T.J. Simers

Nothing 'masterful' about UCLA's victory over Utah

Bruins' plodding 21-14 win at the Rose Bowl unfolds like a bad movie — an exercise in boredom that seemed like it would never end. Jim Mora was entertained, though.

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I had such expectations, the cast sounding terrific, the early Oscar buzz.

Then I went and paid to see the worst movie ever made — dumbfounding how anyone ever agreed to make it — an idiotic, stupefying, colossal waste of time.

I sat there watching "The Master," knowing I should walk out but figuring something just had to happen because they would never torture folks like this.

But it never did, which brings me to UCLA's game against Utah, yet another idiotic, stupefying, colossal waste of time.

I didn't attend UCLA so I don't have to pretend a 21-14 victory over Utah was meaningful.

I was paid to be at the Rose Bowl on Saturday, and I'm not happy about it.

I care about entertainment, folks paying money to take a few hours off from life and have some fun. It's really the only reason to stage these games in front of people.

Now I know Coach Jim Mora still hasn't apologized personally to Steve Rourke, the longtime employee he berated on the practice field a few weeks back. I checked Saturday.

But I thought we were making headway when Mora knocked over a tape recorder at his postgame news conference and immediately apologized.

Funny a tape recorder would get an apology but a fellow UCLA employee would not. But since it came so easy I thought maybe he would tell the fans how sorry he was for boring them.

Instead, he talked about his players learning from their mistakes, and how odd to say so after still not apologizing to the school official he berated. But he said this game "was exactly what our football team needed."

Who cares what his football team needed?

That's why they have practice. This is about putting on a show, everyone around UCLA hyped after the team's 3-0 start and now looking for a sign they weren't faked out. Again.

As many people as there are who profess to being UCLA fans, how come the Rose Bowl looks as empty as it does? It's pretty obvious they don't think a day spent here is worth their time.

It's Mora's job to demonstrate differently.

Granted, it is no easy task with Fox TV doing the game, the endless commercial breaks making it feel more like a day at the horse track with so much time between races (or plays).

But this should have felt like a party, Utah surrendering before the game started by starting a true freshman at quarterback for the first time.

Instead of UCLA romping and stomping, it was a snooze fest. And while games like this "may not be beautiful and may not have great stats," Mora said, "there's something to winning these gut-grinders."

Maybe for him. But come on, I asked, "Weren't you bored most of the afternoon?"

"Excuse me," Mora said, and I really don't know why any coach should be excused for making something sound better than it really is.

But before I got around to my question, he was telling everyone in the room this was like some kind of monumental, sit-on-the-edge-of-your-seat heart-thumper.

"Were you bored most of the afternoon?" I repeated. "Didn't you find that a boring game?"

"I don't know if I've coached a boring game in my life," Mora said, which was obviously a fib, because he had just done so.

"I think when you love your job it's not boring," Mora added.

"Oh, it can be boring even when you love it," I replied, and I know, because I was living it here in the Rose Bowl.

"Is that a question?" said Mora.

I told him it was a response to his comment while advising him from time to time that's how it goes when discussing what happens in a football game.

Sometimes these news conferences sound like Pentagon briefings after a bombing run, given the solemn tone in the room. And yet this was just a UCLA-Utah football game, a very boring UCLA-Utah football game, so why sound so serious dissecting it?

In the big scheme of life it's only a momentary diversion.

The UCLA sports information department passed out a transcript of Mora's postgame news conference, but edited out the question asking Mora if it was a boring game.

Sometimes UCLA thinks it really is conducting Pentagon business, I guess.

What's wrong with Mora playing it straight with everyone and just saying, "I'm sorry we couldn't give you an exploding scoreboard on what should be a more exciting football Saturday? We owe you one, and I think the day is coming when we will deliver on that promise."

What's wrong with admitting the obvious, and saying, "I'm sorry we could only give you one touchdown in the second half, but if I'm right about the freshmen we're playing, we're going to have a bunch of exciting second halves for years to come."

And what's wrong with taking maybe just another 10 seconds to say, "I'm sorry for mistreating Steve Rourke."

It still would have been a boring game, but it's amazing how understanding folks can be when you tell them you are sorry and you can do better.

t.j.simers@latimes.com
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