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THE INSIDE TRACK | T. J. Simers

Master Plan Came to Fruition for the Bruins

September 05, 2000|T. J. Simers

As a reminder to UCLA, I believe it's customary that those who make the most significant contributions to a victory receive a game ball.

I'm still waiting.

I was in Las Vegas for the weekend, taking a well-deserved break after helping write Coach Bob Toledo's pregame speech to ensure the victory over Alabama, so I wasn't there for the actual game-ball presentation.

There's no mail delivery Sunday, and with Monday being a holiday, I figured it would be just as easy to drop by the UCLA campus and get it from Toledo.

Toledo gave it to me, all right.

"Game ball?" he said, and for a guy so well prepared, he seemed unusually surprised by the question. "I didn't think we'd ever see you here again."

He has a point. I'm not one to go looking for credit, but if someone throws themselves on the e-mail grenade--picking Alabama over UCLA--even going so far as to drive to Las Vegas just to make it look good and fire up the boys--I think a UCLA football would go well with all my USC memorabilia.

"You counted us out," running back DeShaun Foster said. "But we showed you."

As you see, I did my part in defeating Alabama, but I guess it's a lot like being an undercover cop in prison and the warden is the only one who knows what you are doing. If something happens to the warden, or in this case, if someone forgets to tell Toledo before the game what's really going on, an innocent man is going to suffer.

*

BUT IT'S A lot like raising kids. As a parent, sometimes you do things that hurt you more than your child, like betting against UCLA on your birthday, knowing so many people out there are then going to wish you were never born.

And if you're a parent, and you have two children, you know in most cases they are very different, which means you deal with them in different ways.

Now USC is a lot like my oldest, the smart one, tightly-wound, and sometimes even a little uppity, requiring constant coddling and praise. To get the most out of the oldest, you tell her there's no stopping her, just like you might predict USC defeating Penn State and everyone else on its schedule.

You couldn't do that with my young one, and you can't do that with UCLA. You have to keep the thumb down, or together they're just not going to buckle down and push themselves to their full potential. You probably know it as tough love, and while Bruin fans might call it UCLA bashing, it's what's best for the young program that counts.

Even though USC's a lot smarter than UCLA, just like the oldest gets better grades than the youngest, it doesn't make one better than the other. You just don't have to be as tough on USC because it's always trying to do the right thing, just like my oldest--and while she'll never drive a BMW like everyone else at USC--you know she won't park in the wrong place.

UCLA, of course, does better in sports than USC, just like my youngest can play basketball and my oldest can't run down court without tripping across the half-court line, but it's potential that has to be prodded to excel.

A parent's job well done, of course, is having the oldest and youngster grow up to be happy and successful. Or, in this case, getting USC and UCLA to open the season 1-0.

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EVER SINCE WRITING the Angels' season is over, the team hasn't won a game. Apparently they are more like my oldest than my youngest. I apologize for the miscalculation.

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IF THE COLLEGE football polls were legitimate, UCLA would be ranked No. 1 for playing and defeating the toughest opponent to date, Notre Dame would be second for knocking off a ranked-Texas A&M team, and USC would be third for its victory over Penn State, which was ranked when they met.

Putting UCLA behind Alabama after the Bruin victory demonstrates that the writers and coaches who do the voting should be forbidden from casting a ballot in the presidential election for the good of the country.

*

THE NFL IN Week 1:

* Stoney Case and Jay Fiedler were winners. Brett Favre and Troy Aikman were losers. Jeff Garcia threw as many touchdown passes (three) as Peyton Manning, Mark Brunell and Vinny Testaverde combined. Jon Kitna completed 10 passes--six to his teammates and four to the other team.

* Fourth and inches, the game on the line, and the Charger brain trust had Ryan Leaf throwing for first down. MRI on Charger brain trust came back negative.

* On a bright note, the Cowboys won the coin toss.

* Remember when Bill Cowher was a coach-of-the-year candidate? Cowher's Steelers have won six of their last 22 games.

* No truth that new CBS analyst Mike Ditka would like to trade Jerry Glanville, Jim Nantz, Randy Cross and Craig James to have Ricky Williams sit next to him on the set. New Orleans, however, is ready to do that deal right now.

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