Merry Christmas and happy holidays to everyone in the wider Bruin Nation! Today is a special day, not just because of what the holiday represents to many (but not all of us) but because it's a holiday without work (for most of us) and a chance to enjoy friends and family. So rather than talk about the random bits and pieces around the UCLA-iverse, we get to take a page out of Santa's playbook and discuss who, in the UCLA-iverse (or Bruinverse if you prefer), has been nice, me who has been naughty (no surprise who is #1 and #2 on that list).
So, let's get to it and begin working on our own Bruin version of the jolly fat man's infamous holiday list, beginning with the warm-and-fuzzy feeling of compiling the UCLA nice list:
- Brett Hundley: Do I really need to explain why our redshirt freshman QB sits on top of our nice list? Besides being the definition of a true student-athlete (no discipline issues, pre-med major, leader on- and off-the-field), Brett helped lead the Bruins back to national relevance, putting to rest more than a decade of inconsistent, injury-plagued, mediocre QB play for UCLA. For what feels like the first time since Cade left Westwood, the Bruins have a true, nationally-known elite talent calling the plays under center. The kid came in and got the job done: while he made the big play, more importantly, despite his inexperience, minimized mistakes and ran the offense. Considering how poor our QB play has been at times this past decade, simply not screwing up was a gift. Everything else we got out of Brett in his first season was a huge bonus.
- Coach Jim Mora: Once again, this one is obvious. The coach with no college coaching experience came into Westwood, took on a BCS conference schedule, and put UCLA in the Holiday Bowl. Yes, the jury is still out on Mora (even Karl and Rick had one good season), and we'll need to see him put together these kind of seasons on a consistent basis, but all the indications so far are positive. But, even if the wins and losses don't pan out for Mora in the next few seasons, you have to credit the man for instilling culture change in Westwood: no more bullshit skipping practice to jump over a wall, no more lame arm tackling, no more playing soft. Instead, the Bruins are a mean, hard-hitting, QB destroying group of wild men. Ask Matt Barkley how that finished business turned out: he's just one of a handful of Pac-12 QBs who failed the Barr exam, a test they never faced under the soft Neuheisel regime.
- Johnathan Franklin: The Mayor delivered this election year, taking the all-time UCLA rushing record with him in the process. Jet Ski has been a fantastic Bruin over his four years in Westwood, being an example both on- and off-the-field. I don't think UCLA has had a kid who epitomized the work effort and heart of a Bruin more since Arron Afflalo left Westwood. The kid put in work this off-season and the fumbilitis which plagued him before has gone the way of the Neuheisel regime. Now, with the rock solidly in his hands, the future mayor of Los Angeles showed the nation what he was capable of. Let's hope we get one more 150+ yards, 2+ TD effort from him on Thursday.
- Anthony Barr: There's 74 reasons that Barr is on the nice list, but none of those tackles were more awesome that the (legal) blast that ended Matt Barkley's college career. The former Trojan punk, who enamored himself to Bruins everywhere by mouthing scoreboard while running up the score under Petey's careful watch, returned for his senior year expecting a national title, a Heisman Trophy, and a sure-fire spot as the #1 pick in the NFL Draft. Now, thanks to Barr's ferocious hit, which made every Bruin warm inside, Barkley leaves college with a just-bowl-eligible record, no invitation to New York for the Heisman, and a busted shoulder that will leave NFL scouts wondering if he's just another limp-armed U$C QB doomed to fail in the NFL (see Palmer, Leinart, Booty, and Sanchez).
- Markel Walker and Coach Cori Close: It would have been easy for UCLA's women's basketball team to fall apart once coveted head coach Nikki Caldwell left Westwood for LSU because cheap-ass UCLA (read: Block and Chianti Dan) couldn't open the check-book to keep Nikki in the Blue and Gold. Instead, Walker, the star player on Coach Close's squad has brought the Lady Bruins to a 7-2 start and a spot inside the Top 25. And they've played the most attractive, winnable basketball in Pauley Under Glass since Ben Howland's dumpster fire continues to play joyless, ugly basketball, squeaking out close wins to scrub programs while choking to "they-have-a-basketball-team?" style squads (read: Cal Poly SLO).
- Adrian Klemm, Noel Mazzone, Lou Spanos, Demetrice Martin, Sal Alosi, and the rest of the football coaching staff: Does this really have to be explained? All that I can say, in addition to what has been said at some length before on BN, is that Chianti Dan and Block better find the money to keep this coaching staff together and happy in Westwood. If Mora loses his best assistants to other programs because we're too cheap, while it won't be surprise given the administration's total incompetence, it will be a major disappointment.
- Joe Fauria, XSF, Datone Jones, Eric Kendricks, Andrew Abbott, and the rest of the football team: Ditto. Big props to the seniors for leading the program in a new direction, for cutting out the soft-mentality BS like "over the wall" and getting business done. Let's end the season with a victory guys. Get it.
: Whether you hate him or love him, Scott has been a huge improvement over Tom "Terry Donahue Clone" Hansen. Hansen was the prototypical refuse-to-change, refuse-to-join-the-21st-century, enjoy mediocrity style loser. A drunk monkey would have been a vast improvement over than idiot Hansen. Hansen made Forrest Gump look like Stephen freakin' Hawking. So yeah, Scott didn't have a real high bar to surpass, but he's done a phenomenal job of building the conference's footprint and influence. Could you ever see stick-in-the-mud Hansen coming up with the Pac-12 Network?
Okay, the nice list could definitely go on for quite some time. There's a lot of Bruins deserving of making the list, but it'd take forever to list them all. Some additional nice list folks include Coach John Savage, Rachael Kidder, Jeff Locke, and Rick Neuheisel (mediocre coach, but fantastic, classy, supportive Bruin), just to name a few. So, let's turn to the distasteful part of the list, those who make the naughty list for UCLA in 2012:
- Gene Block: The tone-deaf chancellor has apparently no interest in UCLA athletics, trying to get Bruin fans pumped up over meaningless wins, ignoring accountability at Morgan Center, and pursuing UCLA's academic (and specifically, medical) interests exclusively, choosing to ignore UCLA athletics entirely. Now, don't get us wrong, the chancellor's primary job is to focus on developing and enhancing the academic reputation of UCLA, including the medical school and medical center. No qualms with that. However, the university is a whole picture kind of place, and that whole picture includes UCLA athletics. Make no mistake: UCLA is one of the elite athletic program brands in the nation, if not the world. As Bruins, we should demand excellence in everything we do. Instead, Block is happy with demanding excellence of only part of the university, allowing one of the most visible aspects of UCLA to wither and die under the incompetence management by Chianti Dan.
- Chianti Dan Guerrero: Is there any surprise that this waste of oxygen would come in high on this list? If there was ever a human being who should stop stealing precious oxygen from those of us who have more than two brain cells, it's Chianti Dan. The oxygen thief posing as our athletic director has once again, managed to fill the calendar year with numerous gaffs, comically stupid management errors, and a frustrating lack of accountability at the Morgan Center. Yet, Chianti Dan is proud of the work his people have done, with UCLA athletics at an all-time low, with our basketball program a national joke, our football team rebounding thanks to a coach he didn't knew existed until Chris Petersen, Kevin Sumlin, and a handful of other coaches turned him down, and our non-revenue sports are unable to win a national title (which leads UCLA likely to be the "First to 100, Last to 200" at our current pace). But, why should we expect accountability from a man who is responsible for an mostly empty Pauley Pavilion and a basketball program that is a complete and utter disaster, when his own boss (Block) hasn't bothered to take any step in holding his failure accountable in any way, shape, or form.
- Ben Howland: Why does he have a job still? Seriously. His numbers, in many categories, are worse than the total fraud that was Steve Lavin. Players bail out of his joyless program in droves because he's a major-league asshole and his program has come from vaunted juggernaut to laughing-stock trivia-question (I can already see the Trivial Pursuit questions in 20 years: "Name the only NCAA Division I men's basketball team to lose to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo while ranked in the AP Top-25"). We've gone from perennial champs to team snubbed by the NIT. The freakin' NIT snubbed UCLA. Would this happen at North Carolina? Kentucky? Duke? No, no, and no. So, why have we allowed it to persist in Westwood? Oh, that's right: Chianti Dan thinks the word accountability is a method to track the number of doughnuts his fat, lazy, sweaty self consumes in a single meeting.
- Lane Kiffin: Daniel Tosh's twin brother actually almost made the UCLA nice list since he's part of the destruction of Southern Cal's football program, much to our glee. But, he's still a Trojan, and for that reason alone (not to mention all of his other past transgressions), he makes the UCLA naughty list.
- Matt Barkley: Some people are too classy not to celebrate an injury. I'm not one of them. Hahahahahahaha. Look at the scoreboard now, b**ch. Save the money from your rookie contract dude: with that busted shoulder, your NFL career looks as viable as Ryan Leaf's. Maybe you can join the other failed quarterbacks from Southern Cal in Oakland. Oh, that's right: those guys won the Heisman. What's that? You didn't finish your business? Hahahahahahahaha.
- Pete Carroll: Still an a**hole.
- Whoever is dealing marijuana in Westwood: Seriously dude, stop. Sure, the reason for Tevin's Holiday Bowl suspension is pure speculation, but for a long time, the Bruins has a serious weed problem, in both Neuheisel's program and Howland's program (although given who they are playing for, can you really blame the basketball team?). So, if you're reading this Mr. or Ms. Marijuana Dealer in Westwood, can't you fill your quota for sales by dealing to the normal students who are North Campus majors? It's not like they are going to class anyway. Also, side thought: does legalization in Washington and Colorado give the Huskies, Cougars, and Buffaloes a recruiting advantage? Is it possible a kid will choose to play ball at one of those schools since they can legally buy weed and get blazed? Just wondering.
- Dick Vitale, Lee Corso, other WWL talking heads: You're all idiots.
- A**hole Bel-Air residents who are anti-football stadium in Westwood: You suck.
- Whoever designed UCLA's football uniforms: Are you f**king blind? Do you have any clue what the f**k you're doing? Have you even seen UCLA's football uniforms before you screwed them up? Do you realize how much of a joke it is that the school that invented the shoulder stripe (it's freakin' called the UCLA stripe, for God's sake) can't even do it right anymore?! I hate you.
So, perhaps the naughty list is more like a bit out of Frank Costanza's Festivus airing of grievances. In any event, if you're done opening your presents, feel free to fire away with your own ideas of who makes UCLA's naughty and nice lists this year. Did we get it wrong or get it right? Miss someone important or obvious? Fire away with your thoughts, takes and additions in the comment thread.
GO BRUINS AND MERRY CHRISTMAS!