University of California, Los Angeles

Senior running back Fozzy Whittaker celebrates after scoring a touchdown in the Longhorns 49-20 win over the Bruins at the Rose Bowl on Saturday.

Photo Credit: Lawrence Peart | Daily Texan Staff

PASADENA, Calif. — The Longhorns needed another trip to the Rose Bowl to find their swagger.

And they got it back on the same field that’s produced some of the greatest moments in Texas football lore. More importantly though, they got it back against a University of California, Los Angeles team that robbed Texas of its swagger a year ago in Austin.

The Longhorns dominated the Bruins both physically and on the scoreboard. Texas bulled its way to a season-high 284 yards rushing and pushed UCLA around from the get-go en route to a 49-20 blowout.

Kenny Vaccaro set the tone early with a bone-jarring hit, the first of many by the Longhorns.

“They were calling us weak last year,” Vaccaro said. “The main thing for us was to be physical.”

The Longhorns sent the Bruins a message: this year’s team won’t be pushed around again, this year’s squad will fight.

“It’s a statement, we’re from Texas and we want to be Texas tough.” Vaccaro said. “Last year they kept saying stuff about California football players. We want to show the world that Texas has the best football players.”

On Saturday, Texas had the best players. And UCLA knows it.

Some weren’t sure the Longhorns would make it through their non-conference schedule unblemished. But they did.
They did it with toughness and a mean streak that simply wasn’t there a season ago.

Marquise Goodwin laid out Bruins cornerback Andrew Abbott with a head-rattling block in the second quarter. Yes, Marquise Goodwin the track star. Last year it was the Bruins who knocked out the Longhorns. This time, Texas dished out the punishment, even if Goodwin’s block was ruled a personal foul.

“It signified our game — physical,” Vaccaro said.

But with a 3-0 record comes a new set of challenges, and it doesn’t guarantee any continued success.

“We’ll have to handle some people bragging on us for the first time,” head coach Mack Brown said. “We’ve got to keep working because we’re not near as good as we can be.”

Still, the Longhorns haven’t played a top-flight opponent. I’m not on the bandwagon just yet.

UCLA was torched by Houston in its season opener and barely escaped San Jose State at home.

Brigham Young’s win over Mississippi lost its luster when the Rebels fell handily to Vanderbilt this week while the Cougars were busy losing 54-10 to Utah.

And Rice is, well, Rice.

Come talk to me after the Longhorns go on the road and face an undefeated Iowa State team that has shown just as much fight as Texas this year.

As Brown pointed out, this is far from a finished product.

Texas had UCLA bruised and bloodied in the first half, but couldn’t score the knockout punch.

“We had them on the ropes a couple times and we didn’t finish them,” defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said. “And that was disappointing.”

Yes, the Longhorns answered questions about their toughness and ability to win on the road, but they still have strides to take.

The encouraging thing is this team has responded to a new challenge with each week.

“We’re taking the right steps and we’re taking them fast,” said sophomore cornerback Adrian Phillips, who had an interception and forced a fumble against UCLA.

But if Texas continues to build on its success from game to game, the sky is the limit for this young group.

“As long as everybody plays hard we’ll pull out wins like this all year,” Vaccaro said.

The Longhorns rediscovered their swagger amongst the palm trees and mountain ranges that enclose the Rose Bowl.

Strong family and ethnic identification can motivate students from Latino and Asian immigrant backgrounds to try to succeed academically despite many challenges, said Andrew Fuligni, a University of California, Los Angeles researcher, in a speech Monday. The Department of Human Development and Family Sciences sponsored the event because the Latino and Asian populations are growing in the U.S., said Su Yeong Kim, UT assistant professor in the department. The Latino population increased from 12.5 to 15.1 percent of the total U.S. population between 2000 and 2009, according to the American Community Survey. The Asian population increased from 3.6 to 4.4 percent in the same period. She said this trend is particularly relevant in Texas. “Texas is one of the top six destinations for new immigrants, so we’re definitely impacted by the issues he talked about,” she said. Fuligni said children from immigrant backgrounds face challenges including economic distress, substandard schools, health care, cultural differences and negative stereotypes. He said these challenges could harm these children psychologically and reduce their resources. “If you are feeling as if you are being excluded or devalued, that’s perhaps one of the most threatening consequential social stressors that has significant implications for physical health, mental health and one’s ability to engage productively in institutions,” he said. Fuligni said students from Chinese and Mexican backgrounds had a stronger identification with their ethnicity than their European-American counterparts across three generations. He said immigrants from Asian and Latin American backgrounds had stronger feelings of obligation to assist their families as adults and spent more time helping their families than their European-American counterparts, even when economic differences were controlled for. He said a high sense of family obligation was correlated with a stronger belief in the usefulness of education. However, strong family identification did not erase disparities in achievement and could create academic problems. He showed a diary entry from a 14-year-old Mexican-American student who had to watch her younger siblings and was forced to do her homework the morning before class. “She still is doing her homework,” Fuligni said. “She’s still trying to make it work, but the question is, can she do that, how long can she keep doing that?” Cyndy Karras, a UT graduate student in human development and family sciences, said she attended the talk because she knew the department was considering hiring Fuligni. She said his research reflected her experiences as a Mexican-American. “I can understand what it’s like to have to juggle both being Mexican and American and how to input those two identities together,” she said. “I think it’s important to understand how youth from these [immigrant] backgrounds can excel academically and personally in face of challenges.”

On Monday, President William Powers Jr. used his Tower Talk blog to praise the UT faculty for its role in making the undergraduate academic reputation of UT seventh among public universities and 27th among all universities, despite the fact that UT is ranked 96th in faculty resources and 82nd in overall financial resources.

Powers also rightly points out that our main public competitors in the race for academic excellence still outstrip us in both crucial areas, despite their recent funding woes. For example University of California, Berkeley is 33rd and 43rd, respectively, University of California, Los Angeles 41st and 23rd and University of North Carolina 47th and 30th.

While his praise of faculty is nice to hear, we have heard it before, many times, from past presidents.

Likewise, I’ve heard the promise that we’ll get the message out to the citizens of Texas — especially legislators, regents and the governor — every year since I came to the University in 1986.

But the president knows we are in pretty much the same position, if not a worse one, regarding educational quality resources as we have been for the past five, 10, 15 and 20 years.

Powers publicly laid out that UT Austin has received annual increases in state appropriations on the average of 2 percent for the past two decades, well below cost-of-living increases.

What are our prospects? I am no Chicken Little. The sky is not falling. But we are mired in a situation where we are fooling ourselves if we think we can catch up to UC Berkeley, UCLA, Michigan and UNC given current funding levels and institutional priorities.

Other schools have raised tuition significantly and increased the numbers of out-of-state students to offset the cuts in state appropriations. UNC raised tuition a whopping 22 percent this year, Berkeley 5.85 percent.

UT’s tuition increase was capped at 3.95 percent, and the number of out-of-state students was also strictly limited. It is unlikely that our phenomenally successful UT research professors can force federal, foundation and corporate funding sources to magically increase their allocations — they too have been hammered by the recession. Private donors also have shrinking wallets. The sky is not falling, but things are as bad as they look.
One thing we can control is institutional priorities. We have been doing foolish things and that is demoralizing.

If the general faculty, and the staff who support the faculty, are what makes our University great, then that is where we should be putting our limited resources, not into unneeded buildings, ever-increasing administrative costs, distracting and ineffective regents’ teaching prizes and entertaining a demographically privileged segment of our population at sports spectacles.

Instead we have been, and still are, cutting academic budgets to fund a new liberal arts building, cover faculty hires and even to generate meager merit pools. The growth in administrative positions, offices and salaries appears staggering and way out of line with our current plight. We at least need a systematic, independent study of this, since it is part of a national phenomenon.

Finally, the problem in increasing funding may be one of mindset.

As long as 100,000 fans pour into the palatial Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on Saturdays and regents and administrators spend time in deluxe sky-boxes, there will be no serious gut feeling communicated to the general public or the regents themselves that UT is in real need.

If I dined in a club seating lounge at the stadium, went to a reception at the Etter-Harbin Alumni Center, stayed the night at the pharaonic AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center and saw new buildings rising faster than souffles, I would think that UT had money to burn.

I would certainly not think of directing significant new resources or redirecting existing resources where they should be going: to the human beings, faculty and staff, who make this institution what it is, for the hard-working students who deserve even better than what they are getting.