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Mandel > Local Beat Press

It's a credit to Stewart Mandel that he is able to keep tabs on everything that is going on in college football. It is an insult to our local press that Mandel covers the Bruins better than most of our local writers.

In his "Five Things We Learned This Weekend" section, we start off with a little bit of humor regarding the idiot bandwagon fans across town.

Ever since the Trojans' Thanksgiving-night smackdown of then seventh-ranked Arizona State, it seems USC fans have reemerged from their two-month hibernation to resume thumping their chests.

As Trojans LB Brian Cushing said after the Arizona State game, "We're starting to play like the team people thought we'd be." But they still shouldn't have lost to Stanford.

With all due respect to the aforementioned teams, it may well be that the two best teams in the country right now are USC and Georgia ... but so what? If the Trojans wanted to play for the championship, they shouldn't have lost to arguably the worst team in their conference...

Emphasis mine of course. Let me see if I can summarize this... Mandel to trOJan Whiners: S.T.F.U.
Just the way it should be.
I also enjoyed his subtle shot at their infamously fickle bandwagon riding fanbase. I bet at least half of them had to buy all new ketchup and mustard crap after their loss to Oregon because they burned the first set.

Now that I've gotten the whole rivalry week smack out of the way, let's get to the good (or bad) stuff, where it pertains to our Bruins:

UCLA could reach the BCS. I'm sorry ... what? Yes, it's true. Of all the strange postseason scenarios still floating around, I don't think you possibly find one any more bizarre than the fact that the Bruins, who just reached bowl eligibility this weekend, are still technically alive for the Rose Bowl.

No one is more shocked than we are.

The craziest part of all is, just as easily as the 6-5 Bruins could go to the Rose Bowl, they could also go to no bowl at all if they lose. If Arizona does beat ASU, it would give the Pac-10 seven bowl-eligible teams for six spots and almost assuredly restrict them to one BCS berth. Guess which would be the odd team out in that scenario? Yep -- the same team that's playing for a Rose Bowl berth next week.

Anyone need more evidence that there is nothing that should save the Doofus' job? If this confluence of events EVER happens again, I will be surprised. One game decides whether we go to the ROSE BOWL or NO BOWL AT ALL? What's worse, we don't control our own destiny. All I see here is opportunity wasted. In a season where we were supposed to show the country what we were made of. Where preseason pundits proclaimed that 10 wins would be the bare minimum expectation in Westwood, we sit on the precipice going into the last game of the season. Bowl eligibility means nothing if you don't go to a bowl.

His final point puts the injury excuse to bed:

A little more detail on that 16-0 UCLA win over Oregon: The Bruins netted a grand total of 220 yards of offense, the Ducks 148. The only touchdown of the game came with 4:29 remaining. This was not the result of two epic defenses so much as it was that both teams are one more injury away from having to hold open tryouts at quarterback.

I weep for anyone who had to watch this game.

Even so, the injury trend has hardly been limited to the Bruins and Ducks. USC (John David Booty), Cal (Nate Longshore) and Washington (Jake Locker) have all had to play games without their top signal-callers as well...

Okay, he did think OR's first name was Omar, but I don't have an encyclopedic knowledge of every team's full depth chart either, so we'll cut him some slack here. Besides underscoring the inherent unwatchability of the game itself, he rightfully points out that plenty of teams have had injury woes, and I believe we played 3 of the teams he mentions and beat all of them. I didn't see people breaking out the injury excuse for our opponents. I guess injuries are only a valid explanation if it's your own team. Injuries are a part of the game. They are not an excuse, and not having a contingency plan is unacceptable. Not having the personnel to execute that contingency plan is unacceptable. Karl Dorrell's butchery of this season is unacceptable. If UCLA is serious about football, the outcome of this upcoming game will be irrelevant to the decision to fire Dorrell. Unless the administration thinks that we'll have a chance to back into a Rose Bowl and Pac 10 Championship with 3 conference losses and 5 overall losses every year.