UCLA hires former USC assistant Kennedy Polamalu

In a move that strengthens UCLA’s place atop Los Angeles, the Bruins are set to hire former USC assistant Kennedy Polamalu. Bruin Report Online first reported the news.

Polamalu replaces former UCLA running backs coach Steve Broussard, who was fired on Monday. The Bruins had landed just one running back recruit — four-star prospect Craig Lee — through their first two signing classes of the Jim Mora era.

Formerly known as Kennedy Pola, the 50-year-old is well known for his recruiting acumen. A Trojans’ fullback from 1982-1985, Polamalu became the school’s running backs/special teams coach in 2000. Over the next four seasons, he coached running backs Justin Vargas and Hershel Dennis, as well as All-American punter Tom Malone.

He also coached Reggie Bush and LenDale White when the pair combined for 1,604 yards and 21 touchdowns from scrimmage as freshmen. Continue reading

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Jim Mora comments on Lane Kiffin’s firing

Half a day after USC fired coach Lane Kiffin, UCLA’s Jim Mora was asked what he thought of the news. He kept his remarks short and civil.

“I certainly feel for him on a personal basis,” he said. “I’ve known him a long time. It’s disappointing. You never want to see anybody lose their job. He’s a good person. I just wish the best for him.” Continue reading

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UCLA moves up one spot in AP poll, USC drops Lane Kiffin

Another bye, another jump.

After moving up two spots during its last weekend off, UCLA again made gains in the AP poll despite not playing a game. The Bruins are now ranked No. 12 in the country, ahead of South Carolina and behind Oklahoma. UCLA last made the top 10 in October 2005.

Elsewhere in the conference, Arizona State earned its way back into the rankings at No. 22 by trouncing USC, 62-41, and getting Lane Kiffin fired. Trojans athletic director Pat Haden decided to ax him during the third quarter.

The complete AP poll, with Pac-12 teams bolded: Continue reading

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Pac-12 links: Quarterback battles and recruiting hostesses

» Mike Riley finally named junior Sean Mannion his starting quarterback over senior Cody Vaz. Offensive coordinator Danny Langsdorf said Mannion won’t need to look over his shoulder.

» Oregon announced its two-deep yesterday. Starting at defensive end is Tony Washington, whose father died of a heart attack exactly four years ago. He was 48.

» An upcoming book on college football called “The System” alleges that Lane Kiffin paid hostesses to help close the deal with recruits — the subject of an NCAA investigation in 2009. Reporters Armen Keteyian and Jeff Benedict got Lacey Pearl Earps, the most infamous of the hostesses, to speak on record for the first time. It’s far from the best tidbit in what Y! Sports columnist Dan Wetzel called “the best book on the sport written in years.” Continue reading

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Game coverage roundup

- UCLA 38, USC 28: Bruins defeat Trojans in battle of L.A.

A dance party erupted in the UCLA locker room, one filled with primal screams and sprayed Sprite streams. The team rule, as it has been all season, allots 24 hours for celebration. Coming off their biggest win in years, the No. 17 Bruins were going to use each and every one of them.

- UCLA beats USC to end college football monopoly in Los Angeles:

UCLA can say the monopoly is over, and now it’s really true. Jim Mora didn’t want to go there, but he doesn’t have to because it goes without saying. When asked point blank, Mora paused, smirked, said he didn’t know and glanced in another reporter’s direction so he could answer something else. He wanted to say it, but he didn’t. We know.

- USC vs. UCLA: Fans support their teams while tailgating in the rain

Clint Hamblin said he went to Lowe’s, bought a chunk of sod for $3.50, flung it over his shoulder, had his fiancé, Kara, spray paint the UCLA script logo into it, and then tacked it to a piece of plywood.

- Photo gallery, featuring sad Xavier Grimble on slide No. 12.

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USC vs. UCLA: Rivalry quotables

— Defensive end Datone Jones’ first offer came from USC, but he waited out for UCLA. He had always been more of a basketball fan growing up in Compton, and didn’t notice the intensity of the football rivalry until later in high school.

“When it really hit for me was when Reggie Bush was there,” Jones said. “I was around 10th or 11th grade. That’s when I was like ‘OK, cool.’ That’s when I really started noticing how big it was. I started watching from then on there and I was like, ‘I wanna be a Trojan.’ Then I was like, ‘Nah, I don’t wanna be a Trojan, I wanna be a Bruin. I wanna help their program win championships. I don’t wanna be a bandwagoner.’”

— Johnathan Franklin wasn’t recruited by USC, and was even thought by most to be a better fit at safety than, y’know, eventual UCLA career rushing leader. As a recruit, he was present at UCLA’s 2006 win, one that convinced him the Bruins were headed “to the top.”

“It means everything,” Franklin said. “It’s my last shot at it. I haven’t beaten them since I’ve been here. It’s a big rivalry. One of the biggest in college football.”

— Tevin McDonald will play his brother T.J. in the rivalry game for the last time, but he said they have remained cordial this week. The two spoke on Monday to before giving each other space to work on their own preparation. “We just don’t have time,” he said. T.J. apparently hasn’t talked too much trash since last year’s loss.

— Jim Mora has tried to downplay the rivalry as best he could, saying that the week of prep has been identical to the past 10 — even “down to the second.” Still, he acknowledged how unfamiliar the experience has been.

“It’s really unlike anything I’ve ever seen whether it be pro sports or college sports,” he said. “(Thinking back to the pros), I don’t know that there was ever one of the significance of what we have vs. USC. I thought back to when I was with the University of Washington, our main rivals were Washington State and Oregon, but they were hundreds of miles away. It’s so unique to have such a division in a city like we have here. It’s pretty special.”

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UCLA vs. USC: HC & QB edition

Try Jim Mora and Lane Kiffin

They own big personalities, perfect for staying relevant in Los Angeles. They like to talk, which adds to the drama of this rivalry. Or any old regular week in the season.

Or Brett Hundley and Matt Barkley, freshman edition …

“Brett plays with a lot of poise,” Mora said. “He’s able to put a good play or bad play behind him and move on. I don’t know Matt Barkley personally, but when I watch him play and watch him on TV, he’s probably a similar type of guy. I have a lot of respect for him. I think he’s a great quarterback who’s got a tremendous future in the NFL.”

Or if you’d rather stick with just UCLA, John Barnes’ unbelievable heroics from two decades back.

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No more swords

USC won’t be stabbing the UCLA logo at midfield this year, but Jim Mora said he was more focused on the game.

“I have nothing to do with that,” Mora said Wednesday. “All that stuff, that’s periphery stuff.”

Mora had said earlier this week that he wasn’t concerned with stopping the USC tradition: “We’re going to be in the locker room. I don’t think I’ll be out there laying down on the UCLA logo or anything like that.”

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