Advertisement
UCLA Sports

UCLA may switch sidelines at the Rose Bowl next season

Rose Bowl
While UCLA quarterback Mike Fafaul and tight end Nate Iese are playing in shade at the Rose Bowl, Bruins fans (background) are bathed in sunlight during an afternoon game against Utah in October.
(Luis Sinco/Los Angeles Times)

UCLA may no longer look on the bright side of things at the Rose Bowl.

The school’s athletic department, in conjunction with the student fan group “The Den,” has sent an email survey to students asking whether they would be in favor of moving sections to allow Bruins players to switch sidelines at their home stadium.

For years, UCLA players have stood along the side of the Rose Bowl that is bathed in sunlight during afternoon games while opponents have been shaded by the press box and fan suites. It’s led to some sweltering conditions for the Bruins, particularly over the season’s first few games.

“During the earlier games, when you’re on the sideline watching it’s kind of hard to see sometimes, but it’s nothing too major,” UCLA quarterback Mike Fafaul said Wednesday. “I think switching sides, whatever they think is best would work best for the program. I really don’t have a preference.”

Advertisement

For the Bruins to switch sidelines, their student section would have to be moved because it cannot be located too close to rival teams per Pac-12 Conference rules. The proposed plan calls for students to be relocated to the north end zone, putting more seats closer to the field and allowing most of them to move out of the direct sunlight as well.

UCLA Coach Jim Mora said he was aware of the email but wouldn’t say whether he was in favor of the proposed move.

“I haven’t thought about it one single instant,” Mora said. “That’s not anything that’s even close on my agenda. My agenda right now is trying to get a win against Cal and doing the best we can in recruiting.”

A UCLA spokesman said the Bruins could change sidelines by next season if everything falls into place.

Advertisement

Backup plan

The Bruins participated in a bowl game Wednesday. The Scout Bowl.

It’s the annual reward for the scout team players who toil in anonymity for most of the season.

“It’s not a glamorous job,” Mora said, “so we give them a chance to go out and compete live and tackle and throw it. It gets the juices flowing.”

Mora said the tradition led to the discovery of left tackle Conor McDermott as an elite athlete several years ago when he caught the ball on a crossing route while playing tight end.

The Bruins awarded four game balls Wednesday, to reserve center Gyo Shojima, defensive lineman Jake Burton, receiver Audie Omotosho and linebacker Michael Mapes.

Shojima gave his acceptance speech in Japanese.

Going bowling?

Advertisement

As for an actual bowl game, Mora declined to say whether he had spoken with UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero about the Bruins’ willingness to accept a bid should they beat Cal on Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley.

A victory would improve UCLA’s record to 5-7 and conceivably make the Bruins eligible should there be a shortage of teams with .500 or better records to fill the 80 bowl slots.

“Right now,” Mora said, “our focus is just solely on Cal and trying to find a way to dig out a win on Saturday and then we’ll let all that kind of take care of itself afterward.”

At least one Bruin would be in favor of the extra game.

“That would be awesome,” Fafaul said of playing in a bowl. “I’m looking forward to it, but I can’t really look past Cal right now because if we don’t win that game nothing else is possible.”

Cal would also improve to 5-7 should it defeat the Bruins.

ben.bolch@latimes.com

Twitter: @latbbolch

Advertisement


Newsletter
Get our daily Sports Report newsletter
Advertisement