It's Sunday, but fortunately, it's not the last day of the weekend, thanks to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. So, you get one extra day to sit back, catch some NFL action, and not worry about pushing paper around the office. It is game day for Ben Howland's squad against a terrible Second Choice squad (who would probably be the third or fourth choice team at any decent program), in a "road" game at U$C that UCLA has absolutely no excuse to lose. The match-up game-day notes are already up and the game thread will be up later today.
For now, let's get to your extended holiday weekend bits and pieces of news from around the UCLA-iverse:
- Starting with football (because, as we constantly remind folks, college football is king), Jim Mora picked up a big commitment that got lost in the wave of recent commits, landing FB/DT Christian Powell from Upland. Powell is a 6'0", 250 pound backfield beast who wants to stay at FB but is open to the idea of bulking up and moving to DT. In his comments to ESPN (not behind subscription firewall), Powell sounds excited and it sounds like the coaching staff did a great job of convincing him he'd be needed in Westwood during his visit.
- While we're on football, Hall of Fame QB Warren Moon (and former Washington Husky) offered his thoughts on a variety of topics on the 110 Sports Podcast, touching on Jim Mora and his hiring at UCLA (at approximately the 18:25 mark). Warren thinks Mora will be a great fit for college football and expects him to do a "great job" at UCLA.
- Now for some confusing news: for some reason, someone thought it was a good idea to invite Taylor "I Dream of Skipping Practice" Embree to a post-season all-star game. Apparently, while TE Cory Harkey will play in the East-West Shrine Game, Embree and safety Tony Dye will take part in the NFLPA All-Star Game. I guess there is an all-star spot for "designated punt catcher" these days.
- In another bit of football news and following in the same vein as the prior Bruin Bite, TE Cory Harkey was the only Bruin invited to the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. Now, this isn't a big shock since there aren't many Bruins entering the draft this year (Nate Chandler, Tony Dye, Taylor Embree, Cory Harkey, Mike Harris, Nelson Rosario, and Sean Sheller), but if one Bruin was going to go to the combine, one would have thought it'd be enigmatic WR Nelson Rosario who has NFL size and leaping ability, but lacks the heart or focus to be a consistent big target. Harkey, on the other hand, despite his game winning TD against Stanford years ago, is pretty much a designated blocker on the offense. If he can bulk up and add some more weight (he's 272), he could make the transition to OT, given his agility and speed (relative to other offensive linemen), but I doubt that'll happen.
- One last football note: in a bit that shows complete and total ignorance, ESPN's Ted Miller (who is often clueless), picked UCLA to finish tenth in his 2012 Pac-12 power rankings. Actually, given how piss-poor the Bruins were last season, tenth seems an appropriate spot. But Miller apparently missed the hiring of Noel Mazzone, implying the Bruins will install a "pro-style offense" with Mora in charge, as opposed to the spread option offense that Mazzone not only ran at Arizona State, but markets as the "N-Zone Football System" to high school programs.
- Speaking of terrible "journalism" and half-ass writing, while I don't often find myself agreeing with the various morons at Bleacher Report, there is a recent post that does hit at least one right note. In listing college basketball's most disappointing players and coaches this year, Ben Howland (and Howland protege Jaime Dixon) landed right smack dab in the middle of the list (which isn't a shock given how poor this season has gone). But interestingly enough, Andrew Silvershein got it pitch perfect, saying "UCLA is the equivalent of the New York Yankees of college basketball, as there is really no reason why they should not be contending each and every year." It's true: UCLA is the defining program in college basketball and John Wooden, then then-Lew Alcindor, Bill Walton, Walt Hazzard, etc. are the names in college basketball, akin to Ruth, Mantle, Gehrig, etc. Do you think Steinbrenner would have tolerated missing the playoffs or a sub-.500 season? You already know the answer. So the question is, why do we?
- Hitting on the same theme, John Henderson at the Denver Post called the Pac-12 a "JV league" that is "awful" "embarrassing" "pitiful" and "irrelevant" which all seem kind of nice once you watch the total garbage that is Pac-12 basketball this year. The biggest culprit, per Henderson, is none other than Ben Howland's dumpster fire squad, that is easily the biggest disappointment of the season.
- The Washington Post certainly agreed with the Denver Post, naming UCLA the biggest disappointment of the year, followed by Howland protege Jamie Dixon's Pitt squad. Hmm, not a very good year for Howland-style basketball.
- Finally, one player who hasn't been a disappointment on the court (although disappointing for criminal choices he made before the season), is Jerime Anderson, who was profiled by BN's favorite beat writer, Jon Gold. Anderson and Gold touch on a variety of topics from the dismantling of the biggest recruiting bust class in UCLA history (the Class of 2008, featuring Jrue Holiday, Jerime Anderson, Malcolm Lee, Drew Gordon, and J'mison Morgan) to what he had to do to turn himself around after his admittedly incredibly stupid decision during the post-season.
Alright folks, with that, those are your Sunday afternoon Bruin Bites, as we enjoy another weekend of NFL playoff action and get ready for UCLA's "daunting 13-mile trek" to take on U$C tonight. Fire away with your thoughts, additions, and comments in the thread.