Lisa Horne from Fox Sports has written an excellent, must-read article on the sentiment of the U.C.L.A. season ticket holders. Suffice it to say, they are not a happy bunch.
"We're not even mediocre," said Sam Andress, whose family has had season tickets for 30 years. "It’s mind-numbing. It becomes difficult to want to go see that on a weekly basis."
Yeah, that pretty much says it all. In the article, Horne speaks to several season ticket holders, all of whom express their increasing frustration not just with the current state of Bruin football, but with the management of the athletic department as a whole. Their responses show that the fans correctly realize that problems with the football program run much more deeply than just Rick Neuheisel and the current roster. Their responses mirror the thoughts here on Bruins Nation and reinforce the belief that UCLA is mired in a culture of mediocrity and that wholesale regime change is needed to make the Bruins competitive in 2011.
This is clear to season ticket holder Joe Piechowski, who started the Occupy UCLA Athletics movement.
"The entire athletic department under his [Guerrero's] leadership is an absolute mess," Piechowski lamented. "Our No. 1 stated goal is the removal of Dan Guerrero as athletic director because we don’t want him picking our next football coach."
Horne highlights the grassroots campaign started by Joe as well as the online petition started by MexiBruin. If you haven't yet, please sign the position and go to OccupyUCLAAthletics.com to express your disapproval with the current state of the athletic department leadership.
In response to these messages, Horne reached out to Bruins Nation to research part of this article to find season ticket holders to interview for this story. Though not all of the interviewees nor all the quotes in the article or in this fanpost are from BN members, the sentiment was unanimous. It's also worth noting that the MSM sees Bruins Nation as representative of a passionate yet knowledgeable segment of the UCLA fan base.
The Bruin fans note the decreased attendance at the Rose Bowl as another symptom of the diseased culture in the athletic department
"At the Texas game, we got there about a half-hour ahead of the game, and I could tell, on the freeway, we were going to have real low attendance," said season-ticket holder Andrew de Sosa. "We just drove right up, no crowds … no crowds for parking. It was noticeable. I was surprised there were that many people that were still coming actually after the past few years."
The Bruin fans hit on the realization that the backward mindset of the Athletic director and his staff has kept U.C.L.A. mired in the past while other schools have poured money and resources into their athletic departments.
The athletic department has a very insular culture," says Dustin Beckley, an attorney who's been a season-ticket holder for 15 years. "I think … it's living in about 1988, when Troy Aikman and Terry Donahue were there, and Notre Dame won a national championship with Lou Holtz where they weren’t paying him more than the highest paid professor on campus.
"That mindset is what got UCLA in the position that they are in now," Beckley continued. "I think the mindset there is that, 'We're great, we've never paid our head football coaches market rate and we've had success in the 1980's, so why should we start doing that now' and ignoring the fact that Cal and USC and Oregon and Washington have all made major commitment to their football programs and facilities."
And it's not just the fans. Beckley's thoughts are echoed by Bruin and NFL Hall of Famer Randy Cross who basically said the same thing on national television. If Bruin legends and the mainstream media at Fox Sports are getting the message, why isn't Dan Guerrero? If he had any inkling of what is going on with the Bruin fan base, he should be resolving these concerns. But his response to the fan base's concerns sounds a lot like the $c compliance office's response to the NCAA or the Iraqi Information Minister's response to questions about bombs in Baghdad.
Guerrerror will tout a balanced budget and a championship or two a year, but that is the tiny silver thread in a dark and stormy sky. We have documented many of his failures already. Under proper administration, this athletic department should be providing significantly increased revenues, investing in the best coaching talent, building future generations of loyal fans beginning on campus, marketing and highlighting its teams on a national stage, and winning championships and being consistently competitive in all sports. The failure of football to even be competitive is evidence of the overall apathy and lack of commitment of this administration to athletics. And the fan base is tired of it.
As we have discussed at length here on BN, until this culture is changed, we cannot expect any meaningful turnaround in the fortunes of this football team, and we can expect a further degradation of the athletic programs a s a whole. This is why it is time for Dan Guerrero to go. We cannot let his continued mismanagement and 1980's thinking to hold back what was once a proud and successful foot ball program. The fans have spoken. Horne summed it up perfectly.
Is Chancellor Block listening?