlight of the week again. Until then, I'm going to do my part to get to the Rose Bowl and cheer my tail off in support of the young men that wear the four letters. I hope to see you all there! Go Bruins.