The Sports Report: Won’t see a lot of NFL scouts at the USC-UCLA game

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Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

USC-UCLA GAME

You’ll see a lot of Trojans and Bruins fans, hopefully a great game, and probable a lot of sunshine, but you know one thing you won’t see a lot of at Saturday’s USC-UCLA football game? NFL scouts. According to our Sam Farmer,

“The last time USC played UCLA at the Coliseum, NFL scouts were like birds on a wire. Twenty of them lined the second row of the press box, scribbling notes on their pads, holding binoculars to their eyes, and documenting everything they could about opposing quarterbacks Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen.

Everyone was interested in the passers.

But when the schools meet again Saturday on the same field, the league will take little more than a passing interest.

As of Thursday afternoon, only five NFL scouts were credentialed for the game, although USC was waiting to hear from two more.

It’s a sign of the times for two programs with a fair share of young talent, but only a handful of draft-eligible players who truly intrigue pro evaluators.

For the last 15 years, heading into this crosstown rivalry, The Times has collected the observations of NFL team scouts on the players from UCLA and USC likely to wind up playing on Sundays next fall.

Typically, NFL scouts are secretive about their evaluations; it’s a highly competitive business, and information is guarded closely. But two talent evaluators from NFL teams — identified as Scouts 1 and 2 — agreed to open their notebooks and share thoughts on strengths, weaknesses, and potential draft range of some of these players.

“I think it’s just one of those years,” Scout 1 said. “USC has a lot of underclassmen talent, especially next year’s [draft] class. I love Clay Helton as a coach, and he’s great for us as scouts. Whoever the coach is next year, if it’s not Clay, is not walking into a bare cupboard. They’ve got some really nice talent if they keep them in school.”T

Scout 2 is not as convinced the clouds will clear as quickly.

“I think it’s down across the board,” he said. “The Pac-12 is down. UCLA and USC are down. High school football’s down. It’s a lot different than it used to be. A lot of the good players are going to the South. It used to be that players who left California were going to Washington and Oregon. But now some of the best ones are going to Alabama and places like that.”

Read more

For USC’s football program, integrity issue could be key to any move

UCLA, USC student newspapers find something to agree on

TICKET PRICES

A Congressional committee launched an investigation Thursday into what it called “potentially unfair and deceptive practices in the live event ticketing industry.”

Six leading ticket and event companies — including AEG, StubHub, Live Nation and Vivid Seats — were asked to provide documents explaining how tickets are allocated, how fees are determined and disclosed, whether tickets might be placed exclusively on the secondary market, and how customers can have a fair chance to buy a ticket at face value.

Six members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee — three Democrats and three Republicans — signed the letter to each company. The companies also were asked to schedule briefings with the committees by Dec. 12.

“The Committee, which has broad jurisdiction over consumer protection issues, is concerned about potentially unfair and deceptive practices occurring in the primary and secondary ticket marketplace, many of which have been documented in consumer complaints, press stories, and government reports,” the letters read.

As ticket prices on the secondary market have risen for popular events, teams and event promoters have tried to capture as much of the resale value as possible. If the face value of a ticket is $40 and the resale value is $80, teams and promoters hope to price that ticket as close to $80 as possible, often using partnerships with ticket companies and market analysts.

Laura Dooley, director of government relations at StubHub, said her company welcomed the Congressional examination of the ticket business.

“StubHub applauds the Committee’s investigation into the live event ticketing industry,” Dooley said in a statement. “We share the Committee’s interest in addressing anti-competitive practices. We believe that a fair and competitive ticketing industry unequivocally supports the interests of fans. We look forward to being a partner in this process.”

RAMS

Rams receiver Brandin Cooks, who suffered two concussions this season and four in the last 21 months, said Thursday he never considered permanently stepping away from football.

“Absolutely not,” Cooks said emphatically during a news conference after practice. “No doubt about it. When it happened that never went through my mind, and even now it’s not going through my mind.”

Cooks’ last concussion occurred in the Rams’ Oct. 27 game against the Cincinnati Bengals. He sat out two games while recovering and meeting with doctors, but he has cleared concussion protocol and is on track to play Monday night against the Baltimore Ravens at the Coliseum.

LAKERS

The goggles Kyle Kuzma wore to protect his right eye abrasion while taking extra shots after Lakers practice Thursday will become part of his gear starting with Friday night’s game in Oklahoma City.

He sustained the injury during Tuesday night’s victory over the Thunder when Oklahoma City’s Darius Bazley inadvertently struck Kuzma in his eye with a fingernail and an elbow, causing the Lakers forward to lose some of his sight.

Kuzma was held out during the second half of the game at Staples Center, but he has vowed to play in the rematch in Oklahoma City. He’ll just have to wear the goggles, channeling his inner James Worthy, who famously wore goggles during his Hall-of-Fame career with the Lakers.

“Doing better, but yesterday [my eye] was completely shut,” Kuzma said after practice. “Now it’s open, so I can see a little bit better. Still blurry. I went to the doctor, had like four, five scratches in the eye. It’s all right though.”

DUCKS

Aaron Ekblad scored his second goal of the game 22 seconds into overtime and the Florida Panthers rallied with five straight goals to stun the Ducks 5-4.

Brett Connolly sparked the comeback with two goals in 27 seconds in the second period, and Dominic Toninato tied it with 4:23 remaining in the third. Sergei Bobrovsky made 28 saves, and Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau each had two assists.

Ondrej Kase had a goal and an assist for the Ducks, and Rickard Rakell, Nick Ritchie and Max Jones also scored. John Gibson stopped 23 shots.

Ekblad beat Gibson from the right circle to cap Florida’s rally from a 4-0 deficit.

KINGS

Exactly one year and one day removed from his firing in Edmonton, coach Todd McLellan and the Kings knocked off his old team 5-1 at Staples Center by following a simple, unexpected formula: Their top lines outdueled Edmonton’s.

Tyler Toffoli had two goals and an assist and Jeff Carter added a goal and two assists for the the Kings, who have won five straight at home. Anze Kopitar and Michael Amadio also scored, Drew Doughty had three assists, and Jonathan Quick made 25 saves.

UCLA BASKETBALL

Jalen Hill finished with 24 points and 12 rebounds but did not get nearly enough support on a night the Bruins (4-1) made only six of 22 three-pointers (27.3%) while allowing Hofstra (3-2) to make 12 of 24 attempts from long range in an 88-78 loss at Pauley Pavilion.

UCLA coach Mick Cronin switched defenses and yanked ineffective players but could do nothing to help his team stay in front of shooters or sustain effort on a night he said his players tallied only nine deflections, the fewest in his 17 seasons as a head coach.

“As a coaching staff, we were concerned about a lot of things about our team that got exposed tonight,” Cronin said, “so we’ve got to get back to work.”

Another reason the Pride won despite getting outscored 42-12 in the paint and outrebounded by nine was because it took 30 free throws to UCLA’s 18.

“They shot 30 free throws and they don’t post up all night,” Cronin said, “so just got beat off the dribble, beat off the dribble. We tried changing defenses, our guys got confused at that, so we’re a work in progress as far as being able to change defenses.”

HORSE RACING

In a move designed to answer Gov. Gavin Newsom’s call for change, the California Horse Racing Board announced Thursday a series of proposals in an effort to improve safety and public perception.

Under criticism in the wake of a spike in equine fatalities and how it handled a positive drug test from last year’s Triple Crown winner Justify, the board is proposing statutory changes that would make positive drug tests public within 24 hours, earmark all revenue from licenses and penalties to welfare and safety issues, and greater access and transparency to veterinary records.

Other discussion points, which would not need statutory changes, include stricter veterinarian protocols, elimination of shock wave therapy, more out-of-competition testing, a review of penalty guidelines and fatality information posted on its website, which is set to launch Jan. 1.

The governor hasn’t seen the proposal, according to Russ Heimerich, deputy secretary/communications for the Business Consumer Services and Housing Agency, the group that oversees the CHRB.

OBITUARY

Wataru “Wat” Misaka, the first player of Japanese descent to play in the league that was the predecessor to the NBA, has died. He was 95.

The University of Utah athletic department said in a news release Thursday that Misaka died Wednesday in Salt Lake City. He grew up in Ogden, Utah.

Mikasa was the point guard on the Utah team that won the NCAA Tournament in 1944 and the NIT in 1947.

Misaka played three games for the New York Knicks during the 1947-48 season in the Basketball Association of America.

TODAY’S LOCAL MAJOR SPORTS SCHEDULE

All times Pacific

Lakers at Oklahoma City, 5 p.m., Spectrum Sportsnet, 710 ESPN

Houston at Clippers, 7:30 p.m., ESPN, Fox Sports Prime Ticket, AM 570

Temple at USC (basketball), 8 p.m., Pac-12 Network, 790 KABC

BORN ON THIS DATE

1911: Golfer Ralph Guldahl (d. 1987)

1926: Baseball player Lew Burdette (d. 2007)

1941: Hockey player Jacques LaPerriere

1943: Tennis player Billie Jean King

1943: Hockey player Yvan Cournoyer

1950: Baseball player Greg Luzinski

1950: Baseball player Lyman Bostock (d. 1978)

1955: Basketball player James Edwards

1964: Basketball player Benoit Benjamin

1965: Football player Eric Allen

1967: Tennis player Boris Becker

DIED ON THIS DATE

1959: Tennis player Molla Mallory, 75

2000: Distance runner Emil Zátopek, 78

AND FINALLY

U.S. Open 50 for 50: Billie Jean King, 1971, 1972 and 1974 women’s singles champion. Watch it here.

That concludes the newsletter for today. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, please email me at [email protected]. If you want to subscribe, click here.



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