It's a veritable cornucopia of college football. Penn State-Alabama. Florida State-Oklahoma. Oregon-Tennessee. Georgia Tech-Kansas. And topped off tonight with UCLA in its home opener against Stanford. (USC's playing too.)
I'm always concerned about playing Stanford. They generally play the Bruins tough and have better football teams than they have any right to have, considering the nature of the school. I think it's because they've managed to attract some fine coaches -- although Jim Plunkett, John Elway and Toby Gerhart among others were hardly slouches as players. UCLA didn't look good last week, although some of the problems had to do with Prince being out for much of fall practice and not having enough reps, which could be solved by the first game and this week in corrective practice.
When I was on the Bruins Freshman team -- back when they had a Freshman team that you could make if you didn't quit, though that didn't assure playing time -- before the Stanford game our guards coach, Red Cochran, assembled us and gave a little speech on how, as our college careers progressed, we would come to hate Stanford with a special hate. They call themselves the Harvard of the West, they think they're several pegs above ordinary human beings, they think their shit don't stink. So they deserve to be hit extra hard to have some of that snobbishness knocked out of them, etc. etc. We took the advice to heart.
As the years passed and I spent time at Stanford, with the Hoover Institution as a media fellow and at other events and conferences, I couldn't necessarily bring myself to love the school, but I couldn't hate it either. Few of the Stanford students I met quite fit the caricature. I've even thought of lobbying for a resident position at Hoover after I'm finished newspapering (if that ever happens) and spending my declining years there, though that seems unlikely.
No hate, just grudging respect and a bit of concern.