After Thursday night's debacle there were several comments that UCLA needs to change it culture if we are to win football games. I'd like to toss out some thought to spark debate. These thoughts are my own and my son's. I'm nearly 65 and have followed UCLA football all my life. I'm a UCLA grad, class of 67 and lifetime Alum. My son is a sports writer who has covered prep sports in Cal. and Nevada for over 15 years and currently is a columnist for MaxPrepSports.com. For twenty years I held season tickets to UCLA football and my son grew up in section 28 of the Rose Bowl.
I can remember during the 60's, when I was in college, it was said in regards to Civil Rights that one could not change the way people think and behave. We changed the laws but even today bigotry prevails. That being said, I'd like to throw out a thought. This I think, is the biggest stumbling block to UCLA having a successful football program. It's not recruiting, coaching or game plans. It's the underlining theme of UCLA football. I've witnessed it as a kid, as a student, as a season ticket holder and as an Alum. I even seen it here on BruinsNation. It's the idea that no matter what we do, we are the anti-USC.
Every thing we do in our Football Program has to be the opposite of what SUC does. We always want to do what is diametrically opposite of SUC. We are rightly proud of having a squeeky clean program but we go overboard to the point that it hurts us as a football program.
We do not pay our coaches as well as most programs. Our athletes are academically and morally superior to SUC's. Every measure of our program is measured and has to be the opposite of what SUC does. This is a cultural attitude that has stymied our program for 50 years that I know of.
Here on BruinsNation, we obsessed more on SUC's sanctions than we did with our program. We patted our selves on the back, rightly so, when CRN disciplined players or dismissed them from the program but it was always in comparison to what SUC would have done.
I think this attitude is pervasive in Morgan Center and in UCLA's administration. We are always trying to be the anti-SUC. Only in one area is this attitude not pervasive and that is in our Basketball program. During the 50+ years that our football team has taken a backseat to SUC, our BB program set the standard for college hoops. We were blessed with the Coach, the exact opposite of Cheaty Petey and all the football coaches before him.
The fact that we are known nationally as a basketball school seems to have overshadowed our commitment to our Football program. Since SUC has basically sucked at basketball, our BB sucess has given us another opportunity to shine and be the anti-SUC. We have been successful and have run a clean program at the same time.
Another aspect of our on going football culture is something I have heard countless times chatting with my son and his sportwriter friends. There is a perception among observers and even recruits that our players are soft. Something happens to a kid once he shows up in Westwood. He embraces that super cool So. Cal. lifestyle and it begins to effect his attitude and game.
We have a beautiful campus, in a nice part of town near the beach. Compare that to other schools who have great football programs but are located in the armpit of the world. We have a laid back campus atmosphere not conducive to creating a hard nosed football team.
We can't change how nice our campus is or where it's located .We need to create a toughness in our program that over comes the laid backness that makes for a soft program. CRN and staff along with Morgan Center needs to toughen up the atmosphere that surrounds our program and makes our athletes tougher.
These will be hard things to change because they have in grained for as long as I can remeber. The cultural atmosphere can be changed but it will be a long hard process. It is a process that will take cooperation from the administration, alumni, and football coaching staff. We have examples of other programs that have been able to do it and now are successful football programs. I only have to look at my son's alma mater, Wisconsin, or my wife's, K-State as shining examples of schools that have shed their old culture and have become winning football programs