John McCann doesn't find such suggestions amusing. Not that he lacks a sense of humor. He simply cares about Ryan's feelings. When he found himself fourth on the depth chart at the beginning of last season, Ryan thought about quitting. John knew that feeling. After getting out of the Marines in 1959, he had played tight end and defensive end for two years at Arizona, where the coach screamed at him one too many times. "I told him to take the football and put it you-know-where," John says.
While he found that moment cathartic, John regrets quitting football. He urged Ryan to "keep plugging"—advice John followed in pursuing his acting career. He has carved a niche for himself in TV shows (he played Janine Turner's father in Northern Exposure) and commercials, though he's not working now because of the Screen Actors Guild strike that entered its 19th week on Monday. His role as a pilot in an American Airlines spot prompted one of Ryan's friends to say, "I didn't know your dad was a pilot!" John's appearance in the Viagra ad (he is dancing with a woman in a penthouse) caused a furor among his fifty-something friends. "They ask me, 'Does it work?' " he says, "and I say, 'Does it work! "
It would have eased John's mind to know that just before the Bruins took the field last Saturday, Toledo gave Ryan a boost by telling him it was "his game to win" and assuring him that there would be no quick hook. McCann went out and completed six of 19 passes in the first half, at the end of which UCLA trailed 13-3. Bruins receivers contributed to the miserable showing by dropping a half-dozen well-thrown balls.
"Let's just play catch," suggested Mitchell to McCann at halftime. "Just you and me. You throw it up there; I'll take care of the rest."
True to his word, Mitchell made seven of his 10 receptions in the second half, and a funny thing happened after he and me other UCLA receivers stopped dropping balls. with the Wolverines' defense suddenly pass-conscious, running lanes appeared. After having been bottled up in the first half (eight carries for 17 yards), tailback DeShaun Foster finished with 95 yards rushing.
Navarre and the Wolverines' kicking game regressed as the game progressed. Navarre's crisp, 29-yard scoring pass to sensational wideout David Terrell in the second quarter turned out to be the high point of an afternoon in which he completed eight of 28 passes and was intercepted at the UCLA 10 on Michigan's final possession. Two other fourth-quarter drives by the Wolverines ended in missed field goal attempts (46 and 24 yards) by Hayden Epstein. McCann, on the other hand, gained confidence as the game went on, finishing 21 of 40 for 236 yards, no interceptions and two touchdowns.
Paus is expected to return by October. Should McCann keep improving, the Bruins may find themselves with a midseason quarterback controversy. As one proud UCLA parent might say, Let the dance begin.
[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]