Local teams really put the loss in Los Angeles

YOU TAKE the current crop of young men playing football for Stanford and Notre Dame, and maybe Fortune 500 companies and the Arena League will eventually benefit, but what a dark, embarrassing, throw-away day for our local football factories.

Appalachian Whatever might beat Michigan, but we had both of our high-expectation powerhouses getting rolled by two of this planet’s worst teams on the same night within miles of each other.

USC and UCLA have been eliminated before the Angels, so the Los Angeles Kings may now be our most dependable outfit.

This might have been the worst day in Southern California football history, Notre Dame and UCLA fans together in the same stadium celebrating a Trojans loss and then an hour later the Bruins doing something no other team in the nation could do -- make a winner out of the Irish.


If Rudy plays for this talent-starved 0-5 Notre Dame team, he’s starting. If Tavita Pritchard isn’t playing quarterback for Stanford, he’s still looking to make his first collegiate start. If either team gets a bowl invite, there will be an investigation.

But today Notre Dame and Stanford are the victors, USC and UCLA just major league flops.

How soon before O.J. Mayo and Kevin Love start playing?

Tell me anyone saw this coming. Jim Harbaugh outsmarts Pete Carroll, and Charlie Weis outsmarts . . . OK, so some things are believable . . . but more than 150,000 people filled the Coliseum and the Rose Bowl with glowing expectations on this fine Saturday only to get sucker punched.


Who knows about the national championship and all those computer calculations down the road? USC lost to a Pac-10 doormat, a week after hanging on to beat Washington, and what makes the Trojans think they’re so special anymore?

Who’s going to be favored in that Notre Dame-USC game later this month? Is there anything anyone can count on again?

UCLA falls apart against Utah, is favored by more than 20 against Notre Dame, and Karl Dorrell’s team tanks. Again.

Carroll can’t really afford to lose, a national title always meaning everything to him, but then of course he can afford to lose on occasion because of such a solid resume.

Dorrell is at that point of his career where he might consider taking the field with a paper bag over his head. Losses to Utah and Notre Dame in the same season are strike one and strike two, and there’s just no more defense for such horrid performances.

As he said after the game, “It is what it is,” and just maybe, and reluctantly it must be said here -- he is, what he is.

There is no way after last year’s gut-wrenching loss in South Bend, revenge and motivation sitting there everywhere for the Bruins to use, that UCLA loses at home. To this gawd-awful team.

Notre Dame came into this game ranked No. 118 in a number of categories and the rankings only go 119 deep. The Irish figured to be 0-8 before visiting the Grotto and lighting a candle in the hopes of maybe beating Navy or Air Force or Duke.


They finish the season at Stanford, as big a game on the football calendar now as any. What a joke this local season has become. John David Booty, Ben Olson, Jason Schmidt -- we get all the aces here only to have them turn out to be jokers.

Today marks the last time Heisman and Booty will be included in the same sentence, and while Bruins fans will tell you they played much of the game against Notre Dame without Olson, as you can see, they were getting all the breaks.

Olson, proving to be a miscast franchise player, injured his knee early on and was replaced by McLeod Bethel-Thompson, who obviously doesn’t have what it takes to be a hero -- his last name way too long to ever make headlines.

Booty the robot, and still the robot after everyone said he would be so much better this year -- maybe more spontaneous, better able to create -- is now as good as anyone to blame for a season thrown away.

UCLA’s defense, loaded with seniors and holding the key to a season that was going to hang on their domination, is now probably looking at the Las Vegas Bowl or a New Year’s Eve in El Paso for the Sun Bowl. Kind of makes those UCLA “Champions are made here” T-shirts a little tough to wear in public these days.

USC’s defense, yeah, there was a time when it was really good, the question at the start of this season, though, “might it be the best ever under Carroll,” can now be answered. No.

Details, details, and who cares? There were penalties, fumbles, interceptions, and maybe a play here or there and it all ends differently for USC and UCLA. But right now the scoreboard tells a different story.

“Our kids continued to fight,” Dorrell said, his pugs going down for the count in the second half against a team that has allowed the opposition to average 33 points a game this season.


Yeah, it’s time to take off the gloves, all right.

I REMEMBER when UCLA paid its football and basketball coaches the same salary. For some (winning) reason, they no longer do that.

Ben Howland will earn $1.5 million this season, while Dorrell’s deal calls for an annual salary of $850,000.

Dorrell also gets a $500,000 bonus if he remains at UCLA for the next five years and a certificate indicating it’s officially a miracle.

THE PARKING Lot Attendant wasted no time fixing his disappointing team. The Dodgers fired Stan Johnston, head trainer from 2000-2006, and one of the really good guys in town.

GM Ned Colletti brought in former Giants’ trainer Stan Conte last year, the first sign the popular Johnston was being pushed to the side. Conte had previous experience with Schmidt, the former Giants’ pitcher, and you can see how well that worked out. Best wishes to Johnston.

TODAY’S LAST word comes in e-mail from Dick Sands:

“After seeing what happened to USC and UCLA, maybe it’s time to start cheering for Pomona-Spitzer?”

This really is a dark day.


T.J. Simers can be reached at To read previous columns by Simers, go to