The death of UCLA’s major sports program: If UCLA really cares about its football and basketball programs, it will replace Athletic Director Dan Guerrero tomorrow.
He knows absolutely nothing about picking coaches for these two sports. In fact my information is that he had never hired a coach for either sport in his career before coming to UCLA. His present football coach, Jim Mora (the third unsuccessful coach he’s chosen), has not only not improved one iota during his six seasons as coach, his teams have gotten progressively worse.
His team’s performance against Stanford last Saturday continued all the problems Mora’s teams have suffered throughout his tenure. This team has as little discipline as his other teams, averaging 92.5 yards in penalties per game so far this year, placing them 124 out of 130 NCAA teams. Against Stanford their penalties included two personal fouls that were foolish, costing them good yardage and field position, and an illegal substitution indicating that it’s not just the players who lack discipline and knowledge of the game.
Despite all the yards he gains passing, quarterback Josh “Chosen” Rosen still panics and makes horrific decisions when he’s rushed. Mora’s teams are epitomized by little or no talent on either the offensive or defensive lines. Stanford ran against them at will. Rosen was chased all over the place. It’s not just choosing players where Mora is deficient. His choices as assistant coaches are no better.
Worse, Guerrero apparently gave Mora an extension along with an $11 million buyout. That’s taxpayer’s money that Guerrero is throwing away, along with Bruins fans’ hopes and dreams.
But even though Mora is the most inept coach I have seen since Billy Barnes was coaching the team when I was Sports Editor of the UCLA Daily Bruin more than a half century ago, firing Mora isn’t the only answer because Guerrero will still be there to make another ignorant choice.
The answer is to start at the top. Get an AD who has experience in hiring football and basketball coaches and has a record that indicates that he knows what he’s doing. Make the choice on quality rather than ethnicity, which is apparently how former UCLA Vice Chancellor Pete Blackman bypassed more qualified candidates, like his former UCLA basketball teammate Gary Cunningham, and chose Guerrero.
Final tag Stanford: I don’t know how good Stanford running back Bryce Love really is because UCLA’s run defense is so poor, but he made some moves I haven’t seen since Detroit Lions’ star Barry Sanders retired.
Great game: I don’t have a lot of good things to say about the NFL (actually nothing), but last Thursday’s game between the Rams and the 49er was one of the most entertaining NFL games I’ve ever seen. With little defense, both quarterbacks were on target. The spectacular catch that 49ers wide receiver Pierre Garçon made near the end of the game reminded me of the catch that the Chicago Bears’ Harlan Hill made against the New York Giants in Yankee Stadium in 1956 to break a 17-17 tie, still one of the greatest in NFL history. Good as Thursday’s game was, it was decided by a missed conversion by one of the best kickers in the league.
NFL Joins MLB in misrepresenting attendance: Who are the 49ers and the NFL trying to kid? They reported the attendance for the Rams game on Thursday night at 70,000, but there were far more empty seats than there were occupied seats. The true attendance couldn’t have been much more than 35,000, if that. Apparently the NFL is reporting tickets sold, and announcing that as the attendance when it is not the attendance. At least MLB reports “tickets sold” in its box scores, but not the NFL. “Attendance” means the number of people who are actually in the stands attending the game, not the number of tickets sold.
Turn off the sound: I am a big Neil Diamond fan and one of his best songs is “Sweet Caroline.” However, the Hyundai car commercial showing a red bearded guy in a freeway jam singing along to “Sweet Caroline” that is shown time and again on telecasts of sporting events is one of the most annoying commercials of the year, if not the decade. I can’t imagine how it could help Hyundai sell cars.
Hackneyed phrases that belong in the dustbin: ESPN’s Adnan Burke in reporting a partial score of a football game said, “There is a buck 40 left in this game.” This is supposed to mean that there is one minute and 40 seconds left in the game. But where do these guys get “a buck” to equate with one minute? “Buck” has several definitions, not one of which is related to time. More and more sportscasters are using this ridiculous slang and it’s more annoying than the “Sweet Caroline” commercial.
Tony Medley is the author of three books including “UCLA Basketball: The Real Story,” the first book written on UCLA basketball. Visit TonyMedley.com.