As UCLA’s football team continues to prepare for their date with Illinois in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco this New Year’s Eve, apparently one tradition has stayed intact, one that, to be perfectly honest, I don’t like at all:
The tradition of the Bruin football players going “over the wall” during bowl preparations after the start of a practice, started in 1980 when the team ditched practice before a contest with Oregon State in Japan to close that season.
This “ditch day” has been periodic over the years, but this year’s over the wall stunt, done by most of the players after warm-ups on Tuesday, was the first time it was done since 2008.
The Bruins’ interim coach, Mike Johnson, said that he knew it was a possibility but clearly wasn’t a fan of it.”You don’t want to lose that day of work,” he commented.
Not all of the UCLA players were fans of it, either, as quarterbacks Kevin Prince and Brett Hundley, running back Johnathan Franklin and safety Dalton Hilliard were among the handful of Bruins to stay behind to work.
Prince and Franklin were particularly disappointed, with Franklin stating “It won’t be happening,” next year when he’s a senior, and Prince commenting, (The seniors) figured once they were seniors they would get a chance to call (over the wall). I was hoping it was out of our system…clearly it was not.”
“it was disappointing,” Prince continued. “Hopefully it doesn’t come back to bite us,” as their battle with the Fighting Illini at AT & T Park looms and the Bruins try to finish the season with a .500 record.
MY PERSONAL FEELINGS ABOUT THIS “OVER THE WALL” DITCH DAY:
To put it simply:
IT’S GOT TO GO!!
First of all, these Bruin players who called for the team ditching practice need to understand, once, for all, and for all time, that this is a Division I, major college football, BCS-level program, NOT some high school or middle school.
Many fans are unhappy with this “tradition”, and I am no exception as in my view, it clearly illustrates the fact that as a program, UCLA remains below others such as Alabama, LSU and crosstown rival USC.
You think those teams would pull something like this? HECK, NO! They’d be kicked off the team the next day.
That’s why when Jim L. Mora takes over on January 1, he needs to end “Over The Wall” once and for all, for one simple reason:
It is not what championship-level teams do.
And if the UCLA Bruins want to be a program that’s on an elite level year in and year out, they need to do what elite level programs do, and that means NOT ditching practice. EVER.
That’s all I have to say about that.