It’s not a two-man race

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?

Simple.

Ignore it.

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.

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  • Semi-Pro

    Oh dear, the boys over at BruinsNation won’t like this article one bit. To them, UCLA could go 11-1, but if that one loss is to U$C…ZOMG SEASON IS A FAIL, MORA MUST GO!!

  • BruinInSeattle

    BruinsNation…don’t even get me started…bunch of know-nothing fascists. still waiting for them to acknowledge how wong they were regarding Howland…and Mora! They were against both! think that #1 recruiting class in the country would have come if Howland was let go? they wanted to save the team by burning it to the ground. and mora…never gave him a chance, even though, if you look at him objectively, he is probably not only more suited for the college game (something about men and boys, father figure, kids will listen, pros wont, etc) than the pro game AND he brought in an amazing crop of coaches and recruiters…as did Howland landing the AAU coach. Instead, all BN looks at are Big Names. what a joke. they think success can just be bought off the shelf. can’t stand those guys. someone wake me when they realize what tools they are.

  • BruinInSeattle

    *wrong

  • tim warren

    Just today, UCLA got a verbal from Christian Morris, an OT from Memphis. Maybe not as highly rated as Falah, but he was also being recruited by Nebraska and u$c. In the head to head battles, after several went $c’s way, one finally went to the Bruins.

  • Anonymous

    Highly rated only rates what they did in the past. It may not have anything to do with the future. The best players are the ones that peak in college, not the ones that peaked in high school.

  • bruincheerleader

    just a reminder before we all go commit suicide over u$c’s recruiting class of 2013, TEXAS has the number 1 or 2 recruiting class basically every year, and not since 2006 have they played for the national chanpionship…get it?…highly ranked kids out of high school are fine but hard working coaches are better…

  • bruinbiochem06

    If Stanford was able to turn it around that quickly and start beating SUC so can we. We are in much better position than Stanford was a few years back!

  • Marc

    I like bruinbiochem06′s comment. Stanford turned it around quickly and impressively. UCLA can do it too; getting solid, talented kids and coaching them up. Mora is doing a fantastic job to this point; can’t wait to see them in action.

    Mr. Gold, another finely written article to assist with the duldrums of summer. Thank you.

    Section 22 in the house!

  • Anon

    Sorry people…there’s one little difference between UCLA today and Stanford when Harbaugh took over: Luck (the Indianapolis version and not the Vegas version). Unless threre’s a future number one draft pick qb on UCLA, there’s no way to compare.

  • Roose Bolton

    @ Anon

    Stanford did beat Southern Cal with Tavita Pritchard at QB and at the Coliseum. It can be done with the right guy as HC.

  • Anon

    The 2007 Stanford team still went 4-8 that season. Stanford didn’t get good until Luck became qb. That upset is like the 2006, 13-9 upset. Great for the moment, meaningless in the long term. Don’t get me wrong, UCLA can be good this year and next, but don’t compare UCLA to Stanford (or Carroll’s USC who had Carson Palmer) just because of a hc change. If UCLA becomes great, it’ll be doing it on its own terms and in its own way.

  • http://www.yahoo.com Bruin Rob is my idol

    Jesus Christ, that’s the most depressing story ever written on UCLA football. If I believed everything you just wrote I would be suicidal.

  • Roose Bolton

    Anon, I get it. I really do. But you had to know at that point that Stanford with much less talent than UCLA pulled off a remarkable accomplishment. Its not about talent. Its about coaching and vision. We’ll see this year what we are about.

  • localbruin

    At the dawn of the BCS era, 1998, Ucla was a blown call away from the first BCS title game while Usc was mired in a political correctness movement that gained them misery and 8 straight losses to the Bruins. Since then, Ucla reacted to the handicapped parking “scandal” by starting their own PC movement and a by-the-book NCAA compliance regimen (DG aspires to run it one day). Meanwhile, Sc abandoned any pretense of academic or moral integrity, hired a win at all costs coach and gone for NFL-caliber football players regardless of academic proficiency or pay requirements.

    The results are obvious. The records speak for themselves, but lets not forget that Ucla hasn’t had a lineman drafted by the NFL in ten years nor have they placed a QB into the league. In that span, Usc has shot up the charts of college programs that populate the NFL.

    Mora will need to drop the bravado and work in some humor since he will soon learn, quite suddenly, that he is still bringing a knife to a gunfight. OK, he’s making it a bigger knife, maybe a machete, but he’s still just got a knife. When he squeaks by Rice and gets pounded by Nebraska while likely losing a QB a few linemen and probably a linebacker or two, his eyes will open for the first time as Ucla coach.

  • localbruin

    At the dawn of the BCS era, 1998, Ucla was a sloppy loss away from the first title game whereas Usc was mired in a self inflicted political correctness movement. Since then the roles reversed. Usc abandoned any pretext of academic or moral integrity and brazenly scooped up NFL caliber players regardless of academic proficiency or pay requirements. They hired a win at all costs coach. Ucla reacted to the handicapped parking “scandal” by launching their own PC movement stressing academic performance and moral fortitude while adhering to a strict by-the-book NCAA regimen (DG aspires to run it one day).

    The records speak for themselves. Ucla hasn’t had a lineman drafted in ten years (Dave Ball?) and hasn’t placed a QB in the league. SC has shot up the ranks of schools populating the NFL.

    Mora will learn suddenly when he squeaks by Rice and gets pounded by Nebraska (likely losing several key players to injury) that he has brought a knife to a gunfight. OK, it’s a bigger knife than before, maybe even a machete, but still a knife.

    To win consistently Ucla must abandon their PC-ness. Good luck with that.

    UCLA = State of CA = Mess of Political Correctness

  • ProbationU

    We don’t need all the prom queens…they can go to Southern Cal…and get their cosmetic surgery. We need some that weren’t quite prom queens but are willing to do the dirty work that the prom queens won’t do. Talent, discipline, hard work and coaching…and the Bruins will rise again!

  • GlendoraBruin

    Wow localbruin why even compete then if based on your analogies we don’t have an ice’s chance in hell. I for one am ecstatic about what Mora and co are doing so far. They are changing the culture of a program that had lost its identity a decade ago. Back In the 80′s and 90′s you could land a solid recruiting class by just being a solid program and resting on your laurels. The landscape changed considerably with the advent of aggressive/creative recruiting and assessing of talent (aka Moneyball) and creative offensive philosophies to level the playing field of talent and the influx of talented coaches who realize kids in college can actually be coached up. None of these areas were addressed by UCLA to any extent. Watching the Bruins play the past 10 yrs with inconsistency, lack of preparation, lack of desire and determination and flat out just being pussies. It’s refreshing to have a coach who won’t let that happen. And YES I am basing this solely on what they (the coaching staff) has done strictly with recruiting. To salvage a recruiting class that was literally dead on arrival and to be where they are now and passing on highly rated premadonas that will fail miserably in college (Falah) based on their attitude is indication enough. They are changing a culture and it won’t happen overnight but I can say this. Gone are the days where watching my Bruins made me sick in the stomach.

  • localbruin

    Glendora,

    I share you sentiment about Mora and I look forward to his defensive focus righting the ship for the whole team. I wish him well and expect him to keep improving the program. If he doesn’t succeed quickly, attendance at the RB will plummet. I think fans have had enough of the “next year” vibe.

    My larger purpose was to address Jon’s point that Ucla’s pain is entirely self inflicted. I expand his point by stating that Ucla’s pain was consciously self inflicted.

    Mora’s task isn’t to change the culture of the football program but to defeat and reverse the culture of Ucla itself! Ucla, sad to say, has devolved from an institution who’s explicit goal was excellence (winning) into an institution now concerned more directly with “fairness” and political correctness (compliance). Sign of the times in CA and America.

    Good luck to Mora.

  • BruinPain

    Bringing a knife to a gunfight?

    Anyone in the know would be aware of the “21 Foot Rule” that Police Departments teach. A knife is much more dangerous within that zone: most experts say 30 feet.

    Go Bruins!

  • GlendoraBruin

    My understanding is we made a conscious decision to not persue Falah anymore based more on his attitude and NOT our inability to land him hence not conceding anything. Just realizing we need “lunch pale” mentality players to get our program back to relevance more than we need 5 star players who are coddled and fawned on before they even play a down of college football. Jon’s assessment is correct to a degree. I believe his message was more geared towards the general fan base who are like a woman shopping On black Friday: fickle, uninformed (aside from everything is on sale, but to what extent) emotional and irrational. Most of those people congregate at BruinNation.

  • Anonymous

    From Gold’s post through all the comments. This is just all weird.