I'm new here. Well, I'm not new here. I have been following BN for years. But I have yet to really post. So a bit of background...
I'm a '01 UCLA graduate. I work a lot. When I'm not working, I'm hanging out with my family (two girls under 4). My life does not include a lot of quiet...or a lot of free time. So when I get that rare occasion to do whatever it is I please, I want to gain something from it. I want to it to make me smarter. I want it to help me learn something new. <Sure, sometimes, I just want that time to involve several drinks...but that's neither here nor there>. My point is that I come to BN because I read articles from front-pagers like Nestor and DC Bruins and I come away feeling like I learned something. And I respect that. I appreciate that. So I don't want what I'm about to say to come across as confrontational. But I have to bring a different perspective to the current state of UCLA Football. More after the jump...To be clear, I completely get - and approve of - the call to replace RN and Dan Guerrero. I would love for that to happen. I would love for UCLA to bring in a top-notch AD and someone like Urban Meyer. That would be phenomenal and I would be first in line to do whatever I can to support that movement.
But I also think we need to be realists in terms of what will happen here. I have been amazed at what BN has been able to accomplish with things like VetoSeto...but I also understand that the destruction of a potential DC hiring is a lot different than firing a Head Coach, firing an AD, and replacing those positions with a completely new culture. And to do so with outsiders.
Again, if BN (and others) can accomplish that, I'm all for it. But I also think we have to be real about what will happen with UCLA Athletics. Because UCLA is so prominent in so many other areas (Medicine, Research, Technology, etc), Athletics just don't take precedence. So is Chancellor Block likely place focus on the Athletic Department and replace Dan Guerrero because of a marginal football season? My assumption - unfortunately or not - is no. And if Guerrero is not replaced, do we really want him leading another football Head Coaching search?
The final three candidates for the last search were RN, John Harbaugh and Al Golden. In hindsight, I think it's easy to say we ended up with the least attractive of the three candidates. As a side note, (yes, I know how this sounds), I'm fortunate to be friends with a very prominent UCLA booster. This booster told me the RN hiring was a done-deal before Harbaugh and Golden were even rumored as candidates. So were the other candidates given fair shots? Or was UCLA just looking for the cheap hire? My assumption based upon the input from this booster is the latter.
Applying that to a potential future search, what can we really expect if RN is fired and Guerrero remains on staff? A search that includes the likes of Bob Toledo, DeWayne Walker, and someone like Mike Belotti? I don't know. I don't see how that improves us. And I don't know how Guerrero has the freedom to pursue someone like Meyer or even Manny Diaz (even with the PAC 12 money deal) based on previous circumstances.
I completely get - and respect - the opinions of people like IEAngel around the team quitting on RN. But the team we saw the last two games are not quitters. And not teams who have quit on their coaches. Beyond that, this is a UCLA team that actually has talent. When is the last time that we as fans, could say that? Ten years ago? Say what you want about RN (and I agree with all of it), but he has recruited like no one has since the early days of Toledo. You look at the field and you actually see guys that look like athletes. See guys that can compete with the likes of SC and Oregon. Believe me, they're not well-coached at this point. And the approach that RN is taking is wrong...but there have been signs the last few games.
I'm going to take a tangent at this point. I'm an LA resident. I love PMS in the afternoon. They recently had LAME Kiffin on. Per Nestor's recent post, I was surprised how impressed I was with his approach. His whole point was that he plays young guys. He plays them early and knows they will make mistakes. Mistakes that might cost them a game early on. But he plays them because by mid-season, they will be a huge addition to their team. They will have the experience. They will have learned from their mistakes. And they will be the players they were meant to be by mid-season. Contrast that with RN's approach to guys like Kendricks, Barr, Joystick, Rice, Owa, Shaq Evans, etc. Completely different approach. RN handcuffs them. Why has it taken it so long to get them on the field??? It's actually perfectly reasonable. RN is on the hot-seat. If your job was on the line, what would you do? Would you roll with the inexperienced guy who might produce phenomenal results but might also f' up? Or would you roll with Fair Catch Embree? I don't know about you but if my job was on the line, if I had a family to take care of, I would go with the sure thing. It's not the popular thing to say. But I get it. As a fan, I don't. But as a realist, as a guy who has a family to take care of, I do.
So what can we say about RN and his performance this year? A loss to what will be a top-10 team by year-end (Houston)....and one that could easily have been a win on the road. A loss to a top-20 team in Texas. Bad loss? Of cousre. But still a top-20 team. A loss to Stanford - on the road - which has a very legit chance at playing for the National Championship and has this year's #1 pick. Arizona? There is no defense for it. None whatsoever. That was brutal. But that was one of four losses that shouldn't have happened. Everything else is perfectly reasonable. Top 10 loss on the road. Top 20 loss at home. Loss to a top 3 team on the road. Going in to the season, would anyone have expected UCLA to win those games in hindsight? The answer is no. So I think RN needs more credit (to this point) for the 2011 season. I don't want to hear about poor performances in wins. Wins are hard enough to get in college football. I'll take any I can get. I don't care how they look at the end of the day (i.e. San Jose State)...I just want wins.
Now...if UCLA loses at Utah or at home against Colorado, the above arguments go completely out the window. But if the Bruins win the next two games and have a shot to secure a PAC 12 championship slot by beating SC, can you really complain about what RN has done?
Again - to repeat - I get the arguments against RN. In a perfect world, I want him and Guerrero gone. And I want Urban here. But UCLA is not the University of Florida where the only thing that matters are football, hot chicks, and fake tits. It is much more than that here. And that's why we love it as UCLA alumni. We are a complete University. And as such - if we can't get the complete replacement of a diseased culture as we all desire - do we really want RN and his recruitment success to go? Or do we want another retread who won't recruit as good and won't understand UCLA as well?
Personally, I want RN to go. I want Guerrero to go. But as a realist, I believe that's not going to happen. So if that's the case, I want RN to stay. I want them to win out. I want RN to build upon the "success" he's had when he actually gets the right quarterback (Hundley) to play for his system. And until UCLA changes the culture in athletics, that will be the outcome I'm hoping for.
A couple of other random points:
- Why can't the UCLA football pants match their helmets (i.e. Notre Dame)? Looks stupid to have the same color on helmet and jerseys...but not pants. Gold helmets, gold numbers, yellow pants. Not good.
- While I love the passing threat Brehaut provides, I hope they stick with Prince. He is becoming a master of the Pistol offense. And is clearly benefiting from receiving starting reps in practice.
- I would give anything to get UCLA an on-field stadium at Drake. Seriously. I'm not a donor currently. But I would be if that was an option. Love the Rose Bowl and all but I'm tired of seeing a half-empty stadium. How much would you have loved it as a student to walk down to games?
- Same goes for Jackie Robinson Stadium and baseball.
- Why can't Josh Smith string consecutive good games together? Guy seems like he is schizo. Just hold on to the ball and catch the ball.
- Wish Shaq Evans would play more.
- Barr and Joystick looked great as freshman. Seemed to have lost something since.
- Do the people in Hitch still have that smell?