There are many reasons why we love college sports. First, for the purity of the competition—student-athletes are fully-vested in their alma mater. The kids do not have egos; they do not play for lucrative contracts, but for the love of school pride. When student-athletes perform, their emotions are raw, uncut, and genuine; it is not pretentious nor beguile—I cannot say the same about college coaches. The latest breaking headline in the college coaching carousal reads “Chip Kelly does an about-face, leaves Oregon for the NFL’s Eagles.” Here we go again, another high profile college coach literally looked his players in their eyes, gave them his word that he would not leave, only to jump ship for greener pastures a few days later.
This seems to be the new trend among college coaches who are not allowed to enjoy a single winning season with their players or programs after a success year before they are lured away by lucrative contracts and bigger programs.
After the departure of top pick Andrew Luck to the NFL, many wondered if the Stanford football program was doomed for a regression back to their previous status as an occasional contender for the Pac-12 title.
But then Kevin Hogan emerged as the starter, leading the Cardinal on a dominating stretch run. First, he outdueled Marcus Mariota to lead Stanford to a 17-14 win over Oregon in what many consider the Pac-12’s game of the year. Hogan would follow that up with back-to-back wins over Brett Hundley’s UCLA Bruins, the latter of which gave the Cardinal their first Pac-12 title since 1999.
The UCLA Bruins come into this game as the kings of Los Angeles after defeating the USC Trojans last week. That win guaranteed them a spot in the Pac-12 championship game against Stanford, Oregon, or Oregon State.
The Bruins were a mediocre 6-6 last year but have turned the tables this season. They key reason for this is the emergence of Redshirt Freshman Quarterback Brett Hundley, and the high-powered UCLA offense. Hundley has been stellar all season long with 25 Touchdowns and a completion percentage of 69.4% He has done everything Coach Mora has asked him to do and could very well lead UCLA back to the promised land.
The star of the UCLA offense however, is runningback Johnathan Franklin. Franklin, the senior from Los Angeles, has been one of the better backs in the country. He is 6th in the nation and 2nd in the Pac-12 in rushing yards with 1441.
This duo of a good passing and rushing game has been giving headaches to opposing defenses all season. The reason why UCLA has two losses though, is because they aren’t necessarily too good on the other side of the ball.
USC vs. UCLA: Brett Hundley Hopes To Complete UCLA's Return To Relevancy Against Matt Barkley's Trojans
They meet again, this time in the Rose Bowl on Saturday afternoon. It’ll be the 82nd edition between the two. Unfortunately, it’s been a decade since the Southern California-UCLA college football matchup started drifting away rivalry to one-sided domination.
Following a couple relatively competitive contests won by the Trojans to bridge millenniums, Pete Carroll’s arrival in 2001 as USC head coach signaled the end of any competition between the two, on the field or off. From blowout victories to Heisman Trophy winners to enticing fans and blue-chip recruits alike, the Cardinal-colored cross-town rival has had it all over the Bruins.
UCLA managed to scratch out a 13-9 decision in 2006, but that’s the only “gotcha” it can claim against USC since the 1990s. In the interim, the Trojans re-emerged as a national power and made Los Angeles pretty much all its own.
Not even the energy, enthusiasm and verbal challenges by Rick Neuheisel upon his return to UCLA as coach of his alma mater managed to register a blip on the relevance screen.
Lane Kiffin can't seem to get away from trouble. He was the Raiders head coach for a few seasons before given the boot by longtime owner Al Davis. He then tried to revive Tennessee football, before bolting for USC and California. That left Volunteer fans with a sour taste in their mouth, and now Kiffin has troubles arising once again at USC. Current Athletic Director Pat Haden wasn't around when Kiffin was hired, and has kept hush about Kiffin's job status thus far, but that could change in the next three months.
In a loss last Saturday to conference foe Oregon, a student manager was found to be deflating footballs on the USC sideline. Kiffin in a press conference acknowledged that the manager was "working alone" and was fired in the process. Colin Cowherd of ESPN Radio and host of SportsNation on ESPN, had callers and emails from student managers around the country on Thursday, and most of them all agreed that the manager surely wasn't working alone.