The guys at BruinAuthority.com

Sep 252016
 
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First, before we go further, we want to state that this is NOT about the Stanford game, and not a knee jerk reaction to it.  It plays a part of course, but this story is about the bigger picture of the program.   We have been accumulating these thoughts all season and this seems the right time to air them.

We have always felt that being a successful college football coach at a major D-1 program is one of the most difficult jobs, period.  You have to be relevant and able to relate to 16 and 17 year old recruits.  You have to be affable and a decent schmoozer to relate to powerful alumni.  You have to manage high strung and ambitious assistant coaches as well as 100 ego driven, and sometimes immature 18-22 year old athletes.    You have to be able to negotiate with an administration that has other obligations such as a major basketball program and is influenced by campus forces that look at the football program as the enemy (particularly in the powerful faculty arena).  Being responsible for a multi-million dollar enterprise, you have to have some of the skills of a large company CEO.  In college football, you will be challenged by a different offense and defense every week, so you have to really understand the game, make decisions quickly, and get complicated concepts across to young players with limited experience.  You have to understand media relations, how to spin, and be diplomatic in your responses to journalists. And most importantly, you have to win to drive ticket sales and donations.  Failing in any of these areas can cost you your job as well as many others in the program.   And being wildly successful in some, can overcome failures in others.

We had a talk with a major donor of Indiana University and we asked about Bobby Knight.  Here was a public state university like UCLA, with a brash, occasionally obnoxious, and sometimes embarrassing head basketball coach.  Can anyone imagine the UCLA brass putting up with that for 29 years?  We asked how did that happen.  Their reply was interesting – Knight knew who the powers were and took care of them.   He was one of the biggest fundraisers for the University library and for academic research.  In fact, he attended just about every academic fundraiser.  And in spite of his reputation, he actually made an effort to get along with all the high level University employees, from the athletic director to the president, to the dean of faculty.  The normal academic adversaries of athletics at a university put up with his behavior because he brought in substantial money to their departments, and the fans and donors tolerated it because he won.  Some will say he only kept his job because he won.  That is largely true but not entirely.  Tell that to Jim Harrick.  He won a national championship in basketball at UCLA and was fired a couple years later.   In spite of winning, he didn’t understand the importance of some of the other points, and we are not talking about breaking NCAA rules.

And what about Terry Donahue?  Over 19 years, Donahue averaged 7.9 wins a year.  There were some good years and some not so good years. In the 1980’s he had several very good years (including all three of his Rose Bowl wins), which cemented his ability to keep his job for another decade.  Donahue was considered a darling of the Morgan Center and we suspect Donahue won and beat USC just enough to keep his job, even during the poor seasons.  Also, UCLA was a different place then than now.   We think the UCLA administration and the media was still consumed with basketball residual from the Wooden years.  Football was the “second” sport and if we were just competitive, that was good enough.   And the world was different then than now.  There were few if any sports forums, blogs, or message boards during his time.  No pay sites stirring the pot and trying to influence the program.   There were no options outside of sending a letter to the Los Angeles Times (which we did) for fans to galvanize and express their discontent, or support.   Also, UCLA, being a public educational institution was always concerned about budgets, salaries, and expenses for the athletic programs.  With the exception of basketball, those often were prioritized over winning (we still remember the days when USC’s offensive coordinator was making almost the same as UCLA’s head coach).

Jump to today, and again, the world has changed so much.  In a way, everything has flipped.  UCLA pays its football coaches now.   The staff is one of the highest paid staffs in the PAC-12.   Investment in the athletic infrastructure has exploded.  Winning in football is equally as important as winning in basketball.  Money is dropping into the athletic department by the boatloads.  The football program even has a mental conditioning coach.  We credit the controversial Dan Guerrero for much of this, but that topic is for another day.  On the flip side, the sports forums and pay sites have changed the entire experience for the UCLA football fan.  In the past the fan experience was reading a story in the newspaper once a day and watching the game on Saturday…no recruiting news, no daily practice reports, no spring practice coverage.  Today, the experience is 24/7.  All the news, all the time.   And with the message boards, the fans can now interact with, and get information from other fans.   They have become empowered, and in some cases, feel that they have taken on an ownership role.

Just as the change has affected fans, it has also affected coaches.   Because of social media and the pay sites, Coach Mora and his staff are under heavy scrutiny 24/7.   The fans are far more in tune with the program than they ever were under Donahue.   Every play is analyzed, every hire is scrutinized, every statement from Mora is psycho-analyzed.  It is a new day, and an increasingly harder one to be a head coach in.  It even affects the players.  Case in point, Mique Juarez needs some time off and it becomes a pay site circus. An interesting question might be how would Donahue have handled today’s social media world?  How would today’s fans have felt about Donahue?

We don’t take a position whether any of this is good or bad, it just is.  However, we think it is important to understanding where the program is and how as fans these influences affect us and our perception of the program.  Do our actions as a fan base help or hurt the program?

So where is the program?  Compared to the past, we are light years ahead of Donahue, Dorrell, Toledo, and Neuheisel.  Mora has almost willed the program to a higher level.  He has fought for higher coaching salaries, a bigger recruiting budget, better facilities, and more.  In terms of program building, we are becoming one of the Big Boys now.  Neuheisel has often said that while he was coach, he kept asking for these things, but was always denied.   Mora was not to be denied.  One small example is that we were astonished when Mora was able to add the color black to the UCLA marketing palette of recommended colors.  Anyone that has worked for a university knows this is like moving a mountain.  Yet he did it.

Mora has also changed the mentality of the team.  No more over-the-wall antics – these players are serious and want to win.  They are bigger, stronger, faster, and higher ranked recruits than we have seen under past coaches.

So it can be argued that we have better players, better paid coaches, better facilities, and perhaps (in a general sense) better teams under Mora, but are we where we should be?   One might argue that Mora is a victim of his own success.  With his force of personality, we as fans thought he was the man to bring us to the promised land.  Hundley and Rosen were not the saviors, Mora was.  But now in his fifth year, we are wondering if this is all there is.  He has brought us to the next level, but does he have what it takes to move UCLA to the blue blood level?  Can he beat the Texas A&Ms and the Stanfords of college football on a regular basis?

Our own opinion is that yes, Mora can.  He has shown flexibility in changing offensive and defensive schemes.  He has shown that he is a force for change regarding the program at the University.  We believe a coach like that is a perquisite to becoming a consistent top 15 program.

But from our seats, the barriers lie with recruiting and the staff.  For the pay UCLA is offering coordinators and assistants now, the school should be able to bring in some heavy hitters.  Starting with recruiting.   USC is always going to self recruit well, but after the meltdowns with the sanctions, player issues, Kiffin, Sark, Orgeron, and now Helton, UCLA should be recruiting toe-to-toe, if not out-recruiting USC.  But we are not.  Looking at the Rivals recruiting rankings, UCLA has one 5-star, two 4-stars, four 3-stars, and one 2-star high school commitments.  USC on the other hand with all their drama, and an unproven head coach is sitting at eight 4-stars already.  This doesn’t make sense.  UCLA, with a stable competitive program in a great location, should be able to capitalize on the meltdown that has been going on for several years across town.  Neither team has received a high school verbal in September so maybe things will change, but we suspect not.  We believe that come signing day, USC, no matter what their record is or who their coach is, will have a higher rated class (by star average) than UCLA.   We hope we are wrong, but our gut and experience tells us otherwise right now.  By this point in the Mora era, our coaches should be able to sell UCLA over USC to the family of every impartial 2017 recruit based on the current state of each program.  But it is not happening.

Recruiting is hard, real hard and it is not for everyone.

Very successful programs have very successful recruiters. Why did Alabama hire Tosh Lupoi in spite of his trouble with the NCAA?  Because he is a great coach?  No, because he is a great recruiter.   Even Alabama, a school with a name that will get them into the home of any recruit in the country, hires great recruiters.   And those that follow UCLA recruiting may remember the case of 5-star Malachi Dupre.  Dupre and two other UCLA recruits from Louisiana (including current UCLA linebacker Kenny Young) traveled to UCLA for their official visit.  On the same plane was LSU coach Cam Cameron.  He also took the same flight with the recruits back to Louisiana.   There were even rumors that he actually sat next to Dupre on the plane and stayed at the same hotel in Los Angeles as the recruits.   Did it work?  Maybe.  LSU got two of the three recruits.  But it doesn’t really matter.  The point is, when it comes to recruiting LSU was willing to go the extra mile.  Not every school or coach is willing to do that.   Are UCLA’s recruiters like that?  We don’t know – we are not in their office when they are making their calls or on the road on their visits.  What we do know is that UCLA should not have two 4-star committed recruits while USC has eight.   By the way, we do know that stars are not everything and sometimes a 2-star finds his way to the NFL, and teams loaded with 5-stars like USC look lost, but for right now, the star system is the best indicator of a team’s talent.  Overall, teams that recruit 4-star and 5-star talent regularly win most of the games against teams that recruit 2-star and 3-star talent.

“The program is at the crossroads between being a good team every season, and being a blue blood killer that strikes fear and awe into opposing teams”

As we said earlier, UCLA’s talent level is higher and better then it has been in recent years, but it still needs to get to that next level.   Mora, like Donahue did, may be winning enough to keep his job forever, but the program is at the crossroads between being a good team every season, and being a blue blood killer that strikes fear and awe into opposing teams.   We believe Mora can get over that hump, but he needs to take a good hard look at his assistants, take the personal relationships and loyalty he has with them out of the equation, and ask himself if each is the best he can surround himself with.   Is each of his coaches an outstanding schemer, and excellent at making in-game decisions and adjustments?  Is each of his coaches getting their players in each group fundamentally sound and playing to their ability?  Is each of his coaches putting every player into position to be successful? Are the players for each group signed in each recruiting class (regardless of stars) better than the last class, and are actually making the program better each year? If not, where is the breakdown?  Is each of his coaches considered to be among the best recruiters in the country?  If he answers no to any of these questions, he needs to ask himself, can another high quality coach turn it to a yes.

We want to be clear that we actually like each and every one of our coaches personally.  We have no ill will against any of them or want to see them out of a job, and our statements do not apply equally to all the coaches (some are very good recruiters and game planners).  But these men are being paid a lot of money.  A tremendous and very competitive amount of money.   With that paycheck, comes the responsibility to prove they deserve it.  These are no longer the Dorrell days when UCLA brought in the cheapest guys, and we as fans threw our hands up in the air and said “of course we are losing, what do you expect?”  We have said this before, and hopefully never have to say it again, but after the season, Mora needs to evaluate his staff without emotion, and make changes where improvements can be made.  He cannot wait until coaches leave on their own accord.   We suspect Mora is loyal to a fault and we respect that, but that quality can get you into trouble as a head coach.

We still support Coach Mora and have told him so.   He is the only coach to give UCLA a taste of what could be.   However, his future, his legacy at UCLA, and his record are all in his hands if he is willing to look introspectively, and ask himself tough questions about his staff, and more importantly, make some impartial, non-emotional, tough decisions after the season.

Is the new new mental conditioning coach helping?  Bruin Authority takes a look at UCLA Football’s new mental conditioning coach Trevor Moawad

Coming soon, our 2017 Recruiting Monster Board, check back again!

Aug 222016
 
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While probably expected, we were still a little surprised to see the attention Josh Rosen received on campus at the end of camp.  But then again that was at the Fan Appreciation Day on campus, so he should be popular, right?

However we did not expect to see the attention ramp up on a scorching hot day in San Bernardino, 50 miles east of the UCLA campus.  On this day, we knew Rosen has captured the attention of not only UCLA fans, but college football fans across America.  For us, this was his coming out party as a football rock star.

He drew a crowd, A REALLY BIG CROWD.

Here is a new video of his “coming out as a star” experience in San Bernardino.

Want to help bring the Heisman back to Westwood?  Share our “Football Rock Star” video!

Aug 122016
 

Again, Coach Mora and UCLA Football have shown they are willing to try whatever it takes to maintain a winning program.  In the past, the team has spent time with the Navy Seals, taken instruction from a martial arts expert, and used some of the most state-of-the-art virtual reality passing game software.

Now they have gone back to their bag of tricks and brought in a mental conditioning coach.  And why not?  The program conditions a player’s body, so why not his mind as well.

Trevor Moawad has been hired as a consultant to help the Bruins gain that mental edge.

Moawad is, frankly, one of the preeminent leaders in this emerging field in athletics.  His client list is a who’s who of elite athletes including Cam Newton, Serena Williams, Russell Wilson, Fred Taylor, Olympic sprinter Michael Johnson, soccer player Freddie Adu, eight consecutive seasons advising the University of Alabama football team (earning five national championship rings), six consecutive seasons advising the Florida State University football team, the Miami Dolphins, the Jacksonville Jaguars, and was the Mental Endurance Coach for the Memphis Grizzlies.  The list goes on and on.
trevor-moawad-alabama-sidelinesIt should be noted that he does not have a medical degree.  He has a B.A. in Comparative Politics and an M.A. in Education from Occidental College. He actually comes out of the motivational speaker field and his career really seems to have taken off when he became Director of Performance for IMG.  As an interesting side note, he was instrumental in encouraging IMG to buy the licensing rights for John Wooden’s name.

So what does he do? Some of his techniques include:

  • Positive visualization.
  • Creating a mental checklist for the players to refer to both before, and during a game.
  • Teaching players how to handle the down-time during the game.   There is a lot of time when the players are just standing around such as when they are not on the field, or time-outs, or penalties, etc.  Moawad is particularly concerned with a player’s state of mind during these periods when they have time to think.

The guy definitely has the credentials based on his client list.

 

 

Aug 122016
 

COMING SOON, OUR 2017 CLASS RECRUITING MONSTER BOARDS!

CLICK HERE FOR EVERYTHING YOU WANT TO KNOW ABOUT UCLA’S NEW MENTAL CONDITIONING COACH!

CHECK OUT OUR STORY ON ROSEN “THE MAKING OF A FOOTBALL ROCK STAR”

After having 12 training camp practices in San Bernardino in 2015, the Bruins are splitting the Training Camp between Westwood and San Bernardino with only six in the Dino this year.  As Mora explained to the press, a one week period gives the players and coaches a shorter period to go all out for one week, as opposed to measuring their efforts over the course of two week in the extreme heat and a harsh environment reminiscent of Paul “Bear” Bryant’s “Junction Boys” days.   Since most fans are familiar with the UCLA campus and there have already been numerous reports on attending practice there, we have focused again on the Inland Empire training camp only.

The UCLA Bruins will have their first practice Monday, August 15, and the Bruin Authority guys had a chance to scout out the digs and here is the scoop.

One notable difference from some of the prior Dino training camps, the two-a-day afternoon practices will be starting at 5:45 p.m., instead of 7:00 p.m. as has been occasionally done in the past.  Most likely the players preferred to practice in the heat, in order to finish earlier.   As with last year, there are no practices on Sundays.

Finishing off the schedule will be the Fan Appreciation practice on Saturday, August 20.

SCHEDULE:

Practices last about two hours, and all practices are open to the public.  Here is the schedule (Times subject to change):

Monday, August 15 – 8:30 a.m. and 5:45 p.m.

Tuesday, August 16 – 3 p.m.

Wednesday, August 17 – 8:30 a.m. and 5:45 p.m.

Thursday, August 18 – 3 p.m.

Friday, August 19 – 8:30 a.m. and 5:45 p.m.  Potentially there will be a live scrimmage today.

Saturday, August 20 – 12:00 p.m. gates open to the public,  12:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. full practice, 2:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. fan appreciation events. This will be the last practice open to the public and fan appreciation events are scheduled for today.  This year it will include free hot dogs, chips, and drinks provided by Stater Bros, opportunities to meet players and coaches (including autographs), and an opportunity to buy opening home game tickets against UNLV at half off.

WHERE:

Cal State University, San Bernardino

5500 University Parkway, San Bernardino, CA 92407 (909) 537-5000

The campus is located in a safe, suburban setting in the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains.

HOW TO GET THERE:

  • From UCLA: Take to I-10 East, to I-215 North. Exit at University Parkway in San Bernardino and turn right. Proceed along University Parkway and turn right on Northpark Blvd. Turn left on Coyote Blvd.
  • Pasadena: Take I-210 East to I-215 North. Exit at University Parkway in San Bernardino and turn right. Proceed along University Parkway and turn right on Northpark Blvd. Turn left on Coyote Blvd.
  • Orange County: Take Highway 91 East, which becomes I-215 North in Riverside. Continue on I-215, and exit at University Parkway in San Bernardino and turn right. Proceed along University Parkway and turn right on Northpark Blvd. Turn left on Coyote Blvd.
  • Riverside: Take Highway 91 East, which becomes I-215 North in Riverside. Continue on I-215, and exit at University Parkway in San Bernardino and turn right. Proceed along University Parkway and turn right on Northpark Blvd. Turn left on Coyote Blvd.
  • High Desert areas: Take I-15 South, to I-215 South. Exit at University Parkway in San Bernardino and turn left. Proceed along University Parkway and turn right on Northpark Blvd. Turn left on Coyote Blvd.
  • Palm Springs area: Take I-10 West, to I-215 North. Exit at University Parkway in San Bernardino and turn right. Proceed along University Parkway and turn right on Northpark Blvd. Turn left on Coyote Blvd.
  • San Diego area: Take I-15 North, to I-215 North. Exit at University Parkway in San Bernardino and turn right. Proceed along University Parkway and turn right on Northpark Blvd. Turn left on Coyote Blvd.

TIPS AND DETAILS:

University Parkway is the main entrance onto the campus.  Once on Northpark Blvd, you will have to drive a little way, passing Seranno Village Drive, Lot D and Lot F before arriving at Coyote Blvd.  After turning left onto Coyote Blvd, you will see a parking kiosk.  Pull up to it and tell them you want to park in Lot G.  They will ask you to pay a $5 parking fee.  We have noticed some sites have been suggesting that fans park in either Lot G or Lot H.  This is from people who are probably looking at a map and have not been there.   Lot G is very close to the practice fields.  While you can park in Lot H, you will be taking an unnecessary walk, which may be unpleasant on particularly hot days.

If the parking kiosk is closed, there are parking machines that will issue a parking permit.  We have attended numerous practices here and have never seen anyone issuing parking tickets and suspect that they are more lax during the summer.  However we paid, and would probably suggest you do as well to avoid a ticket.

After passing the parking kiosk, you will shortly turn right into Lot G.  From there, the practice field is roughly northeast.  So after turning into Lot G, drive straight ahead to the fence and turn left.  Go as far as you can to get close to the practice field. The only building in the area is the Student Rec Center.  After exiting your vehicle, walk toward that building.  From there, walk to the right (east) and as you round the corner (turning left), you will see the practice field straight ahead and to the right.  The rest room is also near that corner.

There is a media only area and a fan area.  There are usually interns handing out sheets of paper with the player’s names and practice roster numbers.  We would strongly suggest you find one.  Sometimes they are on a table, sometimes someone is walking around passing them out.  If you don’t see them, ask one of the young guys working there, they are really helpful and friendly to the fans.

There is grass to sit on, but no bleachers, or benches.  For that reason, we suggest you bring lawn chairs.  There is some shade under trees, and in the past, if you get there early enough you could snag a good shady spot.  UPDATE: It is expected to be VERY hot this week so the shady spots will go early.  So bring a sun umbrella, bring water, and use sunscreen.

Fans have been asking us where the best place to watch is, and that is hard to answer because they practice on more than one field, and seem to move around a little.  Generally, there are not a lot of viewing choices, and seems even less than in past years.  So we suggest that at first, you focus on a central location that has shade.  Basically, the idea is to grab a comfortable spot before they are all gone (the shady, grassy areas fill up fast).  If necessary, you can then move around once you see where each unit is practicing and where there is available seating.  To view the furthest players practicing, you may need binoculars regardless of where you sit.

There are no concession stands or vending machines nearby.  However, if you have time and want to walk around campus, there are a number of places to eat on campus that are open during the summer, including Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, Starbucks, and several sandwich type places.  You can get their campus locations HERE.

The practice field area has enough grass, and it is pleasant enough that you can have a nice picnic, especially if you bring the family.  If you don’t want to bring your own food, or walk around campus to eat, there are many fast food places in the area so you can easily stop by one just before driving onto campus.  In fact, to get to the practice facility on University Parkway, you will pass an IHOP, Starbucks, McDonald’s, Cold Stone Creamery,  El Pollo Loco, KFC, Farmer Boys (a local chain), Del Taco, and Yogurt Land.  There is also a Ralphs if you want to get a jug of water on a hot day.

AREA ATTRACTIONS:

If you are driving far, you may want to take advantage of other things in the area.

On campus is the Fullerton Museum of Art:  noted for a very large collection of Egyptian antiquities.  More info HERE.  (UPDATE: we are hearing parts of the museum may be closed for a while for some remodeling work, so you may want to verify it is open when you will be there.)

San Manuel Indian Casino: a few minutes away, this is one of the largest Indian casinos in California.  San Manual is also likely the most profitable.  They have a good buffet and a nice restaurant.  If you go, get a “player’s card.”  It will give you some free money to gamble with, as well as discounts on food.  Unfortunately, there is no hotel on site.  More info HERE.

Lake Arrowhead:  the campus is close to the main road to this resort town.   On a hot day, it might be the perfect opportunity to get away and cool down in the mountains.  More info HERE.

Restaurants: This area is not necessarily known for its fine dining, but all the chain restaurants can be found here.  As mentioned above, San Manual Casino is nearby and has several types of dining options including a very nice restaurant.  In the city of San Bernardino itself, there is sort of a restaurant row located on Hospitality Lane.  Hospitality Lane runs parallel to the I-10 on the north side, and just east of the I-10 and I-210 interchange (if you are coming from Los Angeles, you will probably drive right past here, both going and coming from the practice).  On this road, within about a half mile or less, can be found a Souplantation, El Torito, Red Lobster, IHOP, Claim Jumper, Margarita Beach, TGI Fridays, Chili’s, Mimi’s Cafe, Delhi Palace, and Olive Garden.

If you want to make a trip out of it, the campus is near the routes going to Las Vegas, Palm Springs, Joshua Tree National Park, and Phoenix.

MAP (click to enlarge and print):

CSUSB_UCLA_2015

Apr 222016
 
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We have been getting many questions about the athletic apparel negotiations with UCLA.  In response, we wrote this based on what we are hearing.  (Updated: 5/7/2016.)

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It seems that almost every month a university is announcing a new mega-deal with shoe/apparel companies.  It is now UCLA’s turn with the current Adidas contract coming to an end.     UCLA’s current contract with Adidas had an exclusive renewal negotiating period that ended April 2.  When terms could not be agreed upon, the contract was opened up for bidding from other companies.

Some Of The Notable Recent Collegiate Deals*

Notre Dame signed with Under Armour in 2014 in a contract worth $90 million over 10 years.  This was the largest collegiate apparel contract in history at the time.

California announced a new deal with Under Armour on April 22, 2016, marking a split with longtime supplier Nike.     At $86 million over 10 years, this is the richest known apparel contract in the PAC-12 and Cal became the second PAC-12 team to sign with Under Armour.  The other being Utah. Note that this new Cal contract is very close to the two year old record breaking Notre Dame contract.

In July 2015, Michigan switched from Adidas to Nike with a new contract of $169 over 15 years.  This is currently the third biggest apparel contract in the country.

In October, 2015, Texas re-signed with Nike for a new contract of $250 million over 15 years.  This is currently the second biggest apparel contract in the country.

In January, 2016, Ohio State re-signed with Nike with a 15 year contract extension worth a whopping $252 million.  This is currently the biggest apparel contract in the country and dwarfs the Notre Dame contract of only two years ago.

UCLA is currently making about 7.5 million per year with the current Adidas contract which expires in 2017.

*There are numerous reports about the dollar size of these contracts, and they vary in estimating the value.  Most likely it is due to how the contracts are structured (incentives, bonuses, and extensions) and then interpreted, or misinterpreted.

A look At The Companies

Adidas – In spite of being the world leader in sports apparel, Adidas has been slowly losing ground in the USA.  Under Armour passed Adidas in the USA in 2014 in apparel sales, and Adidas now admits it made some mistakes in the US market.    They have clearly been slipping in the new collegiate bidding wars causing Adidas CEO Herbert Hainer to say:

“We are everywhere else in the world much more successful. In the U.S., we have not invested enough. I think in hindsight, we have not been as present in American football and in baseball as we should be. These are big sports in America. And I think we need closer contact to the consumer in America.”

Perhaps in an effort to fix that, Adidas outbid Under Armour and Nike in July, 2015 to be the official (and exclusive) apparel and footwear provider of the PAC-12 conference and all PAC-12 events.   While this has no effect on individual schools, it does signify that Adidas may be looking at PAC-12 properties as a key in their new collegiate investments.  Also, Adidas has made an effort to again be a player in schools by signing ASU in 2014 (8 years, $33.8 million), and Miami in 2015.  All of these bode well for UCLA, which some  consider to be the Adidas flagship collegiate client.

Under Armour – UA has been coming on like gang busters on the college scene in the past five years.   It seems like they are a player in just about every major contract recently.   Getting the Notre Dame and Wisconsin contracts put Nike and Adidas on notice that UA was determined to be a major force for years to come.  And not just with colleges, UA has become a very successful company with its global sales increasing a whopping 30% in 2014.  The brand has definitely cut a path into the high school and college student culture.  We are hearing that UA feels that taking UCLA from Adidas would be another coup for them, in the same manner that Notre Dame was.  They are aggressively coming after the UCLA contract.

Nike – Nike has been the big gorilla in the collegiate marketplace for a long time.  In the past, they tended to bid lower, knowing they would still get the contracts.  They felt their name recognition and product line were worth millions, and in some cases it was true.   Times have changed, and with the recent mega-contracts Nike has signed with Texas, Ohio State and Michigan, it is clear they understand that they need to be willing to open the bank to stay in the game and fend off Under Armour.

It Is Not Just About The Money

While the total monetary value of the contract is of course, a major factor in any negotiation, it is not the only factor.  There are a number of factors, some intangible, that can affect a decision. For instance, the terms of the contract can be creative, the length of the contract is important, the split between cash and apparel value, and the amount of the signing bonus are taken into consideration.  Things like charitable partnerships,  scholarships for non-athletes, support for the club and intramural sports, royalties, and facility naming rights are also considered.

Also, the apparel companies have shown that they are willing to pay more per year to lock in a longer contract.

Another factor, not in UCLA’s favor, is that in the next few months there are multiple premium collegiate contracts expiring.  Should UCLA get a huge contract, that will be the new starting point for future mega-contracts.   The apparel companies may want or need to contain the escalation of contract amounts starting with UCLA.  It should be assumed that each of those schools will take the position that whoever signs last will get the best deal.

Under Armour in being creative, is offering stock options in their contracts, and jobs and internships for their college clients.  UA is also developing a brand name on the high school football scene with events such as the Under Armour All-American Football Game, and several football camps.  These can help in recruiting, although it is unknown how much weight the UCLA Athletic Department will give it in terms of the value that UA brings.  We suspect it is a factor, but not a big one.

Nike is offering its Jordan Brand, high school AAU connections, football camps and possibly the most complete line of equipment, apparel, and shoes to equip an athletic department.  They also offer many incentive bonuses based on conference and national championships.  This seems to be an effective pitch since Nike reportedly made lower bids than Adidas and Under Armour, yet still got both the Texas and Michigan contracts.

Adidas brings state of the art equipment, shoes, and gear in multiple sports, including their popular “Boost” technology.  They have a 30% share of American football cleats and their Adizero 5-Star 4.0 is the best selling football cleat in the world.   Another example is that their soccer cleats are considered the most innovative and lightest on the market.

What’s In It For The Companies?

Why are these companies going crazy with each new deal?  For one, it is great advertising.  Every time UCLA plays on TV, in any sport, the apparel brand will get recognition.  College sports and in particular because of the popularity, college football, provide extensive exposure to the brand.  Averaged out, it becomes fairly cheap advertising compared to the entire marketing budgets of these companies.

Also, apparel companies are willing to pay extra in order to lock in schools for longer contracts.  They understand that the costs will continue to rise, so if they can lock UCLA in for say $12 million a year for 15 years, it will be a deal if  similar contracts are $20 million a year half way through the UCLA contract.  That is why the last two mega-contracts with Texas and Michigan were for 15 years.  We would not be surprised to see contracts for 20 years in the near future.

Surprisingly, or not, these big contracts get a lot of publicity for the apparel companies as well.  When UA announced the Notre Dame deal, their stock rose 3% the same day.

What’s It Mean For UCLA?

On one hand, these mega-contracts have positioned UCLA well for the negotiations.  Under Armour and Adidas both have good reasons to aggressively go after UCLA.   In fact, both may regard UCLA as a “must have” client.

UCLA brings the Southern California/West Coast market,  has possibly the strongest brand recognition internationally of any American university, has very strong apparel sales internationally, has an excellent reputation for both athletics and academics,  is still considered one of the historic blue bloods of college basketball, and has a football program on the rise.  Not to mention that with UCLA leading all institutions in national NCAA team championships, the school has strong name recognition in MANY sports outside of the big two.

Adidas has been hurting in recent years, and they have to stop the bleeding, especially with their current clients like UCLA.   Reports are that UA wanted to lock up the Bay Area with Cal, and Jon Wilner of the Mercury News reported that Adidas actually walked away from that negotiation in order to focus on UCLA.

UA has made a recent priority of going after the blue bloods of college athletics, and with Texas, Ohio State, and Michigan all signing with Nike in the past year, UA has to feel pressure to bring in a brand name.   UCLA is their next opportunity.

Nike has expended so much cash in their recent mega-deals that we don’t see them being nearly as aggressive with UCLA.

Even though UCLA would be a valuable addition to their portfolios, these companies know they can’t pay hundreds of millions to every school in the country with a D-1 program.   Ohio State said they waited for the Michigan and Texas contracts to be finalized before they would enter into negotiations with Nike just to make sure they got everything they could get.  The apparel companies know this will be the norm in the future, and that any future negotiations will be looking at the results of the UCLA contract for the next benchmark.  At some point in time, we would expect that these contracts will start stabilizing.    The good news is we don’t see that happening yet, with UCLA.

As noted before, UCLA is in a perfect position at a perfect time for a new contract. We have heard that UCLA has brought in a consultant to help with the negotiations.  UCLA would like to follow Cal’s steps and avoid a long term contract of 15 years.  Especially with the rapidly escalating deals being made these days.   However, if the total value starts exceeding $200 million over 15 years, we think they would almost have to accept.   If UCLA can successfully leverage UA and Adidas against each other, this could be an epic boost to the UCLA Athletic Department’s financial fortunes.

Other Issues

UCLA, like many if not most college campuses these days has increased in student activism.  We know that UCLA students are watching this issue, and their interest lies in the working conditions of the overseas employees of these companies.    It is likely they have positions on which companies are acceptable, or at least more acceptable.   Most likely they would favor UA over Nike or Adidas, as long as UA will allow some form of monitoring of working environments for UCLA made merchandise.  We doubt UA would allow this, and we really have no idea how galvanized UCLA students will be regarding this issue.  The UCLA administration has been a mixed bag on how it deals with student protests.  On some occasions, they have held their ground, and on others they have caved in to demands.   This issue will definitely come up in the UCLA administration’s confidential discussions on the contracts.

Feb 032016
 

On National Signing Day, UCLA had a great day, and with a couple exceptions really came through with an outstanding class.

However, there was one commitment that day that surprised everyone,  defensive linemen Chigozie Nnoruka.

So who is Chigozie Nnoruka?

Nnoruka came to the United States from his native Nigeria in his high school junior year.  Considered a very good soccer player in his home country, Nnoruka had never played American football.  He tried out for his high school, Kennedy High in Sacramento, and made the team as a 6’3″ 240-pound two-way senior lineman.  By the end of his high school senior year he was named Honorable Mention Offensive Lineman on the All-Metro Conference team.  However, that is not to say he did not have a good season on the defensive line.  He did, and had several solid games and Player of the Game honors for his d-line play, including 37 solo tackles, and 10 sacks on the season.  He was invited to, and played in the local all-star game, the Sacramento Bee 58th Optimist All Star Game.  Pretty good for a guy in his very first year of playing football.

You can watch his high school highlights HERE.

Because he had so little high school experience, was still so raw, and no camp exposure, he was virtually unknown upon graduating from high school.  It is also not clear that because of his transfer situation if he was even academically eligible out of high school as well.  In spite of his amazing athleticism, his situation kept him very much under the radar of college coaches at the time.

Graduating high school in May, 2015, he enrolled at the local community college, American River College in Sacramento.  At ARC, he became a teammate of UCLA commit defensive lineman, Nick Terry and was discovered by UCLA coach Angus McClure.   For the 2015 season he gained 20 pounds and played mostly defensive end.  In his first and only season there he was awarded CCCAA National NorCal Division All Conference honors for his defensive line play and finished with 35 tackles and 3 sacks.  In college, he showed strength (bench pressing 350, and squattnnorukaing 500 pounds), size (6’3″ 278 lbs), and raw athleticism that can’t be taught.

You can watch his college highlights HERE.

At UCLA, Nnoruka will have four years to play three, which is outstanding given his potential and lack of experience.  He also continues the long line of Nigerian recruits to UCLA.    We expect him to initially start at UCLA as a defensive end, and depending on how he does, and how big he gets in the UCLA strength program, could eventually move to defensive tackle.  Regardless, defensive linemen are hard to get, and are critical to the success of the program.  We consider this to be a nice last second pick up.

 

 

Feb 012016
 
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Well, well, well…we have been doing this for several years and this is the first year we are going into signing day feeling REALLY confident. UCLA has a legitimate shot at every recruit that we believe is still in the running, and maybe one or two that have not been as closely associated with UCLA in the media. And most refreshing is that with Jack Jones eliminating UCLA recently, there are no recruits that we don’t have a good feel for. As much as we want to temper our expectations, we can’t help seeing this as a major day for the UCLA football program. To be honest though, there are some recruits we feel are 50/50 as to whether they will be Bruins (such as Asiasi). In those cases we have ruled in favor of the Bruins because we really believe there will be a domino effect this Wednesday in favor of Westwood. In the past, there was always the fear of USC taking these kids, but there is little buzz about the Trojans this time around.

Unlike other sites we do not pretend to know what is in the hearts and minds of teenage recruits. While we may sound bullish on UCLA for signing day, it is because we really believe it. From our sources, research, and 35+ years of following recruiting, we feel like we have a good feel for this inexact science and signing day is shaping up to be a good one in Westwood.

SIGNING DATES AND TIMES:

Aaron Hansford: 4 stars,  announcing Wednesday, Feb 3, 11:15 p.m. and will be announcing at his high school.
Bruin Authority Prediction: UCLA over Texas A&M.

Signed with: Texas A&M

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Devin Asiasi: 4 stars, announcing Wednesday Feb 3 on ESPN2 between 12:00 and 1:00 p.m.
Bruin Authority Prediction: UCLA over USC. As mentioned above, this is a tough one to call, but with coaches Polamalu, Tuiasosopo and Mora recruiting Asiasi, we think the tide may have turned. As an aside, on his USC visit this past weekend, the Trojans rolled out the Polynesian red carpet for Asiasi, making sure he spent a lot of time with current Polynesian Trojan players. UPDATE: There seem to be rumors all over the internet that Michigan is the real leader the day before signing day. We know he really enjoyed his official visit to Michigan so this is not necessarily crazy talk.  However, we also know he is very close to his long-time girlfriend, family, support structure, and community.  Even though we are dealing with a teenager, we would still be a little surprised to see him sign with a school that far away.

Signed with: Michigan

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Boss Tagaloa: 4 stars, announcing Wednesday, Feb 3 on ESPN2 between 12:00 and 1:00 p.m.
Bruin Authority Prediction: UCLA

Signed with: UCLA

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Garrett Rand: 4 stars, announcing Wednesday, Feb 3, and will be announcing at his high school at 7:30 a.m.
Bruin Authority Prediction: UCLA over Wisconsin. This is a tough one to call and could go either way, but the late interest Rand showed in UCLA indicates that the Wisconsin commitment has some cracks. Rand has been connecting with a number of Bruin players in the last couple days on Twitter which we view as a good sign.

Signed with: Wisconsin

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Brandon Burton: 4 stars, announcing Tuesday, Feb 2, 9:00 p.m. on ESPN.
Bruin Authority Prediction: UCLA over USC and Arizona.

Signed with: UCLA

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Francisco Perez: 3 stars, announcing Wednesday, Feb 3 at 10:30 a.m.
Bruin Authority Prediction: UCLA over Cal. Like Garrett Rand, Perez has been connecting with a number of Bruin players in the last couple days on Twitter which we view as a good sign.

Signed with: UCLA

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Mique Juarez: 5 stars, will be picking from hats Wednesday Feb 3 at 12:30 p.m.
Bruin Authority Prediction: UCLA over BYU. Juarez is down to UCLA, Alabama, Ole Miss, and BYU. Contrary to popular belief, we think BYU may actually be the biggest threat to UCLA here.  The Tongan/LDS connection is stronger than many know.  Also, for what its worth, his father Mike thinks a lot of UCLA, his mother, BYU.

Signed with: UCLA

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Brandon Stephens: 4 stars, announcing Wednesday, Feb 3, and will be announcing in his high school gym at 6:00 a.m.
Bruin Authority Prediction: UCLA. The former Stanford commit likes the West Coast and schools with strong academics. UCLA fits his criteria.

Signed with: UCLA

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Adewale Omotosho: 4 stars, announcing Wednesday, Feb 3, and will be announcing at his high school gym at 7:30 a.m.
Bruin Authority Prediction: UCLA over TCU. Many feel UCLA is running third for Omotosho, but UCLA has been on his list for a long time.  We have been hearing some really good things here.

Signed with: UCLA

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Kentrell Love: 4 stars, announcing Wednesday, Feb 3.
Bruin Authority Prediction: Washington over UCLA. UCLA made a late run, and while we don’t think it will happen, it would not surprise us if Love shows UCLA some love on signing day.

Signed with: Washington

We are hearing about a couple other recruits that may be in play right now. We will update as soon as we get confirmations.

UCLA OFFENSIVE RECRUITING MONSTER BOARD

 UCLA DEFENSIVE RECRUITING MONSTER BOARD

Jul 282015
 

CHECK OUT THE NEW 2016 UCLA RECRUITING MONSTER BOARDS HERE

The UCLA Bruins will have their first practice Monday, August 10, and the Bruin Authority guys had a chance to scout out the digs and here is the scoop.

One notable difference from last summer, the two-a-day afternoon practices will be starting at 5:45 p.m., instead of 7:00 p.m. as was done in the past.  Most likely the players preferred to practice in the heat, in order to finish earlier.   As with last year, there will be no practice on Sundays.

Finishing off the schedule will be the Fan Appreciation practice on Saturday, August 22 at 11:15 a.m.

SCHEDULE:

Practices last about two hours, and all practices are open to the public. Here is the schedule:

Monday, August 10 – 3 p.m.

Tuesday, August 11 – 3 p.m.

Wednesday, August 12 – 3 p.m.

Thursday, August 13 – 3 p.m.

Friday, August 14 – 3 p.m.

Saturday, August 15 – 8:30 a.m. and 5:45 p.m.

Sunday, August 16 – Off

Monday, August 17 – 8:30 a.m. and 5:45 p.m.

Tuesday, August 18 – 3 p.m.

Wednesday, August 19 – 8:30 a.m. and 5:45 p.m.

Thursday, August 20 – 11:15 a.m.

Friday, August 21 – 8:30 a.m. and 5:45 p.m.changed to 5:00 p.m. including a live blue/white scrimmage and an opportunity to meet players afterward.

Saturday, August 22 – 11:15 a.m. changed to 9:00 a.m. (Fan Appreciation event after practice with free food, drinks, a 2015 UCLA football poster, Fall Camp program, and opportunities to meet players and coaches. There will also be an opportunity to buy Virginia game tickets at half off.)

WHERE:

Cal State University, San Bernardino

5500 University Parkway, San Bernardino, CA 92407 (909) 537-5000

The campus is located in what feels like a safe, suburban setting in the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains.

HOW TO GET THERE:

  • From UCLA: Take to I-10 East, to I-215 North. Exit at University Parkway in San Bernardino and turn right. Proceed along University Parkway and turn right on Northpark Blvd. Turn left on Coyote Blvd.
  • Pasadena: Take I-210 East to I-215 North. Exit at University Parkway in San Bernardino and turn right. Proceed along University Parkway and turn right on Northpark Blvd. Turn left on Coyote Blvd.
  • Orange County: Take Highway 91 East, which becomes I-215 North in Riverside. Continue on I-215, and exit at University Parkway in San Bernardino and turn right. Proceed along University Parkway and turn right on Northpark Blvd. Turn left on Coyote Blvd.
  • Riverside: Take Highway 91 East, which becomes I-215 North in Riverside. Continue on I-215, and exit at University Parkway in San Bernardino and turn right. Proceed along University Parkway and turn right on Northpark Blvd. Turn left on Coyote Blvd.
  • High Desert areas: Take I-15 South, to I-215 South. Exit at University Parkway in San Bernardino and turn left. Proceed along University Parkway and turn right on Northpark Blvd. Turn left on Coyote Blvd.
  • Palm Springs area: Take I-10 West, to I-215 North. Exit at University Parkway in San Bernardino and turn right. Proceed along University Parkway and turn right on Northpark Blvd. Turn left on Coyote Blvd.
  • San Diego area: Take I-15 North, to I-215 North. Exit at University Parkway in San Bernardino and turn right. Proceed along University Parkway and turn right on Northpark Blvd. Turn left on Coyote Blvd.

TIPS AND DETAILS:

University Parkway is the main entrance onto the campus.  Once on Northpark Blvd, you will have to drive a little way, passing Seranno Village Drive, Lot D and Lot F before arriving at Coyote Blvd.  After turning left onto Coyote Blvd, you will see a parking kiosk.  Pull up to it and tell them you want to park in Lot G.  They will ask you to pay a $5 parking fee.  We have noticed some sites have been suggesting that fans park in either Lot G or Lot H.  This is from people who are probably looking at a map and have not been there.   Lot G is very close to the practice fields.  While you can park in Lot H, you will be taking an unnecessary walk, which may be unpleasant on particularly hot days.

If the parking kiosk is closed, there are parking machines that will issue a parking permit.  We have attended numerous practices here and have never seen anyone issuing parking tickets and suspect that they are more lax during the summer.  However we paid, and would probably suggest you do as well to avoid a ticket.

After passing the parking kiosk, you will shortly turn right into Lot G.  From there, the practice field is roughly northeast.  So after turning into Lot G, drive straight ahead to the fence and turn left.  Go as far as you can to get close to the practice field. The only building in the area is the Student Rec Center.  After exiting your vehicle, walk toward that building.  From there, walk to the right (east) and as you round the corner (turning left), you will see the practice field straight ahead and to the right.  The rest room is also near that corner.

There is a media only area and a fan area.  There are usually interns handing out sheets of paper with the player’s names and practice roster numbers.  We would strongly suggest you find one.  Sometimes they are on a table, sometimes someone is walking around passing them out.  If you don’t see them, ask one of the young guys working there, they are really helpful and friendly to the fans.

There is grass to sit on, but no bleachers, or benches.  For that reason, we suggest you bring lawn chairs.  There is some shade under trees, and in the past, if you get there early enough you could snag a good shady spot.

Fans have been asking us where the best place to watch is, and that is hard to answer because they practice on more than one field, and seem to move around a little.  Generally, there are not a lot of viewing choices, and seems even less than in past years.  So we suggest that at first, you focus on a central location that has shade.  Basically, the idea is to grab a comfortable spot before they are all gone (the shady, grassy areas fill up fast).  If necessary, you can then move around once you see where each unit is practicing and where there is available seating.  To view the furthest players practicing, you may need binoculars regardless of where you sit.

There are no concession stands or vending machines nearby.  However, if you have time and want to walk around campus, there are a number of places to eat on campus that are open during the summer, including Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, Starbucks, and several sandwich type places.  You can get their campus locations HERE.

The practice field area has enough grass, and it is pleasant enough that you can have a nice picnic, especially if you bring the family.  If you don’t want to bring your own food, or walk around campus to eat, there are many fast food places in the area so you can easily stop by one just before driving onto campus.  In fact, to get to the practice facility on University Parkway, you will pass an IHOP, Starbucks, McDonald’s, Cold Stone Creamery,  El Pollo Loco, KFC, Farmer Boys (a local chain), Del Taco, and Yogurt Land.  There is also a Ralphs if you want to get a jug of water on a hot day.

AREA ATTRACTIONS:

If you are driving far, you may want to take advantage of other things in the area.

On campus is the Fullerton Museum of Art:  noted for a very large collection of Egyptian antiquities.  More info HERE.  (UPDATE: we are hearing parts of the museum may be closed for a while for some remodeling work, so you may want to verify it is open when you will be there.)

San Manuel Indian Casino: a few minutes away, this is one of the largest Indian casinos in California.  San Manual is also likely the most profitable.  They have a good buffet and a nice restaurant.  If you go, get a “player’s card.”  It will give you some free money to gamble with, as well as discounts on food.  Unfortunately, there is no hotel on site.  More info HERE.

Lake Arrowhead:  the campus is close to the main road to this resort town.   On a hot day, it might be the perfect opportunity to get away and cool down in the mountains.  More info HERE.

Restaurants: This area is not necessarily known for its fine dining, but all the chain restaurants can be found here.  As mentioned above, San Manual Casino is nearby and has several types of dining options including a very nice restaurant.  In the city of San Bernardino itself, there is sort of a restaurant row located on Hospitality Lane.  Hospitality Lane runs parallel to the I-10 on the north side, and just east of the I-10 and I-210 interchange (you will probably drive right past here, both going and coming from the practice).  On this road, within about a half mile or less, can be found a Souplantation, El Torito, Red Lobster, IHOP, Claim Jumper, Margarita Beach, TGI Fridays, Chili’s, Mimi’s Cafe, Delhi Palace, and Olive Garden.

If you want to make a trip out of it, the campus is near the routes going to Las Vegas, Palm Springs, Joshua Tree National Park, and Phoenix.

MAP:

CSUSB_UCLA_2015

Jul 022015
 

We don’t know Brandon Huffman.  Never met the man.

The man writes recruiting articles for Scout.com.  We don’t have a subscription to Scout so we rarely read anything there unless someone sends us a link to a free article. We are not even sure of his allegiances (although not that it matters today, we are told he loves UCLA).

But what we do know is that Mr. Huffman is going through one of the most difficult things a human being could ever go through.

His young daughter Avery has terminal cancer.  He wrote a heartbreaking account of it, and we suspect that for him to write it had to be painful beyond words.

By all appearances, Brandon is one of us.  A man who loves college athletics.  Loves recruiting.  Loves his family.

We are supporting Brandon at this time and we hope you do too.

You can read his touching story HERE.  There is also a GoFundMe site at the same location if you would like to help.

UPDATE  7/3/2015: Coach Mora, Dan Guererro and the UCLA family are helping to raise funds.  Here are links to more information about the situation and ways to help:

Jim Mora wins the day. By a million points.

UCLA Coach Mora’s Challenge to Support Avery

Jim Mora Jr. steps up for family in desperate need

 

 

 

 

Jun 242015
 

[Story updated 7/3/15 1:10 p.m. ]

The short version:

On Monday, June 22, 2015, After police reportedly reviewed video of the incident, Sean “Diddy” Combs was charged with three counts of assault with a deadly weapon, one count of making terrorist threats, and one count of battery for confrontation(s) with UCLA football staff, particularly UCLA Strength Coach, Sal Alosi.

Diddy is scheduled for trial at 8:30 a.m., on July 13.

Diddy hires big time Hollywood power attorney Mark Geragos.

Possible smear campaign of unsubstantiated rumors and unknown origins against Sal Alosi begins in the media.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced they were declining to pursue a case against Diddy.

It is now up to the Los Angeles City Attorney to decide to file charges.

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We were leisurely enjoying our break before gearing up the site for the fall football season when this story broke.  It was too big for even us to stay silent on it.

We received some requests for what’s going on, as well as our opinions, so here it is.

This information has been pieced together from all available news sources, as well as our own.  It is a composite of reports from trustworthy news sources (many of which conflict with each other).  We are finding a lot of mis-information so this story will be updated as new, accurate information becomes available.

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Justin Combs (we’ll refer to him as Combs)  is a 20 year old UCLA defensive back, and son of performer, record mogul, entrepreneur, and mega-wealthy Sean “Diddy” Combs (we’ll refer to him as Diddy), also known as P. Diddy, and Puff Daddy.

Originally offered a scholarship by former Bruin Coach, Rick Neuheisel, Combs is now a redshirt junior.  Neuheisel was fired after Combs committed to UCLA, but before signing day.  Coach Mora took over the program and did the decent thing by honoring the scholarship.  At the time, Combs was considered undersized, had only a handful of scholarship offers, and was probably not a UCLA caliber player.  Neuheisel has stated that he looks at everything that a recruit brings to the program, not just the measurables.  With Combs, he saw a recruit that was popular with other recruits,  seemed like a good person, and would bring a father that could help the program in many ways.  That was soon born out, with the following year’s recruits.  UCLA quarterback Asianti Woulard (who has since left the program), had a memorable official visit where he was entertained by the 45 year old Diddy and his celebrity friends at Lucky Strikes Bowling in Hollywood.  That evening went over well, and he committed shortly thereafter.

Over the next three years, Combs redshirted his first year, and played sparingly since, appearing in only seven games as a backup cornerback and special teams player.

Fast forward to now.

The summer strength and conditioning workouts have begun, and S&C Coach Sal Alosi runs them.  Alosi is considered a masterful coach in his area, but has had one incident in his past that continues to haunt him today.  After nine years of coaching, in 2010, Alosi, the strength coach of the New York Jets,  stuck out his knee and tripped a Miami Dolphin player returning a punt during a game.  Alosi was fined, suspended, and then resigned from the Jets organization.

In 2012, Coach Mora helped resurrect Alosi’s reputation by hiring him to be the S&C coach for the UCLA football team.  By all accounts, Alosi is a no nonsense disciplinarian.  At the same time, he seems to be well respected by his players who often credit him for their development and the team’s improvement.  That can be seen by a support letter written to Bruin Report Online by former player, Todd Golper HERE.

On Monday, June 22, Alosi was running the team’s early morning workouts.  Reports are that Combs had been missing them and claimed to be working out with his father’s personal trainer instead.  While they are voluntary, coaches and teammates expect everyone to participate as part of a team activity.  Not showing up may indicate a lack of commitment to teammates and coaches.

There are multiple conflicting reports as to what happened at that workout.  There are also conflicting reports about whether or not Diddy was there to witness the following events, or if Combs told his father about them shortly after they happened.

Either way, it is believe to have gone something like this:

Combs did show up to this practice, and was evidently the first player in one of the warm up drills.  Reports are that he did the drill wrong, and Alosi was impatient, and probably attributed the sloppy performance to Combs’ lack of regular attendance.  According to RadarOnline, a player who witnessed the situation said that Alosi yelled, “you’re never in the front of the line, go to the back of the line.”

The player said, “Justin was shaking his head saying ‘You’re tripping and over-reacting,’ and that made the coach mad.”

Then Alosi said to Combs, “You’re done for the rest of the season, go work out with your dad’s personal trainer!” the source claimed.

“This isn’t the first time the coach has done this,” the player said. “He’s a good coach. He probably would have let Justin come back today if his dad hadn’t come down here.  Justin isn’t the first person to get thrown out of practice.”

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There is speculation that Diddy is a football helicopter parent.  Someone who may think their child is more gifted than they really are, and expects the coaches to also acknowledge it.  Diddy frequently attended practices, and after three years may be under the impression that his son should be more of a centerpiece of the program. We have never met Diddy, but we suspect the man has a significant ego, and is used to getting his way.

This was an interesting comment made by Jill Painter Lopez of Fox Sports:

“His father, Sean Combs, did what he wanted at UCLA and often would watch his son practice with closer access than people with handicap placards. He would park his luxury cars just outside of the gate to the football field, where there are no parking spaces, just walkways reserved for emergency vehicles and delivery trucks. A place where you or I would get towed. A few hundred yards away sits a parking structure for $12 a day.

It’s one small example of how Sean Combs did what he wanted, and he was not told otherwise. If he was, he continued to park there anyway. Parking officials should’ve ticketed him daily, but Diddy isn’t used to being held to the standards of people who make far less zeroes in their paychecks. He’s apparently not used to coaches yelling at his son and throwing him out of practice, either.

Happens all the time in high school, college and NFL practices across the country. Yet, somehow, the son of Sean Combs wasn’t supposed to accept being treated like everyone else.”

The article can be read HERE.

There is also another article regarding Diddy and helicopter parents from the New York Post, titled “Diddy is the Ultimate Coddling Helicopter Parent”:

“In another era, a son would have been humiliated to find his father showing up at college, let alone berating and attacking his coach.  But today, these kids seem to be hoping that their parents will come to work and demand promotions for them.”

One of the writers here really related to that first sentence.  In fact, all of us would have been horrified to have our fathers show up on campus for the purpose of hammering our high school or college coaches.  It would have meant we were not mature enough (man enough?) to take care of our own business.

The article can be read HERE.

And an aside, we keep hearing from fans that Diddy owns a Rose Bowl suite and is a major donor to UCLA.   We have asked around and have received no evidence of either.   In spite of his money and his son, we have not heard that he has become a major financial interest of UCLA.  UPDATE: One of our BruinAuthority guys has connections within the Rose Bowl.  He asked his Rose Bowl representative if Diddy had any seats in the pavilion, and was told no.  There are people who do have high-end premium seats and they have let him use them in the past was the reply.

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About 11:30 a.m., Diddy and his son Combs, came to Coach Alosi’s office in the Acosta Athletic Center, across from Pauley Pavilion.  It is unclear as to the actual reason for the visit.  Was it to restore Combs’ access to workouts, or because Diddy thought his son was being disrespected?  Reports indicate that Combs first entered the office, while Alosi was on his cell phone.  When Alosi asked Combs to wait a minute while he finished the call, Diddy lost his temper and moved into the office, and up close to Alosi.  Reports are that Diddy was loud and using foul language.

Alosi asked an intern in the area to call campus security (although there are reports that the intern did so on his own), which caused Diddy to escalate the situation.  There are many conflicting reports from credible sources as to what happened next.  Reports are that Diddy approached Alosi and Alosi put his hands up in a non-offensive position.  and Diddy moved into Alosi’s hands and accused him of putting his hands on Diddy.  Other reports indicate that Diddy just lost it when Alosi didn’t immediately hang up the phone when they arrived.  It is possible that Diddy  took a swing at Alosi at this time, possibly ripping his shirt in the process.

Hearing the commotion, other staff members rushed in and pulled Diddy out of the office and into theKettlebells weight room.  Upon letting him go, it is believed that an outraged Diddy picked up a weight known as a kettlebell and swung it at the staff surrounding him.  He evidently did not hit anyone with this weapon.

The campus police soon arrived.  The UCLA staff did not want to press charges, however, the building is monitored with cameras.  The police insisted on seeing the video before making a decision as to what to do.  Upon reviewing the video, the police placed Diddy under arrest and handcuffed him around 12:30 p.m.  Reports are that Combs was quite upset at the point when the handcuffs were put on his father.

Diddy remained in the campus jail until 6:35 p.m.  when campus police took Diddy to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Inmate Reception Center.  After booking he was held in the Los Angeles County Jail and released at 11:02 p.m. after posting bail of $50,000.  Since Diddy’s estimated worth is about $735 million, we suspect bail was not a problem.

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Diddy’s camp is claiming that he is the victim and was merely defending himself and his son from members of the UCLA coaching staff.

His representative Nathalie Moar of Combs Enterprises, said in a statement that “The various accounts of the event and charges that are being reported are wholly inaccurate…What we can say now is that any actions taken by Mr. Combs were solely defensive in nature to protect himself and his son.”

We are also wondering if the Diddy PR spin machine is already beginning with anonymous accusations of Alosi waging psychological warfare on Combs, as suggested HERE.  Their defense may be an offensive media attack to destroy Alosi’s reputation. UPDATE: Now there are mysterious allegations that the Diddy PR camp is hunting down people from Alosi’s past, including a female chiropractor that evidently did not get along with Alosi while he was with the New York Jets.  This could be the beginning of a full court press character assassination.

Call us skeptical about this position, but there is video, and perhaps a significant amount of video by the building cameras and cell phones.   And his arrest came after police viewed some of the video.  It is possible that this statement was made before Diddy’s representatives knew the building was under surveillance.  We would not be surprised to see a site like TMZ produce cell phone video of the incident any moment as well.

And on Tueday, a day after the incident, Justin Combs posted on Instagram the following:

I thank God for having a father that's always there for me.. Love you pops!

A photo posted by Justin Dior Combs (@princejdc) on

Much has been made about this Instagram post, including speculation if this would further alienate Combs from the coaches and teammates.   We tend to think the timing was ill advised.

Jill Painter Lopez of Fox Sports had this to say about it (read the full story HERE):

“Supporting his father, who allegedly attacked the team’s strength and conditioning coach, is indefensible. There is now a remarkable divide between Justin Combs and his UCLA football family. Combs chose the side of his father instead of his teammates. In most situations, family support is necessary. Not in this instance.

Diddy’s actions cannot be defended. Not even by his son.

Justin Combs is in an awkward spot to be sure. His 45-year-old father, who gives new meaning to the term ‘helicopter parent,’ made that so.”

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Coach Mora issued the following statement:

“I’m thankful that our staff showed the level of professionalism that they did in handling this situation. This is an unfortunate incident for all parties involved.  While UCPD continues to review this matter, we will let the legal process run its course and refrain from further comment at this time.” 

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Aftermath:

One development worth watching is the recruitment of Oluwole Betiku, a top defensive end from Gardena Serra High School.  His legal guardian is former NFL linebacker LaVar Arrington.  Betiku is one of UCLA’s top targets and Arrington has a certain amount of influence on Betiku.  Arrington gave an interview to TMZ after hearing about the Diddy incident and clearly felt that coaches should not yell or berate players.  We will be watching this.

TMZ reported that Alosi returned to practice Tuesday morning, which indicates UCLA believes he was not responsible for any of the incidents the prior day.  This was something we were particularly watching.  The UCLA administration is particularly sensitive to bad press, and we were wondering if they would suspend Alosi as a precautionary PR measure to “show they take it seriously.”  They didn’t do that which we applaud.

We are hearing the highest levels of UCLA administration (including the Chancellor) are discussing this situation and how to handle it.  We believe that Justin truly loved his time at UCLA, but it is hard to imagine that he can continue after this incident.  He was already under a microscope because of his father,  and now the campus would turn into a circus should he remain on the team.   In a way, he may be the one who will pay the highest price when this is done.  By all accounts, he has worked hard to be his own person, not just the son of a celebrity.  He practices hard (historically), and he works hard in school and made the winter honor roll.  He is very close to getting his degree. The memories of his college years and glory days would have made him proud, and brought him smiles for the rest of his life.  Now, those memories will likely be reduced to this incident and his father’s arrest.

Diddy has a reputation for having a temper, and there is a criminal history of aggressive behavior.  This case will not improve that reputation.  While we don’t know what the district attorney will do, we suspect that a combination of UCLA wanting to drop it, Diddy’s “Dream Team” of lawyers,  and the taxpayer cost of prosecuting a man with almost infinite funds, will cause this to either be pleaded down, or maybe even be dropped altogether.

Diddy is scheduled for trial at 8:30 a.m., on July 13.