For those of you who follow BRO (and if you don't, you should), Tracy Pierson posted a great open letter to welcome Coach Mora to UCLA. It's a primer on UCLA football fans and also contains some expectations that Tracy is laying out, a pretty fun read (except that he calls UCLA a basketball school, which....grrrrr!). Well Coach Mora is already meeting some of those and impressing us with his assistant hires so far. Sure, we have to see the results on the field, but this is the right way to get the train rolling.
I'm sure most of you remember that we had an eye test for Neuheisel's team last year, to have an objective view of the team beyond simply the wins and losses. Sorry if it made most of you want to poke your eyes out.
Well, this isn't really an eye test for Coach Mora. It's more of a wish list, given our 13 years of suffering as UCLA Football fans. We've been good, haven't we? We didn't throw bottles on the field, heckle opponents...the only one who's been naughty has been Chianti Dan (and not just with football!). We just want a few things to spread good cheer to all the Bruin fans out there.
So I'm going to start with my wishes, and you should all add yours in the comment thread, after the jump.
On The First Day of Christmas: Toughness
I wish that our players will start playing tough, hard-nosed football. That means receivers fighting for balls, running backs plowing through defenders, but most of all, please, no more arm tackles and shoulder bumps. This likely means getting a new S&C coach.
On The Second Day of Christmas: Discipline
Last year, UCLA was 99th out of 120 teams in number of penalties. Please, I would like a lot fewer false starts, pass interference, and for the love of sanity, please, no more 12 men on the field after a timeout. No more players skipping voluntary practice, no more jumping the wall, no more suspensions from smoking pot, no fights, and most of all, no players walking away from you while you're talking to them. Be stern and be fair, and hold everyone accountable, including yourself. Interestingly, ASU was dead last in penalties. So I hope Coach Mazzone gets a cleaner performance out of our players.
Sidenote: of the 20 worst teams in penalties, 9 were from the Pac-12!!!
On The Third Day of Christmas: Preparation
You are now at the school of John Wooden. Every coach, no matter the sport, is expected to adhere to Coach's standards. And Coach would tell you, failing to prepare is preparing to fail. Our teams and coaches have often failed to prepare for the last decade. And they failed, embarrassingly at times. Have a plan, be smart, and adjust as needed.
On The Fourth Day of Christmas: Team Unity
Our players need to be united, singular in their motivation and their goal. I don't ever want to hear Randall Carroll in another interview telling us that once again, some players were into the game and others weren't. It is perhaps your most important job at the outset, as this team is deeply divided. It will make the rest of your job a lot easier. And never, under any circumstance, throw a player under the bus.
On The Fifth Day of Christmas: Skip the Conservatism
I swear to all that is Bruin, if your first three plays on offense are run-run-pass, I will ask for you to be fired on day one! OK I'm joking a bit...but not much. Thankfully, you did great by bringing in Coach Mazzone, so I'm not too worried about that (hey Coach Mazzone, we've got this tight end, he's 6'8"...). But the same goes for the defense. 4-man rush, 10 yard cushions...if we see these more than a couple of times per game, you are going to hear us and we are going to be loud and annoying.
On The Sixth Day of Christmas: Player Improvement
This has been sorely lacking in our program. Some of these kids aspire to playing professionally, and it is your duty to prepare them. I want to see players getting better each year and throughout the season. You haven't taught until they've learned.
On The Seventh Day of Christmas: No QB Controversy!!!
It doesn't help anyone. Pick a guy and let him fly.
On The Eighth Day of Christmas: UCLA Stripes
You played for Washington in the early 80's. You remember our uniforms? You remember the stripes on our shoulders? Yeah we like those, and we want them back. And please, no more belly-hugging tech-fit, those things are hideous. More than anything, please, don't let the nincompoops at the Moran Center keep you in the dark about uniforms. You have a say in it as do the players.
On The Ninth Day of Christmas: Top Notch Facilities
Hopefully you made this a condition of your hiring. We need 20 more yards on our practice field. We need real goal posts. We need water for the showers in the locker room. Those are easy. But step up and demand more. UCLA football needs its own weight room, and a new football-only center. The Knapp Football Center is kind of a joke compared to what the rest of the conference has. You can get this done, especially if you win. The money will come. And if you're still here, and really want to make your mark, you will start pushing for an on-campus stadium. We have plans to share with you, if you're interested. It looks good.
On The Tenth Day of Christmas: Scheduling
You probably know by now, but your boss doesn't know diddly squat about creating a favorable schedule. That's why you'll probably have to go play Texas in Cowboy Stadium, without a return engagement. That's why UCLA has had several Thursday night road games, while it can't even host such games. You should stop all of those. Here, we have some ideas on the type of scheduling that would set up UCLA for a good season. But whatever you do, don't let Chianti Dan do this for you. Next thing you know, you'll be playing in a soccer stadium in Tuscany.
On The Eleventh Day of Christmas: Fountain of Youth
This is simple. If you have young players, and they are good, just let them play. Let them make a few mistakes and learn, so long as you hold them accountable. Don't just believe that seniority is the safe bet. You've got some great recruiters, they'll bring you young talent. Let them play.
On The Twelfth Day of Christmas: The Fall of Troy
Sorry, this one is non-negotiable. Beat Southern Cal.