It's the Sunday before the BCS national title game, which we all hope won't be a defensive snooze-fest like the last time Alabama and LSU met (with LSU winning in a baseball score match, 9-6). Otherwise, we'll finally enter the college football post-season after tomorrow's SEC fan-boy wet-dream.
And as we go into the football post-season, there are a couple of dates folks will need to keep in mind: January 15 will be the last date for JC transfers to sign their national letter-of-intent, so Jim Mora will only have one more week to bring in any other JC transfers (right now, we have one JC OL (Alexandru Ceachir of Santa Monica) verbally committed, with another (Carlos Lozano of East L.A.) on the Bruins' radar (although he's a Utah lean), with former Bruin Stan Hasiak (Mt. San Antonio) looking to head north to Oregon State.
The other date to mark down, and it's a big one, is February 1, the first day that high school football players can send in their letters-of-intent. UCLA has a lot of guys verbally committed, with some still on the fence (HIva Lutui, Psalm Wooching, Raymond Ford), and is still in play for some top-end recruits (while Ellis McCarthy verbally committed to Cal this past weekend, expect Mora and Martin to be recruiting him hard until Feb. 1). We've seen UCLA pull off some big surprises before (Dietrich Riley immediately comes to mind) on signing day, so let's see what Mora can do in the home stretch.
With that, here's your bits and pieces of news from around the UCLA-iverse:
- Starting with football, Jim Mora is already on the recruiting trail for 2013, making an offer to junior safety prospect Max Redfield from Mission Viejo. Redfield is projected to be one of the top safety prospects in the West in the next recruiting class and previously picked up an offer from U$C, with Mora making him an offer at the UCLA-Arizona basketball game. Fortunately, Ben Howland and his team did their part and picked up a win for the Bruins with recruits in attendance.
- Turning to the post-season postscript, Jon Gold has some really good thoughts (echoing many comments here at BN) calling for a complete "culture cleanse" of a football program mired in poor play, inconsistent performance, a complete lack of dedication or discipline, and a culture of mediocrity. Gold expects much, as do we at BN, for next season, given the talent returning in 2012 as well as a very favorable schedule (7 home games to just 5 road games, with no Oregon or Washington on the schedule). Gold wraps it up by grading each unit on the roster, and most of his grades are pretty spot on.
- Turning back to football recruiting, QB prospect Nate Sudfeld of Modesto Christian has de-committed from Arizona and opened up his recruiting, taking an official visit to UCLA on January 20. From his comments, Sudfeld is still an Arizona lean, but sounds like he's waiting for UCLA to make an offer, and if the Bruins play it right, he could be ours for the taking, especially with his skill set being a better fit for Mazzone's offense than Rich Rod's offense. ESPN's scouts think very highly of him and UCLA is in desperate need for QB depth, with Brehaut and Prince gone after next season, leaving only Hundley and maybe Darius Bell (if he uses his redshirt season for the prior season).
- To no big surprise, attendance at bowl games is down this year by approx. 3 percent (approx. 43,000 people). One of the games contributing to that decline was our Kraft "Embarrassing Facepalm" Bowl match-up against Illinois. Despite being played in the area with the largest UCLA fan base outside of Southern California, the Bruins couldn't even sell their allotment of tickets, which is no surprise given Chianti Dan's epic fail in properly planning for a bowl game and men's basketball game in the same area. It's time to cut back on the glut of bowl games: a 6-7 team should not be bowling. That's just lame.
- Flipping to the academic side of the university, following up on a note from a prior edition of Bruin Bites, UCLA chemistry professor Patrick Harran surrendered himself to authorities after being charged with felony charges stemming from a laboratory fire that cost research assistant Sheharbano Sangji her life. Professor Harran was released on his own recognizance (in lay terms, free to go without having to post bail) and is set for arraignment on Feb. 2. Per the L.A. Times, his maximum exposure is four-and-a-half years in prison, although that is very unlikely given his lack of a prior record.
- On the more positive side, Aydogan Ozcan, a UCLA electrical engineer, developed a cell phone microscope, which was named the top innovation of 2011 by The Scientist magazine. The handy hand-held microscope will allow workers and scientists in the field to have a tiny microscope with them at all times.
- Finally, in an interesting op-ed piece in the Fort Collins Coloradoan, a Colorado State instructor and alum makes a very salient point (one we have tried to hammer home to the inept fools at Murphy Hall) about the relationship between college athletics and academics. In fact, Kurtis North writes that a top-tier athletic program, such as UCLA, is better situated for elite academics, especially in our "branding" society, where athletics helps develop the brand and make a university a household name. Even as a Colorado State alum, he's quick to admit that it was sports that led him into wanting to go to UCLA (hey, just like me), Michigan, and Colorado. Kind of funny that a guy in Fort Collins can see what our high-paid bureaucratic administrators cannot.
Alright folks, with that, those are your end of the week Bruin Bites, as we wrap up the weekend and get ready for an SEC love-fest on national television tomorrow evening. Fire away with your thoughts, additions, and comments in the thread.