Bumped. GO BRUINS. -N
The UCLA Universe traveling coach's series was in New York City Thursday night and I was one of three current students that was part of the audience. There was an open bar, great food and Bruins all over the place. The event was hosted by the Grand Hyatt in Manhattan (on 42nd and Park).
The night started with Coach Rick Neuheisel talking to all of the Bruins and fans in small groups. Soon after, everyone was ushered into the adjacent room where the Pauley Pavilion renovation video was played. The head of the NYCBruins Alumni club introduced CRN, highlighting his career as a player and coach.
Next, CRN spoke for a while about how UCLA needs all the help it can get for the Pauley Pavilion renovation and that it's important for the entire athletic family. Although I can't say any of the following are direct quotes, they get the ideas of his speech across. He talked briefly about the tradition UCLA has, and told of how when he became a head coach, he could not wait to meet Coach John Wooden. He told of how after a big game he remembers everyone storming Gayley and the street was pretty much shut down up to Wilshire.
CRN then switched topics to UCLA football. He started by talking about how he has been at UCLA for the good times and bad, and understands that this place (UCLA) deserves a good football team, but that it will take time. He said that when he got the coaching job, he new where he wanted to go, but now he understands how to get there and that he was working on getting the pieces we need to get there.
CRN talked about how he was making sure the coaching staff was working hard and that everyone was on the same page. He said the main things we have been missing in the past years are size and speed. He estimated that any of our major opponents probably outweighed our O-line by 25-30 pounds position for position, besides Brian Price. For that he did a quick rundown of all of the O-line recruits and how he thinks they'll be ready to contribute soon. In terms of size, he said we made sure to get a couple of the fastest kids in the nation--both of whom would also be able to contribute as soon as they get to UCLA.
Another thing CRN discussed was the issue of taking a handful of recruits from SC and the fact that in past year we recruited 0 athletes that $C offered a scholarship to. This year we had at least 6 kids that had offers from $C but chose Westwood (he said that we would have 4-5 more if they knew how to read or write).
CRN then went on to discuss how we have the need in Los Angeles for UCLA to make a run. He talks about how he was driving up to Santa Barbara for an alumni event and a car a little in front of him had a terrible accident, flipping multiple times. CRN pulled over to call 911 and see if the guy was okay. The car was on its side, and the guy popped right out of the passenger seat and looked at CRN and said "your Coach Neuheisel!" and CRN responded "yes I am but are you okay!?". The story was to say that while that guy's life was flashing before his eyes, he found UCLA football more important to talk about, which is awesome.
Next, CRN took a few questions, I'll highlight the ones that stuck out to me:
(again, these are paraphrased)
Q: As a Bruin that graduated in 2005, we heard the coaching staff say the "everything will change" line every year. What makes this time around different?
A: Although I don't have much to differentiate at this point, one thing I can talk about is how we stole recruits from $C, which has didn't happen in years past.
Q: Would you ever consider throwback jerseys?
1966 Rose Bowl Victory Celebration. Photo Source: www.mmbolding.comQ: Can you talk about the kids transferring out situation?
A: I can see you've been reading the internet. Well here is what's going on: We had a lot of kids that were interested in us that I had to be honest with in saying that they may not get the most playing time immediately, especially at the tailback position where we would have had up to 6 players. So I'm honest with the kid that's looking like he'll be number 5-6 that he's welcome to be part of the team, but he has to realize I'll give him his four years to get his degree (the reason he should be coming here) but I won't give him a fifth--that's not fair.
Q: Compared to Washington and Colorado, how do UCLA's recruiting resources compare?
A: They definitely compare. But it's different because in the state of Colorado there are 4-5 really good recruits a year. Washington has a few more, but there are millions of people withing driving distance of Westwood. But there is something of a resistance because we can't get the recruits who may not be the best academics. Some argue that it's a good thing, but to be honest with you, if you look at the academic rankings, we're only a few spots ahead of $C. We're 20 something and they're ranked 20 something. The recruiting difference is that they have five people on their staff that are there just to make sure athletes that may not be the best learners or may have learning disabilities get the attention they need. We have one. We'd like to get that number up to three or four in a couple of years.
At this point CRN went on a tangent to mention that while we have good strength and condition regiments in place now, the nutrition is lacking. As an athletics department, they have to work through ASUCLA when they feed athletes. ASUCLA doesn't necessarily have the stuff they want, and so the athletes are left eating dorm food only. The only land the athletics department owns is Acosta and Spaulding. He would like to have a training tables area for feeding athletes.
Q: Are we thinking about any east-coast game soon?
A: I just talked to the Rutgers AD and he said he'd be very interested in a home-and-home with us. So fans on both coasts can support us!
Those were the major things I can remember from the evening. Overall it was a lot of fun to see the New York Bruins and it definitely got me more excited about UCLA football in the fall.