Not a Swan Dive — Only fans wearing tin foil hats gave UCLA a chance in Neuheisel’s Swan Song, but heart and admirable effort actually make it interesting before Oregon wraps up the Bruins and sends the Coach packing, 49-31
Despite not really having a shot, the Bruins gave it their BEST shot, but it wasn’t enough to hang with the Ducks. Oregon and Heisman Hopeful LaMichael James were just too much for UCLA, who lost to the Ducks 49-31 in the inaugural Pac-12 Championship Game. Game MVP James rushed for 219 yards and 3 Touchdowns, and Oregon took advantage of FOUR Bruin Turnovers to ultimately pull away.
The Bruins showed true character and fought hard all the way through — obviously inspired by their desire to send their exiting Coach Rick Neuheisel out on a high note — but could not overcome the talent gap and their own mistakes. Two plays into the game, Kevin Prince and Jonathan Franklin fumbled a handoff exchange, and two minutes later, the Ducks were up 7-0. Undaunted, the Bruins drew even on a Pick Six by Linebacker Patrick Larimore. Larimore also recovered a Duck fumble moments earlier, but UCLA didn’t capitalize, so Larimore did it himself on his second takeaway.
The Ducks responded after the Pick Six with a quick TD, then, after a Jonathan Franklin fumble (an all-too common refrain during the Neuheisel Era), they scored again, to make it 21-7. But the determined Bruins didn’t fold, and cut the lead to 21-14 on a 37-yard TD Pass from Prince to Nelson Rosario, on a FLEA FLICKER! Unfortunately, the Bruin Defense couldn’t stop the Ducks, who quickly doubled the lead back up to 14. Then the Bruins tried another trick play, but a Reverse was broken up and the pitch was knocked free before Josh Smith could control it. Oregon recovered, and scored again to make it 35-14. The Bruins got a Field Goal as time expired in the 2nd Quarter to make it 35-17 at the Half.
After Intermission, the Bruins forced a 3 and out, and then drove for a TD. The score came on a 1-yard Prince run, after a convincing fake to Coleman, whom the Ducks were sure was going to get the ball. The Touchdown made it 35-24 in the 3rd Quarter — making it a much closer and competitive game than anyone was expecting. Oregon, suddenly taking the Bruins seriously, then kicked it into overdrive, and scored two straight TD’s to make it 49-24 with 20 minutes to go in the game, and that was all she wrote. EVEN THEN, the Bruins did NOT pack it in. They kept trying as hard as they could, actually scoring one more time, on the PLAY OF THE GAME. With just under 2 minutes to go in the game, Prince lofted a 19-yard pass to the end zone, that Rosario leaped up and snagged with ONE HAND. He controlled it with just the one hand, never bringing it in to his chest or to his other hand, and the Bruins had their fourth Touchdown of the night, making the final score 49-31.
Neuheisel was cordial after the game, thankful for his opportunity, and grateful for the relationships that he developed with his players. And based on the effort displayed by his team, in a practically no-win situation, you could see that the feeling was mutual. Neuheisel wished the Bruins well, and said that he hoped they would find a return to glory with his successor (whomever that may be).
Many fans consider him a true blue Bruin, and a great candidate to be the UCLA Athletic Director some day. They believe that he bleeds blue and gold. And to most people, he does… but NOT ENOUGH FOR ME. In my opinion, he does not despise usc enough to live up to my standards. Not only did he attend usc Law School, but he attempted to hire trojan Rocky Seto as Defensive Coordinator. Anyone who chooses to attend classes at Figueroa Tech, or thinks it’s okay to add a “trojan-for-life” to the Bruin Football Staff, JUST DOESN’T GET IT, and never will.
I should have known that someone who has a degree from SCum is not worthy to be a leader at UCLA. I think he should just go the Gruden Route — Sign up with ESPN, and do what he does best — Exude personality and charm, talk up a storm, and stay the Hell away from Coaching. Let him endorse UCLA on TV only. Neuheisel went 0-4 against $C, including a 50-0 shellacking that will live in infamy, and he ended up with the worst Winning Percentage in UCLA History: .420. Stick that in your bong and smoke it. Now with ex-trojans Jack Del Rio and Jeff Fisher available for the Coaching vacancy, I can only hope and pray that Dan Guerrero knows better than Neuheisel when it comes to bringing the ENEMY into the fold.