Head coach Jim Mora talked after UCLA’s first formal practice after the regular season, touching on the Bruins’ loss to Stanford, the team’s bowl practice schedule, and what it meant for linebacker Eric Kendricks to win the Butkus Award.
No. 14 UCLA Bruins (9-3, 6-3) vs. No. 11 Kansas State (9-3, 7-2)
Kickoff: Friday, Jan. 2, 3:45 p.m. PT, Alamodome (San Antonio)
TV: ESPN (Joe Tessitore, Brock Huard, Shannon Spake)
Radio: AM 570 (Chris Roberts, Matt Stevens, Wayne Cook)
Coach: No team is as synonymous with a single coach as Kansas State is with Bill Snyder.
The Wildcats first hired Snyder in November 1988, plucking away the 49-year-old offensive coordinator from Iowa. At that point, K-State was arguably the worst football program in the country. It was the only one to have lost 500 games, including 114 over the previous 14 years. It had reached just one bowl game, which it lost. (Fun fact: That was the 1982 Independence Bowl, the first college football game ever broadcast live on ESPN. This year, the network will air all but four of the 38 bowls.) Things were so bad that Sports Illustrated asked: “Why bother? Why send fine young men onto the field every Saturday in autumn to be humiliated?”
Snyder won just one game in his debut season, but that at least ended the program’s three-year wait (!) for No. 300 all-time. He quintupled that the following year, and by 1993, he had already pushed the Wildcats to nine wins and a top-20 finish in the AP poll. Since then, he has only ever had two more losing seasons: four- and five-win campaigns that preceded his brief retirement.
When Snyder stepped down after the 2005 season, athletic director Tim Weiser said: “No matter how successful the next person is, it’s not going to be possible to replace Bill.”
Ron Prince tried for the next three years, to the tune of a 17-20 record. And so, Snyder returned to “soothe the waters.”
Since then, Kansas State has gone 51-25 with a pair of BCS bowl appearances — both losses, but enough for the team to stay in the top 15 at year’s end. Continue reading
Two days after winning the Butkus Award, UCLA’s Eric Kendricks has also become an All-American.
The senior linebacker made the Walter Camp Football Foundation’s second team on Thursday. Despite already winning the preeminent honor at his position, he fell behind three others that made the first team — two of whom he has seen on the opposite sideline: Washington’s Hau’oli Kikaha, Arizona’s Scooby Wright, and TCU’s Paul Dawson.
The Walter Camp team is one of five used to determine consensus and unanimous All-American status, although those do require a first-team mention. The other teams are selected by the AFCA, FWAA, Associated Press and Sporting News.
Anthony Barr was a consensus All-American last season, missing out only on the FWAA first team. UCLA’s last unanimous All-American was Maurice Jones-Drew, who earned his nod as an all-purpose player/kick returner.
For fans of numerical repetition — and of basketball, I suppose — the Pac-12 has the sale for you.
The conference announced today that tickets for the Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament at MGM Grand Garden Arena will go on sale for $12 on Friday, Dec. 12. A limited number of those will be available for 12 hours (duh!) starting from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. PT., or as long as the supply lasts.
You can buy these at Ticketmaster using the promo code PAC1212. These are per-session tickets, which means you’ll need to buy six if you want to watch every single game. All-tournament passes also go on sale at 10 a.m. tomorrow.
The Las Vegas tournament starts on March 11 and ends March 14. The same deal is available for Pac-12 women’s basketball, which will hold its competition at Seattle’s Key Arena on March 5-8.
UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley is “fine” after injuring his finger in the 31-10 loss to Stanford that ended the Bruins’ regular season.
Hundley injured a finger on his right hand and could not finish the game against the Cardinal. The redshirt junior had an ice pack taped to his hand afterward.
Asked about Hundley, Mora stuck to his favorite answer regarding injuries: “He’s fine.”
Mora also confirmed again that the Alamo Bowl on Jan. 2 will be Hundley’s final game before declaring for the NFL draft — something both the quarterback and his teammates had said before. Hundley originally stated in January that his third season with the Bruins would be his last, following his announcement that he was passing on the 2014 NFL draft.
Hundley was named to the All-Pac-12 second team this month, though his inconsistent play this season likely affected his NFL stock.
For the second straight game at Pauley Pavilion, UCLA started slow. Against a UC Riverside squad picked to finish last in the Big West, the Bruins trailed for nearly the entire first half before eventually beating the Highlanders, 77-66.
Head coach Steve Alford attributed that to a lack of toughness, including the discipline to block out and communicate on defense.
“If we don’t develop this toughness, we’re always going to be the kind of team we are right now,” he said.
UCLA has landed the second defensive back in its 2015 class, as four-star defensive back Colin Samuel announced his commitment to the Bruins on Tuesday afternoon.
The Long Beach Poly corner is a physical tackler who, at 6-foot-2, 180 pounds, has the type of size that UCLA’s secondary will lose after senior Anthony Jefferson plays his last game in the Alamo Bowl. Listed at 6-foot-1, 192 pounds, Jefferson is the only starter in the Bruins’ defensive backfield taller than 6-feet.
— Colin Samuel (@Colinsamuel9) December 10, 2014
Samuel is rated the No. 34 cornerback in the country by Rivals.com, and No. 46 by Scout.com — which has him as a three-star prospect.
Poly coach Antonio Pierce told the Long Beach Press-Telegram last month that his player had developed a “nasty” streak this season. After blocking two kicks against Servite to open the CIF playoffs, Samuel received offers from Oklahoma, Mississipi State, Michigan, Purdue, and Washington State within three days.
Three-star cornerback Will Lockett is also committed to UCLA.
Eric Kendricks can now officially call himself the best linebacker in college football, even if Pac-12 coaches don’t think so.
After being left off the All-Pac-12 first team last week, UCLA’s all-time leading tackler received the Butkus Award on Tuesday morning — becoming the first Bruin to ever win in the trophy’s 30-year history.
Even former teammate Anthony Barr, a consensus All-American and ninth overall NFL draft pick, settled for a finalist spot behind Alabama’s C.J. Mosley.
In a statement, the Butkus Award selection committee called this year’s race “as close as any (in) the past decade,” and said it included eight write-in candidates. Continue reading
UCLA will start a home-and-home series against Kentucky next season, it announced this morning, ensuring that the Bruins will face college basketball’s most dominant team at least three times by the end of 2016.
The No. 1 Wildcats are already slated to play against UCLA on Dec. 20 at the United Center, part of the inaugural CBS Sports Classic. Now, Kentucky will also visit Pauley Pavilion on Dec. 3, 2015, and host the Bruins at Rupp Arena on Dec. 3, 2016.
Under John Calipari, UK reeled in five straight top recruiting classes before settling for just the second-ranked class behind Duke earlier this year. The 55-year-old turned those hauls into an NCAA title in 2012, and a runner-up finish behind UConn in April.
UCLA head coach Steve Alford has pushed to schedule tougher nonconference opponents since arriving in Los Angeles — even if the Bruins (7-2) haven’t looked quite ready for that high bar yet this season. The team was blown out by then-No. 5 North Carolina in the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas last month, and will host No. 9 Gonzaga this Saturday. Continue reading