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Morning News Roundup ...

The decreasing attendance figures at the Rose Bowl is a huge issue.  Uhm ... we knew that ... like last year.  LA Times has finally caught up:

It's a much different fan landscape now as the Bruins prepare for their home opener Saturday night against Rice at the Rose Bowl.

USC is two-time reigning national champion and coming off a 2004 season in which its average home crowd was a Pacific 10 Conference-record 85,229. At UCLA, which averaged 65,515 last year, officials are excited about reaching 30,000 in season-ticket sales after falling below that a year ago.

To UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero, it comes down to winning.

"When we were riding high and beating the Trojans eight years in a row, there was a spike in our attendance," said Guerrero, a former Bruin baseball second baseman who took over the athletic program in April 2002. "Your fan base is going to be more supportive when you have success. ... Los Angeles fans like to support winners.

"I would love to say that our fan base is unconditional. But there isn't a team in Los Angeles, except maybe the Dodgers, that can say that. ... Over the years, you'll see higher numbers when a team is winning and lower when it's losing."


UCLA closed out the season with losses at Miami and to Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl game. In 1999, the Bruins lost three of their first five games and their attendance average at the Rose Bowl dropped nearly 24,000, to an average of 49,825, the third-lowest since UCLA moved to Pasadena from the Coliseum in 1982.
Can we blame the fans for not showing up because of having to deal with the shitty teams   our inept coaching staffs (including the current 13-13 head coach) have been putting on the field last few years?  LA doesn't have time for mediocrity, and it specially doesn't have time for a terrible mediocre football team, which has been underachieving.  As soon as the fans get the sense  that team is actually on the right track, with the sense of direction, and discernable progress, they will come back.  It is starting to happen in hoops, but it will not happen in football until we show actual progress (like putting up a 9 win regular season), instead of the positive rhetoric  being spewed by a desperate coaching and administration staff.  Blue roseswill not do the trick and make up for the fact that we have a coach, who is 1-10 against team with winning records.

Anyways, moving on.  Speaking of underachieving, like the Wyoming game, the players are swearing that they are not overlooking Rice:
But with weak nonconference opponent Rice coming to the Rose Bowl on Saturday - and a huge game with Oklahoma on deck - the Bruins are well aware of what has happened in the past and well-guarded against a repeat.

"We've talked about it as a whole team and what kind of game this is, what kind of team this is, are there dangers? We're aware of it," quarterback Drew Olson said. "In the past, we've got bitten. But I think everybody is so psyched to play now, week in and week out. Even though this is the second week, I think it's a big difference. Guys are just pumped to play."
We are glad you are all psyched up DO.  More in the Daily News about this "staying focused" meme for Rice.  Players are feeling goood because er ... they didn't ditch practice like they did before the Wyoming game last season:
A year ago, UCLA began its bowl preparation (for Wyoming game, ed.) with the traditional senior-led ditch day from practice, usually reserved for spring.

Bruins strong safety Jarrad Page, a team leader on defense, pointed toward Wednesday's practice as why this team is different. There were three fights during the two-hour session.

"It's not even an issue," Page said. "If you can sit out there and watch practice, you could see that it's not even an issue. It's fun for us. Everybody's having fun. When you have fun, it doesn't even feel like practice. Practice used to seem long. Now, practice seems so quick.

"Everybody's in there yelling, running around, screaming, hitting, sprinting from drill to drill. I'm not worried about how we're going to come out on Saturday. If we're doing that in practice, imagine what Saturday will look like."
Nice.  Let's hope we can have that fun watching Bruins come out on fire and demolish Rice dropping 40 on that hapless football program this Sat.

Also in other UCLA coverage, Times has a profile on Jarrad Page,  and nice report on back up tailback Chris Markey (from Louisiana) who had a great season opener against SDSU spelling dehydrated Maurice Drew.  Markey's family is doing fine.  Our thoughts and prayers are with Chris and all our other players from Louisiana (we have five of them).