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UCLA Athletics Enters the “Silly Season” With Ridiculous Rumors

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With school done for the year and nothing going on until Pac-12 Football Media Day, it’s officially silly season for UCLA Athletics.

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NCAA Football: ACC Championship-Clemson vs Pittsburgh
One of the more ridiculous rumors ever suggests UCLA is being encouraged to join the ACC in 2023.
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

When the UCLA baseball team lost to Michigan a few weeks ago, it was the final Bruin sporting event of the 2018-19 school year.

With nothing else really going on until Pac-12 Football Media Day at the end of July, UCLA Athletics officially entered the “silly season” — that time of the year when there is such little collegiate sports news that where crazy suggestions and rumors come up.

I came across one such rumor last night on Saturday Down South, which picked up a story first reported on a site called JohnWallStreet.com. JohnWallStreet.com describes itself as “a destination for the educated sports fan” and says it is “located at the intersection of sports and finance.”

According to JohnWallStreet’s report, noted UCLA alum Casey Wasserman is advising the school to leave the Pac-12 in 2023 when the conference’s Grant of Rights agreement with the school expires. John Wall Street writes:

Sources tell JohnWallStreet that UCLA mega donor Casey Wasserman “is advising the school not to re-up with the Pac-12 [beyond the conference’s existing Grant of Rights agreement, which expires in 2023].” Logic says that Wasserman is trying to steer his alma-mater to the Atlantic Coast Conference where he serves as an advisor, but it doesn’t seem feasible for the school’s non-revenue generating sports to play half their schedule 3,000 miles from campus (and they wouldn’t be welcomed to stay in the Pac-12 without football and basketball). Geographically speaking, the Big-12 Conference makes the most sense, but as one P5 athletic director suggested “do not underestimate the academic arrogance of the California schools. Joining open-access state schools like Iowa State and Texas Tech is and has always been a non-starter for them.” Heavy money remains on UCLA sticking with Cal, Stanford, USC and the Pac-12 Conference.

This is the most ridiculous rumor since it was rumored in January that Wasserman was supporting Rick Pitino as a replacement for Steve Alford.

The ACC currently has 15 schools in their fine conference. While the ACC has certainly done a better job for those schools than Larry Scott has for the members of the Pac-12, the westernmost member of the ACC is Notre Dame in Indiana.

Of course, there are some fun advantages. For instance, there’s a definite rivalry ready to develop between UCLA and Miami. Aside from the whole “Melsby was down” argument which has gone on since the first year of the BCS, there’s also the whole UCLA-to-Miami transfer thing which went on after football season with Jaelan Phillips and Chigozie Nnoruka heading to Coral Gables, which may be the only campus in the country more picturesque than UCLA.

Unfortunately, reality then sets in when you realize that the State of California still has a travel ban and that ban is now up to ten states, which would preclude UCLA’s teams from traveling to six of the ACC’s fifteen schools.

Despite all this, I checked with a source close to Wasserman, who indicated he isn’t suggesting UCLA move to the ACC. The source went further to say, “Any reporting to the contrary is absurd.”

Yeah, facts are stubborn things.

But, then, JohnWallStreet.com goes further to suggest that the Big 12 could be a better geographical fit for UCLA. Sure, the Big 12 schools are closer to Los Angeles. In most cases, the Big 12 schools are about half the distance from Los Angeles compared to the distance to most ACC schools.

But, then, that pesky travel ban poses an even bigger problem in joining the Big 12. Eight of the ten Big 12 schools are in states where the State of California has prohibited travel. Oops!

Facts are really stubborn things.

Of course, all this is not to say that a potential breakup of the Pac-12 might not be a bad thing if that’s what it takes to dump Larry Scott and bring sanity back to the conference offices as well as the conference’s office rent payments.

Hopefully, by the time 2023 rolls around, UCLA has both a new athletic director and a new chancellor to provide better leadership for UCLA Athletics than the current duo has provided.

The bottom line here, however, is that geography and travel issues will force the Bruins to stay in a western-based conference, whether that’s the Pac-12 or something else that springs up as a result of Scott’s “leadership” — and I do use that term very loosely.

The rest of today’s ridiculous rumors come to us, courtesy of our friends over at GoJoeBruin.com. Last week, they had not one, but two ridiculous rumors. The first was one about the possibility of the UCLA Bruins moving from the Rose Bowl to the new stadium being built for the Rams and the Chargers in Inglewood.

Believe it or not, they aren’t the first ones to suggest that playing in Inglewood would be preferable to playing in Pasadena. The first time I heard this one it was suggested by Fox 11’s Liz Habib on Good Day LA back in October 2017. There wasn’t much talk of this before or since, but the fact that she reported it made me request a copy of UCLA’s lease with the Rose Bowl from the City of Pasadena at the time because I wanted to see how easy it would be for the Bruins to break the lease with the Rose Bowl, if it came down to that. I’ve embedded a copy of the Rose Bowl lease at the bottom of this article.

Now, I’m not an attorney and, if UCLA really wanted out of their lease with the Rose Bowl, I’m sure a negotiated settlement could be reached, but the fact of the matter is that the Rose Bowl lease looks pretty ironclad. While there is “termination with cause” option available in the event that something happened where the Bruins couldn’t play at the Rose Bowl due to the types of issues the Oakland A’s have had with Oakland Coliseum in recent years, there is no clause in the contract which allows UCLA to terminate the agreement without cause. So, basically, a situation would have to exist that would prevent UCLA from being able to play at the Rose Bowl in order for the Bruins to get out of their long-term lease.

Once again, facts are stubborn things.

Well, apparently, Bruin fans were overwhelmingly against the idea of moving to Hollywood Park. So, GoJoeBruin decided to try again by suggesting that the annual Crosstown Showdown between UCLA and Southern Cal be played in Inglewood using the new stadium as a “neutral site.”

But, UCLA’s lease with the Rose Bowl is a forward-thinking document. When the extension which allowed for the most recent stadium renovations was signed, the Inglewood stadium was still a pipe dream of Rams’ owner Stan Kroenke. That didn’t stop the Rose Bowl Operating Committee and UCLA from including a clause dealing with neutral site games in Los Angeles and Orange Counties.

That clause restricts UCLA to playing just one neutral site game in either county over a five-year period, and it specifically precludes that neutral site game from being the annual game between UCLA and Southern Cal or one of UCLA’s conference games. So, it even covers a situation where UCLA and Southern Cal may not be in the same conference, you know, just in case UCLA opts to join the ACC.

All of this proves yet again that facts are stubborn things.


Go Bruins!!!