Something Big?

Ted Miller from the Seattle Press Intelligence becomes first Washington based writer to offer up a take, which doesn't follow along the conventional narrative:

Lots of folks are going to blast UCLA for hiring Rick Neuheisel.

I want you guys to cut out their columns. I want you to record their comments.

And mine.

Then we'll see who ends up being right.

Neuheisel will restore UCLA to a Pac-10 power. Cut that out.

Neuheisel won't screw this up. Cut that out.

He will, however, after winning a Rose Bowl at some point... gloat. Not as much as "Scoreboard Baby!" but some.

Good.
Read rest of his post here (HT to Washington Husky Sports). Apparently Coach Neuheisel's arrival in Westwood is bother some folks so much that they are throwing out comparison to President Bill Clinton! OMG! The Horror!!! If comparison to a smart, brilliant and competent (okay some of my friends will say cunning) two-term President like Bill Clinton, who now enjoys approval ratings in the 60s, and who led our country through 8 years of peace and prosperity (during which UCLA was 7-1 against Southern Cal in football with two Pac-10 championships, a phantom fumble away from the BCS championship game and BTW won banner number 11) is the worst insult that can be hurled at Coach Neuheisel, I will gladly take it.

But the juvenile and hysterical (predictable) attacks on Coach Neuheisel aside, there are other college football observers such as Neuheisel, who are recognizing the impact of this hire at UCLA.

For example, Matt Zemek at Bootleg.com (the scout.com site which covers Stanford Cardinals) observes how UCLA and Neuheisel might be up to something big.

Matt uses tomorrow's Rose Bowl involving Illinois as the backdrop to offer his reflections on this hire (emphasis added throughout):
"The Illinois Triangle" remains intact when one considers the condition of the UCLA and USC programs at the times of their encounters with Illinois in these far-apart Rose Bowls. The Bruins, when at their best, didn't quite win six straight Pac-10 titles the way USC has recently done under Carroll (five, if you want to be really picky about things--USC was technically second to Washington State in 2002), but the fact remains that in the first half of the 1980s, UCLA was the money program in the Pac. The Bruins won three Granddaddies in four years, and usually in emphatic fashion. Donahue--the man who once ruled L.A. football and coached Neuheisel during those halcyon days--always had the right answers for Big Ten opponents who came to Pasadena.

It's true that Michigan and Iowa became victims of Bruin boldness and brilliance during that four-year stretch, but one could fairly say that of those three Rosy romps for UCLA, the 36-point annihilation of Illinois--yes, the one led by Neuheisel himself--was the sweetest one by far. The unranked Bruins, with four losses and a tie, thoroughly humiliated the 10-1 and No. 4 Illini. That improbable yet devastating rout cemented the aura surrounding the UCLA program in the mid-80s, because it conveyed the undeniable impression that even when supremely vulnerable, the Bruins could call forth confidence and summon up supreme swagger against a highly-touted opponent in a very big game. One Rose Bowl win over Illinois in 1984 captured the greatness of UCLA football. Now, with USC oozing superiority just before another Rose Bowl game involving those unfortunate Illini, UCLA has brought Rick Neuheisel back into the mix. It's a clear attempt--and a bold, brilliant one at that--to not just steal headlines and some Trojan thunder, but to match Troy's tidal wave of triumphs and trophies.

Yes, you have lil' ol' Illinois standing in the middle of history in these final days before the 2008 Rose Bowl: the Illini, already the recipient of one Rose Bowl beatdown 24 years ago, seem to be in store for another. Neuheisel's emergence as UCLA's new head coach is creating a war--no, not with Ron Zook's team, but with the team that is about to play Illinois on Tuesday. What happens between the white lines in a few days will receive an extra degree of scrutiny in Los Angeles, because every Angelino will be talking about how USC fared against Illinois relative to Rick Neuheisel. Much more importantly, Neuheisel will use the aftermath of the 2008 Rose Bowl to, in one way or another, begin building his program to the point where it can once again roll to victory on New Year's Day... instead of the hated Trojan Empire of College Football. "The Illinois Triangle," adequately explained, reveals how this hire by Dan Guerrero is primarily a response to USC and its recent ascendancy under Pete Carroll.
More on Neuheisel v. Pom Pom angle from Matt:
While Carroll is always looking for ways to lighten up the mood around his program, Neuheisel--who may or may not strum his guitar in an attempt to keep his UCLA players free and loose--is similarly inclined to motivate players by creating a culture of energy and liberation, the hallowed formula for California confidence. This hire has an undeniable amount of appeal and wisdom because Neuheisel's personality--much like Carroll's over at USC--is a psychologically compatible match for the city of Los Angeles. Neuheisel is a player's coach who will create a culture of competition at UCLA. A still-young head coach possesses the iconic looks and attitude that fit the local environment, and he'll be able to sell UCLA football in ways few other men ever could have done at this particular point in time. If anyone has a chance of doing in Westwood what Carroll has already achieved across town in the shadows of the L.A. Coliseum, it's Neuheisel.
Well I can tell you this much, Coach Neuheisel hasn't officially arrived yet. But we can already sense that feeling of energy and liberation in Westwood.

Again as we get ready for Spring Football and go through the long season, we will build on the point about having realistic expectations for next season. Next year or two will be difficult for Coach Neuheisel as he will have to work on rebuilding a foundation that was frankly built on creaky frame last few years. But just like we enjoyed Coach Howland's rebuilding efforts and remained patient along the way, we intend to maintain the same posture wrt to Coach Neuheisel.

But that's something we will save for the coming days/weeks/months.  For today for the first time in long time in the world of UCLA football we are excited about the long term future of UCLA football under Coach Neuheisel. For the first time in a long time we can actually dream about UCLA football striving for something big and unleash a new era of peace, prosperity and domination over the Trojans just like the glorious 90s.

GO BRUINS.
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