UCLA coach Chip Kelly likes to draw from an array of sources for his motivational sayings, but apparently one of them is not philosopher George Santayana.
As Santayana wrote in “The Life of Reason,” “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Kelly would seemingly fit into that category based on his professed knowledge of the UCLA-Stanford series. Asked on Monday how much he knew about the rivalry, Kelly recalled his team losing to the Cardinal 49-42 last season in a back-and-forth thriller.
“That’s about the extent of it,” said Kelly, whose Bruins (1-5 overall, 1-2 Pac-12 Conference) face the Cardinal (3-3, 2-2) on Thursday night in Palo Alto.
Was Kelly aware that Stanford held a long winning streak in the rivalry?
“I am not aware of that,” he said.
It’s a streak that goes to 11, UCLA last beating the Cardinal on Oct. 18, 2008, when quarterback Kevin Craft rolled out and lofted a pass to tight end Cory Harkey in the back of the end zone with 10 seconds left. The Bruins’ 23-20 victory was their fifth consecutive triumph in the series and their sixth in a row between the teams at the Rose Bowl.
It’s been all Stanford since then.
UCLA’s Cardinal sins have included letting Heisman Trophy runner-up Toby Gerhart run wild in 2009, losing 35-0 in 2010, Ka’imi Fairbairn’s missed field-goal try in the Pac-12 championship game in 2012 and a different sort of miss in 2016 as part of coach Jim Mora’s shift to a pro-style offense intended to topple the conference heavyweight.
Stanford’s dominance has resulted in UCLA’s longest losing streak in a series since it joined what would become the Pac-12 in 1928. Kelly said the sustained supremacy would not become a psychological factor among his players.
“I don’t even think anybody’s ever talked about it,” Kelly said, “so it can’t be a psychological factor if no one talks about it.”
Oh, they’re talking about it.
Sophomore receiver Chase Cota, when asked when was the last time UCLA had beaten Stanford: “Eleven years ago.”
Sophomore defensive lineman Tyler Manoa, when asked the same question: “2009 … 2008. I think I heard that.”
Senior center Boss Tagaloa, who has marinated in as many Stanford losses as anyone on the team, said he’s ready to savor a different outcome.
“I just know that I haven’t beaten Stanford yet,” Tagaloa said, “so I want get this last ‘W’ before I get up out of here.”
The Bruins who know their history realize that a victory Thursday wouldn’t be just for them.
“For the guys ahead of us,” Cota said, “obviously that would be a big deal for them to see and for the whole program and moving forward, I think that would be an important win and we need something to help turn this around.”
UCLA’s efforts to reduce penalties suffered a setback Saturday when the Bruins were called for unsportsmanlike conduct heading into halftime … of the USC-Notre Dame game.
It’s true. An official called unsportsmanlike conduct on Notre Dame and UCLA after some pushing and shoving between the Fighting Irish and Trojans on their way to the locker room.
“I did not see that,” Kelly said when asked about the official’s blunder.
The verbal slip delighted Notre Dame fans, who chanted “UCLA!” in the final minutes of the Irish’s 30-27 victory.
Fortunately, the Bruins won’t be pushed back 15 yards on their first kickoff against Stanford.
UCLA has made strides in the penalty department under Kelly, its 53.3 penalty yards per game this season making it the third-least penalized team in the Pac-12. That’s up from ninth in the conference last season, when UCLA averaged 57.0 penalty yards per game.
“I think our guys have done a good job from a penalty standpoint this season,” Kelly said.