August 13, 1997 |
"You guys owe it to yourselves to play 60 minutes . . . with great effort, great intensity. It's the last time we're going to walk out that tunnel together, guys. The last time we're going to walk out as the 1996 UCLA football team. I'm proud to be a part of it." --Bob Toledo, addressing the Bruins just before last fall's USC game * Jolie Oliver is as much a part of UCLA's defense as Weldon Forde, Shaun Williams or Brian Willmer.
August 17, 1996 |
Two-a-days. Morning football practice, followed by afternoon practice, followed by meetings, with the body never quite resting, never quite being rejuvenated. Two-a-days. Welcome respite for Bob Toledo. They are a welcome break for a man who, since he became UCLA's coach Jan. 4, has met graduates even the alumni office can't find, has told jokes, preached the gospel of Bruin football and spread the message. He likes them. He also knows what's coming, beginning Sept. 7 at Knoxville, Tenn.
November 10, 1999 |
The next thing Bob Toledo knows, he'll be accused of everything short of putting that iceberg in front of the Titanic, though, come to think of it, having his UCLA offense compared to that of the notoriously conservative Terry Donahue might be a greater personal affront. Why, just look at the trick play he's running now. A naked reverse. Toledo has suddenly become the scourge of Bruin faithful, especially those with extremely short memories.
October 11, 1998 |
Practice has been loose enough for occasional trash talk, focused enough that from the stands you can hear the lacy spin of a fingertip catch. A big game is two days ahead. (It's an 11-game season. They're all big games.) Now the head coach stands at midfield, sermonizing in the early-evening Westwood haze. As he speaks, the UCLA Bruins kneel in unison, forearms staked into empty helmets, heads bowed. Afterward, a reporter asks for the gist of the prayer. 'Prayer?" Bob Toledo answers, surprised.
October 13, 2000 |
You are the head football coach. You make the call. It is seven days before the season opener, a statement game against the nation's No. 3-ranked team. You wake up to learn that, a couple of weeks earlier, your star tailback pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of possessing one ounce or less of marijuana. You summon the tailback to a Saturday morning meeting. There is anger, scolding, an apology. You ask if he was smoking the marijuana. He says no.
October 25, 2001 |
For most of the last six years, those helmeted kids from a basketball school have improbably bullied opponents, wowed fans and impressed voters nationwide. But now the UCLA football team has done the impossible. It has won the neighborhood. When it comes to college football, Los Angeles clearly belongs to the Bruins. Not USC, not any more, not even close, and not only just this year.