UCLA football has given us nothing but bad memories full of nightmares, heartbreaks, and frustrations since the night of December 5, 1998, when an undefeated 10-0 UCLA football team choked away a 54 year drought in national title against Butch’s crew in Miami.
That clearly was a turning point in the Pac-10 at the time. Nestor touches on a salient issue when he talks about the J.P. Losman affair.
In our view, the loss of J.P. Losman was crucial to the relative decline of UCLA football. Faced with a golden opportunity to snag the fertile LA college football landscape away from USC, the Bruins bungled it. Losman transferred after one spring and UCLA has seen guys like Corey Paus, Ryan McCann, Matt Moore and Drew Olson attempt to replace Cade McNown–to no avail. Had Losman stayed, he would have blossomed by his sophomore or junior year, the Bruins would have been a lot better and would likely still be competing for top recruits with USC. Of course, the national implications are there, too. Without USC’s stranglehold on LA talent in the last few years, no way does it win 34 of 35 and two-straight national titles.
Of course, the pendulum swings back in funny ways, too: USC’s overwhelming success in recruiting is actually starting to pay dividends for schools like Cal and UCLA. As USC continues to bring in top out-of-state talent like Patrick Turner (Tennessee) and Jeff Byers (Colorado), it leaves a bevy of Southern California talent available to other schools, creating a chain reaction in this age of scholarship restrictions.
For instance, USC might pass on a top player from a Long Beach Poly that it would have viewed as a high priority five years ago. Or that player may look at the Trojan roster and conclude that it’s too loaded. If that player wants to stay somewhat local, his next option is UCLA or Cal. This is how top players like DeSean Jackson and Maurice Drew ended up at Berkeley and Westwood. So faced with these new options, UCLA and California then pass up on some players they might normally have taken a chance on. Those players are then gobbled up by Fresno State and Boise State (see Jeremy Childs). And so on down the line.
In sounds funny to say it, but UCLA fans might want to cheer on USC’s out-of-state recruiting efforts. It just might save Karl Dorrell’s ass.