When UCLA visited Arizona last year, the result was a 42-7 halftime deficit and an embarrassing, bench-clearing brawl. After what was arguably the nadir of Rick Neuheisel’s stint, the Pac-12 suspended 10 combined players from the two teams. With the Wildcats visiting the Rose Bowl in three days, some were asked to reflect.
DE Cassius Marsh, suspended two games last year: “It’s been different. I made some mistakes last year. I was young. It’s a regret I have. I’m past it. I try to live my life being a bigger man and know that the reason I’m out there is to play football.”
Marsh, who was also involved in spring practice scuffles in 2011, seems to have matured this year.
Head coach Jim Mora: “They haven’t talked about it. I haven’t heard anyone even mention it. I think they learned their lesson. The conference was pretty direct in their punishment. I don’t think we have the type of team that would fall back into that.”
Statement from athletic director Dan Guerrero: “UCLA was informed by the NCAA earlier today that freshman guard Kyle Anderson is eligible to play this season, and that the NCAA has found no evidence to substantiate claims of violations in his case. I am grateful to all those who were involved in the process. We are looking forward to opening our season on November 9 against Indiana State at New Pauley Pavilion.”
No movement yet on the eligibility of Shabazz Muhammad, who of course would miss the season opener regardless with a shoulder strain.
Conference officials called UCLA head coach Jim Mora Sunday morning at 8 a.m. to apologize for the confusion surrounding the coin toss before the Bruins kicked off at Arizona State.
To review, Mora had kept the captains in the locker room to rush out with the rest of the team, leaving punter Jeff Locke to take up coin toss duties in a pinch. Through some miscommunication, the officials understood Locke as saying that the Bruins wanted to “kick” rather than “defer” after winning the toss, thus leaving the Sun Devils to decide how to start out of halftime.
ASU scored a field goal on its first drive of the second half in the 45-43 loss. Mora declined to say exactly what the apology entailed, but said he was glad the Pac-12 took responsibility.
UPDATE: Doesn’t seem like a story worth making up, so I’m guessing the Pac-12 didn’t expect Mora to go public with this.
Just got off the phone with Pac-12 which says “no apology was issued” to Jim Mora over coin flip confusion. #hesaid-hesaid
Ka’imi Fairbairn has yet to hit a field goal from beyond 35 yards, but Jim Mora said he still trusts his freshman kicker.
“He’s been the same guy every day out here,” Mora said. “That’s why we felt very confident on Saturday that he would put it through. He doesn’t change.”
Mora added that his “line of demarcation” on UCLA’s final drive at Arizona State was from 35 yards out; had the Bruins only driven that far, he would’ve have given Fairbairn a shot at winning the game from beyond 50 yards.