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T.J. Simers

Coach Jim Mora and UCLA have everyone's attention

Bruins coach gets players all to himself before school starts, and after beating Nebraska, he has everyone believing they're unbeatable. UCLA fans get to laugh instead of being the laughingstock.

September 18, 2012|T.J. Simers

Victory makes folks write the darnedest things.

Dan Guerrero is brilliant.

The UCLA athletic director hires an ex-NFL coach who gets to act like an NFL coach to begin his collegiate career.

Jim Mora takes his new team to a training camp sweat box just like NFL coaches do.

He gets his players all to himself like a drill sergeant with new recruits and convinces them they are one big, nasty fighting machine.

He gets them to buy into his tough-talking agenda, gets their attention morning, noon and night and all the way through the school's initial four games without any campus distractions.

All he has to do is figure out a way to beat Nebraska, given the other rummies on the Bruins' schedule early on, and he does. So everything he said must be true.

Mora for President!

While it's true Karl Dorrell was 14-5 in games played before the students arrived on campus, this really is the Bruins' year.

Classes don't get in the way until they begin next week, but the Bruins have Colorado a week from now, so no sweat. It's like a free square in bingo.

UCLA opens as an 11-point favorite this week over undefeated Oregon State, which tells you everyone in the nation now believes the Bruins are unbeatable.

Who knew Rick Neuheisel's players were so good?

UCLA has only one tough game remaining on its schedule before finishing against Stanford.

How long before the Bruins move into the top five?

The Bruins still must play Arizona, but that's at home, so how tough a game can it be?

Everyone else on their schedule is beatable or has already been shellacked at least once.

The Bruins won't have to play Oregon until the Pac-12 championship game.

A gleeful Dennis emails to say, "Hahaha. Bye bye Heisman!!! Hahaha."'

Sorry to say Bruins fans aren't much on class when it comes to belittling a 22-year-old kid across town, but they finally get to laugh instead of being the laughingstock.

There is nothing that can keep UCLA from going 11-0 before taking on Stanford. And the Bruins get Stanford at home as well. Happy days are here again.

And all this time everyone else had the wrong team pegged to go undefeated this season. Amazing how shortsighted some folks can be.

::

The surprising thing about Coach Lane Kiffin's critical comments regarding Matt Barkley's play in a Sunday evening conversation with reporters was that he was honest.

The last thing folks expect from college coaches these days is honesty.

I just wish Kiffin had added one more sentence in his remarks: "This loss was on me."

Kiffin did say in his postgame remarks, "This falls on me," but he was alluding to the penalties that USC took.

The Trojans' inability to score in the second half with all that offensive talent is on Kiffin, or the Daily News reporter banned from practices last week.

I wouldn't put it past a control-minded USC to figure out a way to blame the media.

Never mind, Kiffin has already done so.

"There was so much pressure on these kids to be perfect," he's quoted as saying in the morning paper. "They're winning games the two weeks before by whatever it was … and there were still negative articles about their play and stuff."

Now that they've lost, of course, there are more negative articles, and Kiffin almost the author because one of his players apparently was far from perfect.

"We have a standard here," he told reporters, "an expectation here that our team is well aware of and Aundrey [Walker] is well aware of. His effort in that game did not meet those."

He could have said the same thing using his own name.

::

I think the NHL lockout is a great idea.

::

Matt Kemp isn't getting it done, hitting .113 since finding out he isn't as tough as a wall in Colorado, but he's the team leader and best player.

And like Kobe Bryant, who always tries to play through injuries and illness, smart or not, it's what folks have come to expect from such a player. Kemp is no different in his determination.

It's up to the manager to yank him if he's hurting the team.

You think Mike Brown has what it takes to pull Kobe?

::

The fact the NFL is willing to let its product suffer with replacement officials tells you all you need to know about NFL arrogance.

::

The Clippers have Blake Griffin for five more years, are coming off an amazing playoff win over Memphis and hope to lock up Chris Paul.

But if they are really intent on building something, Donald Sterling should announce on media day he's removing the "lame duck'' tag attached to Coach Vinny Del Negro and extend his contract beyond this season.

Del Negro proved his mettle after Chauncey Billups was lost for the season and after winning a seventh game in Memphis.

The Clippers have a new, inexperienced general manager, and presumably most of the basketball decisions made over the last few months were heavily influenced by Del Negro.

How about giving him a little more bite as head coach rather than having him answer questions all year long about his future?

::

"Survivor: Philippines" begins Wednesday with former Dodgers grouch, Jeff Kent, as one of the contestants.

Good question: Who gets eliminated first, Kent or the Dodgers from the playoffs?

Kent told Bay area reporters recently he's been a regular "Survivor" viewer, proving it when he said, "The person who made the biggest impression on me was the fat, naked gay guy — Richard Hatch."

While I let that soak in, Kent said the biggest challenge in doing the show was, "You got to develop friendships quickly."'

I sure wish I could see the look on the faces of Milton Bradley and Manny Ramirez right now.

t.j.simers@latimes.com


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