LOS ANGELES — By the time the UCLA football team had finished its pre-practice walk-throughs Wednesday night, the sun was already setting over Westwood. Rock music blared over the speakers as players ran through warm-up lines, slapping hands and sharing flying chest bumps. The sky above Wasserman Football Center turned a mix of pale pink and dreamy purple.
Summer hasn’t quite ended, but the Bruins are already diving into fall camp.
The NCAA’s elimination of two-a-days practices forced teams to tack an extra week on at the beginning of training camp this season. The four months since the NCAA passed the rule were chaotic. Coaches tried to remake the camp schedule. Players are still in summer school classes taking finals this week. UCLA’s practice dates were not officially announced until Monday, two days before the team took the field.
The final stages of construction for the Wasserman Football Center complicated matters even more for UCLA as the Bruins had already committed to spending training camp in their new $75 million fortress. The football-specific facility was initially scheduled to open at the end of summer 2017 and barely made the cut. UCLA alumnus and booster Casey Wasserman cut the ribbon during the building’s grand opening ceremony Tuesday night. Twenty-four hours later, the team hit the new field, which is complete with Powderkeg Blue end zones.
Coaches still haven’t moved into their new digs and won’t for at least a few more weeks until the dust settles on training camp. They will be the last ones to transition into UCLA football’s new home. In the meantime, the team will operate out of three buildings on campus: Wasserman, Acosta Training Center, the team’s old headquarters, and JD Morgan Center, where the coaches’ offices are located.
Splitting the team between three buildings in the short-term is a challenge, Coach Jim Mora said, but is “worth it for the end result.”
The best result for many players is not having to travel to San Bernardino for training camp. This is the first time in Mora’s six-year tenure that the Bruins have not held at least some of their fall practices at Cal State San Bernardino.
“I wanted to shake Coach Mora’s hand and take him out on a date for doing that because, man, San Bernardino is not something you enjoy,” linebacker Kenny Young said at last week’s Pac-12 Media Days.
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