2:24 AM EST, December 1, 2012
PALO ALTO -- What a great week, capped off by an entertaining and scintillating finish to a football game.
It's good to have a life.
The week begins last Saturday with UCLA hoodwinking Stanford into thinking the Bruins are pushovers followed by a news conference designed to identify the yahoos out there who think this is really important stuff we're doing.
Thanks for participating, Kirk Herbstreit.
Then it was off to see James Bond in "Skyfall," this one even better than "From Russia With Love," which had been the all-timer.
As entertainment goes, it beats most football games and every Lakers game these days.
I recall going to the drive-in with my parents for the first Bond, "Dr. No," although that wasn't the last time I would ever hear that word at the drive-in.
I went to a Clippers game, practiced being disrespectful with Coach Vinny Del Negro and he just laughed. Then I went to a Lakers game and practiced being disrespectful with Mike D'Antoni, and he just laughed.
And I took some time to read Bill O'Reilly's book on Lincoln, not surprised at all to find he's a better writer than TV chatterbox. He had to be.
Then it was off to Stanford, a great perspective dinner with former Mattel Children's Hospital whiz, Dr. Kathy Sakamoto, who really does do things that matter. Including picking up the tab.
At the same time word came down that Jim Mora had given Gregg Popovich the idea to hold back his San Antonio Spurs.
But now here we are at Foster Field, our beat guy Chris Foster explaining the field was named in his honor, and Marv Levy's words ringing in my ear: "Where else would you rather be?"'
Home, to be honest.
They are calling this a championship game but only to make money.
I don't understand how they can stage a Pac-12 championship game that doesn't include No.6-ranked and
BCS-bound Oregon, or qualified referees.
Tickets for this one begin at a staggering $80 and football powerhouse Northern Illinois is playing on TV, so that explains why this place is only half full at best.
I understand why UCLA is here, the Pac-12 using them like the Washington Generals for its initial two title games to scrimmage the conference's Rose Bowl choice and build up Oregon's and Stanford's confidence,.
But like everyone else, the Pac-12 misjudged UCLA.
The Pac-12 probably believed Mora when he said the Bruins played their gutty little hearts out last week. They lost by 18 and were now going to play on the road.
It shows you how easily folks can be duped by coaches who talk as if their team has just returned from war and taken casualties.
No one stopped to examine last week's game and UCLA's strategic move to hold back quarterback Brett Hundley. Hundley had beaten USC in part with his legs, but ran only once against Stanford for positive yardage last week.
It was so obvious Hundley was under wraps that when he had the opportunity to run, he stopped and threw the ball.
"OK, just between you and me," I said to Mora at Friday night's news conference after UCLA's 27-24 loss, "did you hold back on Hundley last week?"
"No," Mora said, and we already know from experience he doesn't always tell the truth.
"You didn't set him free this week?" I asked.
"No," Mora said, although Hundley ran 16 times for 83 yards, thereby making the Bruins' offense so much more formidable.
"Any explanation why he didn't run last week and did this week?" I asked, proud of myself that I posed it in the form of question rather than offering a statement.
"He did a nice job this week of taking what was there," Mora said. "They played a little bit more man-to-man, and when defenses have their backs to you, you take off and run. I thought Brett did a good job of that tonight.
"That's obviously an element of his game we like to accentuate," Mora said. Just not last week in a game that didn't matter.
As a result Stanford was looking at a different UCLA team Friday night, one now really playing all-out.
It made for an entertaining game, Stanford breaking a fourth-quarter tie with a field goal and Mora electing to go for a 52-yard field goal on wet turf rather than go for it on fourth and five with 34 seconds left.
A poor snap led to a poor field-goal attempt. Someone wins, someone loses.
"Right now it's probably not a great word to use, but we need to mourn a little bit; get over this one," Mora said. Please, it was just a football game.
I can already hear the collective gasp from Bruins' fans who will be outraged because their gladiators aren't getting their sappy due.
But there are folks dealing with far worse than a football loss, all this hand-wringing and talk about young men sacrificing so much just more sports nonsense.
Enough already with the end-of-the-world thing when a team loses.
We're all glad that everyone played their hearts out to win a game, but how about a little perspective — as hopeless as that might be to locate anymore in sports today.
No one's life changed Friday night because UCLA lost, or they don't have one.
Shoot, Bond lost M, and picked right up with the next one.
In a few weeks the Bruins will play another football game and they will try to win a bowl game.
I worry the Bruins didn't hold anything back for it, and while Bruins fans look for just the right swear word to express their disgust, I'm looking forward to a great Saturday.
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