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UCLA AT NO.1 OKLAHOMA Saturday, 12:30 p.m., Ch. 7

Sooners Showed Bruins Who's Boz

Trash-talking linebacker led 1986 romp, but things have changed for Bosworth.

September 19, 2003|Larry Stewart | Times Staff Writer

The year was 1986 and things started badly for the UCLA football team in Norman, Okla. -- beginning with the coin flip.

Quarterback Matt Stevens, one of UCLA's captains, recalls that Oklahoma All-American linebacker Brian Bosworth wouldn't even shake hands when the captains met at midfield.

"I wasn't going to shake anyone's hand," Bosworth said. "They were wearing leggings. They looked like dancers."

It has been 17 years since UCLA last visited Norman to play the Sooners. There was some trash talking then, just as there is leading up to Saturday's game in Norman.

The Sooners were the defending national champions when they met the Bruins in the 1986 season opener for both teams. UCLA was coming off a Rose Bowl victory over Iowa.

"They were wearing those dreadful pastel blue and gold uniforms," Bosworth said. "They're still wearing 'em.

"How can you take a team seriously that wears powder blue? If they want to have a chance to win [Saturday], they should change colors -- something like all black with a gold hat.

"I mean, that shade of blue might be all right for basketball, track or tennis, but not football."

Bosworth had a team-high nine tackles in the 1986 game -- a 38-3 Sooner victory -- and twice stuffed running back Gaston Green for costly losses.

Stevens said, "One time, he wouldn't get up off Gaston, and I went over there and really let him have it. I used every cuss word I could think of. He just walked away and didn't say a word, as if he didn't hear me."

Said Bosworth: "I don't listen to quarterbacks. Matt was a pretty boy. That's the first criteria for playing quarterback at UCLA, you have to be a pretty boy. Like Mark Harmon.

"Those guys are always combing their hair. They put on makeup to take pictures. The guy I want leading my team has to have a couple of teeth missing and gnarly fingers."

Said Stevens: "Bosworth acted like he was juiced up [on steroids]."

Bosworth, who admitted to steroid use at Oklahoma in his 1988 autobiography, said he wasn't "juiced up" for the UCLA game.

"Coach [Barry] Switzer had told us that summer that they were going to start testing for steroids," Bosworth said.

However, Bosworth was suspended from that season's Orange Bowl game after testing positive for steroids. He gained more notoriety when he wore a T-shirt on the sidelines with "NCAA Stands for National Communists Against Athletes" printed on it.

Stevens, now the UCLA radio commentator, doesn't have fond memories of the 1986 game at Norman. Afterward, then-coach Terry Donahue said, "They totally throttled our offensive team."

Stevens felt the brunt of it. After his fifth interception, Donahue showed mercy and replaced Stevens with Brendan McCracken in the fourth quarter.

"The crowd booed when they saw I had been replaced," Stevens said. "I guess they wanted a few more interceptions."

Of the Bruins, Bosworth said, "They died in the second quarter. It was hot that day and we had that old [artificial] turf that gave off heat. It was usually like an oven about knee high. That day the heat was 10 feet off the turf.

"If we would have played at UCLA in perfect weather, hey, they might have been able to hang with us until halftime."

In the game story in The Times that followed that embarrassing loss for UCLA, a Bosworth quote was highlighted at the top.

"Last year we opened the season with a semi-legitimate doormat [Minnesota]," it read. "This year we opened with a legitimate doormat."

Bosworth still trash-talks, but these days in a more lighthearted vein.

"My college days were the best days of my life," Bosworth said. "My Seattle days were the worst days of my life."

After his career at Oklahoma, he left after his junior year to play in the NFL. Bosworth played 24 games for the Seattle Seahawks -- "I was healthy for only 12," he said -- before a series of shoulder injuries ended his football career. His most memorable NFL moment was getting run over by Bo Jackson.

He moved to Malibu, where he still lives, and dabbled in acting, playing tough-guy roles in some B movies.

These days, he's mainly a soccer dad. The rainbow-colored Mohawk and shiny earrings that helped make him famous are faded memories. And he hasn't made a movie since 2000.

He says he's still rehabbing his shoulders after both were replaced. The first one was done in November 2000, the second six months later.

Hip replacement is common. So is knee replacement. But shoulder replacement?

"It's a rare operation and I'm told I'm the youngest person to ever have both shoulders replaced," he said.

He took a job this season as a college football studio commentator for TBS, but almost turned it down because he would have to miss some of his oldest daughter's soccer games.

Chase Bosworth, 11, is the goalie for an age-group team that Dad proudly says is ranked second in the nation.

"We've made trips to Chicago and Arizona and all across the nation to play other teams," he said.

Bosworth didn't seek the TBS job. He was asked to come in for an audition and won out over four other strong candidates.

Then he had to decide between a college football TV job or kid's soccer.

"My wife told me, 'Go back to college football, that was the fun part of your life.' "

Bosworth and his wife, Katherine, met when both were in junior high school in Irving, Texas.

"We went to rival junior highs," Bosworth said. "She was the stud cheerleader at the one school, I was the stud athlete at the other. So we got together."

Besides Chase, they have two sons, Hayley, 8, and Max, 5. Max is short for "Max-a-Million," according to Bosworth. "At least that's how I spell it," he said.

Bosworth says his family lives comfortably enough off his acting residuals and some real estate investments.

"I'm not a money guy," he said. "I'm a homebody. I love just staying home. I don't need a Benz or any of that kind of stuff."

At one time, the Boz drove a Corvette with a $7,000 stereo that had nine speakers.

So what does Brian Bosworth drive these days?

"A soccer Suburban," he said.

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