Optimists and Idealists

I was thinking about a very interesting question posed by islandbruin in a comment on A's recent front page post when he asked "How is Guerrero evaluated?"

Sadly, the fact that Guerrero is still employed answers that question for us. The ideals that Chancellor Block has for our AD's performance must not be very high.

A more important question then is, "How should Guerrero be evaluated?"

Following on the cues of the excellent Optimists campaign, and considering the decade of disaster in our athletic department, I think it is fair to ask "What are the ideal measures of a Bruin, and of our Athletic Director in particular?"

The Optimists campaign highlights just a few of the exceptional people from U.C.L.A.'s incredible history and in doing so, sets a bar for expectations. It shows what the ideals should be for all Bruins and for all endeavors at our University. U.C.L.A. has an unprecedented legacy of world class scientists, historians, writers, statesmen, innovators, entertainers, and yes, athletes. They set the standards for what can be accomplished by the 4 letters and are examples of why all Bruins can reasonably expect the best from our leaders, or at least better than we are getting right now.

Does anyone think Dan measures up to those ideals?

I guess it depends on where you set your standards, which is what I imagine that islandbruin was getting at. There may be some Bruin fans who are satisfied with simply having a balanced budget in the athletic department. However, barring unforeseen catastrophes, having a balanced budget should be a bottom line expectation for any operation (sorry, Congress, you should all be fired, too). Also, we can reasonably expect our student-athletes to represent the 4 letters by being good students and not ending up in the scandal sheets. Any actions that fail this are not acceptable, nor is the leadership in Morgan Center that permits it. Those seem like pretty basic expectations.

But should we be satisfied with achieving minimum baseline expectations? Is that good enough at U.C.L.A.? You can find the answer simply by looking at the faces in the Optimists campaign. John Wooden wasn't satisfied with being just a coach. He became a mentor and role model for life. Jackie Robinson wasn't satisfied with being a star in the Negro Leagues. He risked his life to change an entire culture. Profs Kleinrock and Cerf didn't quit when the Stanford computer saw L-O and crashed (they weren't really typing "LOL") but persisted and gave birth to Bruins Nation. Ok, and some other stuff, too.

I certainly take pride in counting our titles in Westwood, but even that is not the ultimate measure of our athletic department. No Bruin should ever be so arrogant to think that we are entitled to a run of championships that Coach gave us. But it is reasonable to follow Coach's words about getting the most from what you have. That's why I see Butler getting to the NCAA finals 2 years in a row being far more impressive than Duke or UConn hanging another banner. I see USC (that's the real USC in South Carolina, not *$C) winning back to back CWS titles as being more impressive than Texas or LSU adding another title. Our 2006 Final Four team is probably as proud as I've ever been of any Bruin basketball team, and that includes the 1995 Champs, because that team went farther past what we expected at the start of the season. All these teams reached the top of their ability, and achieved a level far beyond what anyone could have expected. And that principle is the key, and is all that can be reasonably asked of my fellow Bruins. It is what John Wooden taught us: Don't measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability.

Of course, most of us won't reach the heights of some of the all-time Bruin greats. We all have our own skill sets, and we all find ourselves by circumstance in various places in life, so only some exceptional Bruins will end up in any future Optimists commercials. Personally, my ideal goal in life would be to do what Bruin Ralph Bunche did, when he used his talents and training in a way that earned him a Nobel Peace Prize. Honestly, my talents and training lie in other areas, so while I may not reach the lofty heights of Dr Bunche, I hope that I am doing my best in my current field, and I'm always trying to get better.

But is Morgan Center functioning to the best of its ability? With the ideals established by our University and its history and its assets, are we where we should be? Is Guerrero achieving more or less than we should expect from an Athletic Director making almost $700K at one of the proudest and most storied athletic programs in the country?

Yes, that's rhetorical. But for those who aren't sure, consider at his performance. Look at his previous coaching hires. Look at his recent coaching search. Look at his his apathy toward fans, his disingenuous interaction with The Den, and the empty seats in our arenas. Look at the poor facilities and the absence of plans to fix them. Look at donations to athletics and to the University. Look at the embarrassing criminal activities by a few of our athletes. Look at his obfuscation and arrogance (or ignorance) each week in his newsletter. Look at the depths that our biggest revenue sport have hit. Look at the depths that our sport with the proudest tradition have hit.

Can anyone tell me that we are getting anything close to what we should expect, let alone what we are paying for? Dan is falling far far short of the U.C.L.A. ideals, and so the answer is obvious to me. Clearly I have much higher standards for my University than the Chancellor does. But I'm a Bruin. U.C.L.A. is not my latest appointment. It's my life. And based on what U.C.L.A. means to me, and on those who have come before and on those whom we hope to cultivate in the future, I'll take my ideals for U.C.L.A. ahead of the Chancellor's any day.

Which brings me back to A's post...what will it actually take to force Block to replace Dan?

<em>This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of BruinsNation's (BN) editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of BN's editors.</em>

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