Bruin Woes: UCLA’s Two Lost Weekends


It all started the Saturday after Thanksgiving…

First, the UCLA Bruin football team commenced in their crosstown war with their enemies from USC.

Though the game was competitive and the defense played well, not only did the Trojans pull away at the end, but they scored an unneeded touchdown in the last minute and proceeded to taunt the Bruins afterward, provoking a near-brawl.

That same weekend, UCLA’s young and inexperienced basketball team loses three straight contests in the 76 Classic in Anaheim to finish dead last in an eight team field.

Included in that debacle were a 27 point loss to Portland (the Pilots, not the NBA Trailblazers), and their first loss ever to Long Beach State.

Fast forward six days to this past weekend…

Four UCLA sports were in their playoffs, trying to add to the Bruins’ NCAA-leading 104 national championships.

To say that it was a disappointing disaster would be an understatement, as…

On Friday, December 4th, the women’s soccer team, for the seventh straight year, lost in the College Cup – soccer’s version of the Final Four – to Stanford in the semi-finals, 2-1, on a golden goal in overtime no less.

That marked seven consecutive seasons that the Bruins have gotten that far, with no championship to show for it.

The next day, the women’s male soccer counterparts, after winning the Pac-10 Conference title, were beaten by Wake Forest in the NCAA quarterfinals to get denied a spot in their College Cup.

Then the women’s volleyball team, playing in the friendly confines of Westwood’s Pauley Pavilion, lost to underdog Baylor in their second round playoff match, three games to one, when they were expected to go further.

Continuing the agony, on Sunday the 6th the men’s water polo team were defeated in the NCAA final at Princeton to, of all schools, USC by a 7-6 score.

Talking about the proverbial rubbing salt in the wound; that was the worst of all the setbacks, being that it was against the Bruins’ eternal enemies – I refuse to say rival.

And to put a cherry on top of it all, the Bruin hoopsters, though it was expected and they gave a good effort, fell to the no.1 Kansas Jayhawks later that afternoon.

When you add it up, that’s a total of seven losses over the past two weekends, four of them in the playoffs. Which leads me to this question:

What the bloody heck is going on?!

It is as if the athletes in Westwood overdosed on Charlie Brown juice and Bad News Bears pills, as these past two weekends have been perhaps the worst in UCLA history.

Now I am not saying that the Bruins are in ruins or anything like that; men’s water polo, women’s volleyball, and both soccer teams had very good seasons, with the water polo and the two soccer teams finishing in the top ten in their respective sports.

But I just can’t help wondering if there was something missing, an attitude of sorts that often makes the difference in who gets the big plaque and who doesn’t.

Being that UCLA, with its 104 titles, is considered by most to be the country’s best overall athletic program, it’s hard for me to understand why the various Bruin teams have come so close to the big prize only to fall short so often.

This is especially the case with the women’s soccer program; seven trips to their Final Four and nothing. That’s very difficult for me to accept.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a win-at-all-costs person, but when UCLA goes though two weekends like this, it leaves a very bitter taste.

The question now is, what are those Bruin teams – and others such as women’s gymnastics, softball, and men’s volleyball – going to do in the future to turn those losses into victories and championships?

I wish I knew the answer. But I will say this:

The only reason I’m writing something like this is not to criticize or rag on UCLA’s teams, but because as an alum, I like UCLA athletics very much – I’m a huge fan of  the women’s gymnastics team in particular – and all I want is to see them win those NCAA championships when they are within reach.

In other words, I want them to become brides instead of bridesmaids.

Is that asking too much?