How One Win over USC Helped UCLA's 2013 Recruiting Explode

Lisa Horne@LisaHornePac-12 and Big 12 Lead WriterFebruary 7, 2013

When UCLA beat USC 38-28 last November, nobody yet fully comprehended how that Bruin win would reverberate through Los Angeles several months later.

But it did on February 6 when UCLA—and to be fair, Ole Miss—shocked the recruiting world with an incredible recruiting class. UCLA finished with a Top 10 247Sports recruiting class while USC finished at No. 14.

And the whole thing started when UCLA beat USC on November 17.

The last time USC lost to UCLA in football was in 2006, but USC still went on to haul in a No. 2 recruiting class a few months later. UCLA didn't fare as well due to the general consensus that its victory was a fluke, and USC simply looked past the Bruins—UCLA's recruiting class was ranked No. 36 that same year.

But last season was different.  

Why, UCLA even forbade USC's marching band drum major from drawing his sword and stabbing the Rose Bowl's midfield, something he had always done in the past. 

The Bruins were finally taking a stand on that hill. 

The Bruins drew first blood on November 17, but the gutting of USC continued on November 24 when USC lost 22-13 to Notre Dame and on December 31 when USC lost 21-7 to Georgia Tech in the Hyundai Sun Bowl. UCLA had gotten the ball rolling, and USC was wallowing in its own self doubt. 

True, Stanford and Oregon had beaten USC prior to the Trojans' date with the Bruins—Arizona had as well—but the loss to UCLA was the precursor to a catastrophic downward spiral.

UCLA finally showed up for the big rivalry game and this time, its win was truly recognized—the gutty lil' Bruins gave the USC Trojans a beat down. 

But that spanking would have to translate over to the following year—when it really counted. And UCLA came through 2013's signing day like a perfect margarita on a sun-drenched 90-degree day in Southern California.

Tasty, mouth-watering and packed with power like a Mike Tyson upper-cut punch. That victory over USC had catapulted UCLA's momentum in signing blue chippers.

Prior to UCLA's win over USC, the Bruins' class of 2013 consisted of five 4-star and six 3-star commits. But after that victory over USC? UCLA reeled in one 3-star, 13 4-stars and one 5-star. 

Welcome to college football relevancy, UCLA.

UCLA is moving toward elite college football in small ways—winning the Pac-12 South two years straight is a nice start. But to really receive respect, it has to play with the big boys both on and off the field. Spanking out a Top 10 class signifies you've arrived. Now get a BCS bowl berth.

In the meantime, Westwood is still abuzz with students talking about football.

In February.  

And the Bruins' loss to USC in basketball last week? Didn't even register a pulse among the powder blue and gold faithful. Instead, the USC fans were talking up their team's victory. What's going on here?

UCLA has figured it out. Hire a very good coach and increase the pay of his assistants because college football—not basketball—is what will define the school's athletic programs' successes. It took awhile for that mindset to sink in—albeit the school's fans have been screaming about this for the last decade—but UCLA is finally really focusing on college football. 

UCLA is no longer stuck in the 1970's scarfing down mom's meatloaf.

UCLA is now sampling Toro in the City of Angels' hoity-toity sushi bars.

Totally en fuego, the Bruins are.

Los Angeles may not have an NFL football team, but right now, it's got two big boy football teams. 

And it all started when LA's college football landscape got its long overdue makeover last November.



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