The UCLA Coaching SNAFU Goes National

The recent Neuheisel-Chow-Johnson coaching triangle has been at best, a mystery, and at worst, a total clusterf***. The recent interview that Rick Neuheisel gave to resident LAT hack TJ Slimers caught Bruins fans by surprise in terms of its venue.  However, the coachspeak and lack of concrete information was not anything new to us.  But while that coachspeak has kept us on BN wondering aloud about the apparent difficulties with the coaching situation for some time, the national media is now starting to catch on, too.

And they are laughing. At us.

There are certainly issues going on behind closed doors, possibly involving negotiations between UCLA and Utah regarding contract issues over Norm Chow.  However the fact remains, fair or not, that perception is reality.  And the current national perception of UCLA football is that our program is a complete mess.  And all involved, fair or not, are getting soiled as a result.

ESPN's Pac-10 blogger Ted Miller addressed the situation a week ago, and revisited the soap opera yesterday...(all bolded quotes below are mine for emphasis)

Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of UCLA's coaching staff indecision. ... If you are a UCLA fan, my guess is all of this makes you grumpy. Understandable. ... He [Neuheisel]'s on the hot seat. His critics are chirping. Few expect much out of the Bruins in 2011.

Bad enough that The Days Of Our Lives has been referenced here on BN twice in 2 weeks.  The fact that the soap opera analogy is totally appropriate for UCLA at all shows how shameful and ridiculous this situation has become.

In another national source, The Big Lead, Tyler Duffy addresses the offensive ineptitude of our football team

Neuheisel entered with fanfare, a bucket full of passion and a pledge to end Pete Carroll's hegemony. He then won a whopping eight Pac 10 games, over the next three seasons.  Despite having two recent NFL offensive coordinators on staff, the Bruins have not finished higher than 88th in total offense.

Heading northward from UCLA, Seattlepi blogs picks up on the issue...

In his Wednesday column, Simers peppered the former Washington coach about his lack of success with the Bruins and the future of offensive coordinator Norm Chow, among other things. ... Neuheisel wasn't forthcoming about Chow or much else, choosing instead to keep up his cool veneer.

In the Bay Area based College Hotline, John Wilner writes...

Action: UCLA apparently fires/demotes offensive coordinator Norm Chow, hires OC Mike Johnson from the 49ers.
Reaction I: I say apparently because nothing is official on any front and, really, who knows what the heck is going on in Westwood (including the head coach). But Chow-out, Johnson-in is how it looks at the moment.
Reaction II: So let's get this straight: Slick Rick switches to The Pistol even though Chow has never run it before ...then gets frustrated after one season ... apparently fires/demotes Chow .... and apparently hires Johnson, who also has never run the Pistol before.

His further reactions are not any more complimentary nor understanding.

Locally, Mike Waldner in the mocks Neuheisel

He [Neuheisel] has another mess on his hands after three unimpressive seasons as UCLA's coach. This mess involves the strange manner in which he has been dealing with offensive coordinator Norm Chow. ... Instead of taking a deep breath and promising to work harder, smarter and longer, and perhaps even praying to the football gods for at least a few fortunate bounces, Neuheisel has passed the buck. ... Reports, rumors, tweets and speculation have been swirling for more than a week, generating a negative impression of the UCLA football program. The only top 10, 20, 30, etc. ranking the Bruins will receive is from Comedy Central.

Undoubtedly, the lack of information, and the resultant swirling of rumors and heresay, combined with our own bad feelings and distrust following another disappointing season, are spinning this situation up much worse than it needs to be.  It's really impossible to believe that Neuheisel didn't have some plan in place for managing his coaching staff.  However, it's also impossible to believe that the last few weeks have gone according to any sane human's plan. The question is then, why have things run amok?  Are Neu's wishes being discouraged by an unsupportive AD?  Are financial issues being derailed by an unsupportive administration?  Is UCLA just not on anyone's wish list for employment anymore?  In any of these cases, Neuheisel is going to get more than his share of the blame.  That's part of the gig for the head coach.  And that's why the country is mocking him today. 

Peggysue69 put it beautifully (as always) yesterday, when she discussed the root cause of this folly,

I have no idea what is going on. Most of the scenarios articulated in the thread, all as far as I can tell come from True Blue Bruin loyalists, have varying degrees of plausibility given the uncertain and sometimes confounding expressions of the major participants.

But I know the root cause—we did not win.

If you a have a decade of mediocre football performance (and most importantly inconsistent quarterback play), winning only once against SC, then whatever is said and done will sound and look less than competent.

Peggysue is exactly right.  If Neu were winning, his coaching (mis)management would be colorful and crazy like a fox.  Because we are losing, he is the star of a circus freakshow of horrors.  And, as always, perception is reality.

Bottom line, I see this as another example of systematic incompetence in UCLA's management of its football program, from the coaching staff to the admin in Murphy and Morgan.  It really seems unbelievable that it could be this difficult for UCLA to field an exceptional program.  As Duffy added in The Big Lead article:

UCLA is the premier campus in arguably the best recruiting district in the country.

We know.  That's a huge part of why the decade long flail in football is so maddening.  The current coaching soap opera, which never should have unfolded this way in the first place, just compounds our frustration.  And we are all looking bad as a result.

<em>This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of BruinsNation's (BN) editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of BN's editors.</em>

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