Bruin Bites: Football's "Key Stretch", Barr's Distance Learning, and Uncovering a Bruin Hidden Gem

These two Bruins are trying to acclimate to the NFL from distance thanks to an antiquated rule that punishes players for finishing their degree. - Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports

With the summer officially here and UCLA athletics on hiatus until the fall, we run through the various bits and pieces of news from around the UCLA-iverse as we eagerly count down the return of UCLA football this fall.

It's the saddest time of the year for the UCLA athletics fanatic, with the university's various programs on hiatus until the fall, and with the quest for UCLA's 112th national title suspended until autumn sets in.  So, with summer here, let's run through some various bits and pieces of news from around the UCLA-iverse:

--- Beginning with football, ESPN is echoing what we all know - that the Bruins are "legitimate Pac-12 title contenders and, as a result, they'll continue to be mentioned as possible playoff contenders until proven otherwise." As Kyle Bonagura at ESPN points out, the key stretch of UCLA's season, where we'll either prove our Pac-12 title and college football playoff credentials (led by Brett Hundley, a Heisman candidate at QB and Myles Jack, a pre-season All-American super-stud at LB) or choke away a golden opportunity for UCLA football, will be the November run of games at Washington (November 8), at home versus Southern Cal (November 22), and the regular season finale against Stanford at the Rose Bowl (November 28).

--- Sticking with football, former UCLA OLB Anthony Barr (as well as sixth-round selection Jordan Zumwalt) is still wrapping up his academic career at UCLA, working toward his sociology degree so he can graduate, pack up, and hit the road for his new home in Minnesota to play for the Vikings.  But due to an antiquated rule that puts quarter-system university players at a disadvantage (if they elect to do the right thing, stay in school and finish their degree, rather than simply leaving school altogether), Barr is prohibited from being on the field with their new coaches and can only attend one NFL minicamp.  So, the Vikings are putting Barr through some intensive film study and doing a bit of long-distance learning with LB coach Adam Zimmer.  Good luck to Barr - hopefully he'll make some heads roll once the fall comes and the NFL is back at full speed.

--- In case you missed it, Clay Thompson of the men's tennis team was named the Pac-12 Men's Tennis Scholar-Athlete of the Year.  Thompson, an English major with a 3.14 GPA ended the year ranked as the #2-overall singles player in the country, behind only his teammate and national champion, #1-ranked Marcos Giron.  Congrats to Clay for the award.

--- Finally, in a bit of campus news, UCLA has uncovered and restored a student mural put up in 1970 in Ackerman Union.  Put up as part of the civil rights/student protest movement in the late 1960's/early 1970's, the mural was unceremoniously covered by a plain wall in a 1992 renovation, but is now back for current students to view.

Alright folks, those are your Bruin Bites as we move on through a beautiful California summer day, counting down the Saturdays until UCLA football returns to march us on toward the Pac-12 conference title and a date at the Rose Bowl in the inaugural college football playoff.  Fire away in the comment section with your thoughts, additions, or other bits of news from around the UCLA-iverse.

GO BRUINS

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