It used to be very easy to be a college sports fan in Los Angeles. If you were a football fan, you knew that USC was the school, however if hoops was your sport, there was no better school than UCLA.
Had it not been for USC, there would be no SEC, at least not in the way we know now.
Back in 1970 legendary Alabama coach Bear Bryant scheduled his Crimson Tide to play the Trojans in Alabama. It was a game the Trojans won 42-21. So why is that game so significant? It showed the Alabama faithful and the rest of the southern teams how good an integrated team could be.
Since there were no African-Americans on the 1970 Tide team, and after the rout, the team quickly integrated and now the SEC is one of the best conferences in the country.
Meanwhile on the hardwood, John Wooden had his Bruins winning ten national titles in 12 years. They were quite simply the most dominant program any sport had ever seen, and to this day are spoken of with reverence, and they UCLA still has that mystique.
So why is it so important to have the history lesson? Because winds of change are starting to blow in the City of Angels. No, the Trojans hoops team is not having resurgence. But the football program over in Westwood is starting to resemble a national power. Yes, under Terry Donahue and even Bob Toledo, the Bruins had good seasons, but never sustained success.
Now with Jim Mora Jr at the helm since the start of the 2012 season, the Bruins have improved each year, and now this season may be the capper. Yes, Brett Hundley, the All-American QB is now plying his trade in Green Bay, but that allowed true freshman Josh Rosen to start this past weekend’s season opener against Virginia, and boy did he ever light it up. Rosen finished the game 28-of-35 for 351 yards, 3 TD’s and ZERO picks. He also spread the ball around, hitting 12 receivers with passes in all. He had a 192.5 QB efficiency rating, 2nd best in the country against a major-conference opponent in Week 1.
With a defense that is already a menace to society—see the LA reference—led by two-way monster Myles Jack and a running game that led by junior Paul Perkins should be able to roll opponents, all that mattered was to see how the 18-year-old would fare as a starting QB. Asked and answered.
But before you go giving the Bruins the National Title or anything, remember that last true freshman QB to lead his team to a major conference championship was Chad Henne at Michigan back in 2004, and you have to go back to 1985 Oklahoma for a true freshman that led his team to (or even close to) a national title.
But Mora has this Bruins team in the right direction, having beaten USC three straight years, UCLA is now starting to get some national attention.
This team will only go as far as their freshman QB will lead them however, and if just one game is any offer of proof, the Bruins will be a force to be reckoned with all season long. Maybe, just maybe UCLA won’t be just a basketball school anymore.