Stewart, Do you think the UCLA victory over Texas is going to be a "turning point" for the program or just another big isolated victory? Since 2000, UCLA has nonconference victories over Alabama (twice), Tennessee (twice), Michigan, Ohio State and Oklahoma. Yet they haven't been able to follow any of these other, potentially program-defining victories with any continued success.
-- Jason Kingston, Los Angeles
The reason UCLA wasn't able to capitalize on most of those other victories was because it was coached by Bob Toledo and Karl Dorrell. With Rick Neuheisel, I do believe the Bruins have the right guy in charge now, but I don't know that the Texas game will prove to be an immediate "turning point." It was an extremely important win for him, especially in light of the way the season started, because it should infuse some confidence in the fan base and show people that the staff does in fact have a plan in place.
Like I talked about earlier with LSU and Texas, Neuheisel and offensive coordinator Norm Chow took a huge risk in committing themselves full-time to the Pistol offense. Many teams, including No. 1 Alabama, have incorporated the formation (quarterback in the shotgun with the tailback behind him), but UCLA is the first BCS-conference team to switch entirely to Nevada's patented offense. Chow told me the Bruins initially discussed going to an Oregon-style spread, but instead visited Reno and took to the Pistol because it allows for more of a traditional downhill running attack. Mind you, neither had any prior experience with this style of offense, but it sure looked good against Texas.
The Bruins still have too many talent deficiencies, and a very shaky quarterback, to make a run at the Pac-10 title, but they're well positioned to make a run in the coming years due both to their own recruiting efforts and the anticipated toll cross-town rival USC will take due to its NCAA sanctions. The Texas game may seem like an aberration later this season but it will certainly serve as a landmark moment when the program turns the corner, most likely next season.
Not sure how much I can add to that to underscore the central theme around UCLA football - which Stewart Mandel brilliantly summed it up - for rest of this football season. But I will put in some additional 2 cents after the jump.
Mandel pretty much synthesizes the narrative we have been building based on long term view, recruiting gains, and deliberate improvement we have seen in this program in last two years. It also puts ignorant, uninformed and petty a**holes like TJ Simers in their irrelevant place who spout off in the traditional media without displaying a shred of acumen when it comes to understanding about building of a college football program.
Every game from here on out is an important one. However, the perspective in this community should be built on the big picture view which is for the Bruins to keep moving forward, they need to keep building on year to year improvement from last couple of years. They can sustain that forward momentum if the team can somehow scratch and claw into a winning record in the conference this season. As long as they get that done, there will not be any need to obsess over "turning points" and "signature victories."