Unbuckling the mailbag:
Question: Do you get paid for writing (##$%$) like that? Did the USC coach say something to you and hurt your feelings? Your article screams of self-pity. Why don't you just go to Fox News and throw your 2-year-old tantrum on TV? "I want the coach to tell me about injuries. It's not fair? I want to know!"
Wah Wah Wah!
Jim Dunmyer Jr.
Answer: Get your facts straight. My tantrum was not 2 years old…I threw it two days ago.
I don't need any coach to tell me about injuries, but if I see one in broad daylight or discover one on my own I'd appreciate not being punished for it.
There is no place for a coach to hide on television. Lane Kiffin can't walk off after 28 seconds because the ref called holding.
Game day is where the real competitive advantages and disadvantages are sorted out.
If Team X has a quarterback who doesn't throw many passes of more than 10 yards, well, that sort of information can leak out, without violating any policy, and become a chart in a newspaper.
I know, you're asking: why can't coaches ban television, radio and newspapers? Why can't games be played in secret, in underground bunkers, without the distractions of fans and nosy reporters?
That could be "Item A" on the agenda at next spring's Pac-12 coaches' meetings.
Q: If I'm running a team that is limited by scholarship (less players and back-up players) why would I ever want to help the opposing team by telling them players are hurt and possibly cannot play?
Bruce K. Middleton
Santa Fe Springs
A: Fine, then just shut down practice to the media the way most other college teams do. But if you are going to let media into practice, how are we supposed to ignore a top player getting injured?
Look, social media has changed everything. Coaches can't control events the way they once did.
We, as reporters, should have the same access to information as the pencil-neck sophomore who sees Matt Barkley's arm in a sling and sends out a text during English class.
People forget we work for our readers, not the Trojans or the Bruins. We are in the information business. Coaches are more interested in disinformation.
Coaches hate distractions, yet the irony is Lane Kiffin has made the injury issue a distraction. He has wasted his valuable time, and ours, and yours.
And somewhere in the midst of all this, USC lost to Stanford…Hmmmmmm.
Q: Tell us all again how USC is so good and should be national champs, are the best in the country, how quick they've returned from those unfair NCAA sanctions and all the other crap you've been writing. Do you even know football?
A: OK, I'll tell you again. USC finished 10-2 last year and was the only Pac-12 team to beat Oregon, the eventual Pac-12 champ.
The star quarterback decided to return to throw passes to the nation's two best receivers. The Associated Press media poll put USC at preseason No. 1 while the USA Today coaches' poll had the Trojans at No. 3.
No one ever said being preseason No. 1 makes you the national champ. USC then lost to a ranked team, by a touchdown, on the road. If you know football, you also know there are several more games to play.
Q: It is not difficult to see that the L.A. Times has been favoring USC football for decades and that UCLA football is usually positioned in a much more minor position in The Times. USC gets a more prominent position on the Sports pages and usually gets more articles that are longer in length during football season. USC gets more photographs that show players and more of these photographs are larger color pictures.
A: So many things I'd like to say here. I could go off on a rant and vent and really take you to task for some of these outrageous and inaccurate accusations.
But this is a Q&A. If only you had asked a question.
Q: A friend of mine emailed your article to me from The Times re: the Ten count for USC. Having never read your article before…I wanted you to know that I thought it was pretty funny.
A: Thanks. Lucky for you and me, just seconds ago, I just changed my policy of only answering letters that had questions.
Q: Did you watch the same game I did? Sorry, but what I saw did not look anything like a championship team.
A: Maybe you were looking at the wrong team. Maybe you should have been looking at Stanford.
Q: Rankman, it's time to tell you-know-who to stop the "BS" concerning the top 25 in college football. Stop putting "Boise State" in the top 25. Fix him a shaker of martinis, a bowl of peanuts and put him the corner 'till he has the "Blue Boys" out of his system.
A: Are you bonkers, Banning? You must have seen a different game. Boise State's 7-6 win over Brigham Young on Thursday reminded me of the "old fashioned football" I keep hearing about every time Alabama and Louisiana State play and don't score a touchdown.
That was "Big Boy" football out there on the blue field. Bear Bryant's 1961 Alabama defense (six shutouts, 25 points allowed all year) would have been proud.
Boise State won the game without its offense scoring a touchdown. LSU did the same thing last year at Alabama and people in the South wanted to put the game in a time capsule.
Q: You continually make weak, straw man arguments against the SEC. Do you really think it's not the best conference?
A: Most years yes, but I'm not sure about this year. Once you get past Alabama and LSU, the SEC West drops off like a Norwegian fjord. The third best team in the division might be Louisiana Monroe, which plays in the Sun Belt Conference.
Ole Miss got Texas at home last week and held the battling Bevos to 66 points and 676 total yards. CBS' Gary Danielson went on Paul Finebaum's radio show a few days later and said "yards don't come cheap" in the SEC these days. Seems to me you can buy them by the ton.
This was after Louisiana Monroe racked up 960 yards in consecutive weeks against Arkansas and Auburn.
Over in the East, Kentucky lost to Western Kentucky. South Carolina is one of the favorites, but the Gamecocks' next SEC title will also be their first. Georgia could be the real deal but has a recent history of not closing the deal or even playing Alabama and LSU in the regular season.
I think Alabama and LSU might be the two best teams in the country. Those schools right now are on a different SEC level.
Q: Are you buying UCLA yet?
A: Yes, I just went to 7-11 and picked up an eight-clap six-pack. I also bought a hot dog under hot lights that may have been sitting there since the Bruins won 20 straight under Bob Toledo.
UCLA just looks different to me in their uniforms. The Bruins look meaner, leaner and tougher under Jim Mora. They are flying to the ball instead of going over the wall.
The first true passed test for me was taking care of business against Houston a week after upsetting Nebraska. This would have been, historically, a classic let-down moment for a school that has notoriously bought into its press clippings.
In 2007, UCLA was ranked No. 11 headed into Utah and lost, 44-6.
UCLA improved to 8-0 in 2005 after a dramatic comeback at Stanford. Karl Dorrell chased me down on the field afterward to say "I told you so."
The Bruins were B-A-C-K!
Next week, they went to Arizona and lost, 52-14. A couple weeks later, USC took UCLA down, 66-19.
In 2004, UCLA lost a five-point battle against USC and got relegated to the Las Vegas Bowl against Wyoming?
Final score: Wyoming 24, UCLA 21.
So I've seen UCLA start fast and finish slow.
Again, though, this team has a different look.