We begin with a fundamental disagreement with Dan Guerrero, UCLA’s athletic director, who has no clue what he’s talking about.
I suggested the loss to Washington State in the Rose Bowl was huge, maybe monumental, when you consider it cost the Bruins a sixth win, which would have made them bowl eligible with two games remaining against teams they will not be favored to defeat.
I expected him to nod his approval, or grunt like USC’s Mike Garrett, but he said, “I don’t agree.”
I said the loss to Washington State was a crusher because it put the spotlight once again on the failings of Coach Karl Dullard, who has compiled a two-year record of 11-5 before the month of November begins, but who is now 0-6 after Halloween.
“It was a loss,” Guerrero said.
It was a loss! The Bruins were favored by more than two touchdowns.
“What does that mean?” Guerrero said, and giving him the benefit of the doubt, at this point I think he was only playing dumb.
“That’s where we are,” he said. “We’re a young team, and on one side of the ball there’s a lot of unpredictability. As a program we were knocking on the door for the 25th berth [in the top 25], but we’re not there yet.”
If all goes according to form against Oregon and USC, Saturday’s defeat was a season-killer. Two more losses in their two remaining games and the Bruins won’t figure in the bowl picture, which offers at least seven different opportunities to Pacific 10 teams with at the very least, a payoff of $500,000.
“We were a two-point conversion away from tying the game and going into overtime,” Guerrero said, failing to mention that his gutty little Bruins fell short against a team that rolled over and died a week ago against USC.
“You build a foundation with character,” Guerrero said, which is complete nonsense, of course, although it has become the Bruin mantra. The losers always seem to dwell on how much character they have.
Come on, you build a foundation with good players and proper leadership, combining to understand what it takes to compete week after week regardless of who the opponent might be. That has been the Pete Carroll trademark at USC.
What would Carroll’s reaction be if his starting quarterback stood before his locker after a loss, as Drew Olson did, and said, “I don’t think we matched their intensity all game long.”
The Bruins play one game a week, pointing all their effort and practice to one game a week, and they can’t muster the intensity in front of their adoring fans to match the effort of a Pac-10 doormat? Ridiculous. “No kidding,” Olson agreed.
A WEEK ago Dullard talked about the “character” his team showed in bouncing back from a tough loss to Cal. After the loss to Washington State, he said, “We showed a lot of character fighting back into it.” Do you always have to fall behind to display character?
When Saturday’s game ended, and Olson and another 20 or 30 of his teammates ignored the traditional handshake at midfield and went straight to the locker room, I wondered, was that character?
“I wasn’t in the mood to do that today,” Olson said. “They played a good game, but it hurts to lose.... I didn’t feel like shaking hands.”
A week ago after beating Stanford soundly, yes, Olson said, he shook hands with the losers, who showed the good character to meet the Bruins at midfield.
THE HEISMAN Trophy was on display at the Rose Bowl before UCLA’s game against Washington State, I presume because most Bruin fans would feel a little awkward visiting USC’s Heritage Hall.
FORMER DODGER stiff F.P. Santangelo will work as guest host on a KNBR radio show in San Francisco on Tuesday. (I’m way ahead of you -- yes, it would be funny if he replaced me on XTRA Sports one day.)
AT THIS week’s “Basketball 101" seminar at Staples Center, which was sponsored by the Los Angeles Sports & Entertainment Commission and the Lakers, Jeanie Buss told the crowd that “someday I guarantee you, Shaq’s jersey will be retired and hanging on that wall with all the others.”
I think it’ll look a little funny to see Shaq’s Miami Heat jersey hanging up there with all the other former great Lakers.
THE LASEC is also sponsoring “Singles Night” Wednesday at 6 at Staples Center during the WTA tennis tournament, and the daughter who can’t get a date, who prefers now to be called “Miss Radio Personality,” will be in attendance.
Some of the biggest names in women’s tennis are expected to play in the tournament, but who cares? Tickets to meet Miss Radio Personality can be reserved online at www.staplescenter.com/singlesnight. Marriage proposals will have to be delivered in person.
A TRADE for Sammy Sosa makes no sense, which explains to me why General Manager Paul DePodesta might be interested in pursuing it. If the Dodgers add Sosa, Milton Bradley moves to center, and while from a bottle-throwing point of view that probably saves the fans, there’s no reason to pursue free agent Steve Finley.
The Cubs already have an outstanding first baseman, so they would be putting Shawn Green in the outfield, which means they really don’t want to win the World Series.
TODAY’S LAST word comes in e-mail from Jonathan Miller:
“I saw the following headline in the sports section of yesterday’s Pasadena Star-News: ‘Bagger is first transsexual to make Ladies Euro Tour.’ How did Mrs. Grocery Store Bagger react when she heard the news?”
She said she’s always wanted to go to Europe.
Simers can be reached at email@example.com. To read previous columns by Simers, go to latimes.com/simers.