It's been an interesting last few days: the BCS finally pulled the trigger and stripped the Southern Cal Cheaters of their tainted 2004-05 BCS national title, as well as vacating their participation in Texas' spectacular win over U$C in the 2005-06 title game. Ben Howland hired a new assistant coach by bringing Korey McCray, a well-known AAU coach who is widely expected to bring the Bruins the national recruiting ability they have been sorely lacking in recent years. Speaking of basketball, we've also had some interesting commentary on the "UCLA factor" relating to UCLA's recent NBA players.
Anyway, it's been an interesting start to the week and if you're reading this, we're almost halfway to the weekend. So here's your Hump Day bits and pieces of news from around the UCLA-iverse:
- Sticking with basketball, the Arizona Republic's online home has an interesting short profile of UCLA sophomore center Josh Smith with a season preview of the Bruins and a collection of snippets from Howland's recent appearance on UCLA Radio.
- Also on the basketball front, the Sporting News has an interesting ranking of the "best college basketball coaching jobs" currently. At the top was North Carolina, which given their recent resurgence under Roy Williams and presence in a recruiting hot bed (and their own elite basketball traditional), isn't too shocking. Personally, UCLA is always #1 for me, but the Sporting News didn't have Westwood far off, ranking UCLA as the #2 coaching gig in college basketball. Kind of shoots that whole "UCLA isn't a great job to have" type narrative we'd hear from Lavin apologists right in the foot.
- Unfortunately for football, the picture isn't quite as rosy. The Orlando Sentinel has been going through every Division I-A (I'm not using those lame FBS and FCS labels, because well, they suck), and ranking them from 120 to 1 for this upcoming season. Sadly for UCLA, we didn't do too well, coming in at #70. Let that number sink in: that's how low our football team has sunk in the eyes of a newspaper with no vested interest in the Los Angeles or California sports scene. If Guerrero and Neuheisel don't make us relevant in the national conversation again (we're sandwiched between #69 Boston College and #71 Syracuse), then it's time we look to replace both (if not even higher up the food chain).
- In other football related news, former Bruin safety James Washington was hired by Morgan Center as the Director of Scholarship Development where he'll focus on raising funds for athletic scholarships. It's nice to see some fresh blood at Morgan Center and not another tired, weak-kneed bureaucrat as we've gotten used to under Dan's Reign of Error.
- Also on the football front, UCLA's football team has been participating in a really wonderful mentoring program (started by a UCLA alum) that reaches out to middle school kids and kids with special needs. Demonstrating their true Bruin nature, members of the football team have really taken working with these kids to heart, including big man Wade Yandall, who was just happy to have spent time with the kids. Wonderful stuff to see from these true Bruin student athletes.
- UCLA freshman golf sensation Patrick Cantlay, who had already qualified for the U.S. Open, won the Jack Nicklaus Award, given to the annual top college golfer in the U.S. Cantlay enjoys an impressive group of winners that includes Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, and 2008 award winner, UCLA own's Kevin Chappell.
- Speaking of young Bruins, UCLA has a pair (possibly) of amazing incoming freshman due to arrive in Westwood this fall. The first is RHP Joe Ross, a UCLA commitment, who was drafted in the first round (25th overall) by the San Diego Padres in this year's MLB Draft. Coach John Savage hopes to pull a similar coup in keeping Ross as he did with Gerrit Cole. Let's keep our fingers crossed he comes to Westwood. The second is a Turlock kid by the name of Omar Valencia. He's not an incoming athlete or high-profile draft pick, but as you'll see from reading the profile of him in The Modesto Bee, he's overcome unthinkable adversity to make it to UCLA. He's a great example of the amazing young people who come to Westwood every year. Joe and Omar, welcome to the Bruin family.
Ending on that high note about our wonderful incoming Bruins, those are your Bruin Bites for the middle of this work week. Keep chuggin' away and we'll see you with more this weekend.