It's a reminder of what coaching major college football is like. You can be a big name, have some success, and maybe even have a down year when your team has a lot of injuries, but if you repeatedly lose to your big rival, you're done. Toast. Finished like the last bite of pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving.
I sat down to watch Saturday's UCLA-USC game, figuring that if the Trojans ever led by more than two touchdowns, I'd bail and do something else. 'SC has already clinched a berth in the Pac-12 championship game. They are nationally ranked. The Bruins are a sub-.500 team that needs a win next week to become bowl eligible. The game was at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, literally on the campus of the University of Southern California. The visitors had no chance, but what the hell—it's a rivalry game. UCLA lost, but I never turned away.
The final was 28-23, and the Bruins never led, but it was a pretty compelling game. UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen outplayed his Trojan counterpart in Sam Darnold, and its possible that both signal callers will be in the NFL next year. UCLA needs a win against Cal on Friday to become bowl eligible, but it won't happen with Jim Mora as coach. The morning after the loss to 'SC, Mora was fired. On his birthday.
It's said that coaches become stupid in a hurry. Mora was 46-30 at UCLA, won the Pac-12 South in 2012, and led his Bruins to wins over USC in his first three years. He then lost three in a row to the Trojans, and UCLA has dropped ten straight road games.
Mora still had four years remaining on his contract. It's reported that the UCLA buyout will be 12 million dollars, but that's easily affordable in these times because of a mega-deal with an athletic wear company. It used to be that state schools would have to come crawling to the boosters to pay for a coach at an institution of public education. Pro teams have payrolls, schools have clothing and shoe deals.
Jedd Fisch (not former KROQ radio personality Jed the Fish) will be the coach for UCLA against Cal, and then who knows? The clothing company could pay for Chip Kelly, Mike Leach, or Kyle Whittingham. Whomever it is, they better beat 'SC, and they better do it often.
No more survivors: The New York Football Giants, losers to the previously winless San Francisco 49ers a week ago, and a two-touchdown underdog at home to the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, beat KC 12-9 in overtime, and, in doing so, ended my survival football season. I actually did lose in Week 4, but gave myself a mulligan. Still, I guess it's pretty cool that I lasted this long.
Ball ball: I'm not much of an NBA fan anymore, but I watched the Sixers-Lakers game Wednesday night. Philly looked impressive in their 115-109 win. Ben Simmons, a 6-11 point guard, isn't Magic Johnson, but he's the real deal (18 points, 9 rebounds, 10 assists). Joel Embiid, who threw down 46 points (with 15 boards and 6 blocks), is a monster in the making in this league. The Lakers' Lonzo Ball (2 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 assists) was unimpressive . Oh, and someone please tell his dad to shut up.
Is that pickle on my face?: A correction from last week. I reported that the Portland Pickles baseball team had ceased operations. Shoddy reporting. It isn't true. They have opted to leave the college wood bat Great West League, but will play the 2018 season as members of the West Coast League. The GWL has brought in the Klamath Falls Gems (a one-time member of the WCL) to replace the Pickles. While the move makes sense for everyone involved (the Gems have a rival with the Medford Rogues, the travel is less strenuous on the entire GWL, and Portland is in a league with other teams in the Northwest), it's still a pimple on the nose of the Great West League. When the league was founded before the 2016 season, owners bragged that they had teams in Sacramento and Portland—two of the biggest baseball cities on the West Coast. Now they have none, with the Sacramento Stealth folding after one year, and the Pickles jumping ship to the WCL. The Marysville Gold Sox and Yuba City Bears will continue to co-exist at the same ball park, and will face Klamath Falls, Medford, the Chico Heat, and Lincoln Potters during a 60-game season.
Best wishes, and Happy Retirement, to KNCO News Director Rita Stevens, who called it a career Friday after 18 years at the station, and decades of experience, including being a news and traffic reporter in the Bay Area. On at least an interim basis, I have her morning drive anchor slot, which means getting up at 4am!! I begged her to stay, but for some reason she wouldn't listen. Congrats Rita.