Man Bites Dog

Always prescient and in top form, our fearless host, Nestor, observed in a recent post:

"Watching CBS going to commercials would have given anyone (who was not paying attention to the game) that it was Arizona who was dominating and controlling the game. Just really odd and annoying." I am sure you realize that this bias goes back to Wooden's reign when -- after three or four consecutive titles -- everyone in the country was pulling for anyone to unseat UCLA. Cases in point: rooting for that unctuous sleaze Digger Phelps and his ND teams and reveling in upset in '74 by NC State (and that brigand David Thompson).

Packer, the late Al McGguire (who said that UCLA would not get another title before the turn of the century), and Vitale are notorious for this sentiment. McGuire lived to see UCLA hang banner number eleven in '95 and Vitale has affected the buffoon persona and, perforce, mediated his prejudice to attain the appearance of omni-roundball fan. Personal opinion: only the venerable Dick Enberg (who once broadcast the Walton Gang's games for KTLA) is remotely even-handed. But there are a host of others who adopt a certain tone of glee when reporting Bruin basketball misfortunes on the micro and macro levels.

A special place in Hell is reserved, however, for Mr Packer. His claim to fame is playing guard for the Wake and getting into the final four in '62. He is, during his career as a commentator, notorious for alternately stepping in it and taking huge bites of bis Bruno Maglis; cf. his Wikipedia entry. I recall his denigration going back to the Wooden era of the mid-sixties, gleefully reporting on UCLA's defeat by Notre Dame (or some other school). I kinda think ol' Billy developed the grudge because UCLA probably beat Wake in the consolation final four game in 1962.


But Mr. Packer got drilled by an overly cordial Ben Howland after the Arizona game when he tried to trot out the "deer-in-the-headlights" comment about Josh Shipp's play in the second half. Ben would have none of that, saying, in effect, that there are more apsects to a game than analysts see and that Shipp contributed materially outside of his shooting -- or lack thereof.

Chew on that, you bitter old man!

But we have always been targets for this. There has been nothing like the Bruin program before Wooden made his fantastic run and there will not likely be anything in the future. With an expanded field of 64 (I remember a field of 16 teams) and remarkable talents matriculating through schools -- only pausing for a short cup of coffee -- on their ways to the promised land of NBA megabucks, constancy will be harder than ever to achieve.

Happily, UCLA has arrived as a candidate closest to approximate the fantastic feats of its own days of yore. That Ben Howland pulled a moribund program up by its bootstraps, made the final four in the last two years, and will probably do very well this year (I am being conservative, not pessimistic). CBH has done so despite pro defections (meant affectionately) and a changing cast of characters; his UCLA teams appear to be the one constant in a rapidly changing milieu. Bill Walton had it right: "Order has been restored to the Universe."

Although the bias and short shrift goes beyond tediousness, UCLA is a victim of this because of its recent success. Most fans are beginning to realize that, once more, they may be facing another decade or two of those talented athletes in the Blue-and-Gold jerseys depriving them of whatever fleeting hope of fame they might have had with their teams' pathetic attempts to develop a dynasty.

If you can put yourself in their shoes for a brief, agonizing momment you will per understand. Don't you tire of the Condoms' perceived dominance on the gridiron? Who did not ache at the incessant bleating over the New England Patriots' potential for an undefeated season nor revel in the New York Giants upset in the Supre Bowl? Boston winning the World Series is so-o-o-o-o yesterday!

UCLA winning, if not already, will soon become the "dog bites man" of college basketball; Arizona or Stanford  -- or anyone defeating the Bruins -- will be the "man bites dog". Like high speed pursuits, messy traffic accidents, or O.J. trials, it sells.

..sells enough to cut to commercials with 05.7 seconds on the clock with the prospect of a UCLA loss hanging in the balance.

Like the old adage, "living well is the best revenge", UCLA can keep winning, hanging banners, and letting these idiots suck on that.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of BruinsNation's (BN) editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of BN's editors.

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