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Apodaca: A Bruins fan in Newport is something of a Trojan horse

December 03, 2011|By Patrice Apodaca

We've been lying low at my house, nursing our bitterness, and indulging in theatrical self-torment as we try to assuage our battered egos.

We are UCLA fans.

It's not easy being one these days, not since last weekend's shellacking of the Bruin football squad by that other college team from Los Angeles. It doesn't help that the enemy is everywhere in Newport Beach.

Sometimes I wonder if the city is actually just an extension of the USC campus. Do residents get a break on their taxes when they fly those annoying flags?

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I don't even particularly like football. I have a totally mom-type reaction to seeing all those strapping young men brutalize each other. I'd like to scold them for playing so rough and warn them to tone it down before someone really gets hurt.

Of course, someone always gets hurt, and then I spend the rest of the game worrying about the kid who was carried off the field.

At the time of this writing, I don't yet know whether UCLA will pull off a highly unlikely upset of Oregon at Friday's Pac-12 championship game.

But such a miraculous outcome wouldn't be enough to save Coach Rick Neuheisel, who was fired after the USC drubbing. Even a spot in the Rose Bowl would only go part of the way toward redeeming the Bruins' lackluster season.

Neither would it stifle the smirks of Trojans, who know they would have played for the championship if they hadn't been deemed ineligible because of NCAA rules violations (i.e., cheating).

I realize I risk my credentials as a real fan here, but unlike others who have castigated Neuheisel, I feel genuine sympathy for the guy. He always seemed so sincere and enthusiastic, and he's also a very snappy dresser, which counts for a lot in my book.

I also agonize for the UCLA quarterback, what's-his-name, who appears to be the kind of polite, earnest young man that any mother would be proud of, but whose talent dims next to the megawatt star power of USC's Matt Barkley, a Newport native who is now considered to be a contender for the Heisman Trophy.

But whether I appreciate or even understand football — what's a pistol offense again? — isn't the point when school pride is at stake.

I am a Bruin through and through; blue and gold courses through my veins. My three older siblings all graduated from UCLA. I met my husband there. Now my older son attends UCLA, and my younger son, still in high school, has been brainwashed since birth.

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