UCLA's latest loss leaves some fans in a foul (mouthed) mood

From Seattle

A meaner, more unforgiving columnist might use words like pathetic, pitiful and maybe even putrid in describing our crummy little football team's latest pratfall.

Deflating and depressing would also work, UCLA so lousy it's losing to Washington, and if USC wasn't doing that now with regularity, it would really be embarrassing.

But I prefer to dwell on the positive, and the excitement that comes with knowing there is no tomorrow, the Bruins' backs to the wall — do-or-die games remaining with Arizona State and USC.

It just doesn't get any better than this for UCLA, and isn't that the truth, a chance now to go a heart-thumping 6-6.

That's why it doesn't even matter the lack of class shown by UCLA after Coach Rick Neuheisel's news conference, someone dressed in Bruins blue support garb using an obscenity to describe a Los Angeles sports columnist.

Now I'm going to defend Plaschke every chance I get, and while the guy dressed in UCLA blue support garb never mentioned Plaschke by name, who else could he have been referencing?

I tracked down the guy in UCLA blue support garb to ask if he was working for the school. He said he was a fan, and USC will get a laugh out of that, because USC knows darn well that allowing fans into unauthorized areas really ticks off the NCAA.

Fan or not, the guy looked like he was a part of the Bruins' official party. For all I knew, he might be the school's chancellor.

I mentioned the lack of decorum to UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero so he might set things straight.

"Don't talk about decorum," snapped Guerrero, while making it clear he didn't have any problem with someone throwing around obscenities — especially if aimed at a columnist.

Wait until Plaschke hears that.

Let's face it, from Guerrero's point of view, calling Plaschke names is a whole lot better than having folks start talking about the job Guerrero is doing — or not doing.

He's had eight years to turn around the football program, and if anyone stayed with Thursday night's nationally televised debacle, at best it remains a shaky work in progress.

The Huskies scored 24 unanswered points, and when was the last time that happened?

They took advantage of an injury to UCLA quarterback Richard Brehaut, but with as many excuses and losses as the Huskies have had over the years, any win for any reason is monumental.

"They deserved to win," said Neuheisel.

Most people believe the best team usually deserves to win, so that's quite an admission three years into his reign as coach. Where's any sign of progress?

Neuheisel said injuries have prevented that. "I believe brighter days are right around the corner," he said.

That's what he always says, only to find a trap door waiting around the corner. "There will be a lot of naysayers after this ballgame," he said, and while he didn't mention it, cussing as well.

Neuheisel said there won't be very many folks expecting a successful conclusion to this season, so "we need an uncommon effort and uncommon people" to get the job done.

It's probably an NCAA violation to suddenly acquire uncommon people 10 games into a season, but is being banned from bowl games any different than not qualifying again?

"I always believe optimism is the best way to go," Neuheisel said, although I might suggest sustaining a consistent effort from start to finish.

Neuheisel said "it might be a smarter" move to not be so optimistic, thereby protecting himself. But he said he chooses to be who he is.

That might explain why everyone in the place was booing when they showed Neuheisel on the scoreboard in the third quarter.

IT WAS so cold here, and with the press box open to the chilly air, I had a decision to make. Freeze, and maybe not be well enough to continue on with UCLA's thrilling pursuit of a 6-6 season.

Or, use the company credit card to buy a purple U-Dub stocking cap, "Bark for Sark" sweatshirt and purple gloves, knowing that when I clapped for UCLA the knit gloves might very well mute the applause.

I also risked being mistaken for a Huskies fan, not knowing at the time it would be far worse to be mistaken for Plaschke after Neuheisel's news conference.

SPENT SOME time with Uncle Pete up here as he prepares to get together with Reggie Bush in New Orleans, and will relay what he had to say on Page 2 in Sunday's newspaper.

In the meantime he will have done everything he can to make sure he sees USC's game with Oregon State.

"Oh gosh, I love watching USC play," he said. "I can't tell you how connected I am watching the kids play. I was running around the hotel last week and couldn't find the game. I got mad.

"I had to go to a bar, standing in a corner to watch it. I had to get my family to come over, too, so it didn't look like the night before our game I was just hanging around the bar."

As for his successor, he said of Lane Kiffin, "I think he's battling really well and holding it together. I want him to enjoy it more than he is, though, so everybody else can, too."

As for what he thinks of the Bruins' season, he said, "What's their record?"

A little reluctant, he said, to say anymore, I asked for just one line. "OK, what an impressive win against Texas," he said.

But then under his breath he couldn't contain himself. "What is Texas' record?"


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