Monthly Archives: September 2013

Monday Morning Coffee


September 30th, 2013

The Trojans shocked the college football universe on Sunday morning.  Coach Lane Kiffin was fired just hours after losing in embarrassing fashion at Arizona State.  I can just hear all those wealthy SC alums screaming with joy from their mansions in Newport Beach and Beverly Hills.  Instead of calling athletic director Pat Haden everyday, urging him to fire Kiffin, instead they’ll be calling everyday urging him to hire Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio.  We all knew Kiffin was probably going to get fired eventually, but the real shock was getting rid of him in the middle of the season.  Haden deserves credit for such a bold action at this point in time, which should give him time to save his recruiting class, and find a great coach.    The constant drama that Kiffin brought to the USC program had become unbearable for Trojan fans, as was their performance on the field.

Kiffin’s final debacle was a 62-41 beat down at the hands of Arizona State on Saturday night.  Weren’t the Trojans supposed to be a good defensive team?  Quarterback Taylor Kelly carved up USC like a Halloween pumpkin for 351 yards, while the Sun Devils racked up a total of 612 yards.  By the 4th quarter it was clear that the defense had simply quit on Kiffin, and he had lost the team.  Oh yea, and the offense was still terrible too, as they turned it over 4 times, and Marqise Lee injured his knee to make matters worse.  Good luck to interim head coach Ed Orgeron!  He’ll need it to put out this dumpster fire.

I love how sports fans on the east coast seem to think that people in Southern California don’t care about their local sports teams, and are simply fair weather fans.  If that were the case, then the decision makers wouldn’t have succumbed to the public pressure to fire Kiffin, Mike Brown, Terry Murray, Randy Carlisle, Rick Neuheisel, and Ben Howland, over the last two years.  Heck, Mike Scioscia might be fired in the next couple of days, Mike D’Antoni is going to be fired any minute, and Don Mattingly isn’t safe yet either.  If you’re a coach in the LA sports market, you better win or your job isn’t safe.

On to baseball, where the banged up Dodgers have wrapped up the regular season, and are limping over to Atlanta for the start of the NLDS vs the Braves.  Yesterday, the Dodgers discovered that Matt Kemp will miss the entire post season, after re-aggravating his ankle injury.  LA is already dealing with an ankle injury to Andre Ethier, who will probably only be able to pinch hit in the NLDS.   Even Hanley Ramirez and Yasiel Puig feel like they are being held together by duct tape at times, with the amount of days off they’ve been given recently.  The good news however, is that they will be facing an Atlanta team that has cooled off just as much as the Dodgers have in the last month.  The Braves starting pitching is also no match for LA’s trio of Kershaw, Greinke, and Ryu.  If the Boys in Blue can score a few runs, which they’ve done without Kemp, I see no reason why they can’t put this series away in four games.

Kemp ankle

Meanwhile, the Angels season is over, and it’s decision time in Anaheim.  Will Arte Moreno fire general manager Jerry Dipoto? Or will it be skipper Mike Scioscia?  Both?  Or even keep them both.  Dipoto seems to be planning on being around in 2014, because he recently told the media about his off-season plans to upgrade the pitching.  Of course, part of his plan included the possibility of keeping underachieving Joe Blanton, who is owed another $7 million next year.  That comment probably didn’t help his chances of keeping his job, and should get him a slap on the back of the head as well.  If Arte Moreno is serious about turning this around, he needs to get rid of both Scioscia and Dipoto.  It’s the only way to re-energize the team, while giving them the best chance to hire a great GM and skipper.  More importantly, it will send a message to Mike Trout that the team is serious about keeping their franchise player happy.

The Lakers opened training camp on Saturday afternoon, and much to my disappointment Mike D’Antoni was still the team’s head coach.  Of even greater concern is the fact that Kobe Bryant admitted that there was no exact timetable for his return to action.  Bryant sounds hard pressed to be ready for the season opener on October 29th, when he isn’t even able to run on his surgically repaired achilles tendon yet.  Thanksgiving, or even Christmas sounds like a possibility, but the Lakers season could be over by then for all intents and purposes.  D’Antoni said he isn’t sure yet who 3 of his 5 starters are going to be to open the regular season.  That’s probably because most of your players shouldn’t be starters in the NBA Mike.  Stay tuned…. this could be a spectacular failure just a few weeks from now.  Here are some of Kobe’s comments from media day….

Kevin Durant seems like a great guy and all, but he must have been sitting out in the sun too much this off-season.  Durant claimed that James Harden, his former teammate, should be in the top 10 NBA player rankings by Sports Illustrated.  Durant said that Dwayne Wade should be removed from the top 10, and Harden should replace him.  Look I get that Dwayne Wade has been banged up of late, but Harden has never been better than Wade at any point.  Besides, Durant should stop calling out dudes that have three championship rings, and have beaten him in the finals, especially since he probably won’t be winning anything in OKC.

Speaking of failures, Time Warner Cable is a joke in case you haven’t experience it for yourself.  I decided to go with these guys over Direc TV, only because they have the Pac-12 network, and won’t be at risk to lose the Dodgers at the beginning of next year.  First, they charge the hell out of you.  $15 a month for Showtime? Then, they didn’t even give me all the channels I originally ordered, so I had to call them and have them correct my order.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, they were one hour late for the appointment, they don’t even have 1080 p high definition channels, and they send me a technician who is a shit talking Anaheim Ducks fan.  Look TWC, you’re on thin ice. Nobody comes into my home installing crappy cable service, and talking shit on my LA Kings.

A few quick thoughts on week 4 of the NFL.  The NFC East is a joke this year.  The Chargers are so fortunate they get to play against that crummy division this year, because that should pad their win total.  The Texans are softer than the Pillsbury Dough Boy.  So much talent, and so little toughness when things get tight.  The Broncos are just murdering people, and should just get bye weeks until the Super Bowl.

With the NHL season ready to start on Thursday, I think Kings and Duck fans should have their concerns.  For the Kings, if Jonathan Quick goes down with an injury, can Ben Scrivens really play goaltender?  Or does he just make cool Vine clips?  And for the Ducks, did they just catch lightening in a bottle last year, or can they keep scoring goals without the whiney Bobby Ryan?

If the government shuts down tomorrow….who will spy on me and continue to pile up our country’s debt?

How does McDonald’s make their coffee so damn hot? What do they do to that thing, stick it in a nuclear reactor?  It takes a good 15 minutes for it to actually be drinkable.

I was unable to watch a live version of the series finale of Breaking Bad last night, however, there will be a full recap and breakdown coming shortly here on Jock Talk LA.









Trojans Crushed & Kiffin Canned


Kiffin hands

September 29th, 2013

You knew it was coming.  You just didn’t think it would be so sudden, or this season.  Lane Kiffin was fired as head coach of the USC Football team on Sunday morning.  This firing came after the Trojans were spanked at Arizona State 62-41, dropping their record to 3-2 on the season, and 0-2 in Pac-12 play.  Kiffin will be replaced by defensive line coach Ed Orgeron, on an interim basis.

Let’s start with the on-field disaster first.  The Trojans actually looked decent for the first 20 minutes or so, taking a 14-7 lead on a rushing touchdown from Justin Davis, and a big TD reception from Tre Madden.  However, things got ugly shortly after that.  The Sun Devils closed the 2nd quarter with an 11 yard touchdown pass by Taylor Kelly to Marion Grice, and then followed that up with a pair of field goals to take a 20-14 lead into the locker room.  Although Madden put USC ahead with an early touchdown in the 3rd, ASU pounded the Trojans from there.  The Sun Devils would score two touchdowns 47 seconds apart, which included an interception thrown by Cody Kessler, which was returned 46 yards for a touchdown.

Davis and Madden tried to rally the Trojans, as each of them found the end zone again, but the defense couldn’t stop Taylor Kelly, who racked up 351 yards, and 3 touchdown passes.  Sun Devils running back Marion Grice also scored 4 touchdowns, and USC gave up a whopping 612 yards in total offense.  A shocking amount for a team, whose strength was supposed to be its defense.  At least the offense was consistent though.  Consistently terrible that is.  The Trojans had more turnovers than Betty Crocker, giving it up 4 times, including two interceptions thrown by Kessler.

So the Trojans lost, and once they returned to Los Angeles, athletic director Pat Haden informed Kiffin he would be relieved of his duties.  This occurred at the airport terminal, but not before Kiffin tried to change Haden’s mind during a 45 minute meeting.  Haden had actually met with a few advisors during the ASU game, which was when he reached his decision, according to the LA Daily  News.  “I haven’t felt particularly good even from the Hawaii game,” said Haden.  “I just felt like we haven’t been the consistent team that we need to be at USC.”

Kiffin’s compiled a record of 28-15 overall during his 4 seasons at USC, but they were filled with turmoil and off the field distractions.  He was hampered by sanctions that were handed down by the NCAA just a few months before taking the job, which cost the school thirty scholarships over three years, and two years without a bowl appearance.  The end of the 2011 season looked promising, and USC looked poised for a run at a national championship at the beginning of 2012, when they were the pre-season #1 ranked team in the AP Poll.  However, the Trojans finished a disappointing 7-6, including losses to rivals UCLA, Notre Dame, and a loss in the Sun Bowl to Georgia Tech.

More than anything, Kiffin demonstrated that he could recruit great talent, but that talent seemed to regress over time.  Matt Barkley looked great in his first couple of years, but by his senior year, Kiffin appeared to crush his confidence, which ultimately ruined his NFL draft position.  Robert Woods emerged as a great wide receiver in his sophomore year, but by his junior year, Kiffin stopped utilizing him.  This year, Kiffin has found a way to stunt the growth of quarterbacks Cody Kessler and Max Wittek, while failing to consistently utilize the talents of talented wide receiver Marqise Lee.

This doesn’t even mention all the off the field turmoil that Kiffin brought to the program.  He closed practice to the media, he gave up his vote in the coaches poll after some public drama with another Pac-12 coach, and more recently, he lied to the media about a players only meeting taking place.  Kiffin has also been known to simply rub people the wrong way.  He was not well received in Tennessee, and lasted only twenty games with the Oakland Raiders, and even feuded publicly with owner Al Davis, before being dismissed.

So where does this leave the USC Football team? Considering the timing of the decision, I think even Pat Haden thinks this season is over.  There’s still 8 games left in the Trojans season.  However, this was a smart decision, because it gives the Trojans time to save their recruiting class, and to take their time finding an elite head coach.  USC also doesn’t play until October 10th against Arizona as well, so Ed Orgeron will have plenty of time to prepare.

So where will this elite coach come from?  I think most Trojan fans are hoping for Rams coach Jeff Fisher, or Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio, both of whom are alums.  The big issue with both of these coaches is the timing that the NFL season finishes, and them taking over a college program.  I would imagine that there would be some interest from both of these guys, and USC would love to re-produce what they had in the Pete Caroll era with another NFL guy.  Some other possibilities could include Kevin Sumlin, Bobby Petrino, or even Chris Peterson.  The Trojans have their work cutout for them in order to rebuild the program, but they definitely took some steps in the right direction today.


Monday Morning Coffee


September 23rd, 2013

What a boring weekend of college football it was!  At the Rose Bowl, UCLA hammered New Mexico State 59-13,  The Bruins looked somewhat disinterested at times, and even the great Brett Hundley thew two interceptions.  Even so, the Bruins realized they were playing New Mexico State, and piled up 692 yards of total offense, including 164 rushing yards from Jordan James.  James also added 2 touchdowns, and the Bruins defense looked strong.  Great tribute to Nick Pasquale too, when they ran 11 men out on the field, then sent one off to run a play with just 10 players.    The Bruins will return to playing real people in about 10 days when they begin Pac-12 play against Utah.

Speaking of being uninterested, the Trojans looked even more bored against Utah State at the Coliseum.  USC escaped with a 17-14 win, and Cody Kessler looked more like the dude who couldn’t complete a pass in the first two weeks of the season.  The fans looked just as bored all afternoon, as the streets around the Coliseum weren’t nearly as crowded as usual.  The chemistry isn’t there, and even Marqise Lee couldn’t seem to get it going.  The Trojans are an ugly 3-1, but things are going to get tougher with a showdown against Arizona State next week.

Moving on to baseball, where the Dodgers are on their way to the playoffs for the first time in 4 years.   I loved the clinching celebration by jumping in the pool in left field.  The D’Bags asked the Dodgers not to celebrate on the field, and the Dodgers did not celebrate on the field.  If they have a problem with how LA celebrated, then maybe they should have done a better job in not allowing LA to beat the crap out of them over the last 3 months.  Oh yea, screw you John McCain!  Don’t you have better things to do than bitch about the Dodgers celebrating in the pool?  How about you focus on things like lowering our taxes and cleaning up the economy, which is in the crapper?

As for what’s happening on the field, the Boys in Blue took two of three against the Padres over the weekend, but they still don’t seem to be pushing too hard for home field advantage.  It’s completely understandable to try to get some guys a little rest down the stretch, but some of the games we’re seeing are practically spring training lineups Don Mattingly is putting on the field.  This may very well cost the Dodgers a shot at the World Series, especially if they have to play a game 5 or game 7 in a place like Atlanta or St. Louis.

A few quick thoughts on week 3 of the NFL.  The Chargers simply make their fans want to puke.  They come off a big win on the road against Philly, and they can’t even beat lowly Tennessee.  What the hell happened to San Francisco against Indy?  That was a beat down.  The Saints are pretty damn good, but they’ll need home field in the playoffs to have a chance against Seattle.

NBA training camp opens up in 5 days for the Lakers.  The LA Times felt the need to re-hash the hiring of Mike D’Antoni over Phil Jackson by writing a few excerpts from Jeanie Buss’ new book.  Jeanie described the entire saga, as “betrayal”.  After reading this, the first thing I thought was how unbelievably foolish Jim Buss is.  He actually had to ask Jeanie for Phil’s cell phone number, and had apparently never been to Phil and Jeanie’s house.  It just goes to show you how strained the relationship is between Phil, Jim, and Jeanie, and this is still a major question moving forward for the Laker franchise.

The Emmy’s were BORING……

And finally, Breaking Bad slowed things down a little in the next to last episode of the series.  I’m surprised this episode was so slow considering it was 75 minutes.  Once again, spoiler alert for those of you who have not seen it yet.  To quickly recap:  Walt checks out the chaos around him by going all the way to New Hampshire in an isolated cabin.  He has no phone, internet, or cable television.  By episodes end, he is motivated to go back home and help his family by getting them money, and killing Jack and his crew.  Jesse tries to escape from Jack’s crew, however, he is caught, and then punished by being forced to watch the crew drive to Andrea’s house, where they shoot and kill her.  Meanwhile, Skyler is under pressure from the feds to give some information on Walt’s whereabouts, but she is no help.  If she doesn’t give them any info, she could be in serious legal trouble.  Also, Walt tries to make contact with his son, but junior gets angry at him for the death of his Uncle Hank, and hangs up on him.

Creator Vince Gilligan has left us with no clues, as to how this will end.  One thing is becoming apparent:  Jack’s crew appears far more immoral than Walt, Skyler, and Jesse.  In the final episode, I have a feeling that in order to take Jack down, Walt and Jesse will end up joining forces one last time.  Still, it’s hard to envision which way the scales of justice will tip.



Monday Morning Coffee

APphoto_UCLA Nebraska Football

September 16th, 2013

There is much to discuss in this edition of Monday Morning Coffee, starting with the Bruins big win over Nebraska.  The Bruins are 2-0, and Saturday’s win was quite a statement for the program and head coach Jim Mora.  Mora spent the entire week consoling the Pasquale family, after the 20 year old sophomore was killed last weekend after he was hit by a car.  Simultaneously, Mora put together a brilliant game plan against the Cornhuskers, in which he continued to run the ball until the Bruins broke through.  The Cornhuskers were out for revenge from last year’s loss to UCLA, but the Bruins exploded in the 2nd half.  The Bruins are now 13th in the AP Poll, but how the hell are they ranked behind South Carolina?  Typical college football nonsense.

As for the Trojans, their blowout win over Boston College seems to have temporarily quieted down Lane Kiffin’s critics, who were about ready to burn his house down.  Kiffin finally selected Cody Kessler as his starting quarterback, and decided to take the reigns off Kessler instantly.  The results were astoundingly different, as he threw for 237 yards and 2 touchdown passes.  The real question though: Why does Lane Kiffin create more drama than a teenage girl on her prom night?  He refused to tell the media who his starting quarterback was, even though he already knew it was Kessler.  Then the players organized a players only meeting last week, which he denied ever happened, despite several players insisting that it did happen.  When you deliver wins, you can live with some occasional drama.  However, when you underachieve, it isn’t tolerated for long, and I’m sure Pat Haden is well aware of this.

I was very disappointed watching the Alabama vs Texas A&M game.  I was really hoping Johnny Manziel would take much more physical punishment, and frankly, he deserved it for simply behaving like an idiot the last couple of months.  Still, I gotta admit the kid can play.  Speaking of disappointing, Notre Dame was horrendous against Purdue, and the weekend was almost a complete disaster for them with Michigan nearly losing to Akron.  The Irish averted disaster this weekend, but even Touchdown Jesus can’t seem to make Tommy Rees a good quarterback.

On to baseball, where the Dodgers appear to be mailing it in.  The Boys in Blue have a magic number of just 4 to clinch the NL West with 13 games to go, but they looked about as interested as you would be in sleeping with Rosie O’Donnell.  The Dodgers lost 3 of 4 to the Giants over the weekend, including a 19-3 beat down by San Francisco on Saturday.  I’m not sure why Don Mattingly has decided to turn many of these final games into spring training games, filled with a number of players who will likely not be in the playoff roster.  This is troubling since the Pirates and Cardinals have blown by the Dodgers in the race for home field advantage in the playoffs.  Get it together Donnie Baseball.  Your job may depend on it!

Meanwhile, the Angels, have quietly won 17 of their last 23 meaningless games.  Don’t be fooled kids.  We’ve seen this movie before, and when it ends, you always end up saying “If only we had a better start we would be in good shape.”  The reality of it is the pitching is still a pile of crap, and they’ll need a general manager who is going to overhaul the starters and the bullpen.  Oh, and they’ll probably need a new general manager too.

A few quick thoughts on Week 2 of the NFL.  Can anyone beat the Broncos?  They look like they are going to cruise through the AFC.  Impressive road win by the Chargers against the Eagles, especially after choking last week against Houston.   The Cowboys are still the Cowboys. They get a big win against the Giants, and follow it up with a pathetic loss to the Chiefs.  The NFC East looks weak.  The Seahawks are going to be tough to beat with home field advantage, and are the only team that has figured out the 49ers.

As rumored here on Jock Talk LA a few weeks ago, TJ Simers has officially left the LA Times.  Simers is controversial and has his critics, but one cannot deny that he is entertaining.  Simers will now write columns for the Orange County Register that will appear on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sunday’s.  He also took a shot at the Times on his way out the door, calling it “a dead newspaper”. TJ, if you think the LA Times is dead, you have no idea how crappy the OC Register is!

I feel sorry for anyone that actually paid $54 to watch Floyd Mayweather dominate Canelo Alvarez on Saturday night in Las Vegas.  “Mayperview” has become a joke, and so has boxing.  This sport is on life support, and they can’t even present people with the best possible product to keep the sport going.  We all know Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao makes the most sense, and is the only fight worth watching.  Make it happen, or boxing will be dead faster than the OC Register!

Miss America was crowned last night, and the winner was Nina Davaluri of New York, who is of Indian decent.  Before I get in my usual beauty pageant jokes here, I have to say that I’m shocked at the ignorant racist reaction on twitter, and other message boards that took place last night after the pageant.  Davaluri was born in the United States, and has lived here her whole life.  Memo to you morons dropping racial bombs:  This country was actually built by immigrants.  Half of your comments make reference to her being a Muslim, which isn’t even true.  It’s just unfortunate that most of the people making these comments are uncultured buffoons.  Still, with all that being said, I’m disappointed there were no idiotic statements in this pageant, as there was from Ms. Teen South Carolina a few years ago.


And finally, Breaking Bad had by far it’s most shocking episode last night.  Earlier this week, I heard the show described as “the last 15 minutes of sex, for a whole hour.”  I think that accurately describes the third to last episode of the series, called “Ozymandias”.  Spoiler alert for those of you who have it on DVR.  To summarize things, Hank and Gomez are killed in the aftermath of the shootout, Todd’s Uncle Jack takes most of Walt’s money, Walt Jr. knows the truth about his father, and Jesse is being held captive by the white power Nazi’s and forced to cook meth with Todd.  Also of significance, Skyler slashed Walt’s hand with a knife, and Junior calls the police on his dad.  Shortly after that, Walt runs away and takes Holly with him, only to leave her at a fire station later on with her address pinned to her baby clothes.  The episode ends with Walt getting in the vacuum cleaner man’s red van, presumably to start his new life.  However, based on some of the flash-fowards we’ve seen, we know this isn’t true.

For those of you wondering what the hell “Ozymandias” is, it’s a poem written by Percy Shelly about the downfall of a kings.  The meaning of the poem is that all people who are in power, will eventually lose their power.  That is exactly what we witnessed in this episode.  Walt had built a huge drug empire, with more money than he could ever spend in a lifetime.  And all in one episode, his brother-in-law dies, and the rest of his family has turned against him.  I found the most powerful scene in this episode to be when Walt was on the phone with Skyler, condemning her for telling Junior the truth.  Walt channeled his inner “Heisenberg” at this moment with his threatening tone, but he is really doing this to protect Skyler from the police, who are listening to this conversation.  Skyler eventually realizes this before she hangs up the phone.  We see Walt doing this with tears in his eyes, which is a moment in which he looks more like the cancer stricken Walter White, who was simply trying to provide for his family, rather than the mastermind criminal Heisenberg.  There’s just two more episodes left.  Will Walt kill Todd’s Uncle Jack?  Will he kill Jesse?  I’m not sure how they can top this episode, but it figures to be an amazing finish.









Trojans Bounce Back

Cody Kessler

September 14th, 2013

What a difference a starting quarterback decision makes.  The Trojans hammered Boston College on Saturday at the Coliseum by a score of 35-7, to improve to 2-1 on the season, and rebound from an ugly loss last week to Washington State.  It appears for now, USC alums can put away their pitchforks and tiki torches.

After Lane Kiffin finally named Cody Kessler the starting quarterback, he performed much better. Kessler completed 15 of 17 passes for 237 yards, and 2 touchdown passes.  One of his two incomplete passes was on the first SC drive of the game, where he over threw Marquise Lee on a long pass, which actually got a standing ovation from USC fans.  The fans were obviously happy to see Kiffin take the leash off his quarterback, and stop micromanaging his players.  Kessler connected with Tre Madden late in the 1st quarter for a 5 yard touchdown pass.  Then in the 2nd quarter, he hit Lee for an 80 yard touchdown pass, and USC was up 14-0 at halftime.

Southern Cal’s running game took over in the 2nd half, as Madden and Justin Davis got loose for long touchdown runs.  Max Wittek finished things off with a 2 yard touchdown run late in the 4th as well.   For Madden, it was his 3rd straight game rushing for over 100 yards, which made him the 1st Trojan player in 32 years to open the season with such a feat.

The Trojan defense had another strong performance.   The Eagles were held to just 184 yards in total offense.  Although they didn’t force any turnovers, the SC defense was finally supported by an offense that had over 36 minutes of possession time, which kept them off the field and well rested.

Kiffin and the Trojans seem to have stabilized the situation for the time being.  He’s also stabilized the quarterback position by committing to Kessler, which seemed to give the sophomore a renewed sense of confidence.  This may be somewhat surprising to some fans, who were speculating that Kiffin may have had a players mutiny on his hands.  Several players mentioned to the media that they had called a players only meeting, but Kiffin tried to deny that this every took place, which fueled this speculation.

Pat Haden is still watching Kiffin closely.  The Trojans still committed over 100 yards in penalties,  which is typical of a team that lacks coaching discipline.  They’ll get another chance to further stabilize things next week against Utah State at the Coliseum.  In the meantime, hopefully Kiffin won’t create any more drama.


Bruins Rally Against Nebraska

Brett Hundley

September 14th, 2013

I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall in the UCLA locker room at halftime of their game against Nebraska.  The Bruins were trailing 21-10 in Lincoln, and were being dominated.  In fact, it was 21-3 up until the final minute of the first half, before the Bruins started to wake up.  This might have also been because kickoff was at 9 am Pacific Time, which is usually about the time that most college kids are still recovering from their hangovers.  Then the Bruins scored 28 unanswered points in the 2nd half to defeat the Cornhuskers 41-21, and improve to 2-0 on the season.

In a post game interview that Jim Mora Jr did with AM 570 Fox Sports LA, Mora said that there weren’t really any adjustments to make at halftime, and it was simply a matter of focusing and executing better.  What he really meant, was that he had to tell his players to wake the hell up and start playing the way they know how to.  It’s a good thing they did, because this victory was a  tribute their former teammate Nick Pasquale, who was killed last weekend after being hit by a car in San Clemente, CA.   The Bruins wore number 36 patches on their jerseys to honor Pasquale.

The Bruins were once again led by quarterback Brett Hundley, who had 294 yards passing, to go along with 3 touchdowns.  Hundley did have one interception, but also tacked on another 61 yards rushing.   Jordan James was effective running the ball again for UCLA, rushing for 105 yards and a touchdown.

The 35 point explosion began with a 10 yard touchdown run from Paul Perkins with under a minute left in the first half.  The Bruins then opened the 2nd half with an 89 yard drive down the field, capped off by a 3 yard touchdown run by James.  After the Cornhuskers went three and out, the Bruins put together another 57 yard drive, ending in a 28 yard touchdown pass from Hundley to Shaquelle Evans.  That gave the Bruins the lead for good, and Hundley would go on to add two more touchdown passes for good measure.

Mora said “our aim is to be special.  Our aim is not to be average.”  The Bruins definitely looked special on Saturday afternoon, winning on the road against a a team that had won 14 straight non-conference home games, and 10 home games in a row.  All of this coming during a week in which they attended the funeral of their former teammate, Pasquale, and playing with heavy hearts.

The Bruins are off to a nice start, but the road ahead will not be easy.  They should handle New Mexico State at home next week, but will have a much more difficult stretch against Cal, Stanford, and Oregon.  In the meantime, UCLA should feel very good about honoring Pasquale in the best possible way.





Monday Morning Coffee

September 8th, 2013

We’re only 2 games into the 2013 college football season, and we’re already on Kiffin Watch.  USC athletic directory Pat Haden insisted that Kiffin was not on the hot seat last month.  However, after Saturday night’s debacle at the Coliseum, he’s gotta be thinking about replacing his head coach soon.  The Trojans lost their home opener in pathetic fashion to Washington State by a score of 10-7.  Kiffin has completely micromanaged both of his quarterbacks thus far, and the Trojans scored their fewest amount of points in a game in the last 10 years.  Do you hear that sound Trojan fans?  No, it’s not the fans booing Lane Kiffin off the field on Saturday night.  It’s the sound of USC free falling out of the top 25.

If the Trojans can’t beat WSU at home, then who can they beat?  As much as UCLA and Notre Dame fans are enjoying seeing USC suffer, it’s going to hurt their strength of schedule big time.  After Notre Dame lost to Michigan in the Big House on Saturday, the Irish are going to need some quality wins to get back in the BCS race, and beating up on a crappy Trojan team won’t be one of them.  Same can be said for the Bruins, who have BCS aspirations as well.

Speaking of the Bruins, they’ll be playing with heavy hearts against Nebraska next week, after wide receiver Nick Pasquale was killed in a tragic accident on Saturday morning.  Pasquale spent the weekend back at home in San Clemente, and attended his alma matter San Clemente High’s football game on Friday night.  On Sunday morning at 1:27 am, he was struck by a car on the corner of Camino De Los Mares and Calle Nuevo, in San Clemente.  The accident is still being investigated.  Pasquale was a 20 year old, redshirt freshman, and appeared in the Bruins season opening win against Nevada.  As someone who grew up in San Clemente, it’s certainly easy for me to imagine how a pedestrian could be hit in a neighborhood that is not very well lit at night.  My thoughts and prayers go out to the Pasquale family after this tragic loss.


Here are my thoughts on the NFL season after week 1.  The Steelers are going to be terrible this year.  Colin Kaepernick singled handedly defeated my fantasy team this week, and he might make the 49ers even better this year.  The Cowboys season opening win against the Giants was very predictable, as will be their collapse come January.  Are there any good running backs left?  Shane Vereen was the only running back in the league to rush for 100 yards this week.  My fantasy football team desperately needs help at wide receiver!

On to baseball, where Don Mattingly and the Dodgers have certainly taken their foot off the gas pedal over the last 4 games.  The Boys in Blue were swept by the Reds over the weekend, and after losing 3 straight one run games, they’ve lost four in a row.  Since LA has an 11 game lead in the division, and a magic number of 10 with just 20 games left to play, this doesn’t seem like a big deal.  However, there’s some unsettling trends taking place of late.   The Dodgers are just 2 games behind the Braves for home field advantage throughout the NL playoffs.  However, Don Mattingly doesn’t seem to have any interest in home field, because he started Edison Volquez on Wednesday at Coors Field, and rested his 4 best players.  Then against the Reds, he managed without any sense of urgency, refusing to manufacture runs in tight, one-run games.  The Reds were a far more desperate team, and even though they needed the games more than the Dodgers, LA can’t just sit back and wait for the 3-run homer to bail them out.

Meanwhile, Matt Kemp hasn’t given up on a return this season.  Even after straining his hamstring during this rehab assignment, Kemp is still trying to get back into the lineup.  Don Mattingly said Kemp will need at least another 10 days to get ready, and that’s if he doesn’t suffer any more setbacks.  That would leave him just 11 games to convince the Dodgers he’s ready for the playoffs.  Knowing Kemp, he’ll probably break his wrist signing an autograph for a fan, which will effectively end his season.

We’re only a month away from the start of NBA training camp.  My friend Eugene Kim informed me that after several years on the waiting list, he has finally become a Lakers season seat holder.  Eugene told me he plans on attending only “the crappy games.”  Well Eugene, I guess you will be attending all the games this year, because when Mike D’Antoni is your coach, every game is going to be a steamy pile of crap.

What an amazing cliff hanger Breaking Bad left us with last night!   Spoiler Alert for those who have it on DVR.   Before I get to the cliff hanger, I’ve got to mention how the tables finally turned on Walt.  Hank tricks Walt by taking pictures of a barrel of money, and making him think that Jesse is going to burn all of his money that he buried out in the desert.  In the process of Walt racing out to the desert, he is on the phone with Jesse, and incriminates himself by discussing all of his previous criminal activity.    I certainly did not see this one coming.  Jesse is a rat!  He broke the code among criminals, and turned on Walt by rating him out to Hank.  Then again, I never imagined that Walt would ever hire someone to kill Jesse.

Hank slaps the handcuffs on Walt, in a moment that suddenly made the show seem like a modern western.  The good guy forces the bad guy to surrender, and come out slowly with his hands up.  For just a moment, morality and righteousness was prevailing.  Hank calls his wife Marie to celebrate his capture of Walt, and I suddenly got this uneasy feeling that this may be the last time these two may ever speak, and that something bad might happen to Hank.  Moments later, a car shows up with Todd, Uncle Jack, and his band of thugs.  Both sides opened fire, and a gun fight ensued.  Walt and Jesse are both hiding in the cars to avoid the flying bullets, while Hank and his partner Gomez are hiding behind the car during all the gun fire.  That’s when the episode ended!

In addition to the tables finally turning on Walt, it also seems like he’s becoming overly emotional.  He didn’t want to kill Jesse, and reluctantly agreed to it, then called it off at the last moment.  When Uncle Jack shows up, Walt pleads with him not to open fire and klll Hank.  Of course the irony of this is that if Hank is killed, many of his problems are probably solved, and he can be free again.  Thus, it seems like Walt is emotionally conflicted.  With just three episodes left, I get the feeling this is rapidly moving toward an explosive ending.  Walt participated in all this horrific criminal activity to secure his family’s financial future.  Now it seems possible he could lose his family and everyone he cares about before it’s over, which would leave him with a pointless pile of money for a man with only a few months left to live.  This means when it’s over, there will be no winners.  Just one loser.

Breaking Bad Walt







Cougars Top Trojans


September 8th, 2013

I think Mike D’Antoni just sent Lane Kiffin a fruit basket.  Kiffin just experience that awkward moment where your team loses its first home opener in 10 years, to Washington State.  The Trojans lost to the Cougars 10-7 on Saturday night at the Coliseum, and the fans let Kiffin know about their displeasure after the game, as they booed him coming off the field.

USC had a 7-0 lead late in the first half, but Damante Horton intercepted a Cody Kessler pass, and returned it 70 yards for a touchdown.    The score remained tied until the 3:03 mark of the 4th quarter, when Andrew Furney kicked a 41 yard field goal to put the Cougars on top for good, 10-7. Horton secured the win for WSU by intercepting a pass from Max Wittek with 2:18 left to play, and the Cougars won their first game over the Trojans since 2002.

Once again, the USC offense was nowhere to be found.  Kiffin used two quarterbacks again, and neither one was effective.  In the first half Cody Kessler was 8-13 for 41 yards with an interception. He did score the Trojans only TD of the game, with a 4 yard run in the 2nd quarter.  Max Wittek came for the 2nd half, and he was even worse, going 3-8 for only 13 yards and an interception.  Even Marqise Lee was bottled up, as he had 7 reception for 27 yards.  Then again, it’s pretty hard to have a big game when neither of your quarterbacks are completing a pass for more than 8 yards.  The Trojan offense managed just 193 total yards, while missing a field goal and having another one blocked.

The only two bright spots for USC were Tre Maddon, who rushed for 151 yards, and Trojans dominant defense.  Southern Cal held the Cougars to just 7 yards rushing, while forcing 3 turnovers.  It was their effort that set up the Trojans only touchdown of the game, as they forced a fumble, and gave them the ball at the Cougars 22 yard line before Kessler scored.

The Trojans have looked dreadful in their first two games.  They escaped Hawaii with a win, and seem to have been exposed early by Washington State.  The offense is going to have to improve, or else this is going to be a very long and ugly season for USC.  After watching Kessler and Wittek’s pathetic performances on Saturday night, Kiffin will probably not be any closer to committing to a starting quarterback moving forward.  That’s probably because he barely lets these guys play quarterback when they are in the game.

The expectations this year were much lower for Lane Kiffin coming into this season.  However, even Pat Haden did not expect a loss to WSU at home.  Last night may very well have been the beginning of the end for Lane Kiffin.


Is Kemp’s Season Over?


September 7th, 2013

Just when you think Matt Kemp is ready to play again, he suffers another injury.  I could almost feel Dodger fans collectively roll their eyes over all forms of social media on Friday, when they discovered Kemp pulled his hamstring again. This latest setback could end Kemp’s season, which has been a train wreck.  Even Andrew Bynum thinks Matt Kemp gets hurt a lot!

Kemp had been recovering from a sprained right ankle, which he suffered on July 21st, against the Reds.  This was his third extended trip to the DL this season, as he has battled shoulder and hamstring issues all year.  He started a minor league rehab assignment about a week ago, but struggled harder than Charlie Sheen does after a Saturday night bender.  Kemp was 0-18 with 7 strikeouts while playing single A baseball.  His performance was so atrocious, he was sent to Arizona to rehab at the Dodgers spring training facility instead of being a part of the minor league playoff roster.

Kemp is hitting .263 with just 6 home runs and a career low .700 OPS.   It was only one year ago that he was considered one of the best all around players in baseball. After the Dodgers put together a historic two months of baseball without him, they sound like they are totally ok moving on without him.  With just 23 games left in the season, Kemp doesn’t have much time to get it together to make the Dodgers playoff roster.  “We’ve gotta move on.  We’ve gotta continue to play,” said GM Ned Colletti.  “They’re not going to stop the season for us or give us a bye.”

With Yasiel Puig in the Dodgers lineup it sounds like Colletti isn’t just moving on.  He sounds like he just dumped his girlfriend who’s gained a few pounds for Kate Upton.  Considering that Colletti signed Kemp to a 7 year $160 million deal last year, I’m not sure how easy that break up will be.

The Dodgers may feel that they can get by without Kemp for the rest of the year, but lets not lose perspective here Dodger fans.  Kemp is an unstoppable force when he’s healthy, and it sure would be nice to have his bat in the World Series, especially with the DH.  LA may be giving up on his return, but Kemp isn’t.  Today, he took 15 swings in Arizona, and might try running tomorrow.  Time is running out this season for Kemp to return and make an impact, but he certainly cares a great deal, and wants to help this team win the World Series.  You also can’t underestimate his leadership in the clubhouse, and how much his teammates respect him.

I keep hearing from Kemp’s critics that he doesn’t have good fundamentals, and doesn’t play hard.  I don’t hear any of these critics talk about Yasiel Puig’s game the same way, even though he never hits the cutoff man.  The Dodgers have the luxury of having 4 good outfielders, and that’s important because all 4 are very high risk to injury with their style of play.  I sure hope the Dodgers think long and hard about that before trading anyone this winter.


Monday Morning Coffee


September 2nd, 2013

College football season is here and both So Cal squads found the win column in week 1.  However,   the Trojans and Bruins each appear to be trending in completely opposite directions.  UCLA obliterated Nevada 58-20 at the Rose Bowl, while the 90 degree heat simultaneously obliterated the fans that were willing to show up in Pasadena.  I’m not sure what’s more amazing: Brett Hundley’s 334 all purpose yards and 4 touchdowns? Or the fact that Jim Mora Jr. was wearing pants and a long sleeve shirt under his polo for 5 hours in the heat?  In any case, UCLA looks like they have an exciting football team for the first time in many years.

Then there’s the Trojans, who had an unimpressive 30-13 win over Hawaii in Honolulu.  Although the USC defense looked strong, the quarterback situation remains an issue for this team.  In addition to the fact that Lane Kiffin foolishly won’t commit to one starting quarterback, he constantly micromanages his signal callers, which inhibits their ability to improve.  Southern Cal had more talent at every position than Hawaii.  Instead of unleashing that talent and seeing what it can do, Kiffin wouldn’t let his quarterbacks do any more than act as game managers.  Kiffin also micromanaged Matt Barkley last season, causing him to lose confidence and ultimately, sink like the Titanic in the NFL Draft.

When it comes to So Cal college football, it appears for now, up is down and down is up.  Jim Mora Jr. looks like the new Pete Caroll.  Lane Kiffin looks like the new Ric Neusheisel.  UCLA has a great quarterback, while USC has two crappy ones.  Before you know it, UCLA will suddenly start having better looking girls on campus than USC.  Ok….maybe not.

As for the rest of the college football weekend, I was pleasantly surprised to see my Fighting Irish of Notre Dame take care of Temple 28-6.  I think most of my fellow Golden Domers were so shocked by “Turnover Tommy” Rees’ two touchdown passes in the first quarter, we felt it was practically a slap in the face to Notre Dame tradition.  Oh, and how could I forget to mention Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, who couldn’t be any more of a douchebag for taunting a player and pretending to sign an autograph after scoring a touchdown on Saturday.  This guy is becoming more unlikeable by the minute. The NCAA knows damn well he accepted money for signing autographs, but they know they have a star they can make money off of, so why suspend him?

On to baseball, where the Dodgers continue to roll.  The Boys in Blue swept the Padres over the weekend, and they’ve now opened up an 11.5 game lead over Arizona in the NL West with just 26 games left to play.  LA can probably look to start getting some of their top players some rest, even though they are only two games back  of Atlanta for the best record in the NL.  It sure would be nice to have a healthy Matt Kemp back for October, but you’d have an easier time trying to find Carmen San Diego right now than finding Kemp’s swing.  He’s been dreadful in his minor league rehab assignment.  Good thing Yasiel Puig showed up….

Despite Puig’s erratic behavior, there’s no doubt he can be a star.  The Dodgers look brilliant now for locking him up to a 7 year $42 million contract last winter, which is a bargain.  Speaking of being worth every penny, Zach Greinke has been a fantastic #2 starter.  After improving to 14-3 with yesterday’s win, Greinke has won 6 straight starts and looks like he’ll make a formidable duo with Clayton Kershaw come October.  Adding veteran infielder Michael Young over the weekend was another great, low risk move for the club too.  Closer Kenley Jensen has been just filthy, as he has converted 17 straight saves, and looks like a completely different pitcher than we saw earlier in the year.

As for the Angels, they’ve won a meaningless 8 of their last 9 games after sweeping the Brewers over the weekend.  As they did last year, they start playing real baseball when their season is already over.  Speculation is already running rampant about what Arte Moreno will do with Mike Scioscia and Jerry Dipoto.  Even though Scioscia deserves to keep his job more than Dipoto, hiring a general manager who can’t hire his own skipper isn’t very ideal.  In fact, when Moreno hired Dipoto two years ago, he was very interested in Rays GM Andy Friedman, but Friedman turned him down.  Moreno needs a general manager who can rebuild his farm system, and turn his current team into a contender by adding quality pitching at an affordable price.  Sounds like he’ll have to hire a new gm with the authority to hire his own manager to make this happen.

Moving on to the Lamar Odom saga, now that he’s has been found, and isn’t actually dead, everyone can resume the jokes.  It’s obvious that LO is on crack because he hasn’t signed with the Lakers, who are the only team that was actually offering him a contract.  Well, they “were” the only team offering him a contract, but after he was arrested for suspicion of DUI last week, that opportunity is gone.   Lamar is a good dude, but he needs to get his life together.  Last week, reports were that he was missing for 3 days, but they were clearly mistaken.  He’s been missing for over 3 years.

This Time Warner Cable vs CBS cable dispute is ridiculous.  I can’t believe they haven’t come to a resolution yet.  You Time Warner Cable subscribers realize that you don’t have CBS, Showtime, and KCAL right now is because TWC doesn’t want to charge you $1 more per month right?  For a company that has been notorious for price gouging its customers, I think they can drop the “concerned for their customers” act and gladly add the $1 to everyone’s bill.  TWC escalated this dispute when they blocked Showtime from its subscribers when the dispute started, and they stand to lose a ton of customers if they don’t figure this out fast.

I realize that I’m late to the party on this whole discussion about last week’s VMA’s, but I wasn’t nearly as horrified with Miley Cyrus as others were.  Her twerking display on stage was just another example of an artist trying to create an identify and sell a brand.  We’ve seen far more offensive displays on stage than what we saw that night, so I’m surprised people are so up in arms over it.  However, with that being said, Miley is definitely trying way to hard to separate herself from her Disney Hannah Montana character, to the point where she is hurting her brand.  There’s nothing wrong with trying to re-brand yourself, but there’s probably better ways to do it.

Sadly, all the talk about Miley Cyrus probably overshadowed Justin Timberlake’s performance.  JT had arguably one of the greatest live on stage performances that I have ever seen.  I would hate to be any artist that had to follow that.  I don’t care if you are a JT fan or not, but that guy is unbelievably talented, and his performance was phenomenal.  Here it is in case you missed it:

Finally, the 4th episode of the final 8 episodes of Breaking Bad aired on AMC last night, and the show took somewhat of a breather.  Spoiler Alert for those of you who have it on DVR! Last night’s episode showed how Jesse was convinced not to burn down Walt’s house by Hank, and then Hank proceeded to try and get Jesse to provide some testimony that would incriminate Walt for all his crimes.  Jesse failed to provide this evidence, and when Hank asked Jesse to wear a wire and meet Walt in person later on, Jesse abandoned the plan at the last moment, thinking Walt has an assassin prepared to kill him.

This particular episode definitely did not provide us with the usual edge-of-your-seat tension as before.  Instead, we are given some meaningful moments to ponder.  I found the most interesting  part of the episode to be the ironic impact Walt has suddenly had on all the other characters.  In the first four episodes of this season, Walt’s biggest threats have been his own brother-in-law Hank, and his former business partner Jesse.  Despite the threats they pose, Walt has refused to kill them, because he cares deeply for both of them, as Hank is his family, and Jesse is practically like a son to him.  For all the horrible things Walt has done, he is still willing to protect the ones he cares about.  The irony of this is the very cavalier attitude Walt’s loved ones suddenly have about killing people.  Skyler urges Walt to kill Jesse in order to protect the family.  Marie suggests that she is enjoying the thought of poisoning Walt, and Hank admits he’s willing to let Jesse get killed if it means incriminating Walt.    These moments are definitely setting the stage for an incredible final four episodes, which Breaking Bad fans anxiously await!