I think UCLA fans need to practice better expectation-management. A brief look at this schedule, given the state of the team coming in and the injuries that have happened since Day 1 of training camp, and I think 3-3 was about right. Maybe even 2-4. The Bruins should have beaten Kansas State. They should have lost to Stanford. They could've beaten Houston. They should've lost to Texas, crushed Washington State and lost to Cal. Any way you slice it, that's pretty much what should have happened before the season.
Of course, things didn't exactly play out like that, but the end result is nearly the same.
Going back to the losses to Cal and Stanford. A few guys have written about how they wouldn't be upset if UCLA had even competed in those games, but lost by a few. You're right. Again: You're right. Those were atrocious performances. But those can pop up every once in a while with young teams, especially young, one-dimensional teams. I think the coaches definitely have some explaining to do, but I also think that bad days sometimes happen in football. There are a 1000 reasons, but they happen. As unhappy as you guys were on Saturday, Texas fans were just as unhappy a couple weeks before.
So when I preach patience, I'm not saying don't get upset after losses like the Cal and Stanford game. I'm simply saying that the idea that "It hasn't happened since 2005, so it needs to happen NOW!" is flawed. Yes, you were told to practice patience under Karl Dorrell. Yes, the Neuheisel era hasn't exactly been the quick turnaround that you desire. But that doesn't mean that you shouldn't take a step back and really analyze the direction of the program. UCLA could go 1-5 the rest of the way - no really, it could - and still, I'd think that 2011 was the year things should come together. At least from my perspective, that hasn't changed.
Perhaps the best grafs written by a UCLA beat reporter since we started blogging about the Bruins. Good for Jon. Some additional thoughts after the jump.
I think in terms of having reasonable expectations majority of this community will more than appreciate his arguments. However, that said I think concern here is about ensuring that our team is "firing out" (a phrase made famous in Bruin Nation by none other than Dan Guerrero when he fired Bob Toledo) every time it steps on the field.
As has been documented extensively here the state of UCLA football program when Neuheisel arrived was beyond catastrophic due to years of mismanagement and shoddy recruiting. The offensive line was an unrecognizable mess while he was pressed into using a JC QB after losing his 2 QBs in spring practice. It was clear his team improved his second season as it added 3 more victories to the win column (would have been an 8 win season if ATV hadn't dropped a game ending pick 6 against Oregon State). The recruiting has been lights out. So again as has been discussed in an exhaustive manner here on BN, he does have the program heading towards the right direction. We are not going re-litigate whether the program was moving towards the right direction again since we discussed it painstaking details leading up to this season.
That said losing to Northern California teams the way we did was brutal and unacceptable (just like it was unacceptable for the basketball team to have a losing record last season). That was maddening especially after the positive signs we saw against the Texas teams. As UCLA alum it has been absolutely brutal to keep waiting for that proverbial train after we get teased with smoke signs at the horizon year after year.
We think it is up to Rick Neuheisel to ensure he and his coaches are putting the best possible combination of athletes on the field with good schemes that will put our team in position to compete every play. Whether that has been happening, that answer appears at times uncertain even though the big picture data points in terms of recruiting statistics, program visibility and W-L records have been moving towards the positive direction in last two seasons (after reaching the lowest of low points under the previous regime). Rick Neuheisel will most likely have at least two years to figure out the puzzle.