Slow Burn ...

Joey over at Schembechler Hall has some gut wrenching observations on what it feels like to be an alum/fan of an underachieving football program:

[S]ince the Wolverines departed San Antonio without any pride and with a healthy grasp on 7-5, it's been months and months of worrying, despairing, and making promises to no one in particular, like, "If Michigan doesn't beat Notre Dame AND the Rain Men of Columbus, I promise that I will punch the walls of Michigan Stadium until it falls to the ground and gets rebuilt with luxury boxes and in-stadium advertising."

This is the kind of focused, self-perpetuating madness born of a manic fear that an inevitable horror has already begun to unfold and any ameliorative recourse has already been precluded. Fans of this belief have seen a Michigan program that routinely fails at the most crucial junctures in recent years (against the Joke of a University, in road openers, in bowl games) while narrowly skating by at others and are not at all content with 7-5 but are also far less shocked than some others who dwell in different precincts of the Michigan universe. You know, the precincts that receive so much sunshine (both from up above and from the mouths of their neighbors while it's blown up everyone's collective ass) that the weather necessitates the frequent employment of maize-and-blue-colored glasses. People that live in these places think that 9-3 with a shared Big Ten title and a bowl loss is a season everyone else--save for those programs that theoretically cheat in every way, from using steroids to playing night games to being nice to the media (like USC)--envies.

I am not among this latter group. I am among the former, people who think that Michigan is slowly eroding--either absolutely or when set in relief of competitors not content with institutional inertia--thanks to the faulty leadership of Lloyd Carr. Now more than ever, I am convinced that I'm right: Michigan needs a new head coach as soon as possible and must find someone who is a sound football guy first, but is also capable of carrying out all of the secondary and ancillary duties of a football coach in today's media environment. This has been a horrible off-season for all Michigan fans, but for those of us hanging at a certain end of the spectrum, each day that nothing changes is excruciating, an emotional torture unlike nearly anything else. Every Notre Dame feature on ESPN; every recruit that doesn't mention Michigan; every magazine preview that cuts to the core and invokes 7-5 time and again; every day spent in limbo between the shame of 2005 and the potential for repentance in 2006 is a day spent stewing in frustration, boiling over with rage and resentment.

Never has it been more important to be a Michigan fan, and yet never has it been harder. I am so sick of this purgatory.

Purgatory. Yeap. This is the kind of stuff why I think Joey is the Billmon of CFB Blogosphere.

Going back to his comments - those are the exact same frustrations lot of us have been experiencing since this whole social experiment with Dorrell started over at Westwood. Anyone who follows college recruiting scene closely knows how Dorrell has been utterly lackluster in recruiting during his three years in Westwood in matching the intensity emanating from South Central and Strawberry Canyon up north. The much pimped "10 win season" last year sort of delayed the obvious ? the slow erosion of our football tradition. The standard for UCLA football has been slowly eroding. Back in the day even with a mediocre coach like Donahue at the helm, before the season started we would expect UCLA gunning for the Rose Bowl year in and year out by taking on USC head on. Now after four years of Dorrell we are at a point, when a trip to the Holiday Bowl would be viewed as a spectacular accomplishment, while just playing a close game with USC is celebrated as a true moral victory. How low we have fallen under Dorrell? It?s now CAL not UCLA, which occupies the national spotlight as one of the legit challengers of USC from the Pac-10.

I wonder if it doesn't feel like Chinese water torcher for UCLA alums who went to school during the glory days of 8 game winning streak against USC, experienced the Rose Bowl wins of early 80s, when they see analysts from ESPN and other traditional media outlets falling over each other to suck the popsicles of that corrupt and morally bankrupt program from cross-town. I wonder if it doesn't eat away at every UCLA alum/student who are college football recruiting junkies, when yet another 5 star recruit from California picks USC over UCLA. Hey ... it must be a fun feeling to live in El Laaaaay and see Ketsup & Mustard football uniforms draped over all kinds of bill boards, the LA Times oggling over Pom Pom every day, and then havr to deal with retarded Trojan cowards rubbing that score of 66-19 right in your face and then pouring salt on it. Must be a real nice feeling to get excited over a win over North Western forgetting how those cheating thugs have blown us out by a score of 276-128 during last seven dark, painful years of slow burning down of UCLA football. Hey stop being hard on Karl Dorrell! He has us on the right track! We are competing against Oregon's urine color uniforms for the 3rd spot in the Pac-10. Yeah baby.

Going back to Joey's thoughts excerpted above, one can argue fans like Joey are being hard on Lloyd Carr (who at least brought them a NC few years ago). But can we blame them? They are proud alums. of one of the finest academic/athletic institutions in America. Kids who get into and graduate from Michigan at Ann Arbor are some of America's best and brightest. I?d bet all of them kicked ass and took names in their high schools, did the same thing in college class rooms, and now are doing more than well for themselves in their respective professional ranks.

Same concept is applicable at UCLA. The difference here is Joey and Michigan faithful have been feeling shameful during last three years, while over at UCLA we have been experiencing a prolonged slow burning shameful and disgraceful underachieving performances on the field for last seven years. All of us worked our asses off to get into UCLA. 90-95 percent of UCLA students were something like in the top-2 percent of their high school classes. They all have incredibly high standards for themselves as they will go on to get a great education, end up going to elite graduate schools and then do well for themselves as lawyers, doctors, engineers or whatever they end up doing in their professional lives.

Isn't it normal for us to impose the same standard/expectation of excellence on our football program, which is one of the two marquee programs of an athletic program, arguably the greatest in the nation? After all we have one of the best basketball coaches in America, and pretty much every single one of our coaches in other sports are kicking ass and winning championships after championships in their respective sports.

So why should we give Dorrell an easy pass and be OK with losing to USC? Why should UCLA fans just be OK with a mediocre coach who has not proven himself at any level as head coach not winning the Pac-10 after the end of his fourth season in Westwood? He has to be held accountable for his underachievement so far as a football coach. If he doesn't get his done this season (win 9 games and beat SC) it will just continue to the slow erosion we have been experiencing with UCLA football since December 5, 1998. If he doesn't get it done this season perhaps he ought to go back to wherever he came and get back to holding clipboards looking like a emotionless, wimpy statute at some team's sideline. Dan Guerrero will have to put a stop to the slow erosion a proud football program has been experiencing under the current uninspiring and listless head coach. Enough is enough. The slow burn has got to stop at the end of this year. If Dorrell doesn't meet the reasonable expectations he needs to go ... go away.

GO BRUINS.
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