If the calendar did not state otherwise, I would have thought Saturday, October 6, was April Fools’ Day when the public address announcer said the final score of a football game across the town: Stanford 24, USC 23.
There was a loud roar of approval, inasmuch as the 78,000 congregants in the Rose Bowl, rooting for UCLA or Notre Dame, were united in their jealous disdain of USC’s Trojans. Meanwhile, another bizarre upset was unfolding before them, as Notre Dame was on its way to a 20-6 victory over the bumbling Bruins.
The crowd included scores of Fighting Irish fans from Santa Barbara, many of whom had gathered at neighborhood watering holes the previous five weeks to suffer together through five humiliating defeats. It was quite astounding to see the Irish prevail even though their offense could hardly budge the football.
Southern Californians have endured worse times because of earthquakes, fires, and floods, but last weekend was a major disaster on the fields of play. USC and UCLA fans were as smug as their cheerleaders were perky. The weather was perfect, as predicted, and speaking of predictions, Las Vegas odds favored the Trojans to win by 41 points and the Bruins by 22. In addition to their shocking comeuppance, the Angels’ postseason hopes were shattered by the Boston Red Sox. Don’t forget that the Ducks are Stanley Cup champions-just when the sport of ice hockey has reached a low ebb in popularity.
The team that best represents L.A. in its present state held its preseason training camp at Santa Barbara City College last week. I’m talking about the Clippers, who are bravely approaching the NBA season with two of their best players on the sidelines. Point guard Shaun Livingston is still recovering from the horrific injury to his knee last February, and Elton Brand is rehabbing from a freakish rupture of his Achilles tendon in August.
“The Lakers get all the attention,” newly acquired Clippers guard Dan Dickau said. “They’re a marquee team that always has a marquee player. But people who want to cheer for a scrappy underdog ought to look at our team.”
Dickau is happy to have landed in L.A. He has changed NBA teams nine times in six years since his days as Gonzaga University’s deadly sharpshooter. His best season was 2004-05 when he averaged 13.2 points and 5.2 assists with the New Orleans Hornets. He ruptured an Achilles tendon a year later while playing for Boston. His recovery should be encouraging to Brand. “I feel better than I did before the injury,” Dickau said.
The New York Knicks released Dickau so he could sign with the Clippers. He grew up in Vancouver, Washington, and prefers to be on the West Coast. He is married to his high school sweetheart, the former Heather Nevenner, a beauty who broke into the NBA before he did. She was a member of the Blazer Dancers in Portland. They have two children.
“I’ve found a place in Manhattan Beach for us to stay,” Dickau said. “I couldn’t believe how beautiful Santa Barbara was when I drove up here. This place is legit.”
Former Laker great Jerry West, the NBA logo himself, dropped in on a Clippers session at SBCC. Asked how things looked, he said, “It looks like training camp”-a realistic assessment in a week of unreal happenings.
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS: Prep football teams enter league play Friday night, October 12, with four games on the South Coast: Dos Pueblos at San Marcos in the annual battle for Goleta Valley bragging rights; Buena at Santa Barbara; Villanova Prep versus Bishop Diego (at SBCC); and Oaks Christian at Carpinteria. : Several of Oaks Christian’s recent stars have graduated, including Notre Dame’s starting quarterback Jimmy Clausen, but the Lions remain a powerful team. It will be an interesting match up between their senior QB Chris Potter and Carpinteria’s impressive sophomore R.J. Rosborough. : UCSB’s soccer-style footballers, who dazzled a national Fox Soccer Channel audience with their 4-0 victory over UC Irvine last week, will be playing at Harder Stadium on Friday night against new Big West rival UC Davis.