Bumped. GO BRUINS. -N
I attended a UCLA Alumni Event held at the San Diego Hall of Champions at Balboa park last night. CRN was the featured speaker and I wanted to share some interesting observations from the event.
First of all, CRN is every bit as personable, engaging, and charismatic in person as he is on television. He is a captivating and motivating speaker and had several standing ovations from the audience during his roughly 30 minute speech. He is articulate with a witty sense of humor. He will more than hold his own and will be a huge presence during media days.
I can also tell you that CRN has the exact frame of mind that we want in our football coach. He said several times that we're going "toe to toe" with "that team across town" and nothing short of Pac-10 championships and Rose bowl appearances will be acceptable at UCLA. There will be "no rebuilding period"; he expects to win and win right away. He is very mindful of the history and legacy of the many prominent athletes that have graced UCLA, the 100 National Championships, and he intends on using every bit of that as both a recruiting tool and mantra for the football program.
Some specific questions answered:
On the QB situation: He said the injuries to Cowan and Olson, literally less than 5 minutes from each other, were the "most bizarre thing he's ever seen in his years of coaching". As we already knew, he stated Cowan was out for 2008 and Olson would be out for approximately 8 weeks. He gave very luke warm praise for both Craft and Forcier, intimating that they have a ways to go in their development. Of all the topics, the QB situation seemed to concern him the most.
On the Offensive Line situation: He was surprisingly upbeat and optimistic when discussing the OL situation. He gave a lot of praise to coach Palcic and the job he was doing with the kids. He was especially complimentary of Darius Savage, stating unequivically that he would be in the NFL one day as an offensive lineman. He indicated that the starters were essentially set and said that guys like Sheller "need to bulk up a bit".
On his offensive philosophy Someone had asked if his offense would be more open, dynamic, with more "trick plays" than the past few years. He responding to this by stating that the running game would be a heavy emphasis of his. His analogy was the 3 yard run would be the boxing equivalent of body blows early in the fight, eventually beating down a weary opponent so as to open up "the knock out punch". I think this gives us a pretty good perspective of CRNs offensive strategy, which is one where I think maximizes the current personnel's talents and gives us the best chance of winning. In short, I wouldn't expect a lot of fireworks from this offense right away; more of a solid, ball-control, field-positioning, mistake-free unit built to wear down opposing defenses. I think we should be patient with this philosophy and be more satisfied with the 'W' than anything else.
On recruiting Using the real estate analogy "location, location, location" CRN said that college football was about "recruiting, recruiting, recruiting" He mentioned that 9 out of his 10 coaches have NFL coaching experience, which along with the UCLA legacy, he will use to his advantage with recruits. My favorite part of this topic was when he mentioned that when recruits come to campus and see the view from Janss steps, if that isn't enough to convince them, then they "are too dumb to be here." lol
On the "Senior Ditch" Day I personally brought this up with CRN after his speech and asked him if he plans on abolishing it. Somewhat to my surprise, he said he didn't plan on doing away with it, but is somehow going to try to change it into a more positive, constructive event. I told him "Good luck with that."
Anyways, just wanted to share a little bit of a very entertaining and insightful evening with our new football coach. I left the event feeling very good about the direction of the program and optimistic about our prospects next year and beyond.