Bruins go over the wall
UCLA’s EagleBank Bowl game preparations were interrupted Tuesday . . . by the players.
The Bruins resurrected the most visible of UCLA football traditions after finishing stretching exercises. Coach Rick Neuheisel called his team into a huddle, exhorted them by barking, “Let’s have a great effort today!” then watched as the players bolted over the practice field wall and took off, ending practice.
The tradition is known as “Wall Day,” an event Neuheisel thought he had ended last spring. But he seemed unconcerned that the players left on the third day of preparations for a game against Temple on Dec. 29.
“They caught us all by surprise with this one,” Neuheisel said. “I do compliment them on the choice of days, when we are still getting back into football mode. I am pleased with the leadership in terms of the choice.”
The first two practices were mostly spent looking at younger players. Neuheisel said they wouldn’t begin installing the Temple game plan until Thursday.
The tradition, Neuheisel said, began in 1980, before the Bruins’ regular-season finale against Oregon State in Japan that was called the Mirage Bowl.
He appeared more agreeable with this renewal than when his players bolted from spring practice in 2008.
“Spring practice is now only 15 days and we convinced the guys not to do this,” Neuheisel said. “We went through the history of Wall Day, that it started before a bowl game. They gave us what we wanted in spring, but they did remember it was during bowl games that you could do it.”
Terrence Austin, a senior wide receiver, said the idea popped up in the locker room Tuesday morning.
“We kind of wanted to have a complete season and decided to get this in,” Austin said. “We promised Coach we wouldn’t do it unless we got a bowl. We decided to get it out of the way early so we could get back to work for the Washington, D.C., game. We didn’t want it to interfere with business.”
Not all players seemed on board. Asked whether he was aware of the plan, senior quarterback Kevin Craft tersely responded, “No.” Senior tight end Logan Paulsen was asked about it and declined to comment.
Neuheisel said the coaches would spend their extra time reviewing Temple game tapes.
“This will be fine,” Neuheisel said. “We’ll make this a positive.”
Carter on bubble
Senior linebacker Reggie Carter was set to miss a second day of practice and will be unavailable for the bowl game unless he completes work for one class, a source within the program said anonymously because he was not authorized to speak on the topic.
Carter needs to pass the class to have six units for the quarter, the minimum required to remain eligible.
Kicker Kai Forbath was a first-team All-American selection by the Sporting News. Defensive tackle Brian Price was named to the second team and safety Rahim Moore to the third team.
At least one participating school is giddy about appearing in the EagleBank Bowl.
For the Temple football program, it’s only the third bowl appearance in 112 years and the school’s sports information department is producing 700 commemorative postseason media guides.
Temple’s bowl resume:
A loss to Tulane in the 1935 Sugar Bowl.
A win against California in the 1979 Garden State Bowl.
Temple’s most famous former football player: Bill Cosby.
Cosby was a running back for the Owls in 1961-62 before dropping out to pursue a career as a stand-up comic.
His most memorable football moment, according to a Cosby comedy routine, was getting hit below the belt during a game against Hofstra.