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Nece’s Father Knows Best How to Tackle Tough Loss

For the first time, UCLA linebacker Ryan Nece dreaded seeing his father after a game when the Bruins returned home from Miami.

What was the last thing Ronnie Lott told his son before the game against the Hurricanes?

“He told me that when you go into an away stadium against a team like Miami, you’ve got to tackle,” Nece said this week. “He said hard tackling is the best way to take away a team’s home-field advantage.”

Then the Bruins went out and missed more tackles in one afternoon than Lott, a notorious tackler, did in his entire college and pro career as the Hurricanes won, 49-45.

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Lott, however, was sympathetic.

“He said forget it, that game’s gone, the best thing you can do is learn from it, regroup and focus on the next game,” Nece said.

That is Friday’s Rose Bowl game against Wisconsin.

“Wisconsin isn’t going to see the same defense we had in Miami,” Nece said. “We were so embarrassed after that game that we didn’t want to show our faces in school. We can’t let that happen again. We’ve had a lot more intensity in practices.”

So much more that UCLA Coach Bob Toledo said coaches have had to break up several fights between the defense and the scout team offense.

By all accounts, the Bruin defense has looked sharp.

But the scout team doesn’t have Edgerrin James.

Or Ron Dayne.

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Who would have thought Nebraska’s football team would adopt a Rap song as its anthem? . . .

Actually, it was more of a country song that was performed before Wednesday night’s Holiday Bowl in San Diego by Jannel Rap of Anaheim. . . .

The name of Rap’s song is “Sea of Red,” which could also be the theme of the Rose Bowl game if the crowd is as pro-Wisconsin as it was the last time the Badgers played the Bruins in Pasadena in 1994. . . .

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Wisconsin hopes for a repeat. . . .

“The ultimate is when you play on the road and the [home team’s] offense has to call a timeout because they can’t hear the cadence,” Badger defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove says. . . .

Badger fans were considered among the loudest in college football even before their team started going to the Rose Bowl every five years. . . .

UCLA will be content if it has as much success against Dayne’s team as it did against another Wisconsin team led by a Heisman Trophy contender in 1952 and ’53. . . .

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Despite the presence of Alan “the Horse” Ameche in the Badger backfield, the Bruins won, 20-7 and 13-0. . . .

Remember when great college football players had equally great nicknames? One player Ameche outpolled when he won the Heisman in 1954 was Ohio State’s Howard “Hopalong” Cassady. . . .

In Jaguar Jon Arnett’s first season at USC in 1954, Texas Christian beat the Trojans, 20-7. . . .

The Horned Frogs had good teams in the ‘50s and would have been even better if they had landed their No. 1 recruit in 1956. . . .

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They told Don Meredith out of rural Mount Vernon, Texas, that he could wear blue jeans if he came to Fort Worth. . . .

“Thanks very much, but I’ve been wearing blue jeans my whole life,” said Meredith, who opted for preppier Southern Methodist in Dallas. . . .

Trivia: TCU has produced a Super Bowl MVP and one of the worst free-agent busts in NFL history. Who are they? . . .

Answer: It’s a trick question. They are one and the same, cornerback Larry Brown. . . .

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Just as I was about to note that it could be one of those rare years when there was no turnover among Pac-10 football coaches, Jim Lambright--unfairly, unless it’s based on something besides his record--was fired at Washington. . . .

Now it’s being reported in Chicago that Paul Hackett is on the long list of candidates to replace Dave Wannstedt with the Bears. . . .

Mark Hatley, the Bears’ vice president of player personnel, and Hackett worked together in Kansas City. . . .

Why is Gary Kubiak, an offensive coordinator who doesn’t call the plays in Denver, getting more attention for head coaching jobs than Sherm Lewis, an offensive coordinator who doesn’t call the plays in Green Bay? . . .

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Why is Jim Haslett, Pittsburgh’s defensive coordinator, getting more attention for head coaching jobs than Willie Shaw, Oakland’s defensive coordinator? . . .

Let’s hope the answers aren’t black and white.

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While wondering why it took JaRon Rush so long to figure out he wasn’t in Kansas City anymore, I was thinking: Maybe he didn’t like Steve Lavin’s substitution pattern, Washington could save moving expenses by hiring Dennis Erickson, I like USC against TCU even more than I did against Fresno State in 1992.

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Randy Harvey can be reached at his e-mail address: randy.harvey@latimes.com


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