We're number 13! We're Number 13!
Well, true, it's not quite as catchy as "We're Number One!". But it still actually carries a lot of weight for us when you think about it. And I wish Dan Guerrero and the rest of the simpletons in the Morgan Center would pay attention and do just that.
SBNation is holding a mock college draft, sort of a NCAA Fantasy Conference game. Writers from six different SBN blogs were selected as "conference commissioners", given the roster of D-1 colleges to choose from, and told, "Build your own conference...ready, set, go!"
U.C.L.A. was the first pick of the third round, going #13 overall, joining Texas and Georgia in the super-conference-in-formation, and selected by the head of the great Boston College blog, BC Interruption. The Bruins were picked ahead of such national names as Miami, Auburn, Texas A&M, Tennessee, & Wisconsin. We were the 2nd western school selected, ahead of the richer-than-God Oregon Knights, the hippies in Berkeley, the hippies in Boulder, the always respectable but fan-challeneged Cardinal, Romar's/Sarkisian's goons in
Vancouver Seattle, Husker Nation, and Another Stripper University in Tempe, for example.
Personally, I'm very happy and honored to join this group, and appeciate the love and respect from Brian @ BCI, our commissioner. Judging from his and numerous other posts the last few days, it's clear that he sees what U.C.L.A. brings to the table.
As expected, the heavy hitters in terms of market share and revenue and name value went early: Texas #1, Florida #2, Alabama #3, tO$U Cheaters #4, Southern Cal Cheaters #5, and so on... Ten of the top 14 schools in terms of athletic revenue were selected, with *$c and FSU being the other 2 among the top 12 picks. The complete list of the first 2 rounds can be seen here.
Wait, isn't this really just a bunch of rabid (and bored) college sports bloggers filling time until fall football camp begins? Well, yeah. Partly. But even then, the opinions still count.
Is U.C.L.A. really the 13th best value in collegiate athletics?
Well, the folks at BC Interruption think so. And I'll back them up, after the jump...
The Indian writer Khalil Gibran wrote in his book The Prohet, "that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain" (take that, CGB). I sometimes wonder if working in Westwood makes one so used to all the natural advantages that U.C.L.A. has, simply by virtue of being amidst it full time, that one forgets to appreciate it. But that is not an acceptable excuse for DG and his minions. It's his job to capitalize on those advantages. Every day. Even 12-Pac Commisioner Larry Scott somehow backwardly realized U.C.L.A.'s name value with a billion Chinese and is looking at taking advantage of that.
The comments in the thread prior to our pick show that people around the country recognize those advantages. In short, we are getting more respect from Boston College, other east coast schools, and the SBN blogs than we are from our own athletic department. I frequently complain about the east coast bias in American sports, where coverage and hype for a school are directly related to the school's distance from Bristol, CT. But here is a spokesman of sorts from a school a mere 118 miles from Bristol seeing the advantages of U.C.L.A. 2,900 miles away. This speaks to how other schools and college-wise people view the attributes at U.C.L.A., and speaks to the failures of our current Morgan Center admin in capitalizing on those attributes.
Everyone else sees it, Dan. Why don't you?
U.C.L.A. has incredible athletic tradition. Wooden, Ashe, Alcindor, Johnson, Fernandez, Aikman, Karros, Walton, Beban, Devers, Kiraly, Enquist, Vidmar, Ogden, Meyers, Keflezighi, Utley, Kondos-Field, Jones, Pavin, O'Bannon, Joyner, Scates. Jackie Freaking Robinson!! Oh, and we have 107 National Championships. And this is a tiny fraction of the Bruins Hall of Fame. Notre Dame can't touch our history.
We have the absolute greatest student-athletes in the world. Only a couple other schools can match our combined excellence in the classroom and on the field. So why aren't our student-athletes surrounded by the absolute best student-athlete facilities in Division 1? Heck, why don't they have the 13th best facilities in D-1?
We are located in the second biggest media market and city in the USA, and the center of the TV/media industry. So why is U.C.L.A. a mere afterthought or whipping boy for the local rag? When does U.C.L.A. sports headline the local or national sports news?
We have outstanding academics. We have the best weather in the country. We have a gorgeous campus. We even have hot co-eds. U.C.L.A. is like just like ASU in that regard, except with all the other favorable attributes above, too.
U.C.L.A. is blessed with about as many advantages both in history and in potential as a school could have, and people on the other side of the country recognize that. Unfortunately, we are saddled with a disinterested Chancellor, an ineffectual AD, and career state employees (think DMV) running our athletic department. Why are we letting Adidas use us? Why are we getting a half-assed renovation of Pauley when we could and should have the state of the art brand new facility. Why aren't our baseball facilities better? Why isn't U.C.L.A. gear front and center at local retail stores in Los Angeles, and present at all in national locations? Why isn't the Rose Bowl full on Saturdays?
Sure, in the grand scheme of things, U.C.L.A. is doing pretty well. And that's a shame. Because we should be doing great. Like the rest of the country thinks we should be.
Anyway, it was great to see us get picked highly, and for all the reasons we know we should be. And it's great to be in a conference with heavy hitters Texas and Georgia. Imagine tailgaiting in Austin and Athens for football - how much fun would that be? And it helps for us that we inexplicably own Texas in football. Now, if we can just keep UT from taking over the conference by themselves. Stop by to say hello to our good friends at Burnt Orange Nation and Dawg Sports;and have a chat with our fellow conference mates. And especially head on over to BC Interruption and say hello to Brian @ BCI, our new commissioner, and get involved in the next pick for the conference.
I just wish Guerrero and his gang would see us the way Brian does, and would start running our athletic department like it really is one of the top assets in the country.