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Bruin Bites: LRMAM Returns to Westwood, Football Notes, Big Money for UCLA, and Matt Willis Q&A

Oh yes, we've reached the end of Wednesday, so we're more than halfway to the weekend and UCLA's battle against #6 Stanford at the Farm.  A lot of people want to throw in the towel against undefeated Stanford, the odds-on favorite to win not just the Pac-12 North, but the conference, and to take a serious shot in the national title picture.  After all, we're somewhere between 21 to 22.5 point underdogs.

Well, not at Bruins Nation.  After seeing UCLA come out flat against SJSU, get steam-rolled by the Longhorns, and squeak out a win against a flaccid Oregon State team that lost to Div. I-AA Sacramento State, most folks don't see any room for optimism.  Two thoughts: first, people thought the exact same thing on December 1, 2006.  Then 13-9 happened.  Second, and more importantly, this team has the talent to play with Stanford.  By recruiting top-tier talent the last three years, if Rick does get the axe this year, he'll at least leave Westwood having re-stocked the roster with talent after Dorrell left UCLA in dire straits.  Rick has the horses to give Stanford a run, but it will 100% depend on whether he's willing to open the playbook and play to win, rather than falling into the standard Morgan Center-esque conservative, weak-willing, play-not-to-lose game-plan.

So yeah, I'm excited for Saturday.  Let's turn to your bits and pieces of news from around the UCLA-iverse to keep you busy between now and the weekend:

  • Turning to football, ESPN's Peter Yoon has a good summary of the UCLA running game this season, giving the love to Derrick Coleman, who has stepped up big time when the offense and Johnathan Franklin have struggled.  Yoon compiled a handful of good quotes from players and Coach Mike Johnson on the running game and the need to keep the offense moving forward with their stable of talent in the backfield (Franklin, Coleman, with Malcolm Jones and Jordon James).
  • In his UCLA football notebook, Jon Gold made a very poignant and key observation for the Bruins heading into this weekend's game against Stanford: for once, UCLA played a football game and did not lose a key player to a significant injury, escaping Corvallis relatively intact, with the injuries sustained by Sheldon Price, Jet Ski, and Dalton Hilliard all turning out to be relatively minor.  Also, Gold notes that senior defensive back transfer Jaime Graham, as well as starting senior safety Tony Dye, are both returning to practice this week.
  • Lindsay Jones of the Denver Post sat down with Denver Broncos' number three WR and former UCLA player Matt Willis for a Q&A.  Interesting insight into the mind of a Bruin player we barely got to see on the field since, well, it's UCLA and there's something in the water than causes coach to totally misidentify talented football players.  And great to see a former Bruin breaking into the WR rotation somewhere.
  • Finally, Yahoo! Sports has a very interesting nugget of information.  In looking at the most lucrative TV deals in sports, the Pac-12's new television deal was among their "big four" that comprised of UFC ($100 million per year, over 7 years), the 2014 World Cup ($425 million), and the NFL ($20 billion through 2013).  How did our "conference of champions" do? $3 billion over the next 12 years.  That's a lot of money for just one conference.  Even if you assume that every team in the conference got an even share of the revenue (which isn't actually true, since UCLA and U$C get a larger slice, but I digress), that means that the conference gets $250 million in TV revenue per year.  When divided among the respective 12 member schools, each school gets $20,833,333 per year. In other words, Dan Guerr-error and Morgan Center are getting nearly $21 million in television revenue alone.  So yeah, the money is there if UCLA wanted to chase a top-tier Urban Meyer level coach at $3.5 to $5 million in salary (Les Miles makes around $4 million at LSU, Saban makes more than $4 million at Alabama, as points of comparison).  Just saying.
  • Alright folks, those are your Bruin Bites for the middle of the week.  Fire away with your thoughts, comments, and additions in the thread, and we'll see you on Saturday.