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The Morning After, Part 11: Southern Cal

Coach Mora and the U.C.L.A. Bruins have met our criteria for a successful season. So where do we go from here? Hang on, because I'm really excited to find out.

A picture is worth a thousand (and seven hundred) words
A picture is worth a thousand (and seven hundred) words

38 - 28. Period.

That was going to be it, the entire Morning After article for today. That and Tele's photo. What more is there? What could I possibly write to top that?

Well, I would have to come up with at least 75 words. I haven't checked, but I think the new BN still requires a 75 word minimum on articles, so I'd have to add something more than the score. So that was out

Then I thought about just putting up the score at first, and then writing more and posting it on Monday morning. But I selfishly thought that there are a least a couple people who like to read this on Sunday morning. One is my mom. The other one is not my wife, so maybe it's one of you guys. But for those who are used to my version of a Sunday morning sermon, I didn't want to leave anyone hanging. And Mondays are Mondays, and I didn't want you associating me with that. So that was out, too.

Then I thought about just writing this the way I usually do from the top, because there is indeed plenty to say about yesterday's game and this season's team. But I don't want to be a buzzkill. Not that I'm going all negative but at some point we'll have to move on, and do I want to be the guy that says that we need to stop thinking about this game? Does anyone want to stop thinking about this game?


See? I didn't think so.

So, I'll compromise. I'll just leave the score and the photo for those of you up top who want to continue to bask in the glory of yesterday's amazing game. For those of you who want to read something more this morning, you can scroll down a bit and we can think about where we go from here. Fair enough?

Those of you who are still reveling, stop reading here. (I would actually join you here, but someone has to finish this thing)

Anyone else, here we go...

First, because I can't let Achilles have all the fun with music...

I've been defeated and brought down. Dropped to my knees when hope ran out.
The time has come to change my ways.
On this day I see clearly, everything has come to life.
A bitter place and a broken dream and I'll leave it all, leave it all behind.

- Metalingus, Alter Bridge

Ok. Just as Coach Mora would want, we have 24 hours to celebrate this win. It's almost over. Then it's time to put yesterday's game behind us and start looking to next week. It's time to start planning for Stanford.

At the start of the season, and after looking at this roster and looking at our schedule, we wrote here on BN that the criteria for a successful year in Coach Mora's first season would be a 9 win season and a victory over *$c. Remember how many people were ripping us for that? Remember how many people thought that was crazy to expect that much? Remember how unfair that was to our new coaching staff? We were roasted by soft fans and soft websites who had gotten used to mediocrity. "It's a first year coach!" "The players are so young!" "A two win increase from last year is good enough!" "All Bruins Nation does is set unreasonable goals so they can complain!"

Well, it's a good thing that one person who didn't bristle at such high standards was Coach Jim Mora. He said as much in his preseason camp. His goals paralleled ours. And his coaching staff didn't shy away from high expectations, either. And most importantly, neither did the players. And look where they are now, where we all are, because of that. This team has never shied away from doing what it takes to be excellent. They didn't avoid it when they were roasting in San Bernadino. They didn't avoid it after their flying start. They didn't avoid it after they laid an egg against Cal. They didn't avoid it when they played pinball with the football to start the second half and gift the trogies a touchdown. And they didn't avoid it when the lead was 3 points late in the game yesterday.

And I don't think they are going to avoid it now, either. Yes, this season has reached our criteria for success as we defined it in August. However, there are still 3 more football games to play. Unfinished business, some might say. But after yesterday's awesome and epic victory, does anyone really want to think about playing Stanford next week?

Actually, I do. Because this is totally new territory for us, and I am so excited to see what we can do.

Alter Bridge is my favorite band in the world. The music is incredible. The message in the lyrics is even better. I've met and spoken with each of the members several times and they really are the coolest and kindest and most genuine musicians you'll ever find. It's easy to be a fan of that sort of band, both for how they play and who they are.

The band's name was the idea of lead guitarist and founder Mark Tremonti. Mark was the guitarist for the band Creed who sold around 40 millions albums and were the biggest melodic rock band in the world in the late 90's/early 2000's. and Mark was named guitarist of the year 3 years in a row. Then, as happens with rock bands (see Guns n' Roses, Skid Row, Stone Temple Pilots, Nirvana, etc), their singer lost his mind and the band broke up.

Mark grew up in Grosse Pointe, a very comfortable suburb of Detroit. His cozy neighborhood was separated from the adjacent Detroit proper by Alter Road. The parents in Grosse Pointe didn't want their kids crossing over into the more rugged streets of Detroit city, so Mark and his friends weren't allowed to cross the bridge at Alter Road. To Mark, that bridge represented the boundary of all he had known, between what was safe and familiar from the unknown and dangerous.

When Creed ended though, Mark had a choice. He could easily sit back and live off what he'd already done, or he could start over and see what existed out there beyond the bubble of comfort and success he had known in Creed.

In his life, Mark crossed the Alter Bridge. He went back to square one. He formed a new band with Scott, his drummer from Creed, and Brian, a bassist who had been with Creed earlier, and Myles, an incredible but little known singer from a band called The Mayfield Four from Spokane. And they started making music. They recorded an album and began playing in small clubs. It was a far cry from the sold out arenas Mark had been playing in Creed. But they stuck with it, created a new and better sound, built a new fan base, and kept pushing, even when they didn't have to. It's paying off, especially across Europe. While their U.S. market is still smaller, Alter Bridge sold out everywhere, including the legendary Wembley Arena, on their last European tour in 2011 following their third album. Mark found an incredible new world on the other side of the Alter Bridge. And thank goodness, because the music is fantastic and the message in the music helped me cross some bridges of my own. It turns out that the bridges do lead to the unknown and to the potentially dangerous, but they also lead to opportunity. And some amazing things can come out of that.

The Bruins have a similar proposition in front of them. Every Bruin fan has to be ecstatic with where we are. 9-2 and a win over those guys across town, a real win by a real team, is all we asked for. It would be pretty easy to rest on our accomplishments so far, and we'd all probably be pretty happy with the season. After all, we've met Bruins Nation's expectations, and we know no one with any sense or heart was asking for anything close to that, right? How hard is it going to be to try to step up even further, to find another mountain to climb, or another bridge to cross and go beyond what we expected?

For years we had a football program and a large portion of a fan base whose culture told them to just stay away from Alter Road, don't expect too much, just be happy with the relative safety of the mediocrity we were in. But that is clearly not the culture this program has right now. When I look at this team and these coaches, I don't see them as the types to settle, or to shy away from obstacles. I see them as the types who face up to challenges, who actually relish the opportunity.

The opponents will get better next week, and the following week in the Pac-12 title game, and maybe even in whatever bowl we land in. This Bruins team has ceiling, but we haven't see it yet. Our team is going to have to continue to play great to be competitive. But does anyone see any reason why we can't? I'm not saying that we will, but that we can - which is really all we've been asking for all along.

Thank you to Coach Mora and his staff and all of our kick-ass student athletes for an incredible win yesterday. I watched the game with my 10 year old son by my side. I was shaking. I was screaming. We were dancing and hugging. I will remember yesterday with the utmost joy for the rest of my life. I could really live in this moment forever.

But there is a bridge that stretches beyond this point. We can sit comfortably where we are, or we can cross the bridge and see where it leads. I know what our Bruins are going to choose, and I can't wait to see what they show us on the other side. Roses?

Alter Bridge will begin writing their fourth album this December. Right around bowl season.

I'll never long for what might have been. Regret won't waste my life again.
I won't look back, I'll fight to remain.
On this day I see clearly. Everything has come to life.
A bitter place and a broken dream and we'll leave it all behind.
On this day it's so real to me. Everything has come to life.
One more chance to chase a dream. Another chance to feel, chance to feel alive!