I’m all for traditions. They’re why I love college athletics far more than professional sports.
But what UCLA seniors voted on Tuesday is downright wrong and unacceptable.
The “tradition” — it’s been an off and on affair for the better part of 30 years, so it’s acceptable to question using the term at all — is known as going “over the wall.” Or, skipping practice after warm-ups.
It doesn’t sound like a tradition, just laziness disguised. Like using Axe Body Spray in lieu of showering. Even Allen Iverson had to think it was messed up.
“It was the seniors’ decision,” said junior running back Johnathan Franklin. “We’re going to get together for a team activity.”
Make no mistake, Franklin was against the idea. Quarterback Kevin Prince called the move “disappointing.”
“Hopefully it doesn’t come back to bite us,” Prince said.
They weren’t the only ones. Defensive coordinator Joe Tresey was irate. Safety Dalton Hilliard walked off the practice field in disgust.
New coach Jim Mora? Yeah, he wasn’t pleased either.
“It’s completely unacceptable and it will not be part of the program going forward,” Mora said in a statement. “It’s a privilege not a right to play football for the UCLA Bruins. With the commitment you make when you sign on to play here, comes a commit to do whats asked of you buy your coaches on a daily basis. I can just tell you, in no uncertain terms, that that tradition will no longer be a part of tradition going forward. Dan Guerrero and I have spoken about it, and we both agree that the culture of UCLA football needs to change as part of the interview process. We’re going to do all we can to make sure we change it.”
So, to the Bruins who endorsed going “over the wall”: maybe you didn’t earn your expense checks after all.
Think Willie Taggart and Western Kentucky, or Pete Lembo and Ball State, would allow their kids to miss a practice so they could see a movie? I know “Mission: Impossible 3” looks awesome and all, but it can wait. Where’s the senior pride? If you’re going to lose money playing in a lower-tier bowl (the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl) against another team (Illinois) that probably shouldn’t be bowling either, the least you can do is act like it means something to you.
Those who approved going over the wall haven’t earned the luxury of employing this so-called tradition. Not with their record. Not when they lost their last two games by a combined 68 points. Not when they already quit against Arizona. Not when there are two other teams who want to be in UCLA’s shoes.
It shouldn’t be a tradition at all. All it does is promote another tradition the Bruins have practiced for the better part of 30 years.