After Oregon’s loss, is UCLA the new Pac-12 favorite?

Nearly four months ago, UCLA was listed as an early favorite almost through its entire 2014 schedule. The exception? Mighty Oregon, just a year removed from four straight BCS bowls, and an early three-point favorite.

My, how things have changed.

UCLA stumbled out of the gate, collecting three uneven wins before stomping on then-No. 15 Arizona State last Thursday. The Bruins still have question marks, but they’re on the upswing, and back in the hearts and minds of at least a few national pundits. One ESPN analyst has them in the San Francisco Bowl, but another picked the Fiesta Bowl. CBS Sports has slotted UCLA back into the Sugar Bowl, as the No. 4 seed in a national semifinal against Alabama.

The No. 2 Ducks, meanwhile, might have cost themselves national title hopes with their 31-24 loss at home last night to Arizona — the most surprising undefeated team left in the country. (Earlier this week, Yahoo! Sports’ Pat Forde wrote this of the Wildcats: “Chances of being unbeaten by Halloween: zero.”) Continue reading

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Eddie Vanderdoes discusses his successful appeal process


SAN BERNARDINO — Rarely thought of as an efficient organization, the NCAA’s quick decision surprised even Eddie Vanderdoes.

The five-star defensive end had hovered in limbo for weeks after reneging on his signed letter of intent with Notre Dame. After a written appeal failed, he finally had a chance to speak directly to the NCAA last Monday. He didn’t waste his chance, laying out his case for nearly 90 minutes.

The next day, the NCAA cleared him to play immediately. If they hadn’t done so, Vanderdoes would have had to sit this fall, as well as lose a year of eligibility.

Now he is available to replace starter Owamagbe Odighizuwa, a would-be senior who will redshirt the season recovering from hip surgery.

“I was real surprised,” Vanderdoes said. “They actually had called me an hour after, talked to me and told me they would have a full decision tomorrow. They basically had a decision but they kind of wanted to cover their bases the next day.”

An All-American at Placer High in Auburn, Calif. — roughly 35 miles from Sacramento — Vanderdoes gave the NCAA four main reasons for his appeal. One was his grandmother’s breast cancer, but he declined to discuss the others. Continue reading

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Eddie Vanderdoes cleared to play for 2013 season

Five-star defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes has been cleared to play immediately for UCLA after an appeal with the National Letter of Intent committee, officially ending his dramatic exit from Notre Dame.

The touted recruit initially committed to the Irish on National Signing Day in February, but asked out of his national letter of intent due to an illness in the family. The Placer High grad decided on UCLA to be closer to his home in the Sacramento area.

Rick Kimbrel of recruiting website BruinBru.com first reported Vanderdoes’ immediate eligibility, a boon for a UCLA defensive line struggling with health. Had Vanderdoes not been released to play, he would have had to sit out the upcoming fall as well as lose a year of eligibility — leaving him with only three seasons of college football. Continue reading

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Report: Vanderdoes left Notre Dame for ailing family member

When Eddie Vanderdoes officially signed with UCLA earlier this week, breaking his letter of intent with Notre Dame, the five-star defensive lineman only cited “very personal reasons.”

A report from CBS Sports’ Bruce Feldman sheds a little more light on the situation. Sources told Feldman that one of Vanderdoes’ close relatives was diagnosed with a severe illness a few months ago, prompting him to push for a release from Notre Dame.

The Irish have declined to do so, with head coach Brian Kelly explaining that he needed to protect the integrity of his program. Left unsaid was that no head coach wants set a precedent by allowing recruits to renege on their letters of intent.

Unless Vanderdoes and his family can successfully push for a release, perhaps through an appeal, the top-rated lineman will lose a year of eligibility and start playing in 2014.

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Eddie Vanderdoes announces for UCLA, breaking NLI with Notre Dame

Eddie Vanderdoes officially announced this morning his intention to enroll at UCLA, paving his way to a future in blue and gold.

The five-star defensive lineman originally signed to Notre Dame, but said he needed to be closer to his family in Northern California. The Placer High product was not officially released from his national letter of intent, but the Irish lifted the recruiting ban — a step that allowed him to sign grant-in-aid and enroll at another school.

Notre Dame said it does not intend to release Vanderdoes from his letter of intent, meaning that he cannot play for the Bruins until 2014.

Here is Vanderdoes’ statement, one he texted to the Sacramento Bee and other outlets.

“I would like to thank the University of Notre Dame for lifting the recruiting ban and allowing me to sign an athletic scholarship with UCLA. Over the past four months, circumstances have changed for me and my family. For very personal reasons, I feel a strong need to remain close to home and be near those who are most important in my life.

“I am honored and humbled that Note Dame thought enough of me as a person and a football player to offer me a scholarship. They have been very gracious to recognize not only how difficult a decision this was, but also how important it was for me to be near my family at this time. I take my commitments seriously, but as circumstances changed, the most important commitment is the one made to family.”

UCLA head coach Jim Mora confirmed the news shortly after Vanderdoes’ announcement. Unless Notre Dame changes its decision not to release Vanderdoes, he will have to sit out a season and lose a year of eligibility as a basic penalty for breaking a NLI. He will have four years to play three.

Irish head coach Brian Kelly said in a statement that his school chose not to release Vanderdoes “in order to protect the integrity of that very important program.” Continue reading

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Eddie Vanderdoes could decommit from Notre Dame

On Monday night, multiple UCLA and Notre Dame recruiting sites reported rumors that five-star defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes may be parting ways with the Irish.

From the Sacramento Bee’s Joe Davidson, who emceed the Placer High star’s signing day ceremony:

Speculation about Vanderdoes ranged from character concerns to an academic fall out. Vanderdoes’ coaches continued to rave about his upstanding character on Monday, and his father Eddie Vanderdoes on Monday night texted of his son, “One thing I can tell you is grades or eligibility is not and has never been an issue.”

Placer football coach Joey Montoya affirmed Vanderdoes’ academic eligibility, and praised his character as well. Regardless of reason, he seems set to leave the Irish before even arriving in South Bend.

Should Notre Dame release him from his letter of intent, the blue-chipper could very well be headed to UCLA. Although he also had USC and Washington hats on the table, Vanderdoes’ other major finalist was Alabama, a destination the Irish may wish to block. (Correction: Schools cannot block destinations once they release a player from a letter of intent. All or nothing.)

Given that Vanderdoes was the biggest recruit UCLA missed on, securing him would be a major coup for a defensive line that was banged up through spring practice. Though he’s primarily a 4-3 tackle, the 6-foot-3, 310-pound prospect could also play as a 3-4 end.

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Adidas unveils camo sleeves, shorts

Well, that’s … bold. Adidas introduced daring new alternate looks for six basketball programs Tuesday, continuing what’s become a norm in college athletics. UCLA will be among those donning camouflage-patterned shorts, joining Baylor, Cincinnati, No. 21 Notre Dame, No. 10 Louisville, No. 6 Kansas.

UCLA, Baylor and Louisville’s new alternates also feature camo sleeves. The Bruins last attempt at an uniform change didn’t go very well, using an all-blue look during a home overtime loss to USC. They’ll wear this latest edition at least once during the Pac-12 tournament.

UPDATE: A UCLA spokesperson said players were presented with uniform concepts in advance and loved them.

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