Some college football programs need a search party


It’s a jungle out there, so your intrepid correspondent recently loaded up the mules and embarked on a literary expedition to find:

• Four more UCLA wins.

• A politician with his facts straight.

• Leadership at Ohio State (clue: we won’t find it at the top of Mt. Buckeye).

• A national title opponent for the Southeastern Conference West champion.

• Pride in USC’s defense.

Westwood Ho!

It’s a slippery slope to the four victories presumably necessary to save Coach Rick Neuheisel’s job. Getting to Machu Picchu might be easier.


Last week’s Stanford loss was so predicable that when a reader emailed Friday asking whether UCLA had a chance Saturday, the reflexive response was, “In what sport?”

UCLA is 2-3 with remaining games against Washington State, Arizona, California, Arizona State, Utah, Colorado and USC.

Thank goodness UCLA doesn’t play Oregon and Washington this year, or else we’d be returning our hiking boots and trail mix.

Let’s get remaining losses out of the way: USC and Arizona State. Yes, we know, 2006, 13-9, anything can happen. And Arizona State, down two more starters this week, might not be able to field a team Nov. 5.

Credit UCLA probable wins over Washington State, Saturday at the Rose Bowl, and Colorado, Nov. 19 at the Rose Bowl. Neuheisel has never lost to Washington State and Washington State last weekend didn’t even lose to Colorado.

That puts UCLA at 4-5 needing to squeeze two drips of win water from Arizona, California and Utah.


At Arizona on Oct. 20 won’t be easy, but the Wildcats are fading faster than Hank Williams Jr. Arizona has given up an average of 565 yards during its four-game losing streak. The Wildcats’ defense, in consecutive games, helped LaMichael James set Oregon’s single-game rushing record and Matt Barkley shatter USC’s single-game passing mark.

Cal is UCLA’s homecoming opponent Oct. 29. Since 1999, UCLA has lost every game played at Cal and won all but one (2009) played at the Rose Bowl.

At Utah on Nov. 12 looks easier now that the Utes have joined the Pacific 12 Conference. Utah already appears worn down and is 0-2 in the South Division, with its quarterback injured and Arizona State coming to town.

Can UCLA get to six wins?

Yes … maybe. But the Bruins need to attach crampons to their cleats.

Author of fiction

Utah Atty. Gen. Mark L. Shurtleff recently wrote an editorial for the Arizona Republic stating why the Bowl Championship Series needs to be abolished.

He’s certainly entitled to an opinion, one shared by many. But he’s not entitled to make up facts.


“Not only is the system unfair, it is also illegal,” Shurtleff wrote.

Shurtleff failed to mention Utah joined the “illegal” Pac-12 this year just in time to reap the benefits of the league’s new $3-billion television contract.

Shurtleff also wrote Utah, as the only undefeated team in 2008, was denied a shot at the title because “the cabal” required two one-loss teams to play. He said coaches voted Utah No. 4 in the BCS because “they had not seen them play.”

Shurtleff forgot to add that Utah Coach Kyle Whittingham voted his own team No. 5 in the final poll to determine which teams played for the title.

Shurtleff: “Baylor, which has never played a bowl game, receives far more BCS revenue than 10-bowl veteran Texas Christian University.”

Baylor has played in 17 bowls, including the Cotton, Orange, Sugar, Gator, Peach, Alamo, Copper, Gotham and Dixie.

Shurtleff: “Shockingly, the BCS scheme mandated Connecticut (four losses) play in the 2011 Fiesta Bowl, bringing its AQ [automatic qualifier] conference, the ACC, $22 million.”


Connecticut is a member of the Big East Conference.

Shurtleff: The BCS clings to power “despite near-universal opposition.”

In fact, many players, coaches and school presidents are not opposed.

Shurtleff: Only seven “non-AQ” schools have played in major bowls since the BCS was formed in 1998.

He failed to note that none of those schools, including Utah (twice), had access to those bowls before the BCS.

Shurtleff vows to sue the BCS in federal court “within a few months.”

That gives him time to hire a fact checker.

Gee, could he be serious?

Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee told the Columbus Dispatch this week: “We are the poster child for compliance.”

His comments came the week after three Buckeyes were suspended for last Saturday’s game against Nebraska because they were overpaid for part-time work. Two of the players were set to return this week after serving five-game suspensions for an unrelated incident.

Maybe what Ohio State needs to be is the poster “adult” for compliance.

As simple as A, B and SEC


It’s hard to imagine the champion of college football’s best division not playing for the BCS title in New Orleans. Shoot, Alabama and Louisiana State, which meet in an SEC game Nov. 5, might require a rematch.

This could be one of those years when going undefeated might not be enough. Oklahoma at 12-0 should have the second title spot locked down. Undefeated Wisconsin, Stanford, Boise State and Georgia Tech or Clemson would have a tough time breaking through.

In 2004, undefeated SEC champion Auburn got left out of the title game because USC and Oklahoma started the year on top and never lost.

One consolation this year could be undefeated Stanford and Wisconsin playing in the Rose Bowl.

Not a Trojan fun zone

It has been a long, grueling slog. We’re finally here, wherever “here” is.

“Mr. Kiffin, I presume?”

Monte Kiffin, who runs USC’s defense, says the Trojans’ defense isn’t as bad as it looks — especially with your eyes closed.


USC fans old enough to remember Richard “Batman” Wood and Ronnie Lott and Junior Seau and Troy Polamalu have had just about enough of the Trojans’ vanilla, bend-but-don’t-give-up-60 philosophy.

USC’s defense is surrendering 379 yards per game, not bad compared to Rice’s 549.

USC is giving up an average of 26.40 points, a Steel Curtain compared with Kansas’ 44.25.

The Trojans rank No. 110 in red-zone defense, giving up 16 scores in 17 trips. New Mexico, at No. 111, knows how it feels.

USC needs to tighten the chain on its No. 100 pass defense if it wants to catch No. 99 Minnesota, coming off a 58-0 loss to Michigan.