Archive for the ‘UCLA’ Tag

The Death Of The NCAA: Paying Athletes   Leave a comment

Here's the new weight room for Alabama's student athletes. Not the students - just the student athletes.

Here’s the new weight room for Alabama’s student athletes. Not the students – just the student athletes.

Big time college athletics are a big business.

The University of Tennessee now has 4 full-sized practice fields for their football team (3 outdoor, 1 indoor). Alabama now has a waterfall in their locker room.

A waterfall.

The University of Oregon, with key support from the founder of Nike, is building a new complex of buildings for its football team that will include movie theaters, an Oregon football museum, private classrooms for top players, a player’s lounge and deck.

Who’s paying for this? You are, of course. ESPN is one of the highest-cost cable networks going. Whether you watch sports or not, your cable provider is paying ESPN. And ESPN is paying the conferences and schools … and they’re buying practice fields and waterfalls.

Well, many of them are. UCLA still has only one undersized, outdoor practice field for their football team. UCLA may be a grand school, but no one thinks they have good facilities for their football team, and that means that most elite athletes won’t consider going there. They’re going for the waterfalls and movie theaters.

There is a lawsuit, however, that may change all of this. A key ruling is being argued in court tomorrow, which will determine if the lawsuit will be certified as a class action, or if it will continue as an individual lawsuit. What’s at stake?


If a video game incorporates college logos emblazoned across the chest of a legendary college quarterback, should that player see some money? Or how about simply marketing the University, showing star players in uniform … if those images are on billboards or in Times Square … should the players receive compensation? Should colleges have to pay athletes for the use of their image? Or should colleges & universities get to continue the current system, where athletes receive no compensation, but do get access to a quality education?

Personally, I love college athletics. I follow Mizzou and UCLA, and I’m all in with their football and basketball programs. I buy logo’d merchandise. I buy tickets.

And the athletes are exploited to further the brand of each University, without question. Success in athletics often drives alumni’s contributions to their schools. Star players are needed for winning programs, and those star players play a year or three at the college level, and then they’re off to the pros for the (hopefully) really big bucks. If colleges want to win, they need those star players. To attract the top-shelf athletes, there’s currently an arms race going on between elite college programs, so now we’re seeing waterfalls and movie theaters. How do elite athletes choose their college? It’s not about the education, at least not entirely. It’s about the athletic department’s bling.

And that’s wrong. I hope the courts agree.


Bloomberg: The Lawsuit That Could Bring Down The NCAA

SB Nation: O’Bannon v. NCAA

Mr. A Waterfall In ‘Bama’s Locker Room?

A Look Inside Alabama’s New Weight Room (video)

Kentucky Builds Palace For Players

Our Wonderful, Horrible Schools

Dinner For 12 Strangers   1 comment

UCLA Logo - BearCommunity.

At its best, a university becomes a community that supports its members. And that’s exactly what UCLA has done with an event put on by the Student Alumni Association called Dinner For 12 Strangers.  UCLA alumni – worldwide – are asked to host dinners for fellow Bruins.

Dinners can be hosted for other alumni, or for students.  Last year, UCLA alumni, including Velda, hosted nearly 400 dinners over 3 weekends.

This year, Velda partnered with Debi, her fellow UCLA alumna, good friend, co-worker, and former student (!) to co-host a Dinner.  I knew we were in trouble when Debi and Martin, her husband, began unloading their car to deliver their culinary creations to our home, and they brought in serving dishes bigger than I’d ever seen.

WHAT? Bigger serving pieces than Velda uses.  We were in trouble.

Velda never met a recipe she couldn’t make bigger and better.  Debi and her sous chef Martin apparently subscribe to the same philosophy.

I try and keep Velda under control by helping her as little as possible.  I mean, she’s only got 2 hands, right?  As long as I’m not in the kitchen, she can’t reach things on the top shelves, and can’t open tightly sealed containers.  If I was more available to her in the kitchen, heaven only knows how much more food she would be preparing for our clan.

Martin never got that memo, apparently. And doesn’t he know that using larger dishes only encourages Debi to fill them?  Martin, I have so much to teach you.

But back to our wonderful Dinner.

8 students braved the LA freeways to find our home, and settled in to meet new friends and enjoy a casual dinner.  They should have all brought a bunch of classmates … the buffet was overflowing the kitchen. Those big dishes were everywhere, it seems, and they were never empty. It was a great meal, obviously! The ladies even collaborated on a dessert that was an homage to a Westwood favorite, Diddy Riese. The meal was complete.

It was a largely medical crowd (something Velda requested), so there were post-dinner discussions of brain dissections, body fluids and what wild cats do in the dark.  I just may have to publish my rules for family dinner conversation next time around….

Did we do the 8-clap? OF COURSE.

I can’t wait for 2014.  Rumor has it the ladies will team up at Debi’s house next time. That’s great … unless Velda demands bigger serving dishes to keep up.

UCLA v. Stanford at the Rose Bowl   Leave a comment

One annoying thing about going to the Rose Bowl is they do not allow DSLRs into the public area.  I guess they’re afraid that you might take some really good pictures?

In any event, I was limited to my old point and shoot, so I did my best.

The Bruins weren’t up to the task either, unfortunately, falling 35-17.  This was just table setting for the finale, however.  The Bruins have a chance for immediate revenge on Friday, when they will again play Stanford, but this time for the Pac-12 Championship.  Friday’s game will be in Palo Alto.

John Wooden’s Statue   4 comments

John Wooden created the UCLA basketball program.  He inherited a program that was mediocre, at best, in the Pacific Coast Conference, going 12-13 the year before Wooden came in.

Under Wooden’s leadership, he began by winning 4 straight conference championships.  From that ostentatious beginning, Wooden built the UCLA program to unprecedented levels.

  • Four undefeated seasons.  No other college basketball coach has more than one
  • Ten national titles
  • And his never-to-be-broken record:  Seven straight national titles

Part of Wooden’s lore is that he recruited Lew Alcindor — one of, if not the greatest college player of all time — by saying that he was building a new basketball arena just for him.  If he would only come to UCLA!

Of course, Lew Alcindor came to LA, was a part of 3 national championship teams, and was the MVP of the tournament each of those 3 years.  Imagine that!

A careful watcher could have seen this coming, though.  After the June 1965 completion of Pauley, it hosted its first basketball game that fall:  an exhibition between the NCAA Champion varsity team, and the freshman team led by Lew Alcindor.  The freshman team won!

And Pauley Pavilion became an icon of college basketball.  That began with the building’s dedication in 1965.  A renovation was announced in 2007, and completed this year.  The first game is on Friday against Indiana State … ironically, the first college team coached by John Wooden.

Here’s a photo collection of the new Pauley Pavilion, taken today at the public open house.  A new statue of John Wooden was unveiled a few days ago; it’s on the north side of the building, facing UCLA’s intramural fields.

John R. Wooden
UCLA Head Basketball Coach 1948 – 1975
“Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best of which you are capable.”

The concourse is filled with testaments to John Wooden and his legacy at Pauley Pavilion.

The new expanded concourse surrounding the court features huge murals dedicated to the sports that play in Pauley, which will host the 2013 NCAA Men’s Volleyball championship.  The John Wooden quote at the bottom: “Winning takes talent, to repeat takes character.”

Pauley will also host the 2013 NCAA women’s gymnastic championship. The Wooden text: Make each day your masterpiece.

The Wooden text under the basketball mural: “Be at your best when your best is needed.”

UCLA celebrates “Champions Made Here.” They have currently earned 108 NCAA championships, the most of any university.  Each of the 108 championships are listed on the northern side of the concourse.

Pillars in the concourse have signs dedicated to noteworthy events in the illustrious history of Pauley, including Lew Alcindor’s 1967 record of 61 points in one game, which still stands today.

Pauley Pavilion is unique in college sports:  only national championship banners hang from the rafters.  Conference championships — of which there are many — are not showcased.

The home and visitor’s benches have been moved to the north side of the Nell and John Wooden Court. A video ribbon has been added around the arena.

BattleShots!   12 comments

Tom Petty, Rock & Roll Star. Not a student role model.

“I’ve learned one thing, and that’s to quit worrying about stupid things. You have four years to be irresponsible here, relax. Work is for people with jobs. You’ll never remember class time, but you’ll remember the time you wasted hanging out with your friends. So stay out late. Go out with your friends on a Tuesday when you have a paper due on Wednesday. Spend money you don’t have. Drink ’til sunrise. The work never ends, but college does…” — an infamous quote about college education from Tom Petty

Tom Petty has made some great music, but he’s not someone to consult for educational advice. says that he’s a high school dropout.  I don’t have a confirmation, but it is clear that he did not attend college.  He was at the University of Florida — as a groundskeeper.  Then he found his muse, moved to LA and got his first of many record deals.

Battleshots games are most commonly made with re-used pizza boxes.  I do NOT recommend playing the game with the number of shots in play shown here!

Again, not someone to seek advice from about your education.

However, it’s a rare student that doesn’t find a time to walk on the wild side while in college.

Drinking games are a part of that, and BattleShots! has taken its place alongside Beer Pong as a go to solution for students seeking a release.  BattleShots is played like Battleship, except when one of your boats is “hit,” you drain a cup from the board.

The problem, of course, is that there isn’t a great source for BattleShots! game boards.  What’s the discriminating partier to do?  There are online tips but those are hardly satisfactory.  But when you want to do it right … and you’ve got skills and resources … you can get to a better place.

Designing a better BattleShots became a class project for a graduate level engineering course at the University of Southern California.  The students put their design through usage analysis, figured out the ideal sight lines, etc.  Michael and I then took the project from the theoretical to the practical and built it in the garage.  Enjoy the pictures.

Want to see other woodworking projects I’ve done?  Check out my other blog on

The yellow baffles are removable; they just sit in slots routed into the edges of the playing surface frames. The design group decided there should be boats with 10x cup positions on a grid of 36x squares. The 4 boats are sized with 4, 3, 2 and 1 positions. This was hotly debated; the alternative of having 4, 3 and 3 or 3, 3, 2 and 2 were also considered.

The game’s made for tailgating, and in spite of Michael currently being in the final year of getting his Master’s from USC, the game HAD to be painted in UCLA colors. Both Velda (MSN, ’02) and Michael (BS Engineering, ’09) got degrees from UCLA — and once a Bruin, always a Bruin. If you know anything about this college rivalry in Southern California, you know this was a big deal!


Posted September 17, 2012 by henrymowry in Living Life, Woodworking

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Black and White   2 comments

Best trivia question of the week:  Name the last African American to lead UCLA in passing for a season.

If you’ve been reading MowryJournal, you probably know I’m a simple guy.  I believe in the golden rule.  I believe people are good.  I believe people are smart.

With me so far?  ’cause those are big ideas, and they inform how I believe life should be lived.  That’s why I was so struck this week by two different examples of how people view the importance of race in America today.

Note:  I won’t be making angry political comments.  Please stick with me for a few ‘graphs and see if you can agree with my conclusion.

Alec Baldwin. Do you trust this man’s opinion about race relations?

Alec Baldwin tweeted this week that “If Obama was white, he’d be up by 17 points.”  I was astonished by this unfounded, inflammatory statement.  Mr. Baldwin had no research to support his tweet; it’s just another example of overblown partisan rhetoric.

Rush Limbaugh, “with talent on loan from God.”

And, of course, when a provocateur from one side of our political equation makes a bombastic statement, then we always hear from the other side.  It was later that day that Rush Limbaugh proclaimed that if Obama was white, then he would be losing by 20 points!  He also had no supporting data, of course … he also had no credibility.  In my humble opinion.

A much different, a much more positive comment on the state of race in today’s America was in this week’s LA Times.  Bill Plaschke wrote a wonderful article about UCLA’s new quarterback, Brett Hundley.  He is African American, hence the trivia question.

Name the last African American to lead UCLA in passing for a season.

The answer is Jackie Robinson.  Yes, THAT Jackie Robinson, who was a running back for UCLA in 1940.  He led the team in passing with 444 yards.

Jackie Robinson was a multi-sport athlete at UCLA; its baseball stadium is named for him. He later broke the color barrier with the Brooklyn Dodgers, and his # 42 is the only number retired by Major League Baseball.  All baseball players wear his number on Jackie Robinson Day each year.  No other person in professional sports is accorded such an honor as this.

Plaschke’s article is a wonderful portrait of a young man at the beginning of his college football career … his hopes intertwined with the hopes of the Bruins Nation.

UCLA is not only one of America’s top universities, it is also recognized as being one of the leaders in campus racial diversity by US News & World Report, which publishes some of the most watched ranking lists for universities today.

Here’s my bottom line:

I live in the America where race is important as an indicator of how far we’ve come.  I have no interest in sniping about our President’s race and how that does or doesn’t affect his chances in the 2012 election.

I will root for Brett Hundley, and I root for UCLA.  For Mr. Baldwin and Mr. Limbaugh?  Not so much.

You still with me?

Brett Hundley is a redshirt freshman, and just might be the starting quarterback for UCLA for four years.

Get Big Ones   3 comments

I grew up on a small family farm in rural Missouri.  My world was pretty small … a trip to St Joseph, 32 miles away, was a very big deal.

I joined Scouting while in second grade, and loved reading Boy’s Life and dreaming big dreams about what I would do in Scouting.  One of my biggest dreams was to go on the ultimate Scouting adventure:  backpacking at tbe Philmont Scout Reservation, near Cimarron, New Mexico.  Understand, my Troop never went backpacking.  Such a trip was way, way beyond the resources of my family, and of my troop.  It simply wasn’t going to happen.  But the dream … did not die.

1970, after receiving my God & Country award. I was 14 years old, and wouldn’t have lasted on the trails of Philmont, even if I could have gotten there.

It’s important to have goals.  Really, really big goals.  You need to get big ones.

I wrote in a recent post about “The 2012 Plan.”  This plan took 15 years to complete, and the best part was that I didn’t have to do the work!  I graduated from Mizzou in 1978.  Beginning in 1997, it was up to the wife and 3 kids for them to earn their degrees.  15 years and 5 degrees later, we deserve the family celebration that’s just a few days away.

I’m sure that Velda will say that the worst part of the Plan was that the family had to eat my cooking while she was studying for her Masters in Nursing from UCLA.  I never understood what the problem was: not only am I proficient in the kitchen, I prepare dishes that Velda never will.  And the kids didn’t complain (too much) about the 3 dishes they said I prepared … not even the Hamburger Helper!  Good news:  we all survived!

No one will mistake what I do for the artistry that Velda performs in the kitchen.  But the choice to miss her cooking for a few meals in order for her to achieve one of her big goals was not a choice at all.  She’s been happy as a nurse practitioner ever since.

But, back to Philmont. I did not reach that goal until I was 46.  But that’s really not the story.

Climbing the Tooth of Time is a part of the Philmont experience that no backpacker should miss!

The problem for me was that Boy Scouts are serious about backpacking, and, thank goodness, they expect the boys and leaders to be in shape.  You have to make a goal weight based on your height … or you don’t go on the trail.  Once I understood that my boys wanted to go to Philmont, I had to prepare myself.  And lose about 60 pounds.

I’ve never been a gym rat.  Velda had achieved great success with Weight Watchers, but that didn’t seem like my thing, either.  I started doing what I had not done since high school:  I decided to run.

The problem, though, was that I wasn’t able to run any distance at all.  I started walking in my cross trainer Reeboks, wearing sweats … and worked myself up from there.  Eventually, I could run 2 miles without walking.  That was a very big day, let me assure you!  But I was not nearly done.

I fixed my diet (a calorie-counting shake from Costco in the morning, a banana and an apple for snacks, Subway for lunch, and a sensible dinner from Velda.  I kept pushing.  And the weight fell off.  Running became a daily obsession, and I eventually got up to 7-mile runs on the weekends.  I faithfully kept a running log every day, and used a GPS system to track my times for each segment of the runs I did.

By the time I went to Philmont with my boys, I was in the best shape of my life.  I had lost 70 pounds.  Hitting the trail with 50+ pounds on my back for a 10-day, 52-mile trek was still nothing to sneeze at, but I was ready.  I was 46, but keeping up with 17-year old boys was not a problem.  We sat on the Tooth of Time at sunrise, and we proudly proclaimed “Go Big or Go Home” while we reveled in the burro races, the trail food, and a feeling of self reliance that’s very difficult to discover if you’re sitting on your sofa.

It was the most personally fulfilling thing I have done in Scouting.  And I got there because I had a goal.  A big one.

We made it: Michael Mowry, Christopher Mowry, myself, and Lyle “The Destroyer” Wohlfarth with the map he was in charge of for all 52 miles. 2003.

The 2012 Plan   3 comments

My family has completed our 15-year plan this year.  It started in 1997 … and 15 years later, our family of 5 has earned 5 college degrees.

Sonoma State University. The graduation ceremony was on May 12, 2012.

I announced the plan at a family dinner.  Velda had decided to go back to school and get her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in order to become a geriatric Nurse Practitioner.  The kids would have to sacrifice (less of Mom’s cooking is a bad thing in our house).  But Velda’s journey was just the beginning … each of the kids would follow with their own Bachelor’s degree.

It was our plan.  It was our expectation.

It’s also a good idea, by the way … statistics show that college graduates have substantially better incomes than those that stop their education after high school.

I believe the most important reason to get a college education is that it will teach you how to think.  I got my college degree in education; a BS of Education in Speech & Dramatic Art from the University of Missouri.  I only taught professionally for 8 weeks at a private college’s summer camp.  On the other hand, I’ve been in management throughout my career, and I’ve taught many people many things.  Did I use my degree in education?  Absolutely.

I didn’t go to the graduation ceremony, though.  I got married, instead.  That was absolutely the right decision (we had to get married on the 13th of the month, because we’d had far too many “13’s” show up through our courtship to ignore).  I do have some small regrets I didn’t get to enjoy the pomp & circumstance, however.

The lesson?  Everyone follows their own path.  But get on the path!

UCLA College of Engineering graduation, June 12, 2009. The ceremony was in the “old” Pauley Pavillion, and was a long, long event by the time they awarded all of the graduate degrees … and then there were many undergraduates to go!

Velda’s college path was MUCH more circuitous than mine.  She actually attended 7 colleges on her way to her Masters: University of Missouri – Columbia, Valley College, Mission College, LA County USC School of Nursing, College of the Canyons, California State University – Northridge, and UCLA.  She took 25 years to get her degrees, but she got there.

Velda got the two degrees required to be an NP: a BS in Nursing from CSUN, and then an MS in Nursing from UCLA .  Her job satisfaction, and her income, increased substantially after she got her degrees.

Each kid followed their own path to their degree:

Christopher – College of the Canyons, California State University – Los Angeles

Michael – UCLA

Lauren – Sonoma State University

Time will tell how the degrees earned by each of the three kids will serve them, but I am 100% certain that our family is stronger because we set a very big goal, and all 5 of us worked to achieve that goal.  Some goals take some time to accomplish, and this worthy goal took 15 years.

Don’t be afraid of the difficulty of the path.  Be committed to the goal, and you will achieve it.