We still have ways to during this off-season. We have learned in last few days how everything can be turned upside down in the world of college athletics thanks to rumor mongering in traditional media. That said as the Chow related euphoria settles in and we get through the signing day next month, it appears that UCLA football program is about to achieve something it hasn't had in years: stability. This might be the first season in a long time during which UCLA will not be making any major changes in its key coaching personnel.
Here is what I can point off the top of my head re. coaching changes from last few years. It looks like we have had turnover at the top of our coaching staff every year since 2006:
- 09: Dewayne Walker leaves as DC, Chuck Bullough takes over
- 08: Rick Neuheisel takes over as head coach and brings in Norm Chow
- 07: (Training) Jay Norvell takes over as
DOC, replacing Svoboda
- 06: Dewayne Walker takes over as DC, replacing Larry ("You Are Killing Me") Kerr; Jim ("Fired By Text") Svoboda takes over for Tom Cable as the OC
I can't think of any changes that took place at the end of 2005 season which interestingly was followed with that "10 win" season which a number of Bruin fans "celebrated" while many of us weren't impressed with given the disgusting results in the games that really mattered at the end of the year. Still even before 2005 season, Dorrell's staff was shaky as he had to fire his first OC - Steve "Architect Of WSU Choke Of 88" Axman - at the end of his first year to bring in the over-rated Tom Cable (plenty of posts on him pointing out how he was kind of a joke).
Plus before Dorrell arrived, Bob Toledo was getting into a disturbing habit of scapegoating his DCs by going through Alliotti (for good reason), Bob Field and ending up with Phil Snow. I mean it wasn't a pretty picture at all.
As I have maintained all along, I think we would have been all right even if Norm Chow had made a decision to take a huge raise and go work even at a place like Southern Cal, if they were smart enough to hire a head coach with credible track record in the mold of Jeff Fisher, Del Rio, Riley or someone else. He of course made the reasonable decision by not expressing that much interest (remember he ended up not even having a phone conversation) at that toxic position. I think one of the most important benefits of Chow's decision, is not just the fact that we get to hold on to perhaps the most prized assistant coach in the game, but we also get a measure of stability we haven't had in this program in years.Kevin Prince talked about the mutual "excitement" Chow and UCLA players are feeling about the team (emphasis added throughout):
"We all feel the same way Coach Chow does. We're all very excited on the offensive side of the ball in terms of where we're headed, what we can accomplish. We haven't lost too many guys, but for the most part, our offense has stayed intact. It helps so much to have the experience. But it definitely gives us a boost of confidence that he wants to see this program progress."
It is pretty interesting to read through Kevin's words. It's clear that the guy is starting to have total command of this team (playing with a sore/banged up shoulder in 15 degree weather and gutting your team to a second half come back win will have that effect). He also brought up how he team held together tightly during the media generated roller-coaster of last couple of days:
"For the most part, as Tuesday progressed, hour-by-hour, sports stations, news things, they (Trojan shills such as Shelley Smith, BN Ed.) all started backing away and backing off their earlier statements. As the night progressed and into Wednesday, I think guys weren't as concerned. There was still a possibility, but I saw everybody at school and we had breakfast as a team, and I feel like everyone wasn't as concerned. Everybody still had that lingering question, but we just had to wait it out."
Well we all made through it and came out more than fine. This is going to set up an awesome recruiting weekend in Westwood in couple days and in the following weeks. While the coaches are out putting the full court press to gather another great recruiting class, Prince and his team-mates can keep their minds on school and off-season to prepare for a spring camp with stability in their coaching staff.
I will end with the following from Prince summing up his reaction to last few days:
"I'm just really grateful. I've learned how much I value coach Chow and what he brings to the table and has taught me. I really would've missed working with him."
We all owe an incredible amount of gratitude and appreciation for the way Coach Chow handled himself in last few days. We should also say the same about our current head football coach, who was cool, composed with the right touch of grace and humor, while coming out looking like a winner. Guess it's kind of natural at this point considering he is now the only head coach in the Pac-10 who has the experience of leading his program to a Rose Bowl victory (in addition to doing it as a player). As I said, things are looking pretty stable in Westwood. It's a comforting feeling.