T.J. SIMERS

At UCLA, some dignity is lost in drive to succeed at football

Coach Jim Mora sends the 'it's us against them' message by berating a school sports information official and banning some in media from practice. But the Bruins are winning, so it's all fair, right?

BOULDER, Colo. -- Proving it was no fluke when Sacramento State, Colorado State and Fresno State somehow found a way to beat Colorado, UCLA did the same Saturday.

The gutty little Bruins, while not winning by 55 like mighty Fresno State, did a fantastic job of holding on to win by 28 and cover the 20-point spread.

Hail to Rick Neuheisel's players for rising to the occasion and Jim Mora for getting to the bottom of what has undermined the Bruins' chances of success for so long.

This week, Mora announced the schools' sports information department is incompetent.

I've thought so for years, with the sports information department putting out a news release every week reminding the Bruins just how crummy they have been — noting this week the team hadn't won in Boulder since 1984.

Something needed to be said, but to hear an insider such as Mora say so publicly after kicking some of these haters out of practice was obviously a tremendous step forward for UCLA.

And you have to admire the way Mora sent the traditional "it's us against them" football message to his team.

According to witnesses, it was like someone shredding a tackling dummy, or tossing fresh meat to a pack of animals.

He berated an unassuming sports information assistant in front of the whole team for allowing a TV cameraman to stand in the wrong place.

In doing so, he gave the sports information assistant an earful of some very impressive obscenities, which of course the young players would expect from their demanding leader.

Then Mora forced the guy to make the walk of humiliation off the practice field.

It's what we've come to expect from our really good college coaches as they set out to make men out of the kids in their programs.

And you know the Bruins had to just love it, with UCLA fans no doubt also admiring Mora's drive to be the very best at whatever the cost of human dignity.

That's when a program knows it has the right guy, or as Mora put it: "I'm not going to jeopardize what we're doing as a football team because of the incompetence of some people."

I think it's pretty well understood football is the most important thing going on at UCLA, and every man, woman and child needs to understand that.

Can I have an eight clap, please?

I checked with the school's sports information director (SID), Nick Ammazzalorso, to see whether the incompetence Mora was talking about had started at the top with him.

But he was quick to say he wasn't at practice Wednesday when Mora went ballistic, or even in his own office.

Now maybe someone could call Ammazzalorso a slacker, but apparently not incompetent.

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