"There is no reason that UCLA shouldn't be in the top 25 every year,...The level of talent on the team right now, they should be better."
Former Bruins assistant football coach Homer Smith passed away on Sunday, April 10 in Tuscaloosa, AL after an extended illness. Smith, 79, served three stints as a UCLA assistant coach (1972-73; 1980-86; 1990-93).
"We have lost a tremendous coach, mentor, and friend," said current Bruin head football coach Rick Neuheisel. "Coach was a great teacher of life and of the game. He will be missed."
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"We have to win eight. I'll be crushed if we don't win eight. How do you win eight? You win every one you line up."
Rick Neuheisel is getting things done as far as recruiting is concerned. With a couple of last-minute pickups in this year's class, the UCLA head coach could push his program clearly into the top 10 national recruiting rankings.
In his first two years, the coach and his staff had the Bruins back in the top 20 when it came to recruiting, but by Feb. 3--if everything goes their way--this will clearly be his best class yet.
It’s been a banner week for UCLA football coach Rick Neuheisel.
In the span of a few days, the former Colorado coach has seen rival USC (that’s the University of Suspected Cheaters) lose Pete Carroll, hire Lane Kiffin and fail to attract Norm Chow back to the fold.
That’s as good as it could get for Neuheisel, who all of a sudden has the upper hand in the USC-UCLA rivalry.
For starters, I’m saying Neuheisel is a better coach than Kiffin. He proved it last fall, when he took his Bruins to Knoxville and won on Kiffin’s home turf.
And, Neuheisel is a better recruiter (and he knows the NCAA rules much, much better). When it comes to sealing the deal in the home, Neuheisel will have the edge, particularly when prospective USC recruits start getting a sniff of what the nation is saying about USC’s new coach.
"(Carroll) had an open-field run," Neuheisel said. "And now we hope to close that field. We have to seize the opportunity."
Maybe then the football monopoly really will be over.
The most obvious beneficiary of Carroll's departure and USC's present state of flux is UCLA and coach Rick Neuheisel, who has a prime opportunity to live up to an early boast about ending USC's LA football monopoly.
That starts with recruiting Southern California. Neuheisel already appears well on his way toward signing another highly rated recruiting class, but his cause could be significantly bolstered if he can poach a few touted guys from the Trojans strong class.
If USC doesn't make the right coaching hire, and NCAA sanctions make local prospects look elsewhere, then UCLA could become the first choice in the region. That would mean Rose Bowls again on the Bruins horizon.
Sporting News: How would you sum up your program after two seasons?
Rick Neuheisel: I think we made some real improvement this year. There are lots of reasons for optimism going forward. This year was about, kind of, we restocked the cupboard in terms of young talent. Those guys played a little bit, and some of them are waiting in the wings. Another offseason of development and strength increase will do wonders for us. You know, the six games that we lost, they were all to teams with at least seven wins. And they all might have eight wins after the bowls. We were in every game. We're learning how to get it done in the final minutes. When we get there, it will be an immense thing.
A lot was made of a seeming conflict with you and Norm Chow over handling the quarterbacks this year. First, were you guys in disagreement and, second, how would you characterize your relationship?
RN: I think our relationship before and after is outstanding. We didn't agree on that. Norm has been up-front with me all along that he thinks that Kevin Prince is our quarterback and that Richard shouldn't be forced in there before he is ready and so forth. I was of the mind that Kevin needed to have a different perspective and see it from the sidelines and realize that when you're in there, you have to be ready to be in there, and that Richard, because we were playing him his freshman year, needed more chances to mature. I think both philosophies are right. I really do. I think you can make arguments for both. Since I had my hand over the top of the handle of the bat at the end, I got my way. But I certainly respect Norm Chow's opinion on quarterbacking. I think he is as advertised as an offensive coordinator. I love working with him on a daily basis.
Neuheisel said his advantage is "being a UCLA guy. If you have been a student, a player and an assistant coach here, you understand the fiber of what makes this place tick. You have to embrace that so no one ever asks, 'What's going on in the football program?' They should already know. People here can help us. This is a very powerful place, witness the basketball program."