Coach Red Sanders

Rich Perelman at What's Bruin has a cool post in memory of Red Sanders, the greatest head coach in the history of UCLA football:

The date of August 14 will always have a black circle around it for Bruin fans. It was the day, 49 years ago, that 53-year-old Henry "Red" Sanders died, ending the career of the greatest coach in UCLA football history.

When Sanders came to UCLA from Vanderbilt in 1949, he turned around a 3-7 team from 1948 into a 6-3 team in 1949, finishing second in the Pacific Coast Conference. Bruin teams under Sanders never finished lower than third in the PCC and won three titles (1953-54-55) in a row, had four second-place finishes and was third twice. His Bruins played in the 1953 and 1955 Rose Bowl games.

And, his undefeated 1954 team (9-0) won the 1954 national championship in the UPI poll while Ohio State won in the Associated Press poll. The two teams couldn't meet in the Rose Bowl because of the PCC's "no-repeat" rule of the time.
Not sure if there anyone from BN actually around during that time but if there are please feel free to chime and share with all of us a little memory from that era. It is always important to note news stories like this because they confirm one of our main points (which we have made over an over) that UCLA is not just a basketball school.

There is another really interesting angle Perelman provides in his post on Sanders:
>> Successors George Dickerson (three games in 1958), Bill Barnes (1958-64) and Tommy Prothro (1965-70) were all Sanders assistants.

>>> Pepper Rodgers (1971-73) and Dick Vermeil (1974-75) were assistants for Prothro and Terry Donahue (1976-1995) played for Prothro and was an assistant for both Rodgers and Vermeil.

>> Bob Toledo (1996-2002) was a Donahue assistant and current coach Karl Dorrell (2003-present) played for Donahue and was a graduate assistant at UCLA in 1988. One-game coach Ed Kezirian (following Toledo) played for Rodgers and was an assistant coach for Donahue.
This kind of goes back to the idea of elevating someone like DeWayne Walker into the HCing position if that job opens up at the end of this season.

UCLA basketball found out the hard way that it is not always wise to hire head coaches (w/o prior HCing experience) simply because of their connections to Wooden or UCLA basketball. That never really worked out. Instead UCLA struck gold when it finally went outside its family and hired someone like Ben Howland who was simply the best person for the job. We saw the same thing happen with regards to UCLA baseball when DG brought in a coach from outside the UCLA baseball family to give us a fresh start and reenergize the program.

Similarly hiring within the UCLA family has not worked out well for our football program except for case of Dick Vermeil. Sure we have had our moments and nice runs here and there, but UCLA football never really lived up to its potential in last three decades during the inconsistent tenures of Donahue and Toledo, preceding the current mediocre one under Dorrell. Sure we have seen periodic flashes of what UCLA football can achieve during the 80s and the 90s, but Toledo and Donahue never set up UCLA for a sustained period of excellence.

So next time UCLA is in the market for a new coach it should look for the right one outside its family just like it did with Howland and Savage, and just like it did with the Great Red Sanders. If DG plays his card right perhaps it will finally bring us closer to dream of bringing a football national championship to Westwood. It can happen. We just need the right coach, just like Coach Sanders.

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