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#pounditFriday, January 27, 2023

Articles tagged: UCLA Football

Ex-USC WR Kyle Ford announces surprising transfer decision

Kyle Ford in USC gear

Kyle Ford announced last week that he was transferring from USC. He could not have picked a more surprising destination.

Ford announced on Tuesday that he will continue his playing career at USC’s rival, UCLA.

In November, Ford had 3 catches for 73 yards and a touchdown in USC’s win over UCLA. Two months later, he is transferring to the Bruins.

Ford had been at USC since 2019, but the former 5-star recruit’s career had not gone as hoped. Ford only had 40 catches for 637 yards and 5 touchdowns during his Trojans career. He has two years of eligibility left to live up to his top recruit status, and his health will be key in achieving that goal.

The Bruins have been active in the transfer portal. In addition to Ford, they have added receiver J.Michael Sturdivant from Cal, safety Jordan Anderson from Bowling Green, running back Anthony Adkins from Army, quarterback Collin Schlee from Kent State, and running back Carson Steele from Ball State, among others.

Dorian Thompson-Robinson headbutts opponent after pregame scuffle

Dorian Thompson-Robinson headbutts a Pitt player

Dorian Thompson-Robinson played in the final game of his collegiate career on Friday, and the UCLA quarterback decided to embrace the villain role for the occasion.

Thompson-Robinson gave UCLA an early lead over Pitt in the Sun Bowl with an 11-yard touchdown pass to Logan Loya. After the play, DTR ran up to Pitt defensive back Marquis Williams and headbutted him.

The stunt resulted in an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

As CBS color commentator Gary Danielson mentioned, Thompson-Robinson and Williams got into it on the field before the game kicked off. The two were seen jawing at one another, which is likely why DTR went at Williams following the touchdown.

That is not the first time Thompson has been flagged for his antics after a touchdown, though his intentions were much better the last time it happened.

Thompson-Robinson entered the Sun Bowl with 2,833 passing yards, 25 touchdowns and 7 interceptions through the air and 631 yards and 11 scores on the ground. The senior was hoping to boost his draft stock with one last game at UCLA.

UCLA flips 5-star QB recruit from Oregon

Chip Kelly at a press conference

Jul 24, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins coach Chip Kelly during Pac-12 football media day at Hollywood & Highland. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

UCLA will need a new starting quarterback next season with Dorian Thompson-Robinson exhausting his eligibility, and they have added another great option to the mix.

Dante Moore, a 5-star quarterback and the No. 3 player in the country at his position, told ESPN’s Pete Thamel on Monday that he has flipped his commitment from Oregon to UCLA. Moore visited UCLA earlier this month and said he felt joining the Bruins was “the right move” for his development.

Moore indicated that the biggest factor in his decision to decommit from Oregon was former Ducks offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham taking the head coaching job at Arizona State. Moore committed to Oregon in July and said he had built a relationship with Dillingham over the past three years.

The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Moore led Martin Luther King High School in Detroit to a state title this season. He threw for 135 total touchdowns as a four-year starter in his high school career.

Moore also said that UCLA’s move to the Big Ten beginning in 2024 was a factor in his decision.

Moore is the highest-rated recruit that Chip Kelly has landed since he was hired as head coach at UCLA in 2018. The Bruins also picked up Kent State transfer quarterback Collin Schlee over the weekend. Between Schlee, Moore, former recruit Justyn Martin and former transfer Ethan Garbers, UCLA’s quarterback room is getting pretty full.

UCLA approved to join Big Ten with 1 interesting catch

Chip Kelly at a press conference

Jul 24, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins coach Chip Kelly during Pac-12 football media day at Hollywood & Highland. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

UCLA on Wednesday received approval to join the Big Ten in 2024 as they had hoped. But there is one interesting catch.

UCLA announced over the summer that they would be joining rival USC in moving from the Pac-12 to the Big Ten. The decision meant the Los Angeles-based schools would be leaving behind nearly a century of traditions and rivalries for a stronger football conference that promised more national media exposure, and more importantly, money.

But not all of that newfound money will be going to UCLA.

The University of California’s Board of Regents voted 11-5 to approve UCLA’s move to the Big Ten. The catch is that some of the money UCLA will receive from being part of the Big Ten will have to go to Cal as a subsidy.

The UC Regents approved a subsidy in the range of $2-$10 million for Cal, which is another member of the University of California system. The reason for the subsidy is because UCLA’s departure from the Pac-12 to the Big Ten will adversely affect UC Berkeley financially, which remains a part of the Pac-12.

The Pac-12 is seeking a new media rights deal. Once that deal is struck, the UC Regents will determine how much of a subsidy payment UCLA would make to Cal. UCLA stands to make around double ($60 or so million compared to around $30 million) in annual payments thanks to a media rights deal from being a member of the Big Ten vs. the Pac-12. Had UCLA remained in the Pac-12, the inclusion of the Los Angeles market would have strengthened the conference’s position in negotiations with media companies.

UCLA is still coming out ahead financially as part of the move, but the subsidy payment and additional travel costs will eat into their gains.

Big Ten reportedly has big backup plan if UCLA is blocked from joining

Kevin Warren smiling

Dec 4, 2021; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Big 10 commissioner Kevin Warren during the Michigan Wolverines game against the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Big Ten Conference championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

If the University of California regents decide to play hardball with the Big Ten, the conference apparently has a big backup plan in mind that would result in some major backfire.

The University of California regents are meeting in December to determine whether the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) should be allowed to move to the Big Ten. UCLA and rival USC plan to move to the Big Ten in 2024. The move will result in a financial windfall for both schools, which is especially needed by UCLA, whose athletic department is reportedly around $100 million in debt.

The UC system is concerned about the amount of money that will be spent on travel, as well as the academic impact to student-athletes, when moving to play in a conference where schools are located across the country rather than closer along the West Coast. They are also concerned about their other flagship school — UC Berkeley — being left behind in the weaker Pac-12.

If the regents were to prevent UCLA from making the move, CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd believes that the Big Ten would respond by taking Oregon and Washington from the Pac-12. That would leave UCLA in a conference without USC, Oregon or Washington.

The Pac-12 would be significantly weakened at that point, having just UCLA, Cal, Stanford, Oregon State, Washington State, Utah, Colorado, Arizona and Arizona State.

The regents better not test the Big Ten about whether or not this is a threat; the Big Ten is expanding, and plenty of schools would love to be a part of the conference if UCLA is blocked from going.

USC QB Caleb Williams shares what UCLA did wrong in rivalry game

Caleb Williams in a USC headband

Nov 11, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Southern California Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams (13) watches game action against the Colorado Buffaloes during the second half at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Caleb Williams on Saturday was introduced to the UCLA-USC rivalry, and the young quarterback put together a heck of a performance.

Williams threw for 470 yards and 2 touchdowns, and he rushed for 32 yards and a score while leading his Trojans to a 48-45 win in a thrilling game at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.

USC sealed the win with their third interception of UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson.

After the game, Williams was interviewed by FOX reporter Allison Williams and indicated that the Trojans were motivated by trash talk coming from UCLA.

“I’m being honest. They had a lot to say all week. We blocked it out. They had a lot to say today. We blocked it out. We did our job. We fought. We kept fighting. We were down, we kept fighting,” Williams said.

What kind of trash talk did UCLA offer? For starters, DTR said in the week leading up to the game that he wanted to score 60 points again against the Trojans.

Last year, the Bruins beat the Trojans 62-33. This time around, they scored 45, but it wasn’t enough.

There won’t be a next time in the rivalry for DTR, who was a fifth-year senior. But maybe the Bruins will learn the lesson to keep their mouths shut and let their play do the talking.

USC fans, show everyone who runs LA with this great T-shirt. It makes a great gift for you or a friend – you can buy it here:

Troy Aikman absolutely rips into UCLA

Troy Aikman in a suit

Oct 21, 2021; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; NFL Half of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman before the game between the Cleveland Browns and the Denver Broncos at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Troy Aikman absolutely ripped into his alma mater on Saturday after UCLA had terrible attendance for their game against South Alabama.

UCLA allegedly drew 29,344 fans for Saturday’s 32-21 win over South Alabama, which was the second-smallest crowd ever for a UCLA football game at the Rose Bowl.

A photo of the game’s attendance was shared on Twitter and drew Aikman’s attention.

Aikman responded on Twitter, calling the attendance an “embarrassment.”

“This is an embarrassment but we couldn’t fill the Rose Bowl in 1988 when we were the #1 team in the country. Anyone else at UCLA think it’s time for an on-campus 30,000 seat stadium? Of course, if we can’t play better than we did today, it would be half-empty too,” Aikman wrote on Twitter.

Aikman, 55, spent half his childhood in Southern California, not far from the Rose Bowl. He spent the second half in Oklahoma, which is where he initially went to college. Aikman transferred to UCLA and was there from 1986-1988. He led the team to a 20-4 record in his two seasons, and he was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in 2014. So the lack of attendance bothers him personally as a former star quarterback for the team. And despite his comments, the attendance at his games was still strong and much better than this.

As a fellow UCLA alum and fan of the team, this issue is personal to me, and I can share my take.

First off, the Rose Bowl is located in Pasadena, and it can easily take over an hour to get there from campus. It’s just not very friendly for students to attend. This has long been an issue, and it will always result in lower attendance from students than some other schools. But building a stadium on campus does not seem feasible due to space issues, and problems with the homeowners in Westwood.

Second, UCLA is on the academic quarter system rather than semesters, so school hasn’t even begun when the first few games of the season take place. The lack of student attendance at the early games in the season has long been a problem.

Third, UCLA’s non-conference schedule is atrocious. They’re facing a murderer’s row of Bowling Green, Alabama State, and South Alabama. Who the heck wants to see UCLA play those three schools? Nobody, and it shows.

Fourth, the team isn’t good and hasn’t been good for a while. They had five straight losing seasons from 2016-2020. Chip Kelly stunk when he began his tenure. There were a lot of people who didn’t want Jim Mora fired to begin with (myself included), and then Kelly just obliterated any credibility the program had left. Who wants to go watch a losing team? UCLA barely squeaked by South Alabama. Aikman played under Terry Donahue, who coached from 1976-1995. Donahue took the Bruins to a bowl game regularly and finished in the top 20 in the country 11 times in 20 years. Since 2000, UCLA has only finished ranked three times. The losing has taken its toll.

Fifth, UCLA has treated its fans like crap, and the fans are turning on the school. UCLA completely deprioritized sports during COVID, and seemed to take pride in that fact. They didn’t allow fans to attend any games in 2020. The athletic department outright canceled their bowl game hours before kickoff last season, spitting in the face of fans who had traveled to the game. They didn’t allow fans at basketball games for a portion of last season, and sometimes canceled games with very little advanced notification to the fans. Fans who have DirecTV haven’t been able to watch many of the games, which are televised on Pac-12 Network, which DirecTV does not air. UCLA is also leaving the Pac-12 for the Big Ten, destroying decades of tradition the fans are accustomed to. Is it any surprise the fans have in turn lost interest in the teams?

UCLA has made it harder and harder to be a fan of their athletic teams. Citing COVID issues, the school willingly blocked fans from attending games, with little regard for the inconvenience and ill-feelings they were causing the fans. Remember, these are the diehard fans they treated this way, the ones who travel to a bowl game and who tough LA traffic on a weeknight to attend a basketball game. You can’t repeatedly tell fans they’re not allowed to come — or that ‘we’re not playing’ — and then wonder where all the fans went and why they won’t come back when you ask them to.

Lastly, and this is an anecdote, but the school has done a poor job selling tickets. I live pretty close to the Rose Bowl and have some neighbors who have two young kids. Our neighbors told me they called the ticket office last year to try and get season tickets because they thought it would be a fun Saturday activity in the fall for their family. They said nobody picked up, so they left a message. Nobody answered, nobody called back. They basically told me they begged UCLA/the Rose Bowl to take their money, and the school dropped the ball. Maybe UCLA didn’t want to sell the tickets because they were planning to play another fanless season?

If Aikman wants to point the finger, he should look first at the school’s leadership, the UC Board of Regents, the school president and athletic director, and also Kelly, who wanted a cupcake schedule. At every turn, the school has proven they don’t care about football. You can’t really blame the fans for responding the way they have.

Chip Kelly not happy with UCLA Twitter graphic

Chip Kelly at a press conference

Jul 24, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins coach Chip Kelly during Pac-12 football media day at Hollywood & Highland. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

UCLA coach Chip Kelly was not pleased with a graphic shared to the football team’s Twitter account.

On Monday, UCLA posted a graphic that billed the school as “Transfer U.” The graphic cited a stat showing that the Bruins have had more transfer starters than any other program since 2020.

The graphic sparked a bit of a backlash among some fans, as the graphic was viewed as an indictment of UCLA’s traditionally strong high school recruiting. On Wednesday, Kelly himself was critical of the post.

“That shouldn’t have gone up,” Kelly said, via Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times. “That was a mistake the head coach saw, and when I saw it, I said, ‘That’s a mistake.'”

While UCLA would want to tout its successful use of transfers, the bragging is a bit of a double-edged sword. This could be a negative message for potential high school recruits, and the plug-and-play approach of the transfer portal remains controversial to some. UCLA’s social media department may be comfortable dubbing the program “Transfer U,” but that is not something they would eagerly embrace on the actual football side of things.

UCLA sets embarrassing record in home opener

Chip Kelly at a press conference

Jul 24, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins coach Chip Kelly during Pac-12 football media day at Hollywood & Highland. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

UCLA may be off to a 1-0 start this season, but they set an embarrassing record in Saturday’s home opener.

UCLA’s attendance for their game against Bowling Green was said to be 27,143, which is a record-low mark for the Bruins at the Rose Bowl.

Here is a video showing what the attendance in the stadium looked like. The attendance didn’t even seem to be anything more than a few thousand people.

What is going on? There was a big heat wave in the Los Angeles area, and it was well over 100 degrees during game time in Pasadena, Calif. There is also very little shade at the Rose Bowl, meaning anyone who attended the 11:30 a.m. kickoff would have been baking in the sun.

The heat was probably the biggest reason for the low attendance mark. Other contributing factors include: the poor quality of opponent, students not attending due to school not being in session yet, and the program’s lack of success since 2016.

Even considering all those factors, such a poor turnout reflects poorly upon UCLA.

At least the Bruins won 45-17 after falling behind 17-7 early. The Bruins will host Alabama State and then South Alabama in their next two games. Those opponents are unlikely to attract a big turnout either.

Chip Kelly wanted some cupcakes for non-conference games to boost his team’s record. Bad attendance for the games will likely be a major consequence.

Colorado AD takes shot at USC, UCLA over Big Ten decision

Rick George looking ahead

Sep 3, 2021; Boulder, Colorado, USA; Colorado Buffaloes athletic director Rick George before the game against the Northern Colorado Bears at Folsom Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

USC and UCLA are headed to the Big Ten in 2024, but Colorado athletic director Rick George apparently does not think it will be a big loss for the Pac-12.

The Pac-12’s future has rightfully been in question after the two schools announced their departure. Rumors circulating that some of the conference’s teams could leave for the Big 12 or a non-power five conference.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, George took a shot at USC and UCLA and their lack of championship success.

“So everybody is clear, we didn’t lose any team that has appeared in a CFP playoff game,” George said via The Denver Post.

George was not wrong in providing that point. Both USC and UCLA have not really come close to a spot in the College Football Playoff, although the Trojans did finish at No. 8 with an 11-2 record in the final 2018 playoff rankings. Washington (2017) and Oregon (2015) are the only two Pac-12 teams to have made it to the playoff since its inaugural year in 2015. But USC in 2004 was the last conference team to win a national title.

If Oregon and Washington among others end up leaving the Pac-12, that streak could go on for much longer.

H/T 247 Sports