So yesterday we expressed severe reservations (you can also call it bewilderment) at Dan Guerrero's latest "Word from Westwood," in which he revealed that he has been planning "an early-season" Bruin game against "a marquee opponent at Cowboys Stadium." As we explained in our post, Guerrero's "vision" (his word, not ours) appeared strategically misplaced, especially if the game turned out to be against a high profile BCS opponent in next 2-3 seasons which already pre-scheduled other BCS programs on the docket.
Well not surprisingly our worst fears game true. UCLA is apparently planning on taking on Texas in what will essentially be a home game for the Longhorns in the Cowboys stadium [HT bruinhoya]. The game reportedly a nationally televised one, is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 13. Bruins were originally scheduled to play UVa on that day and now will be working to reschedule that.
It is not clear who is making "football related" executive decisions for UCLA athletics. Whoever is making these decisions is not showing a lot of understanding of the modern college football landscape. I get that Bruins have a romanticized memories of playing the Longhorns in their home state due to that epic "Route 66" and last-years fluke win against a bad Texas team. I also appreciate how cool, gracious and hospitable Longhorns fans have been (we always love interacting with the good guys over at Burnt Orange Nation and Barking Carnival). However, from UCLA's perspective this is not a smart and well thought out decision at all.
In our view UCLA should not be scheduling more than one high quality BCS program every season. In 2014 UCLA already had a road trip scheduled to UVa, which is now shaping up to be a fairly challenging opponents as the Cavaliers are emerging as an up and coming program under the leadership of Mike London. The right move for UCLA would have been to schedule two home games against mid major type FBS schools, that would give the Bruins a good shot to start the season either 2-1 or 3-0, depending on success in Charlottesville. This is essentially the formula most top tier programs follow to set them up with a nice record before they wade into conference battles. Instead, now the Bruins Have essentially set up a massive uphill climb by scheduling a powerful Texas opponent on their home front.
I don't care much for the silly bravados coming from UCLA officials about owning Texas teams any more. It was fun to engage in that rhetoric when we had a credible program. Given what we have seen last 10+ years we certainly don't have executive leadership who can give us a sense of confidence in how our program is managed. Right now if UCLA spends more time focusing on this kind of scheduling gimmicks instead of working to get a top notch head coach and a supporting staff in place next season, we will have more Houston and Texas debacles from this year, instead of reliving the memories of 66-3.
Right now this move appears nothing more than a easy money-grab from UCLA athletics officials, with no regards whatsoever for the best interest of our program (not to mention a new coaching staff, which should be taking over next season). This seems all about getting a nice big pay day for an athletic department which is finding increasingly difficult to generate revenues by putting together a credible product on the field (anyone can look up the atrocious attendance figures from this season). This move will look especially worse if there is no return engagement from the Longhorns to California in 2015.
All we can say is if UCLA better be making some serious bank for this scheduling and then use it to invest in our facilities and getting us a top notch head coach and supporting cast. As Ryan showed yesterday wad of cash is going to be pouring into Westwood. So, money is certainly no longer as excuse for UCLA not being able to hire an elite coach in Westwood. That is about the only silver lining I can think of in what appears to be latest in the line of dumb founding football related moves out Westwood. It also underscores the need for a wholesale regime change in Westwood.