I thought the BN might be interested in my exchange of e-mails with the guys in charge of the Orange County event in which several "Bruin Greats" will be speaking. Also speaking will be CHP. Someone recommended that we e-mail Michael Rorabaugh, and I did. My e-mail was forwarded to Shawn Heilbron, who was not only took the time to answer, but also gave me permission to publish the exchange of messages. I don't think Mr. Heilbron actually responded to the main points I tried to make, but I'll let the BN be the judge of this. I also give him high marks for not just ignoring criticism, which would obviously have been the easiest thing to do.
My first message:
I have heard via the internet that you invited Coach Howland's predecessor to speak at some function with other actual Bruins. I have also heard that you have billed Coach Howland's predecessor as "great." I assume that this is a practical joke on your part, but it isn't funny.
As you may have perceived from the first paragraph, I cannot bring myself to actually type the name of the man who single handedly ruined Bruin Basketball. This pretender destroyed what Coach Wooden created and what Coach Wooden's successors tried valiantly to maintain.
Coach Howland's predecessor now is ostensibly an expert. (I am an attorney by trade. In the law business, one becomes an expert simply by self-proclamation. It appears to be the same for Coach Howland's predecessor.) Because of his self-proclaimed expertise and the bully pulpit the louts at ESPN have given him, his denigration of UCLA and his insults to its fan base are take on an aura of legitimacy which is undeserved. He claims UCLA's fans had unrealistic expectations, but backs that with no empirical evidence. He somehow believes that he did not deserve to be fired. Apparently he has forgotten the 11 losses by more than 25 points (including three at Pauley) and has forgotten losses to Branch West, EA Sports, San Diego State and Northern Arizona at Pauley. He seeks to share in the credit for Coach Harrick's championship in 1995, but refuses to accept ownership for the first losing season in 55 years at UCLA.
This charlatan did not know the difference between a man to man defense and a zone defense. (Look it up - it's there.) His contribution to UCLA basketball was described recently by Baron Davis - "We might have put another banner up there if we had had a coach."
And yet you invite this total blowhard to speak at a UCLA function and include his name in a list of Bruin greats. Only one question - why do you think he qualifies as a Bruin after ruining the program? OK, I guess there are two questions - Was this announcement a just a cruel practical joke?
I am no longer in Southern California. If I were, I would pay whatever I had to pay to get a place at the luncheon so I could stand and walk out as soon as Coach Howland's predecessor's name is mentioned. By doing so, I would miss the questions from the real Bruins in the audience.
Frankly, Mr. Rorabaugh, I think you should be more than a little ashamed of yourself for linking yourself with a man whose name will always be associated with the destruction of everything Coach Wooden created. It is not too late to rescind your invitation to him, and I suggest you do so.
Thank you for taking the time to read this rant.
Here is the response (actually, a non-response, in my opinion.)
Thank you very much for your e-mail. We respect your opinion regarding our UCLA Athletics Club of Orange County Event. Our program for that evening will be extremely entertaining and our objective is to provide our supporters in attendance with a memorable experience. Our panel of Ed O'Bannon, Charles O'Bannon, Tracy Murray and Steve Lavin will deliver unique perspectives and insight. Ed, Charles, Tracy and Steve are all volunteering their time to help raise money for the athletic department by participating in this event. We are fortunate to have a storied tradition in men's basketball, and each of these men have been a part of that. They are proud to support the program and help in any way that they can.
Assistant Athletic Director - Major Gifts
Thank you for your response. Although your message is not what I had hoped, I nonetheless appreciate your taking the time to respond. I also must note that I disagree with your characterization of all four speakers. While I agree that the O'Bannon brothers and Tracy Murray were and are proud supporters of UCLA in general and Bruin athletics in particular, the same cannot be said for your fourth speaker. He constantly disparages the UCLA basketball fan base, suggesting that it has unreasonable expectations. He also uses the "unreasonable expectations" excuse to explain his termination, but conveniently overlooks the fact that he generated the Bruins' first losing season in 55 years, and the fact that he presided over some of the most humiliating defeats in the history of the school.
In any event, I would like to share your message with the Bruins Nation, but will not do so without your consent. May I share it?
And his response:
I appreciate you asking for consent to post my response. You may share the information however you would like. Everyone is certianly entitled to their own opinion, but in the end we all share the same passion for UCLA and desire to see our program move forward. That is what I hope the focus can shift to regarding this event. Thanks very much.