There is a bitterness in part of the UCLA Football fan base, one that will not go away unless Jim Mora wins meaningful games, but even if his Bruins beat Stanford, they will not be given the proper credit.
Flashback. The morning of Sunday, September 3. It is game day. the first of the 2017 season for the UCLA Football program who are set to take on the Texas A&M Aggies, a team they could not outlast in overtime almost exactly one year before.
By halftime, the score was 38-10 in favor of the visiting Aggies. Certain sects of the UCLA fan base were calling for coach Jim Mora’s head. Call into the Athletic Department and voice your displeasure. This will not stand. UCLA deserves better.
That tune was changed instantly when the Bruins scored five consecutive touchdowns to beat Texas A&M, 45-44. The offense was lights out and answered questions about how good they are. The defense made changes and shored up their efforts. Even special teams did their jobs with good punting, kicking and returns. It was a team effort that sent the blue and gold into sheer ecstasy.
That specific group of Bruin fans will still call out UCLA. Even if they win, they will pick out some meaningless stat, completely forgetting the numbers that actually count, UCLA’s points over Stanford.
The fervor of the 2nd greatest comeback in NCAA Football history gripped the Bruin fan base for a week and QB Josh Rosen was getting a lot of love from the national media.
Since then, Texas A&M has shown that they are not exactly an impressive team. The perception of UCLA became weak and their loss to Memphis last weekend did not help that perspective. The Bruins were riding high in the eyes of the national media, but that balloon popped with one game. Not that the Bruins did not deserve the criticism, but to completely jump ship is a bit absurd, especially after three games.
Even against Hawaii, you could tell certain fans were looking for anything to pin on Mora. Sure the Bruins gave up a lot of yards to Hawaii, but most of those were in garbage time with UCLA leading 56-14.
But then UCLA was not able to win a shootout with a very good Memphis team (and by the way, just because a team is in a Group of 5 Conference, does not mean that they are inferior, Memphis is a very good team).
Errors by Rosen and the defense put a victory over Memphis out of reach, despite UCLA having two final chances at the end of the game to snatch victory from the Tigers’ jaws. UCLA lost the game and all of a sudden they were considered “bad” by several fans. And it is unfortunate too, because UCLA is a good team that had a few bad bounces, but that exemplifies a certain sect of the Bruin faithful. What have you done for me lately? Never mind taking the program out of mediocrity, WE WANT RESULTS NOW!
The chants came back in full force. UCLA is 2-1, but they are being treated as if they are 0-3. So it turns out Texas A&M was not that good. UCLA beat Hawaii because the Rainbow Warriors are a lesser team. They lost to a mediocre Memphis team. The reasons/excuses poured out like a dam breaking, especially on social media. The point is that many are not happy with Mora and that will not let up no matter what he does.
This weekend the Bruins play Stanford, a team they have lost to nine consecutive times. This year seems like UCLA could matchup well against Stanford and possibly get the “W”, but that is not a given. It is never a given with Stanford. The given, especially from UCLA fans, is that the Cardinal will continue to beat the Bruins.
But what if UCLA actually beats Stanford? What if the streak ends at nine and the Bruins start a streak of their own?
It will not matter. That specific group of Bruin fans will still call out UCLA. Even if they win, they will pick out some meaningless stat, completely forgetting the numbers that actually count, UCLA’s points over Stanford. If the Cardinal lose, they will go 1-3. I can already hear it, “well it turned out that Stanford was bad so this is not a good win.” Wrong, Stanford is always good and a tough opponent for UCLA. If the Bruins get this victory, then they deserve credit, no matter what meaningless stat shines out as a negative to the naysayers.
If UCLA wins, they will be 3-1 and 1-0 in the Pac-12. This type of production deserves praise, not gut punches. But there is also the flip side to this, especially if they lose. But it will not matter at that point. The chants will grow louder and Mora will be under more public scrutiny for another week. This is the cycle of life for UCLA Football coaches. For better or worse.