So our "suddenly seasoned" OL is officially on the verge of losing a two year starter in Jeff Baca for the season. It's not a done deal yet but things are not looking too hot for Jeff. NCAA denied Baca's appeal according to reports this afternoon. He might still have other options to further appeal that decision but it's not clear what recourse he is going to have for the time being. Here is what Coach Rick Neuheisel had to say about his OL:
"Unfortunately, he got a little over his skis in terms of what he took in his spring quarter and it blew up on him. He's trying to be a (physical) science major - and that's a very difficult major - and he took two upper division classes and he got over his skis. I know there were other factors that led to the poor quarter, but it's unfortunate that quarter schools have a little harder road to hoe in terms of how units you have to pass. There aren't two-unit classes, only four-unit. And we bear the brunt of it. But everybody knows the challenges, and we're not going to cry about it now."
Well from my understanding Baca was a physiological science major which doesn't entail taking ball room dancing courses or Senora Ross's Spanish class. Apparently he dropped a course last spring quarter which left him short of required credits for the spring quarter and the NCAA requirements for a school year. Baca from my understanding tried to make up those credits by taking additional summer courses but it's unclear whether they were enough to get him back in line. Don't have enough facts to make comment on that.
Now, physiological sciences is a pretty brutal major (I say that as someone who hated being in South Campus - just ask tasser10). I think the mistake here was on Baca's part not informing his academic adviser that he was dropping a course (at the time) and I also think responsibility lies with academic adviser (and CRN) for not ensuring all his student athletes were taking care of their minimum course requirements. As much as I support CRN, I am not sympathetic to the quarter argument because well schools like Stanford and Washington (which to my knowledge are also on quarter system) are not making an issue out of it. So we should let that point go.
In any event, it's crying over spilled milk at this point. Note Baca has been in a walking boot for weeks now because of a stress reaction and it is uncertain how much he was going to be able to contribute. So the depth chart is not going to change much at this point from this. What Baca needs to do is to make sure he doesn't make this mistake ever again and I also think he owes an apology to rest of his team-mates for letting them down. Meanwhile, CRN and UCLA administration needs to take a close look at our academic support system to ensure this kind of mistakes doesn't take place again.
The situation is not fun. Yet, I am pretty sure no one is going to feel sorry for us. Feeling sorry for ourselves here and freaking out over it here and on other Bruin online communities is not going to help the matter either. Let's hope the guys really lock down, focus and get behind whichever QB is leading the team in Manhattan in less than two weeks. For now the Bruins have no choice but to regroup, rally and carry on.
UPDATE (N): Peter Yoon has comments from Baca on ESPNLA:
"I'm disappointed in myself, mostly," Baca said. "And I'm disappointed because I let the team down." [...]
"I wanted to become a doctor and that was my goal when I came in here," Baca said. "I took some very tough courses and I didn't do as well as I wanted to. They say we're student athletes. Student first, athlete second and that's kind of how I wanted to approach this. I didn't get it done."
Nicely done Jeff. Yoon confirms that Baca made up the missing units during summer school and that is why the program thought he had a "strong case" for his appeal. In any event since Baca has been dealing with a stress fracture it looks like he is leaning towards redshirting this season:
"Coming off an injury, I think I would help the team after a redshirt year more than I would if I missed three games and came in with no training camp," he said. "I wouldn't be in shape. And chemistry. You can't just throw a guy in there."
Read rest of Yoon's report here. We will be rooting for him. GO BRUINS.