They say you shouldn't kick a man while he's down.
However, they didn't say anything about kicking a trojan while he's down.
So let's do just that.
I understand that we're only 2 weeks into the season, and you all who know me know that I'm the last person to get too far ahead of things. But there is something brewing right now which has enormous big picture and long term implications for U.C.L.A. football. Certainly things are already looking up in Westwood, and the most important thing is that Coach Mora and his program stay on that path by continuing to improve while eliminating the periodic vapor locks like false starts and personal fouls to entire games like Cal and Baylor last year. If they do that, things will be just fine in Westwood.
But that something that is brewing gives us the chance to make things a whole lot better than fine.
For the first time in over a decade, *$c is down. And when I say down, I mean really down.
We've always rejoiced in the periodic trogan demise, like their fluke losses to Jim Harbaugh or even 13-9. But frankly, those games were the exceptions for what was annually a talented and generally well coached program. But these are not your 2000's era trojans. And this is where U.C.L.A. needs to smell blood in the water and go frenzy mode. This is, as N eloquently put it, our chance to bomb them back to the stone ages.
I have watched most of the second half of the Southern Cal game last night, and as someone who has played and watched and studied football for 30 years, I have to say how shocked I was at how bad *$c really looked, especially on offense. I read that they looked pretty average against Hawaii, but last night was my first chance to see them in person. They don't have a QB. The play calls don't go downfield but acrossfield. You could see the frustration in Marquis Lee as series after offensive series ended in failure. Mike Leach has never been accused of being a defensive guru, but Lane Kiffin has frequently been lauded for his offensive prowess. And if last night is really the best they have got, then a meltdown is occurring in South Central as we speak and things are going to blow soon.
Think back to that string of 8 straight wins over the trogans from '91-'98 That streak culminated with one of the best Bruin teams in history and one that was a single horrible blown call away from playing in the first BCS title game. There is no doubt that that opportunity was a product of us beating *$c on an annual basis and getting leverage in recruiting. The difference between then and now though is that *$c still had some good years and was competitive in those games, so that as soon as we had our first misstep or two, they were still hanging around in the neighborhood and were able to take advantage. As our missteps turned to slides at the end of Toledo and then outright free falls during the miserable years under Karl Dorrell and Rick Neuheisel, Pete Carroll was there to step on our throats, dominate recruiting, capitalize on marketing and brand, and raise his teams to the top of the rankings while at the same time burying U.C.L.A. 12 out of 13 times and in brutal fashion
It's time to change places in that narrative - just without the cheating parts.
This is where U.C.L.A. needs to go full gas, and make that image of Southern Cal in the rear view mirror get smaller and smaller until it disappears from sight altogether
To take advantage of this opportunity, first and foremost, we need to win, and that means that this Saturday's game against Nebraska actually just got even bigger. A win in Lincoln while the trogans lose at home will speak volumes.
And even more important than this particular weekend is beyond the field, where the importance of improving the program as a whole just got bigger. We need to move past overdue feasibility studies and actually break ground on new football training facilities. We need to make them, if not the best, at least competitive with the rest of the conference. We need our PR Dept to push the image of U.C.L.A. as the best program in town and to highlight all the advantages of our school. We need marketing to sell out the Rose Bowl and change game day from a nice Saturday afternoon event into a rite of passage for students and a way of life for alums and fans.
And this is where we need to completely and utterly demolish Southern Cal, this year, on their field, in front of their tortured fans and their confused cheerleaders and their horrible one-song band and their dude in a skirt with a plastic sword. We don't need this to be a marquee matchup. We just need to show the world just how far we have risen and how far they have fallen. We need to make 0-50 look competitive by comparison.
Coach Mora will publicly say "I don't give a rat's ass about USC" (and he said that in the context that he was focusing on Stanford at that time) and that's the right approach. But I believe that privately, Mora is sensing the shift and is ready to unleash hell. He is a competitor and not a very good loser, and he knows Southern Cal is still the big rival across town, and he won't be one to let an opportunity slide by. I have faith that Coach Mora and his players are up to the challenge. Obviously, I have far less faith in the apathetic director and bis band of misfits to do the same, but maybe the tide will sweep them along as well.
The path to dominance continues next Saturday in Lincoln. Let's see if the Bruins can kick the trogans while they're down by kicking the Cornhuskers first.