A few hours before UCLA lost to No. 19 BYU 17-16 in the Las Vegas Bowl, Walker, the Bruins' respected interim coach, learned he would get a coveted interview in front of the school's chancellor. But what the Bruins did on the field might speak louder than anything Walker will be able to tell Gene Block when they meet face-to-face in the coming days.
UCLA's heartache came from saying goodbye to a group of seniors who held the Bruins together during a tumultuous season, and the heartbreak was from watching Kai Forbath's potential winning 28-yard field goal on the game's final play get blocked in front of 40,712 at Sam Boyd Stadium.
Add in the uncertainty of whether Walker will be on staff next season, and understanding the night's emotions became easy.
"That was a great football game," Walker said. "No coach was worried about jobs, and players, they didn't worry about the new head coach and all that. All we wanted to do was work and play a respectable game. We wanted to win the game, and we fell a little bit short, but I'm proud of these guys."
Chris Foster from the LA Times did not waste any time using the latest stench of moral victory to put Dan Guerrero on the spot and to get favorable quotes from the players:
"I thought the team played very hard," Guerrero said. "Obviously to have chance to win it at the end, that's pretty much where you want to have your team. It's a reflection of the coaching staff and the seniors and team rallying together."
Guerrero, standing in the postseason news conference room, received a message from senior tailback Chris Markey.
"Hire Coach Walker," Markey said to the media.
The lobbying continued in the locker room.
"I pray they give him the opportunity to be the head coach," defensive end Bruce Davis said. "Everybody wants to play for him. He demands excellence, and he gets the maximum effort out of his players."
The Bruins can cite the game film from Saturday.
But Robert Kuwada from the OC Register is not having any of it. He like his colleagues stayed on the Walker boosting narrative on how players want Walker:
This is so beyond ridiculous at this point. As bluegold pointed out this am, if you read the myriad of posts from other sites and these reports from the fawning traditional media, it sounds like UCLA just won the BCS title game.
Just for a little dose of reality here is once again the talent differential between the two teams, bruinhoo detailed in a diary few weeks ago
UCLA (Karl Dorrell)And, yet, if you were to read a number of comments today it feels as if the Bruins just won the Rose Bowl. I don't care if the Cougars were 5-6 points favorite in the game, a UCLA football program should never be glorifying pathetic moral victories against teams from MWC. Sure, we were playing without Olson and Bell. But Olson (or any other QB) hasn't been all that effective under Dorvell the whole season, and the Markey/Ramirez/Moline combination gives more than enough options for any head coach in the running game.
2007. #36, 11 recruits, (1, 6, 3)
2006. #20, 22 recruits, (0, 6, 14)
2005. #24, 21 recruits, (1, 4, 10)
2004. #24, 26 recruits, (0, 4, 12)
2003. #35, 19 recruits, (0, 4, 4)
BYU (Bronco Mendenhall)
2007. #42, 27 recruits, (0, 4, 11)
2006. #46, 25 recruits, (0, 2, 4)
2005. #53, 18 recruits, (0, 2, 3)
2004. #55, 28 recruits, (0, 1, 6)
2003. #59, 13 recruits, (1, 1, 3)
As for the performance on defense, you'd expect a UCLA football program to dominate less talented and physical teams from BYU. It was embarrassing to see how the BYU receivers were working our DBs through the game. And if not for a bonehead mistake by Mendenhall's OC at the end of the first half, the game wouldn't have been that close.
Speaking of the end of the first half, I will not take back my comment wrt to the extra point. I said last night it was one of many mistakes from coaching standpoint, and I will stick to that. Coaching is not just about playing the percentages or going by certain charts.
Coaching is also about going with the feel of the game and also sending messages to the rest of your team about the way you intend to lead the team. We have seen this from all the great coaches over the years who have shown no fear of taking risks. The fact of the matter was, once again, despite all the hype about how Walker was trying to lace the offense with some of his aggressive personality, it looked impotent and undisciplined through most of the game except for the last desperate mins in the fourth quarter.
Yes, I get that a coach generally doesn't go for the 2 until the second half or the fourth quarter. However, a coach also should take into account the feel of the game. If you're in an offensive game, you may want to kick for 1 until the 4th when you absolutely have to go for 2. Don't give up points too easily. However, if you're in a low scoring game, you may not get a 2nd chance at another touchdown, so perhaps going for 2 earlier than the 4th quarter is okay. And, in our case, not only we were in a low scoring game, our offensive performance was also nonexistent to impotent, as we got our only TD based on a bonehead blunder from the BYU coaching staff. We had an opportunity to go for the 2 against a stunned and dazed BYU defense, yet we took the Dorrellian/Donahue route and played it safe. That was one opportunity for Walker to show how he is truly different and how he has the killer instinct lacked by all UCLA coaches expect for Toledo in the last two decades, yet he took the easy route. That is all I am saying. In my frustration following another Dorrellian loss I called the move Doofus like, and I am not going to retract it.
As for the game, we feel for a kid like Kai Forbath who kept us in the game, only to have it blown up in his face in that very last second. We are extremely excited about the potential of Price anchoring the DL with Harwell under a new head coach next season. And we wish all the seniors good luck after having to play under incompetent and inept leadership for the last 4-5 years.
Anyway, going back to our coaching search, of course, that one game alone should not be the deciding factor re DeWayne Walker. He is not ready to be our HC based on his overall body of (incomplete) work with just 2 years of experience as a major D-1 DC. Period. And for anyone to argue otherwise shows that person has learned nothing from the last few years of futility in UCLA football.
Yet, we have beat reporters and a certain segment of fans in all out campaign mode for another unproven assistant coach. And we are getting disturbing accounts like this from the LAT (linked above):
However, once again we will reiterate what we have said all along: Walker remains an unacceptable option for the head coaching position of UCLA football. The glow of moral victory may be bright in other places. But that doesn't count for much here.
We still need a clear break from last five years of Karl Dorrell.