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T.J. SIMERS

Crummy little Bruins played hard and tried hard, so who cares if they lost?

UCLA football team deserves credit for not getting blown out again, losing by eight points to No. 15-ranked Arizona.

October 30, 2010|T.J. Simers

I am just so proud of our terrible team.

I can't believe I almost skipped this contest to go to the Oregon- USC game.

Talk about inspiring. As crummy as the UCLA Bruins have been this season, they deserve so much credit for not getting blown out again.

They can actually tell their friends this week — because most everyone wasn't at the Rose Bowl on Saturday — they came within a touchdown and a two-point conversion of tying Arizona.

Arizona goes home thinking it probably lost, beating a crummy team like UCLA by so little.

But an eight-point loss around here is as good as it gets when not playing a Pac-10 team other than Washington State.

That probably explains the man-size handshake UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero dropped on Rick Neuheisel after the coach's news conference.

As you might imagine, it's been tough on Guerrero. Everyone he hires to coach football around here gets thumped, and sooner or later someone is going to want to know what's wrong with the guy doing the hiring.

At least an eight-point loss isn't that embarrassing.

But then again you know things aren't going well when a school's athletic director tries to go incognito on game days — wearing black slacks, gray sweatshirt and sunglasses.

If he were thinking, he should have said he was dressed as one of the Blues Brothers for Halloween.

There wasn't a stitch of blue visible on the UCLA athletic director until you got right up on the guy. He had a small "UCLA" in blue on the left side of his sweatshirt, "football" in smaller lettering below it.

"The blue is right here," says Guerrero, pointing to his heart underneath his gray sweatshirt, and I wonder if that will catch on — every Bruins fan no longer wearing blue like their own athletic director.

It's better than dressing as empty seats, as they seemed to be doing for homecoming.

"I know this is difficult," Neuheisel said after grabbing the microphone to talk to the 15 or so fans still remaining at game's end. "I don't blame you for being mad. If you keep coming back I promise you, you'll be rewarded.''

Neuheisel has been full of promise since the day he arrived, so he is consistent.

Down in the locker room, meanwhile, the players were wearing shirts that read "Believe," and when you have to listen to Neuheisel talk all week, a little reminder probably goes a long way.

"This is a hard loss because we really played hard," Neuheisel said, the Bruins getting an "A" for effort from Neuheisel and isn't that all that really counts?

They did seem to have a little trouble wrapping their arms around the opposition, missing tackles for losses that became 23-yard gains, but let's give them a hand for really trying to make those tackles.

Not to take anything away from UCLA, but Arizona isn't really that good. They might be ranked in the top 20, but they allowed the Bruins to score 21 points.

Arizona was playing with its No. 2 quarterback just like the Bruins, but they didn't have any players suspended, so they did seem to have an advantage there.

The last couple of games the Bruins have lost an average of two players a game to suspensions. Keep in mind UCLA doesn't suspend a player unless the player has tested positive for drugs a third time.

That's right, if at first you don't succeed to get suspended around here, try and try again. That really does speak to the effort of these guys; there's obviously no quit in the Bruins.

They had lost to Stanford, Cal and Oregon by the combined score of 130-20, but make that only 159-41 now after going all out to lose to Arizona.

"It's a difficult conference," Neuheisel said after the game, and it really is for some teams. "You've got to play great football to win.''

That would suggest you have to play both hard and well to win. The Bruins are still struggling to play well against a good Pac-10 team now for three straight seasons.

"Effort isn't quite enough," acknowledged Neuheisel, while noting the Bruins will get players back from suspension and injury in time for next week's Pac-10 assignment.

Arizona ran for 264 yards, while UCLA piled up 71. Arizona passed for 319, while UCLA had 228. Arizona had 32 first downs while UCLA had 15.

That just goes to show you how much credit UCLA deserves for losing by only eight points.

THEY ARE not only hiding sharp objects from those sitting in the UCLA high rollers' end of the Rose Bowl press box, but they're now hiding the booze as well.

A few weeks ago they put the hard liquor on display, seemingly a lure to get the rich folk to still show up for the games or hit them up for more donations.

But now they have a small wooden counter in place of the table loaded with booze, everything hidden beneath the countertop, thereby allowing the guy behind it to pour in secrecy. I have no idea why Bruins fans won't admit their team drives them to drink.

A UCLA fan asked that I put his name in the paper. Don Delmatoff — there you go.

Now I have no idea if he knew what was hidden beneath the countertop, but anyone who wants to be identified as a Bruins fan these days should probably be known to everyone.

UCLA OFFENSIVE whiz Norm Chow, who made it clear he preferred Kevin Prince over Richard Brehaut whenever given the choice, went overboard in his praise of Brehaut's performance against Arizona.

"He did OK," Chow said.

t.j.simers@latimes.com

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