Here is this week’s gem from Bruin Blue. To add to what BB eloquently articulates below, we will simply not accept DeWayne Walker (aka the Backstabber (A)) as the next head coach of UCLA. I realize this is not making lot of people happy. But then again lot of people were not happy with us two + years ago, when we started this site and started speaking up about the Thinker of Westwood. I have lost count of how many hate mails and threats of shutting this site we have gotten from Dorrell cultists since we started BN. We didn’t stop then and will not stop now. GO BRUINS. -N
Sometimes I am absolutely bemused by how hard it is for UCLA to actually do the things necessary to obtain the kind of football coach we need for this program to reach its true potential. I don't know why I am bemused; because it's gone on for decades; but it still amazes me. It's as if we are a ship which is forever condemned to navigate through rocky shoals. Avoid one danger, and there is another just ahead. It's not like this for most major programs, as we've discussed before. They usually hire intelligently; and when they don't, they realize it rather quickly and make all efforts to get it right the next time. But we at UCLA usually hire haphazardly, then do everything possible to hold on to our flawed coach; and if somehow we finally get rid of him, we often just compound our problem by hiring one of his assistants whom we have overrated. And if we somehow avoid those figurative rocks, there is still a great risk that we will hire someone else who is overrated and ultimately ineffective.
It's really funny, since I ultimately have no control over this, to consider the mental efforts I put into trying to having us avoid those shoals. For years, I've been rooting against Mike Leach, because I don't think he will get us where we want to go. So I keep hoping that his records will be weak enough not to entice the gullible people in the administration to hire him. I've rooted against Rocky Long for years; same reason. In basketball, with Lavin hire, I rooted against Holland and Romar, Gottfried and Douglas. It's all because I ultimately have no faith whatsoever in this administration making the right moves unless all the bad options are unfeasible. So here I am doing it again this season, and believe me, it's a Herculean effort.
Of course, the first thing we need is for Karl Dorrell to be so exposed (not to us; that happened years ago; but to the very slow administration) as incompetent. That means he has to lose lots of games. We don't actually root for UCLA to lose, but we aren't very upset when we do, if it brings us appreciably closer to our goal. Then we need to be sure that somehow DeWayne Walker isn't made to look good in some way, because that would be our typical fate--to exert all this effort to get rid of one bad coach, only to hire someone who at this stage has no legitimate qualifications for this job. Then, if we somehow surmount those difficult hurdles, we still run the risk that the administration will hire Riley or Leach or someone else we don't want. Lucky for us that Greg Robinson was previously hired by Syracuse, because otherwise he would be our next choice.
So that's just the background against which last Saturday's game unfolded. We faced Cal, potentially a very good team, but with a major handicap--the absolute immobility of its starting quarterback. Interestingly, I've as yet seen no one substantially comment on that factor. Watching Nate Longshore, you could see that he was so limited by his ankle, that he could not only avoid any rush, but he could scarcely put his body into any of his throws; throwing mostly with his arm strength. He was accurate enough on shorter throws; but the long pass, a staple of Cal's offense, was almost never thrown, either because Longshore couldn't throw it that far now, or because his immobility made it likely that he could not avoid the rush long enough for a deep receiver to run his pattern, and therefore Tedford didn't call such plays. At any rate, it appeared that the Cal offense was substantially limited in this game. So we held them to three touchdowns, one missed field goal, and also benefited from a Cal fumble on around our fifteen-yard line. But this is being hailed as a great defensive effort; and as such, will boost Walker's stock. The ultimate win, of course, will help Dorrell. And the fact that this was Cal--not Ohio State or Florida--and that we needed an extremely fortunate interception to beat the mighty Bears, seems to have gotten lost in the exhilaration in some quarters. By the way; did anyone notice that on the Cal kickoff return just before our big interception, the returner was hammered about two yards out of bounds, causing the Cal coaches to throw up their arms in disbelief when no late hit was called? If that penalty is called, the ball is on our sixteen; and all Cal has to do is run the ball into the line three times; and since we had foolishly wasted two timeouts already, they could have kicked the winning field goal on the very last play. And wouldn't that have accentuated our infamous call on 4th-and-one from the Cal 38? But it didn't happen that way, and now we are tied for the lead in the conference, at least for now.
The ironic thing would be if we ended up something like 9-3, which is less than most Bruin fans were hoping for at the beginning of the season. Because of the terrible early losses, the bar again got lowered so much that 9-3 would look like nirvana to many. That might get us the Holiday Bowl, which would be high society to UCLA, given how far this program has fallen. It's obviously impossible to tell what will happen next, which of course is indicative of our problems. Why is it that every season seems like a surreal experience, with twists and turns and always the unexpected? It might be fine for a horror movie, but not a football program. Of course, that is exactly what happens when you have a bad coach--your teams lose when you think they will win, and sometimes win when a loss is likely. The talent is enough to win any game, but the coaching is not. Good coaches sometimes get upset, of course; but they don't lose by 38 points to Utah and 14 to an otherwise winless Notre Dame. But of course, I don't have to emphasize Dorrell's failings to anyone but a few pollyannish fans and the UCLA administration. Oh, yes; and the ever-helpful L.A. media, which is always invested in UCLA coaches keeping their jobs. You'd think that with dwindling circulations, the papers might be better off with a really strong UCLA program to compete with USC in interest, but apparently not. The way they describe it, those gutty little Bruins surprised everyone again by beating the powerful Cal Bears.. They don't remember when we would do that every single season; but of course that was before the balance of power changed for some apparently unfathomable reason.
Despite all this, at this point I'm actually, I'm more worried about Walker than Dorrell. I think that Dorrell is likely to be gone even at 8-4. And if he somehow skates by this year, he'll never make it past next year's impending disaster. But Walker seems to act as if someone has promised him this job; and that's cause for serious concern. What has Walker accomplished to earn even consideration, much less appointment, for this job? Less than two years as a defensive coordinator anywhere? Does it actually look like UCLA has a great defense this year? He's gone against Utah with its backup QB, Washington and Notre Dame with freshmen, Cal with a QB who could barely walk. You can say that he seems able to stop the run; but again, Longshore's immobility made the Cal offense much more predictable, and UCLA could key much more on the run. Such nuances are lost on too many Bruin fans, though. But what the fans think is not the key; it's what the administration thinks. And the thought that they are considering giving DeWayne Walker a permanent head coaching job here would be utterly incredible--if it were not UCLA we are talking about. Can you think of any other program which realizes that the head coach it blissfully hired five years ago is incompetent; and then is ready to hand over the job to his defensive coordinator of two years? Anyone who aspires to be head coach of UCLA, should simply hang around the Morgan Center for a year or two; hope that someone notices you and likes your style or the way you dress--next time they're looking for a coach, you've apparently got a good chance. Okay, that's going a bit too far--but only a bit. Even if Walker was a really good defensive coordinator--and I think the jury is certainly still out on that--why would that mean that he should be hired as head coach? Walker shouldn't even be in the running; and yet I am starting to fear that somehow this may already be a fait accompli. Walker seems to be acting like it, isn't he?
I will tell you what: If UCLA fires Dorrell only to hire Walker, I'm quitting. I'm not going through this any more. I'm not planning on following along for another five years, seeing Walker win some, lose some; watching as people try to extrapolate from the various game results. I have no doubt that he would do a better job than Dorrell; but then so would your great-aunt. He might be able to coax eight wins a year out of this program, if the recruiting is sufficient, but so would almost anyone. Dorrell can almost do it himself. If we're thinking of becoming a significant player in the BCS (and wouldn't that be fun, for once?) then we cannot hire Walker. If Walker is such a wonderful coaching prospect, why is it that no college or NFL coach besides Dorrell ever offered him a defensive coordinator position? There are all these stories about Stanford offering him a job last year; and all I can say is that Stanford had become desperate, and that I'm not sure the story was true. Even if true, do you think that Walker would be doing as good a job as Harbaugh is? Is anyone looking forward to Walker matching wits with Harbaugh, Carroll, Bellotti, Erickson, et al?
I'm writing about this now, because there's no point in waiting until it has already happened. When Dorrell was being considered for this job, I really couldn't believe that UCLA would be that absurdly foolish, so I didn't say that much. After he was hired, I wrote a piece expressing my utter outrage at this embarrassment of a hire. And of course all sorts of people from the Pollyanna wing of Bruindom were quick to tell me to get off the bandwagon, then, if I didn't realize what a great hire Dorrell was, and how many wonderful things he would do for the program. Five years later, we're all still waiting, of course. If Dan Guerrero actually thinks that Walker is the answer to UCLA's football problems, then there's no hope for us, anyway; so why go through it any more? After Walker goes, we'll probably hire Tom Cable or Mo Drew.
So let's follow this saga through the rest of the season, realizing how difficult it's going to be to steer our Bruin ship to the happy port of a bright new football coach. First, we have to somehow get rid of Dorrell. Then we have to somehow avoid the hiring of Walker. If we manage those two, we then get to go through another (gulp) coaching search. Frankly, the odds are against this voyage, but we will keep a weather eye to starboard and keep looking for land.