\In the end, Rick Neuheisel wasn't good enough to win at U.C.L.A. He's not alone. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
If you had told me at the beginning of the season we'd be playing Oregon for the Pac-12 Title and a trip to the Rose Bowl, I'd have been thrilled. I guess the path is as important as the destination, though, because this morning feels like relief, and resignation. Mike Johnson will assume the head coaching role today, but I don't think that things are going to be much different in Westwood.
There really isn't anything new to say this morning that we haven't said before. The game went about how we predicted, or maybe a little better even. But this was a game that, even as the chosen representative of the Pac-12 South to play in the conference championship, the Bruins came into as 32 point underdogs. That's four and a half touchdowns, before a single down was played. The Pac-12 Commissioner admitted he was disappointed at the matchup (Hey Larry, be disappointed that *$c was cheating instead). BSPN talking heads were saying it was an embarrassment that the Bruins will be playing in a bowl (Hey Herbie, be embarrassed there are that many bowls). Even with the weight of a lame duck coach hanging around their necks, the Bruins travelled to the hardest place to play in the conference and put up one of their better games of the season. But despite scoring the 3rd highest point total for the season, the Bruins never really were in the game. When you look back at all of the losses this year, it says a lot that last night's 18 point defeat may have actually been our "best" loss. Add to that that U.C.L.A. is apparently unable to get a coach to come to Westwood for the tidy sum of $4 million, and the state of Bruins football is written pretty clearly.
Unfortunately, the state of Bruins football is not likely to change as long as the culture of mediocrity that permeates the Morgan Center and our ineffectual AD Dan Guerrero persists. Really, would any of us still have our own jobs if we performed the way he has over the last decade? The continued employment of Chianti Dan is a smear on Chancellor Block, and we all must keep the heat on him until that error is corrected.
There was a graphic on SportsCenter last night that Chianti ought to be forced to pin to his chest and wear as his Scarlet L (HT to Kenneth Powers for posting). The graphic showed the four worst coaching records in U.C.L.A. history. At the top was Rick Neuheisel, with a winning percentge of .420 over 4 years. Now if only that were the 3-point shooting percentage for any of our basketball players, we'd really have something. But in football, that number will only cost you your job. After Rick came Edwin Horrell (1939-44) and Bill Barnes (1958-64). Then, there in 4th place in the worst coaching list was Ramona Shelbornes' pet, Karl Dorrell. Now I'm not here to pile on Dorrell, I'm here to pile on Chianti Dan. And when his only 2 football hires both show up at the top of the list of losingest coaches in school history ( to say nothing of student seats, Nikki Caldwell, white uniforms vs *$c, Pauley, JRS... ), then his name needs to go alongside there as the worst AD in school history
This is the guy who is apparently trying to hire a third football coach. Luckily, we are hearing that some pretty potent boosters are very involved in the process, but the fact that Guerrerror still has a role in this has to be mortifying. If he picks another coach, where do you expect that name to appear on the Fox graphic 4 years from now? Is it surprising at all that he was apparently unable to impress Coach Petersen with a suitcase full of money and a promise to improve our facilities? Is it surprising that the affectations of the not so savvy Guerrerror were likely used to leverage the Boise State AD position towards one of Petersen's friends and supporters. It's a bad sign when one is getting outmaneuvered by the ultra-sophisticated types you find in Idaho.
The latest word is that Guerrerror has turned his lonely eye to Houston and Kevin Sumlin. The same coach who was 5-7 last season without his star QB, and who this year beat the Bruins by a FG and a PAT even with his star QB and the Bruins refusing to defend the forward pass. Does anyone think we should have won that game? (all hands go up). So does anyone have high hopes this is the guy to turn our program around? (all hands go back down)
We have a chance to save our football team, and by extension, athletics, and help the University as a whole. We need to gett the right leader for our football program. This means keeping Chianti Dan from choosing the next leader of the football program. We need everyone to go Bruin X and, by any means necessary, effect regime change in Westwood. The Chancellor's contact info is provided in a Fanpost with the same title. Don't let up on this. Every day. And we'll have more to follow soon.
But to get back to last night's Pac-12 Championship, I'd like to give props to our players for playing a pretty inspired game under very difficult circumstances. It was clear that they played their hearts out last night. It was also clear they were outcoached, outschemed, outmatched, outfundamentaled, and outexecuted. That's on coaching. And coaching is on Guerreror. I hope for their sakes, that we can get an AD in Westwood that is worthy of our incredible student-athletes.
Finally, thanks to Rick Neuheisel for his tireless efforts as our coach for the last 4 years. Despite the controversial past and question marks on his arrival, he has always represented the school and program with class and dignity, and never more so than this past week. It was really hard to see him go through the things he did since last Monday, and I hope he understands that Bruins Nation and the Bruin fans do not question his heart or character or loyalty. The record simply wasn't good enough. The dedication was never in doubt.
In the end, the failure of Neuheisel's passion bucket to build up the program may have been the key to figuring out what really ails the Bruins football program. And if we can get that part replaced, then maybe Rick Neuheisel really did save U.C.L.A. football after all.