I woke up this morning and had the strangest realization. A week ago today, I would have thought I would be heading to the airport to catch a plane right about now. I would be wearing blue from head to toe and preparing to meet other folks from Bruinsnation and Bruin Nation for some tailgating and a football game. But today is just another day. I am not in that parallel universe. Not that my day will not be a good one. Baron and I are going for a hike with some of his buddies. I will be putting some areas in the house back together that I cleaned out this week. I will buy some containers so that I can put my vinyl lps under the house (I hear they're making a comeback), and I will be scouring the media for news about our Bruin football team.
Scouring is the correct term. In that parallel universe, scouring would not be necessary for today's Spaulding roundup. Instead, it would be more like sifting through all the attention our team would be getting. But today, I will scour.
Unfortunately, we start with some bad news. Jack Wang and others are reporting that two four star freshman are leaving the team. It is being reported that Zach Whitley has been dismissed from the team for "internal team issues". Whitley is a true freshman out of Texas and flipped from Alabama to UCLA. This could be a big set back for our linebacker crew. Zach was expected to compete for Eric Kendricks' position.
It is also being reported that Redshirt Freshman Tyler Foreman and four star safety/linebacker is choosing to transfer. Tyler did not see a lot of playing time this year but has a great deal of talent. With Randall Goforth returning to next season, this might be less of a loss than Zach's. Patroclus has more on the developments and while there is speculation going on as to why these young men are departing, we don't want to do that here. We will let you know when and if we learn more. We wish both Zach and Tyler good luck.
Now for some great news. While the Pac-12 may have snubbed Eric Kendricks, the Lott IMPACT Trophy committee has not. Eric has been named as one of the four Lott IMPACT Trophy finalists. The honor is given each year to the top defensive player in the country based on both his on and off field contributions. From the IMPACT's website:
Performance: Three-time Lott IMPACT Player of the Week. Ranks fifth in country in total tackles with 139 and first in solo tackles with 96. Led Pac-12 in tackles as a sophomore. Has most tackles in UCLA history. Second team Mid-season All-American by SI, CBS and CFB.
Character: Named to Senior Class Award list. Athletic Director's Honor Roll six different times. "He's a guy that you think he's got it, and he just keeps getting better," says UCLA Defensive Coordinator Jeff Ulbrich. Team captain last two years. Kendricks: "We have to lead by example and work day in and day out, putting our hard hats on and not taking any days off."
And you can hear Eric here:
The other finalists are Haua'oli Kikaha (LB, Washington), David Helton (LB, Duke), and Landon Collins (S, Alabama). Anthony Barr won the trophy last season, and should Eric win this year, it would be the first time a school has had a player win twice. As was reported earlier, Eric is also one of five finalists for the Butkus award, given to the nation's best linebacker. The Lott IMPACT Trophy winner will be announced on December 14th and will be televised on Fox Sports at 7pm PST. The Butkus award will be announced on December 9th. Good luck Eric, you make us proud.
Brett Hundley is one of 11 finalists for the Manning Award which is awarded to the top quarterback in the nation. This award takes Bowl game performance into account and will be announced on January 14th. As we know, Brett became the first UCLA quarterback to throw for 3,000+ yards in three seasons. He holds records at UCLA for number of touchdown passes (74) and total offense (11,481 yards). But even more importantly, he provided UCLA with the kind of leadership and talent it needed to rise again. Here is the release from the official site.
While the Pac-12 messed up its conference awards, two Bruins did make the Pac's all-academic team. Economics major Jake Brendel made the 1st all-academic team and Poli. Sci. major Eric Kendrics was named to the 2nd team. Also receiving honorable mention were Ryan Hoffmeister, Taylor Legace, Christopher Longo, Jerry Neuheisel, Owamagbe Odighizuwas, Jalen Ortiz and Scott Quessenberry. Congratulations Bruins. It is incredible the amount of work it must take to achieve in the classroom and play a college sport. By the way, if you click onto the link to Chris Foster's article, you might notice one lonely Trojan in the last line. All joking aside, congratulations to Mr. Burks as well.
In other news around the webs, Fox Sports takes a look at UCLA player reactions to not meeting their goals this year:
"That's what we set out to do this season -- we set out to be one of the Oregons and Stanfords," linebacker Myles Jack said. "That was kind of our motto. We figured this was the year, but I guess not."
Brett Hundley attributed the disappointment to lack of consistency:
I think it all comes down to consistency. We've showed this season that we can win close games. But at the same time, moments like this, these are the moments that all of that stuff prepares you for. And to be able to stay consistent and finish what we started was the big thing.
Unfortunately, the Bruins were not able to finish the season at a level on par with their talent. We do have the players, but as you hear the disappointment in Brett and others, which is so difficult to hear, one hopes next year's team will be put in a better position to achieve to the level of their capabilities.
Which brings us to another tidbit. As we know, coaching changes have been taking place all over the nation, (even though we have yet to hear from UCLA). Mike Riley will be headed to Nebraska. I was overjoyed to hear this news, as I think Riley is an outstanding coach, and Nebraska (my second favorite team) deserves a chance to return to national prominence. The move, of course, creates an opening up in Corvallis. Among the names being bantered about is Noel Mazzone's. Coach Mazzone knows the conference and it is time he get the opportunity to run a program his own way. ESPN's Ted Miller threw Mazzone's name out there: "What about a hot coordinator, such as Arizona State offensive coordinator Mike Norvell or UCLA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone or Wisconsin defensive coordinator Dave Arenda? " Mazzone has been nominated for the Broyles Award as the top assistant coach in the country (along with Lane Kiffin and 38 other coaches).
I hope to be reporting soon that Coach Mora will be making at least one coaching change (whether voluntary or not) so that next year, as islandbruin2 so aptly puts it, we will have a team "where the total is greater than the sum of the parts":
the mark of a successful coaching staff is to not only raise the quality level for the individual parts (recruiting and technique coaching), but also to have a system where the whole is greater than the sum of the individual parts (schemes, in-game strategy).
This year, we had amazing individuals and some incredible moments (I am still buzzing when I recollect the $c game). However, our coaching staff is "doing less with more" and with a correction or two in that staff, Coach Mora could enable our Bruins to accomplish their dreams next year and in years to come.
Moving on, Yogi Roth says incoming quarterback Josh Rosen is:
as pure a prospect as I've ever seen. I don't know what Troy Aikman looked like when he was 17, but I imagine him looking a lot like this.
You can listen to the full interview here.
There is also some amazing footage once again of the game, and a really nice look back to some of the wonderful moments of the season. If you would like to have a say in next week's show, check out the tweet:
Have a great day and as always...
The news about Zach Whitley being dismissed from the team may either be incorrect or pre-mature. Ryan Kartje of the O.C. Register is reporting that Zach is still on the UCLA roster:
The initial report on Whitley, though, claimed that he was "dismissed from the team due to an internal team issue". Asked to confirm the report, a UCLA spokesperson was adamant that Whitley was still on the roster and has not been dismissed, as of Friday afternoon.
Well that would be good news! Also, Kartje reported that Tyler Foreman has been granted his release from UCLA and that the request is a result of playing time opportunities:
Foreman had similar issues finding playing time, coming to UCLA as a safety and then shifting back and forth between the secondary and linebacker. He settled in as a nickel linebacker in his second season in Westwood, but still failed to see the field much.