That's right Bruins, he's got the ATL connection working for UCLA. (Photo Credit: Associated Press)
It's Sunday evening, which sadly for most folks, means a return to work tomorrow morning. Some people (some government workers, students, school employees, etc.) will get tomorrow off to celebrate the birthday of the greatest American president of all-time, Abraham Lincoln. Most of us, unfortunately, do not, thanks to some genius deciding to roll Lincoln's birthday (traditionally observed on the Monday closest to February 12) and Washington's birthday (traditionally observed the following Monday, closest to his actual birthday of February 22) into the generic "President's Day" on the Monday following next. In other words, instead of getting two three-day weekends in a row, you only get one. That sucks.
But in any event, for those of you who will get to relax and enjoy tomorrow off (and those of you needing something to read before trudging off to work tomorrow), let's take a look at the bits and pieces of news from around the UCLA-iverse at the tail-end of the weekend.
- Starting with our football program, Jim Mora seems to be everywhere, with columnists across the country weighing in on his hire at UCLA. Looking at how new coaches recruited, Ben Glicksman at Sports Illustrated gave UCLA's new coach, Jim Mora, a solid A following the awesome recruiting haul Mora brought to Westwood at his first recruiting rodeo. The only coach with a higher mark? Urban Meyer. Other UCLA coaching candidates discussed on BN, including Gus Malzahn (A) Kevin Sumlin (A-), Larry Fedora (B+), and Mike Leach (B). In conference notes, Glicksman gave Cal turncoat Tosh Lupoi an A for his work at Washington (he should get an A+ in our books for helping get McCarthy, Payton, and Lawler to Westwood).
- Brett McMurphy at CBS Sports notes that he and his colleagues at CBS Sports weren't as generous, rating Mora's hire at #15 (out of 26), sandwiched between Houston's Tony Levine (#14) and Southern Miss's Ellis Johnson (#16). At the top was none other than Urban Meyer, who will probably have a national title in Columbus within three seasons. BN targets got high marks: Rich Rodriguez (#2), Mike Leach (#3), Gus Malzahn (#4), Larry Fedora (#7). Chianti's original pick, Kevin Sumlin came in at #5 and former UCLA OC Norm Chow came in at #12.
- Going back to Sports Illustrated, Coach Mora got ranked, but in a somewhat different ranking: comparing and rating the various NFL announcing crews. It seems Coach Mora made a good career move, as Chris Burke at Sports Illustrated ranked Mora and his partner Ron Pitts on Fox as "practice squad" material only. Ouch. In Burke's view, the top tandem is the NFL Network's Brad Nessler and Mike Mayock. Others of note include our own Troy Aikman (and his partner on Fox, Joe Buck) in the third-tier as "reliable backups" and BN favorite Randy Cross (paired with Don Criqui at CBS) on the "practice squad" but mostly because they saw little action.
- Sticking with Mora news, Mike Blum at the Milton Herald took note of Coach Mora's presence in the Atlanta area prep scene, dropping by the north Fulton County area to check out various Class of 2013 recruits, including DL prospect Karl Lawson (who is also being watched by Alabama), RB Peyton Barber, and WR Ryan Jenkins. Mora's familiarity with the area, and his name recognition from his time as Atlanta's head coach, might be opening a new recruiting pipeline to Westwood.
- In general UCLA news, someone in Westwood has finally figured out how to launch a pretty good PR campaign for UCLA: launching the "optimists" campaign and getting a pretty amazing ad into the New York Times. Amazingly, it strike a perfect tone: UCLA needs true optimists, people like Jackie Robinson, who aren't going to accept mediocrity, who are going to strive and push for something greater, to make sure UCLA fulfills all of its amazing potential. We are UCLA and we don't have to settle on being just a great academic school: we can be both amazing in the classroom and amazing in athletics.
- Flipping to non-revenue news, MLS has a neat interview with former UCLA midfield maestro Kelyn Rowe on his transition to becoming a professional athlete, the struggles he's faced, and the challenges he's setting out for himself to succeed at the next level, and the kind of player he sees himself as. We're all pulling for you Kelyn: make UCLA proud (i.e. find a way to the EPL!)
- Finally, switching over to basketball, there's a pretty good read over at The Great Mambino on Ben Howland and "the tragedy of success in the Pac-12." While the post has some pretty bad factual misstatements (i.e. implying that JF and AA graduated from UCLA prior to entering the NBA - correct me if I'm wrong, but they went back to UCLA after entering the NBA to finish their degrees; implying that Mustafa Abdul-Hamid, a great kid by all accounts, "led" UCLA to the tournament with DC; etc.), it does strike the right conclusion and tone at the end:
What’s missing in Westwood is a sense of pride. Bruins never forget where they came from when they look down on the floor at Pauley and see the names Nell and John Wooden staring back at them. To have hope again we don’t need a reminder of the past. We don’t need a coach who has taken us as far as his scheme allows. What we need now is a coach who can remind us of where we need to be and teach our players how to get there.
Couldn't have said it better myself. Alright folks, those are your Bruin Bites for the tail end of the weekend. Fire away in the comment thread with your thoughts, opinions, and takes on these bits and pieces of news from around the UCLA-iverse.