Watch the first minute and a half of this interview from yesterday.
The pained smile and the frustrated laughter coming from Deon at 1:15 when he knows where the question is going says it all. Thank you to Edward Lewis and Bruin Sports Report for the video.
Deon Hollins has been a star for U.C.L.A. in every way, both on and off the field. As a player, he has made tremendous leaps in his game at outside linebacker from his early days lined up as an undersized defensive end with struggles in the run game to becoming a senior leader at outside linebacker who is a key every down player. He has gained strength and is solid on the edge against the run and still possesses one of the best pass rushes in the country. He plays hard and with great intensity but I can't recall ever once thinking any play he made was dirty (the same unfortunately can't be said for many of our players).
Off the field, I've never once heard anything but positive raves about how Deon handles himself, whether it's with fans in San Bernardino or the media after practice. He is a tremendous gentleman, and I personally witnessed this in the story I wrote about Deon after last year's Colorado game. His mom has written eloquently on this site numerous times about Deon's very very early beginning in life to his dedication to this game and his team. On the field and off, the kid is class.
So when senior linebacker and team leader Deon Hollins went out of his way yesterday to publicly rail about the lack of holding calls against him this year, it stands out. I've watched probably every post practice interview from Deon at U.C.L.A. and he speaks so professionally and maturely, and it's never been in his character to say anything publicly that isn't a great representation of himself and his team. So when he went out of his way to rant about the horrific officiating, it carries a lot of weight, and it demonstrates the massive level of frustration he has to be feeling. Considering the numerous times we have seen it live on TV and ranted ourselves in the game threads, and the mileage this photo has racked up bouncing around the internet, it's pretty understandable.
The Pac-12 officiating is absolutely terrible, and every school in the conference has it's share of horror stories. My concern right now though is that with all the noise U.C.L.A. is making publicly, the referees will actually go out of their way to prove they aren't being swayed by pressure or admitting that they suck by throwing even fewer flags in our favor this Saturday. To wit, the Pac-12 Vice President of Officiating appeared on the Pac-12 Network today and spoke out about the Bruins' game on Saturday, focusing on the targeting play by Tahaan Goodman that went unflagged. To the credit of virtually everyone here at BN, we have all said that was a terrible play by Goodman and he should have been ejected for the game and disciplined by the staff. We know at least one of those things didn't happen. But at the same time, the irony that the officials and Conference Network chose to highlight that play without addressing Deon's concerns or the replay issues or the other hundred glaring errors by the conference's referees isn't lost. In short, don't expect anything to even out for the Bruins at this point.