It has gone through grand eras with Red Sanders and Tommy Prothro. Terry Donahue stayed around for 20 years and won 151 games. At one point during Donahue's reign, which included beating up on USC frequently, The Times, then under the stewardship of a sports editor from back East who didn't know any better, ran a story that said this was now "UCLA's Town" in football.
That was accurate. For about three days.
Before we knew it, the Trojan horse was back with Pete Carroll in the saddle and the planets were back in alignment.
This, of course, is the ongoing challenge of the UCLA faithful, who took care of the basketball part of the equation years ago by hiring a guy named Wooden. Like Trojans football, the tradition was established and, with a few stumbles over the years, is now in the able hands of Ben Howland. Certainly, Tim Floyd is not giddy about a second-fiddle role with his USC basketball team, but his alums never seem quite as agitated over that as Bruins alums do over being this city's little brother in football.
Now, Dan Guerrero has yet another chance to knock the chip off USC's shoulder.
"We want to build this program into a consistent winner," he said. "We want to be in the national discussion."
And later, "I believe we can be a national player. I think we can knock on the BCS door, win the Pac-10, and from there be a national contender."
If those are more than merely brave words, Guerrero needs to ponder his marketplace.
Those who lead the teams that get the attention in Los Angeles have a common thread. They are people who conduct their business with a style and a swagger. They either came with name recognition or quickly acquired it here. The style and swagger aren't always the same, but all have some form of it.
This is a city of Mike Scioscia and Howland, of Phil Jackson and Carroll. And now Joe Torre. Mike Dunleavy has a form of it. So does Floyd.
Here's one that should be at the top of the list: Presence.
He'd better walk into a room and people notice. He'd better have a command about him. Better have that je ne sais quoi of successful coaches.
Be able to scream "coach" without moving his lips.
In this city, mild coaches won't cut it. Guys low on the charisma scale are working with a major handicap.
These are anxious times in BN. While DG has given some reasons to have faith in him, I do believe it is justifiable for lot of long suffering members of this community to be anxious. Personally I have gone through two coaches search processes in last twelve years (that I followed on a day to day basis) and I didn?t like how that turned out.
Sure this time Dalis is not around. And I am hearing Bob Field and Terry Donahues of the world will not be a factor. Yet you cannot help but be worried about the fact that DG is still dealing with a massive bureaucracy which is infiltrated with career professionals each with their own agenda and not to mention a recalcitrant beat reporting press, which has no vision when it comes to potential of UCLA football.
So if there was a time to make it loud and clear what we are looking for out of this coach search and what we are not going to happy with out of this search process now is the time to speak up. Dwyre ended with this:
You're on, Dan. Here's hoping you are ready for your close-up.
So we are watching DG. We will see how this all turns out. But he needs to know we are not going to be happy if we end up with a result that essentially put us in the same place we found ourselves in 1996 and 2003.