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What Rivalry: UCLA versus Washington?
By: Malamute, Updated 15 February 2004
Do UCLA and
Washington share a bitter rivalry with one another? Although bitter might be too strong
a word, there have been some notable incidents in this series that have made
coaches and fans hopping mad.
The fact that the UW has
lost the last six of its last seven games to the Bruins should be more than
irritating to UW fans
For one, I’m more than
Properly enraged, I posted the following on
an Internet message board the other day.
”Am I the only one hopped
up about this series? Do I have to do all the cheerleading around here? What
happened to intensity, focus and kicking butt? Remember (Torchy) Torrance's
fiery pre-game speech at that UCLA game?”
Well, I got carried away
with that post. I admit that. Not surprisingly, no one responded.
In his memoirs ("Torchy!"),
that 1955 game with the Bruins, “At practice in the Coliseum on Friday afternoon
before the game, John (Cherberg) came up to me and said if I wouldn’t mind he
would turn the boys over to me for a few minutes before they went on the field
the next day to see if I could whip up a little enthusiasm…After the warm-up
exercises, the team came back to the locker room, the coaches left and I gave
what you might call a Knute Rockny speech. UCLA was a heavy favorite, but I
told the boys ‘the Bruins put their pants on the same way you do, so if you play
with pride and to the best of your ability, you can win the game!’”
Washington held a
17-14 lead with a minute left. Stalled on their own ten-yard line, the Huskies
took a safety to get a free kick, narrowing their lead to 17-16. After a solid
back, Jim Decker kicked a long field goal to win the game for the Bruins, 19-17.
Once again, I broached
the subject of the bitterness of the rivalry on an Internet message board by listing a series of
incidents occurring during this series. I received back a variety of
opinions and anecdotes this time
One poster mentioned the
infamous Z streak that Tommy Prothro used against Jim Owens during a game in the
sixties. Another poster wrote about that play, “At the time it was not an illegal play, but the rule
was changed following the season and it is no longer allowed. It was a night
game in LA and the receiver did a great job of hiding on the sidelines. I
remember watching Owens and Bruce King go over that play on the grainy black and
white film and Jim barely containing himself.”
Prothro, who coached UCLA
from 1965 through 1970, was a world class bridge player and chess aficionado who
stayed awake at night dreaming up trick plays. He replaced George Allen as the
head coach of the Los Angeles Rams in 1971.
In the midst of the
racial unrest at the UW in 1969, UCLA beat Washington at the Coliseum,
57-14—kind of like the Cal game this year. Jim Owens got even the next year,
beating UCLA, 61-20.
One fan wrote about that
remember that day in 1970 like it was yesterday. Robb Weller leading the cheers
of "we want a 100" and Prothro throwing his hat in the air. It was bitchin'.
Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.”
An email from Fred
reminds us that UCLA almost derailed the Rose Bowl team of 1963, 14-0, in
a "late season meltdown in LA." It was the only conference game in the AAWU that
the Huskies lost that season.
Fred says that the Z-streak game occurred in 1965, during a
game in Los Angeles that the Huskies lost, 28-24. He reminds us that in 1966,
the Huskies upset number-two UCLA in the rain and mud, 16-3. In an otherwise
lifeless game, the game's big play involved an interception of QB Gary Beban on an
Some fans don’t think
much of this biter rivalry. .
Another fan posted, “If
it's such a dirty rivalry why did the Husky band combine with the UCLA band to
mock USC back in '99? It's more a good even competition than a bitter rivalry.
Until recently we both knew who the real enemy was..and is.”
That post blew my mind
and I responded angrily. “…To ignore the bitterness of the rivalry means that
one of them is going to get his butt kicked. For God's sake, we need some
emotion in that game. And if our bandspeople are going to hold hands with
Bruins' bandspeople to mock USC, then forget it. Our band needs to mock UCLA's
band. It's a lost cause, otherwise. Somebody needs to get mad as hell in this
game and win one for the Dub. Reggie (Williams) and Tank (Johnson) were sure mad
as hornets during the last hand holding--that serene, lady-like, limp-wristed
waltz with the Baby Blue."
Okay, so I overreacted;
my apologies to that poster.
Here are a few incidents
in the series, which occurred both on and off the field of play.
- In the mid-fifties, both teams bid for the
services of Luther “hit-and-run” Carr, a paltry $175 per month sealing the deal
for the Dub. After Torrance’s slush-fund was
exposed by Coach Cherberg, UCLA’s was next to see the light of day. Not surprising.
- The rivalry with UCLA gained momentum on
November 11, 1967, when a Husky jumped on prostrate QB Gary Beban, late, in what
was a totally lost game. The next week, sore ribs and all, Beban passed for 301
yards, in a 21-20 loss to USC and O.J. Simpson. After the
Washington game, Beban was never quite the same for the rest of the season. I
thought my next door neighbor, an ardent UCLA fan, was going to kill me.
Beban led the Bruins to a 23-5-2 record in his
three years as starter, and he won the Heisman Trophy in 1967 -- the first and
only Heisman winner from UCLA.
It was a UCLA player that ended Joe Steele’s career in 1979. Shortly after that
injury at the Coliseum, a Bruin was carted off.
In an intense, hard fought game, certainly not a dirty one, the
Bruins won 34-24.
Working as a photographer, I stood near some bickering Huskies during the UCLA
game in 1981, which the Huskies lost 31-0. Several UW players were less than happy, kind
of like the UCLA debacle this year when Reggie Williams and Tank Johnson sounded
off. On the return flight to Seattle, Don James’s wife told him not to worry, that
the Huskies would go to the Rose Bowl--and they did, beating Iowa 28-0.
Who can forget that historical game in 1983, when QB Rick Neuheisel completed 25
out of 27 passes against the Huskies, setting an NCAA record? UCLA beat the UW
27-24, when in the last seconds of the game, QB Steve Pelluer was intercepted,
ending what could have been a winning drive.
And then there is the replay of the “Longest Yard” when DE Dave Ball put the
hammer on QB Taylor Barton at Pasadena in 2001. The Huskies lost 35-13, in
a game in which DeShaun Foster rushed for 301 yards. Later in the week, Ball
faxed Barton an apology for that thoughtless incident.
The negative recruiting wars (February 2002) involving UCLA coach Bob Toledo, Neuheisel
and Mike Bellotti of Oregon ruffled some feathers, notably Tom Hansen's. Neuheisel said he needed to hose off recruit Clayton Walker after UCLA
finished with him, and he drew a reprimand from Commissioner Hansen
and the Pac-10.
Bob Toledo fired back, drawing a reprimand.
"Basically what Neuheisel and (assistant coach)
Steve Axman were telling them was that I was going to get fired,"
Toledo was quoted as saying.
"I told the kid (Walker), 'If I get fired, I know
Rick Neuheisel will be the first one to apply.' That's exactly it,
After Bob Toledo was
fired, swirling rumors concerning Rick Neuheisel and the vacant UCLA job upset fans. Although untrue, the rumors led to the infamous "Rick Hamlet"
editorial, which appeared in the Seattle Times in December 2002. Husky fans were
miffed by that
editorial because of what they thought was double standard involving Neuheisel and Mike Price, then the WSU coach.
Scoring 39 unanswered points in the second half, UCLA
thrashed the Washington Huskies 46-16, in a game played at Pasadena's Rose Bowl
this last season.
Taking control in the second half, UCLA's dominating defense forced 4 Washington
turnovers, which led to 25 of its points.
The list of bristling incidents goes on and on, and forever will.
For us Husky fans that live in the greater Los Angeles area, beating UCLA is a
must, for we must live with Bruin fans on a daily basis. "Hey, Husky, when are
you guys going to beat the Blue?"
Evergreen last summer, a nonchalant Khalif Barnes said they
were going to beat the “powder blue” when they played them during the season. Bob Condotta, who
was interviewing Barnes at the time, is my witness. Condotta (left) was altogether
flummoxed, both by the torment showing on my face and the quavering of my voice,
as I asked Khalif about the UCLA game. I think Barnes may have been
confused as well, since my question came out of left field, being that there
were plenty of other games to worry about.
Over a period of years, the Huskies and Bruins have battled
for the number two spot in the conference behind USC. In recent years, thanks in
part to the sanctions levied against Washington in 1993, the Bruins have
dominated the Huskies on the field of play.
It's time for the Dawgs to take this series more seriously.
Washington is 28-34-2 in the series, which began in 1932.
The average score is UCLA 21, Washington 19. Washington has a winning record
against every team in the Pac-10, except USC and UCLA.
Riichard Linde (a.k.a., Malamute) can be reached at