College football has many ... unusual traditions that have endured for decades despite being, you know ... unusual, and since that's part of what makes the sport such a vital part of so many communities and the American sporting landscape as a whole, we want to be sensitive to those traditions. That even goes for one as ... unusual as UCLA's annual "over the wall" tradition, in which the senior Bruins skip practice en masse by leaping over the facility's south wall after pre-practice stretching.
New Bruins head coach Jim Mora, however, doesn't have to be sensitive at all. And following the latest edition of "over the wall" at Tuesday's UCLA practice, he most certainly wasn't:
“It’s completely unacceptable ... I can just tell you in no uncertain terms that that tradition will not be a part of tradition going forward. [Athletic director] Dan Guerrero and I have spoken about it and we both agreed that the culture of UCLA football needs to change. That was part of the interview process and so we’re going to do all we can to make sure we change it.”To their credit, not every Bruin glad to see another revival of "over the wall." "A lot of the guys unfortunately are OK with it," quarterback Kevin Prince said. "It's in the past and we're just going to forget about it for now and in the future make sure it doesn't happen anymore."
“I can tell you this, my general feeling is if they feel that they want to skip out on practice and jump over a wall then they might as well just keep going because they’re not a part of what I want to be a part of ...
You know Dan Guerrero gave these kids an opportunity to compete one last time for UCLA and it really bothers me personally knowing Dan how I do that they disrespected that gesture if you will that he presented them in going to this bowl game ... It’s a tradition that these guys have grown up with and it’s just a tradition needs to end. And so I hope they had fun going over the wall or whatever you call it yesterday because it’s the last time they’re going over the wall.”
Mora naturally appreciated that reponse, saying that "the kind of players that are going to fill this roster from now on are guys that would be pissed off about it." But of course, those are apparently not the kinds of players that are on the UCLA roster right now; the seniors leading the charge "over the wall," at least, are the kind of players that would walk out on a critical day of preparation for their final college game and deprive the rest of the roster of a chance to work towards better things in 2012.
Sorry if that's insensitive; we're not condemning the "over the wall" tradition itself, or at least we're trying not to. But we also don't blame Mora one bit for every ounce of condemnation he's steered the tradition's way or -- it has to be said -- in the direction of the "leadership" of his 6-7 football team.