Happy Thanksgiving, UCLA fans.
The year 2012 has been a pretty solid one for Bruins fanatics, and we’re still a month away from it getting a million times better.
Essentially, we’ve compiled the 10-best goddamn things you should be thankful for, you blue-and-gold bloods.
Here they are.
10. Jim Mora
If you haven’t figured it out yet, UCLA head honcho Jim Mora has done a 180 on the school’s football program, returning it to its former glory.
After all of you — and your favorite UCLA writer — had chastised the athletic department for hiring the once-loud-mouhted, oft-maligned head coach, Mora would prove all of us wrong at every step of the way. From hiring solid assistant coaches (including Noel Mazzone, Adrian Klemm, Demetrice Martin, Lou Spanos and, less discussed, Sal Alosi) to recruiting (launching the 2012 recruiting class from low-40s in the nation to a top-15 class) to gameday (compiling a 9-2 record so far, one win shy of the best record for a first-year head coach in UCLA history).
In essence, we all hoped Mora would prove us wrong but we all doubted it greatly. Instead, the coach would work his ass off to provide us with something to look forward to every Saturday.
Thank you, Coach Mora.
9. Pac-12 Football
This has been a season for the ages for Pac-12 football, and it’s made UCLA’s resurgence look all the more impressive.
Last season, the conference had just four teams with eight wins or more (USC, Oregon, Stanford and Utah), but this season, four teams already have eight wins (UCLA [!], Oregon, Stanford, Oregon State) and three others can get to eight wins after this weekend (Arizona, USC, Washington), while one other school (ASU) can earn a winning record.
The conference has largely been improved from the top down (up until the point where you hit Cal, Utah, Colorado and WSU; those teams still suck) and it’s made UCLA’s season look that much more impressive.
8. Jordan Adams
The least-heralded recruit in the UCLA basketball’s vaunted 2012 recruiting class has proven to be UCLA’s MVP through five games this season.
Despite UCLA having serious issues in terms of chemistry and rotation, Adams has elevated the Bruins to four wins and has averaged nearly 20 points per game. The 2-guard has been unconscious in almost every aspect of the game, and though he’s still somehow sitting on the bench for Ben Howland’s squad, he’s sucked it up and shot the lights out.
So thank you, Jordan Adams, for saving our asses.
7. John Wooden And His Statue
Just when you thought John Wooden, the greatest coach in North American sports history, couldn’t be celebrated more, a statue outside of New Pauley Pavilion was resurrected.
And it was long overdue. Wooden, of course, might not have appreciated a statue of his likeness considering his humility. And though the man still affectionately called Coach died two years ago, it’s much more fitting that Wooden’s statue be unveiled days before the opening of the historic Pauley Pavilion.
So thank you, John Wooden’s statue, for existing.
6. “Unfinished Business”
USC all but declared its 2012 national championship without playing a game. Lane Kiffin voted Southern Cal the top football team in the nation (despite declining such) and as a result, the entire football program got cocky.
What ensued was a mass marketing project that saw the creation of slogans such as “Unfinished Business,” “#Be7ieve” and “We pLAy To Finish.”
Of course, USC stumbled out of the gate, starting the season 2-1 and eventually losing four total (so far) to Stanford, Arizona, Oregon and, oh yeah, UCLA.
As a result, this has been the worst season for a preaseason No. 1 team, all while they’ve lost control of Los Angeles with the UCLA Bruins taking control.
We appreciate you, USC, for utterly embarrassing yourselves while we rip this city from your title hopes’ cold, dead hands.
5. Matt Barkley
Along with USC’s undeserved hype was Matt Barkley’s supposed greatness, which coincided with the title, “the odds-on favorite to win the Heisman” in 2012.
The Trojans’ pride and joy was a top-5 pick in the 2012 NFL draft but decided to stay at SC to take care of the aforementioned “unfinished business.”
Barkley had a disappointing season, much to the joy of UCLA fans everywhere, and he may have even dropped out of the first round of the 2013 NFL draft.
Not only that, but Barkley has single-handedly turned Trojan fans against one another. While one fan subset has thanked him for his poise despite becoming a huge underachiever in 2012, the other has completely thrown Barkley under the bus, blaming him mostly for the Trojans’ most disappointing season in school history.
It’s a sight to see and we’re very thankful for it.
4. UCLA Football’s Bye Week
Since UCLA’s bye week after their lackluster win over Utah (which followed an embarrassing win over Cal), the Bruins are 5-0 and have beaten some seriously daunting opponents. UCLA beat Arizona State (5-2 at the time), Arizona (a top-25 squad coming off a USC win), Washington State (meh), and Southern Cal (ranked 18th and coming off a destruction of ASU).
The offense has picked up considerably since then and has been virtually unstoppable despite playing solid defensive teams in ASU and USC.
These Bruins figured out how to gel during the bye week and you can chalk it up to the coaches for getting ‘em adjusted.
3. Shabazz Muhammad
The nation’s top recruit and freshman phenom gave UCLA hoops fans a lot to be excited about for the upcoming 2012-13 season.
UCLA basketball has struggled so far this season, but that’s not Shabazz Muhammad’s doing.
In fact, if it weren’t for Muhammad, UCLA might not even be ranked to start the season.
2. 108 NCAA championships
If it weren’t for UCLA’s 108 NCAA titles, we’d have no trump card in our arguments with other college fans.
Of course, some schools have the edge in the individual championship sector but it’s not as if they’re more important, or hell, as important. Individual championships are a lot like MVP trophies, which are a lot less meaningful than team titles.
The most recent banner hung? UCLA Women’s Volleyball, which has the best UCLA athletics twitter account, @UCLAWomensVB.
1. The University of California, Los Angeles
Ultimately, this is what any UCLA fan should be thankful for. When you become a UCLA fan, you don’t just support the football and basketball teams; you support the university and everything it stands for: Elite academics, tolerance of others, respect for our opponents and classiness in general.
UCLA is unmatched. While having the best athletics tradition in the country, it also has top-tier academic programs that cannot be rivaled by most institutions (and sure as hell is a few levels above USC).
So thank you, UCLA fans.
BONUS: Go Joe Bruin Thanks You, Dear Readers And Supporters. Since I began writing about UCLA almost a year ago, I have received unbridled support from my followers. The constant interactions I have on Twitter and on here with all of you make me an extremely lucky writer and have given me a contingency for which I can share my thoughts on the greatest university in the world.