USC reels in three more all-everything football recruits on Wednesday, and just like that, the homecoming king just got a flashy new Ferrari, the prettiest girl in school just got the pony she’s always dreamed of.
The CEO just cashed in another $1 million bonus, the leading man just stumbled upon a $100 bill and gosh, someone just gave the lion some garlic with his filet mignon. The rich are getting richer, only in this case, the richest is getting digustingly, filthy, stinking rich. It’s as if Bill Gates found a money tree in his own backyard. The stars continue to align – and add up – for the big, bad boys across town, and now it suddenly seems that all the gains that the new UCLA staff has made in recruiting is for naught.
So what are the poor, little ol’ Bruins to do?
Sure, that’s like asking a dog to ignore a bone, but it’s essential, if UCLA is to continue to establish a new identity for itself. Stop feeling so poor, stop feeling so little, stop feeling so old.
No longer can the Bruins afford to play the woe-is-me game, to engage in a battle of star rankings.
The recent concession of highly touted offensive lineman Nico Falah was a crucial step in the continuing evolution of UCLA’s identity under Jim Mora. It was a signal that while Falah is a big fish, he is not the only fish. It was a signal that the Bruins understand that there are other fish to fry. And other such fish metaphors.
UCLA has an impressive class lining up – particularly at offensive line and the linebacker – and you begin to realize that USC’s success and UCLA’s success are not mutually exclusive.
“The one thing I will say is I really do feel that of all the coaches UCLA has had over the last 20 years, Mora especially gets it,” Scout.com West recruiting manager Brandon Huffman said. “He gets it better than Neuheisel did, by far than Dorrell ever did, and except for a couple flashes, better than Toledo did. He realizes youve got to have those young coaches. Tireless recruiters. Neuheisel should’ve never been the most aggressive guy on staff. Mora is doing a fantastic job of delegating certain responsibilities to different coaches.”
What Mora has come to realize quite quickly – he hasn’t even coached a game at UCLA yet – is that UCLA’s undoing in the mid-2000s wasn’t USC’s doing. It was UCLA’s undoing. Before you can reverse that trend, you have to own it.
Put more simply: USC’s greatness does not equal UCLA’s ungreatness.
With NCAA sanctions limiting the Trojans’ scholarships, the Bruins – and the rest of the Pac-12 – will benefit from the trickle-down effect. It’s on Mora and Co. to benefit the most.
“Especially since Pete Carroll took over, it should have never been about USC,” Huffman said. “He took it up a notch. UCLA should strive for top-20, USC is GOING to get the top-5. UCLA needs to be realistic. They need to beat Cal, Stanford, Washington, Oregon. USC and UCLA play once a year.
“USC is not competition right now.”
Nor will the Trojans be, until UCLA embraces that fact. It might be a tough pill to swallow, but it is an important one, if the Bruins are to become homecoming kings themselves.
And maybe get that new Ferrari.