When I heard that UCLA defensive lineman Datone Jones had broken his foot in a non-contact drill during the Bruins' fall practice, and would subsequently miss at least the first four games, it led me to ponder this question:
Is the UCLA football program cursed?
It may seem a bit far-fetched, but there is some evidence to this theory.
First, two offensive linemen who were expected to make big contributions this year, Jeff Baca and Stan Hasiak, were ruled academically ineligible for this season (Baca's ineligibility is pending an appeal).
Just a few weeks earlier, three recruits, including Josh Shirley and Paul Richardson, were released from their letters of intent and transferred to other schools because they were involved in the theft of a backpack, while Mike Harris, another offensive lineman, was suspended for UCLA's Sept. 4th opener at Kansas State.
All of that happened this summer, which made it an eventful one in Westwood; not quite as eventful as the happenings crosstown at USC, but eventful nonetheless.
Next, I recalled in 2009 Micah Kia, yet another key man on the offensive line, tearing an ACL during fall practice and having to miss that season. Nik Abele having to retire due to injury didn't help matters any, as it depleted the personnel up front even more.
The clinching incident to all of this misfortune was during coach Rick Neuheisel's first year in 2008.
During preseason practice that year Ben Olsen and Patrick Cowan, both experienced quarterbacks who figured heavily in the Bruins' plans, went down with season - and, as it turned out, career - ending injuries on the same day.
Combined with a patchwork offensive line and having to rely on third-stringer Kevin Craft, that pretty much doomed things in Westwood that season.
I imagine that quite a few folks would say that these injuries, suspensions, and ineligibility are just unfortunate coincidences.
However, considering that the Bruins sport a rather mediocre record of 24-27 over the past four seasons and combining that with the misfortunes of this summer and before, it all leads me to say that...
Yes, UCLA Bruin Football is cursed, at least to some degree.
Now don't misunderstand me; stating what I've just stated does not mean that I am giving up on this season before it starts. The Bruins could well have people step up, particularly their freshmen, go on a tear, and be a factor in the Pac-10 race.
Unfortunately, I fear that any more freak injuries like the one Jones, who was the only returning member of that defensive line, suffered will only strengthen my convictions of this curse.
Perhaps I'm being superstitious, but it's difficult to explain all these negative events any other way.
Let's hope that these injuries and incidents that keep happening in Westwood cease immediately.
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