Another epic post from Bruin Blue who has given us standing permission to post his remarks on Bruins Nation. - N
We've got to do something, obviously. We're not the administration, so we don't have the power to make the decisions we might want; but we are not their lapdogs, either. We are the alumni, the students, the fans; and along with the players, it's our program, not theirs. They just run it--for us. If we don't like the way they're running it, we can't make them change it, but we can show our displeasure and dissatisfaction in many ways. Their salaries are ultimately paid out of our pockets, and they ultimately answer to their public, whether they want to acknowledge it or not.
Hopefully, it's obvious to just about everyone now that we don't have a good football coach. And that's saying it kindly. When you don't have a good coach, you can't fix things by making cosmetic changes such as replacing coordinators every year, or telling him to run a different offense, or hiring overseers or intermediaries. Bad coaches always ultimately fail; although if you really try, you can prop them up for a few years, while the foundation gets worse. A good adminstrator in any field, once realizing that he has the wrong person in place, will make the necessary change as quickly as possible; because things will never truly get better until they have the right person.
Now, is Dan Guerrero that kind of good administrator? I honestly don't know. He's a good fund-raiser, apparently. He hired an excellent basketball coach. But he hired Dorrell after one of the worst coaching searches I have ever seen; and he has done everything he can so far to support and compliment him. Guerrero is still very close with Bob Field, who is the personification of the "nice man, incompetent coach and coach selector" so typifying of UCLA. Field is of course a Donahue man; and the imprints of Donahue and Donahue's acolyte ex-players such as Stevens, Cook and Norrie, are all over the Dorrell hire. We have seen it in politics on both sides of the aisle, where a cabal of yes-sayers and like-thinking individuals can lead you right into the morass and keep you there for years. Does Guerrero have the intelligence and force of will to avoid such a trap?
It is generally agreed that whoever coaches here next year will have almost a certainty of nine wins, with the talent and the schedule. If Guerrero chooses to keep Dorrell, then he is buying him another three years, probably. Do you want to go through those three years and maybe more? Assuredly, if he's allowed to come back after this year, you're going to have to. Therefore, it is incumbent on us to do whatever we can do avoid this happening. Guerrero is insulated; he may hear some angry fans, but I do not know if he really understands the depth of discontent. He needs to be shown it by every reasonable means, including letters, e-mails; and much more importantly, by the threat of a loss of athletic revenue. Because if the athletic department loses revenue (and football is by far the biggest moneymaker), this threatens all of UCLA's coveted minor sports, the ones which allow us to win the national trophy almost every year, and make the AD look very good. If the athletic revenue suffers, the AD is blamed, and then it becomes personal; then the cushy salary and all the perquisites threaten to disappear for him. But without that threat, it's just a lot of disgruntled people making him a little uncomfortable, but not too much. And since Dorrell was his hire, it may well be easier for him to try to validate it, any way he can (nine wins next year will help), rather than admit he made a big mistake, and go through the kind of coaching search which he should have done in the first place, as will undoubtedly be pointed out by more than a few commentators and alumni. So our work is cut out for us.
I don't expect loyal UCLA fans to give back their season tickets, although it would obviously help this cause. But would it be all so awful if those who desperately want a change decided to not show up for the Oregon State game? Go to the USC game, if you will; but give up one week at the Rose Bowl, just to make a statement. Let's see what the newspapers do with the fact of 35,000 fans in attendance. This goes for students, too; of course. Some will say that this is "not supporting your team," but if supporting no matter what, means enabling the administration to do nothing, then what are you actually helping to support?
Threatening to withhold financial donations is also very effective; but of course one has to mean it. If no one wants to do that, then why should we expect Guerrero to make a change? It's much more politically and personally favorable to him to attempt to ride this out, hoping that Dorrell will win enough games, or somehow learn enough, to lessen the criticism. But if he thinks that the money is going to start disappearing, then this becomes an immediate major issue. Most universities are very concerned about having a very successful football team; but I don't think UCLA is, except in an abstract way. UCLA is much more concerned with public image and financial support; and unless they can be convinced that these are all related, they have no impetus to do anything. That's why we of all schools have ended up with such a motley series of coaches in the major sports--Farmer, Hazzard, even Harrick, Lavin, Donahue, Toledo, now Dorrell. None of these except Harrick had any successful head coaching experience, and most didn't have any at all. But as long as the school made enough money and the coach was seen as a decent role model, it was enough. We have to let the administration know that it is not enough, but to do that, there has to be something more than the heartfelt letters and even the booing; there has to be some threat to the money supply.
Finally, it is imperative that we have a good idea of who we want as our next coach. I don't expect everyone else to accept my recommendations, although I think that I have a good track record in identifying good coaching prospects. My personal choices would be as follows: 1) Butch Davis, the dream candidate; 2) Tom O'Brien, perhaps the best experienced coach within our range; 3) Bobby Petrino, maybe an even better coach, but less within our range; 4) (others) Steve Kragthorpe of Tulsa, Ralph Friedgen of Maryland, Gary Patterson of TCU. There are other possibilities, but we had better settle on a few, because if we go through all of this, and end up with only a modest improvement, we are pretty much cooked. I for one do not have the energy or will to go through another regime with a coach whom I don't really believe in. And the main thing here is that we need someone who has a reasonable chance of standing up to Pete Carroll on the field. Do we want to take our yearly licking by USC; have all those co-workers and acquaintances who are USC fans continually mock us for the next decade? Say what you want about Carroll, but he is an excellent coach who has a dynasty across town, and we need someone who can at least threaten it. That's where the letters and e-mails can help, as they can help Guerrero (who may need it) identify some likely prospects; and avoid the easy out of "What's the point; we can't get anyone really good, anyway; unless we can identify a really good replacement, let's just stick with what we have." We need well-thought-out names, which promise a reward for the money, effort and temporary loss of face by the AD--the establishing of a program which draws 70,000 fans a game, plays in major Bowl games, and enhances the prestige of the university.
- Bruin Blue