So that was that. The Rick Neuheisel Era at UCLA officially came to an end just a little while ago in Eugene. Chip Kelly's Oregon Ducks - to no one's surprise - rolled over the Bruins and on to the Rose Bowl. We have to give the Bruins credit for coming out and playing their hearts out but it's the scoreboard that counts. The good guys lost by a score of 31-49 (boxscore).
Patrick Larimore was a beast early on as his pick 6 gave the Bruins a little momentum early. A little while later in the first half a flea flicker from Kevin Prince to Nelson Rosario closed the score to 14-21. Oregon rolled to two more easy TDs to go up by a score of 35-14. The Bruins put up a bit of fight to end the half by holding the Duckies on a 4th down conversion and then use the field position to score a long FG. As mentioned during the second half thread, while the Bruins were down 17-35 the game didn't really feel close.
Still for those who still have held on to the mantra of "relentlessly positive" the Bruins kept giving them hope by making the Ducks go 3 and out in their first possession in the second half. Then the impossible happened as Taylor Embree ran for more than 5 yards with a Joe Fauria like high hurdle in a punt return that fired up the entire sideline. A few plays later thanks to huge Derrick Coleman rumble and a Prince keeper the Bruins got the score to 24-35. Then reality caught up.
The Ducks got a huge return on kickoff and then just drove up for an easy TD drive on the Joe Tresey defense pushing the score up 42-24. So even though the Bruins sensed a little momentum at spurts the game never felt close. After the Ducks dropped a TD on a 4th down conversion, Neuheisel inserted Richard Brehaut as a last ditch desperation effort. Didn't matter all that much as Bre ended up looking rusty and throwing his first pick of the season. Nelson Rosario caught a meaningless TD towards the end to make the margin somewhat respectable but it didn't matter much.
Thanks to Chianti Dan's incompetent leadership, I think many of us were resigned to loss from start to finish. Some additional quick game observations and some news on coaching search involving Chris Petersen and Kevin Sumlin after the jump.
It seemed the Ducks were being a little chippy early on because they were surprised that the Bruins actually showed up. They kept hurting themselves with lot of uncharacteristic sloppy penalties. Ducks were penalized 10 times for a total of 115 yards. But when the Ducks focused and locked in the mismatches were clearly apparent. The Bruins didn't help themselves much with sloppy turnovers (Johnathan Franklin had two fumbles) and a really erratic start from Kevin Prince, who took a while to calm down.
As I mentioned up top the Bruins played hard for their coach. They should feel proud of that. But as everyone knows moral victories doesn't count here on Bruins Nation. The game was also filled with dumb founding personnel decisions and playcalls that have been the hall mark of Neuheisel era at UCLA. But I don't really feel like going over any of that now. It's pointless.
As for Coach Neuheisel, I will close with gratitude for the amazing way he handled himself with class and grace and last few days. We wish it worked out but tonight's game served a perfect example on the national stage why we needed change.
So there you have it. UCLA's 2011 Pac-12 season is officially over with a record of 6-7 and a search for a new head coach. Speaking of that topic, I will close out this last post-game thread of Neuheisel era with two change related coaching hot-stove notes:
- The LA Times becomes the second traditional media outlet - following ESPN - to publish a report based on anonymous sources asserting that Chris Petersen will remain in Boise. The report claims that UCLA offered Petersen "nearly $4-million per season, plus nearly $3 million for assistant coaches." Those numbers are consistent with what we have heard on the background. With that kind of buying power, UCLA should not be settling for an inexperienced coach (who is the "flavor of the season), a washed up coach, a retread or someone who has been out of the game for years.
- Speaking of flavor of the season, report (I guess we can say tweets) is coming out of Arizona that ASU has backed off Houston coach Kevin Sumlin because apparently Texas A&M is gunning for him. Good. We don't really care much for Sumlin. Although Jon Gold blogged that UCLA may be targeting Sumlin, we have heard that Bruin boosters pursuing Petersen are not all that hot about Sumlin either (apparently it's Chianti Dan who is dreaming about Sumlin).
- Going back to Petersen bullet above interesting that two reports we have seen so far are coming from couple of outlets, that have been notorious for hit jobs on UCLA athletics (as chronicled extensively on BN) for years. Not saying it means Bruins still have a great shot (I don't really care to speculate at this point), but it's kind of interesting and worth noting until we hear from Petersen himself.
So there you have it. I don't feel a sense of angst from tonight's game. Again the blame for having this much ambivalence and apathy about on field results lie on the utter mismanagement by the worst led athletic department in America. That is all on Chianti Dan and his band of sorry lieutenants who have made UCLA football a national laughing stock.
The question is now whether few UCLA alums like Casey Wasserman, who are trying their best to save this program can do enough in time to bring in a good coach despite Guerrero's incompetence, and then finish up the second half of wholesale regime change. Discuss that and everything else related to Bruin football in this special post game, coaching hot stove thread.