Got a chance to discuss UCLA football with my son the sports writer at Christmas. My son writes for MaxPrepSports.com and was the prep sports editor for the Oakland Tribune. He's seen a lot of prep sports over the last fifteen years. Although a Wisconsin grad (we have no J-School) he grew up watching Bruin football from section 28.
We always have a lively discussion about football and lately recruiting. Wisconsin is very similar to UCLA in that it's an acedemic school that views football as an extra. The Badgers' goal every year is to vie for the Big 10 title, shoot for the Rose Bowl, play in a decent bowl game, and every so often sniff the scent of the BCS Championship.
This year's discussion centered around what is wrong with UCLA. David grew up in the Inland Empire, knows the area, spent a lot of time in the OC. and knows the power schools for football recruiting in the LA area. His major contention during our discussion is that UCLA is drastically doing something wrong either in recruiting or coaching to be so bad.
UCLA is in a hot bed of high school foorball. There are the traditional football powerhouses that crank out recruits, i.e. Mater Dei, Bishop Amant, Servite, Long Beach Poly etc. There are also hundreds of other high schools that churn out league MVP's, All-League players and other good prospects.
The fact that UCLA can't come up with twenty or so athletes a year and play decent football is baffling. I know that some schools have a pipeline to SUC but there should be enough decent players at other schools. I lived in the Inland Empire for 20 years. During that time Fo-Hi was a power house as was Eisenhower in Fontana. The population of the area has grown as has the number of high school football players. Look at the number of schools in the OC.
CRN has made tremendous inroads in recruiting but the fact remains, we can't put 22 players out on the field that can win more than 4 or 5 games a year. We both found it unbelievable, that we can't find enough Pac !0 caliber players to win football games. We can't find a decent QB who can throw the ball and make plays. Even freakin' Wazzu has a better QB than we do.
What are we doing wrong?
Maybe we are doing things right recruiting wise but our coaching sucks! Maybe we are getting decent talent but our coaches can't recognize talent when it hits them in the face. Obviously our recently departed DC and Wide Receivers coach couldn't cut the mustard but what about the rest of the staff?
For 3 years we have had trouble at QB. Injuries have plagues us but still have we not had any decent talent to work with? I remember CRN and CNC recruited Kevin Craft to be our insurance policy. They recruited Richard Brehaut out of Los Osos High in Rancho Cucamonga, my old home town and then treated him like dirt. I hope they don't screw up this kid out of Arizona.
UCLA can return to being a force in the Pac 12 but it will take something that is now missing. What's it going to take? Better recruiting or better coaching? Whatever it is, something is so wrong that we can't win more football games than we lose. Something is so wrong that we can't find 20+ players in all of So Cal, LA County, Inland Empire or the OC, or the whole freaking country that can play fooball and help us win more than 4 games a year.
We need to fix that something or we will bottom dwellers in the new Pac 12 for years to come!