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Shame of a Nation
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Fall 1998
View from the Hot Seats
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BT: There are a lot of references to UCLA being a "basketball school." Hey, I'm proud that we have the best basketball program. I'm proud that we have the best athletic program in the country, according to Sports Illustrated. But you know what? We have a pretty darn good football program too. People might look at us as a basketball school, but I think more people are starting to realize we've got a great athletic program. The fact that the basketball team has a great reputation helps us to recruit football players. When we take recruits into Pauley and they see all those national championship banners and experience how exciting it all is, it's a happening, they want to be a part of that, it's very appealing to kids. I want Lav to win every single game. I'm sure he feels the same way. So we're all in this thing together.

How important is it to have good relations with the media?

SL: As a coach I think you're setting an example and trying to model for your players, just like a good parent or a good teacher. So you want to treat people with respect, whether it's a member of the media, an alumnus, booster, fan on the street or a waiter serving your team a pregame meal. From that standpoint you want to be cordial and represent UCLA in the right fashion, you don't want to treat anyone disrespectfully. And then again, in Los Angeles one of the things that's unique with our position is that there are unbelievable media demands that are both good and bad. It helps our recruiting and gives guys like Cade publicity for the Heisman. It gives our guys a chance to be All-Americans. Some people will always bash UCLA, but for the most part they'll be fair if you treat them with respect over the years and put a good product on the field.

BT: My thing is it's important to be consistent. And you've got to be honest. I realize that the media have a job to do. So I'm going to be honest, tell them what I think. I may not tell them everything I know, but I'll tell them what I think. And win or lose, I'm going to face the music.

Are you baffled by how many fans think the program belongs to them? Are the programs isolated, like it's you and your team against the world?

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