Pregame Guesses: Season Really Is Over Edition

Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports

Some random thoughts going into the offseason

Savages "Shut Up" Live @ El Rey in Los Angeles 7/23/2013 (via nosaintinla)

(This week’s video is "Shut Up" by Savages from the El Rey. I was at this show. It was my favorite show of last year and Savages record is on my 2013 Best of ... list.)

No excuses, folks, but this is going to be a shorter version of a Guesses post. In fact, in the spirit of blogging being an interactive medium, I’m going to rely on the Bruins Nation faithful to pick up the slack in the comments below. Just because I’m suffering from writer’s block doesn’t mean we can’t have a lively conversation.

Yesterday was my last day of vacation before returning to work today. I decided to walk down to the beach and have breakfast on the boardwalk. Typically, Venice Beach is something I avoid during the summer, too many tourists, too many people from other parts of Southern California. But it’s fun to go down there during the "off season." I still get a kick out of the scene. As a bonus, the weather has been spectacular and the spot I like to eat has a nice breakfast special weekdays and a pretty decent sports bar in the back. I’ve been known to spend an afternoon there watching football and then stumbling back home.

I usually try to hit Venice Beach the weekend before the Rose Bowl. That’s almost a tradition. I like to watch the fans from the participating teams walking around and gawking at the pot shops and random nuttiness that is Venice Beach, the beach denizens out in full force for the tourists. This year, I didn’t make it down there before the game and ended up there coincidentally the day after the Rose Bowl.

It made for an interesting scene.

I must have scene 25 different people wearing Michigan State gear, at least that many. I didn’t see one Stanford shirt. Part of that was no doubt because the Stanford people didn’t necessarily make a vacation out of coming to Los Angeles the way the MSU folks did, but mostly it was because the Spartans one the game and were out to let the colors fly. As it happened, I was wearing my son’s generic green hoodie – and it was enough for me to get a few "Hey, we beat Stanford in the Rose Bowl, it’s a great day to be a Michigan State fan" nods from various folks.

The morning was a reminder to me just how cool it is to root for a team that’s going well. I wish some of the "we don’t care about football" crowd from UCLA were with me. I wish some of the "we only care about academics" group were there or that some of the "we’re a basketball/you-name-the-sports school" types were there. Don’t misunderstand me: Academics are definitely important, of course, and so are our other teams. But, in 2014, nothing seems to bring a campus community closer together than a good college football team. It’s something that unites the whole campus, from faculty to students to staff, while welcoming those from the metaphoric neighborhood whose only link to the school is through the team.

I think I’ll head back down to Venice this weekend. The excuse will be to watch some NFL playoffs, but I also want to glimpse the Auburn and Florida State fans in town for the championship game. I want to revel in their anticipation and enjoy them getting a glimpse on one of the weirder spots in L.A.

I can’t tell you how much I want to see UCLA play in a major bowl or make the new playoffs. I have fun watching those whose teams made it this year, imagine how much fun it will be when my team is in the game.

~~~

I’m glad that the Mora to Texas storm has passed. It moved through quickly. like a summer storm through Portland, but it still managed to frighten and depress me for about two hours last night.

As I’ve noted in past blogs, I’m committed to Mora at this point. It’s his program and he’s more important than any player or assistant coach. I fel we’re lucky to have hired a man of integrity who really wants to make his mark on college football as head coach at UCLA.

Final thought on Mora: If he left to coach the Houston Texans or Cleveland Browns or whatever, I could deal with it. UCLA offers many opportunities, but one of them is not a chance to coach a team to a Super Bowl win. If that’s something Mora wants in his life, I could not begrudge him. But if he left for another college team, even one with the resources that Texas has – it would sting.

In a moment of panic last night, I emailed the other BN front pagers and told them I couldn’t deal with another rebuilding project and that I doubted that our AD could stumble on to another Mora, a great coach who just happened to want the job and just happened to be available.

So, yeah, I’m glad Mora is staying.

~~~

Speaking of staying, there’s the whole Brett Hundley thing to worry about. I’ve already blogged enough about him and his decision and I still don’t pretend to know what he’s going to do or what his thoughts or feelings are or what weights most heavily on him. Everything that has happened recently, every deed and comment, can be interpreted any way you want.

We don’t know what he’s going to do.

I will say that if he goes, then some of the blame goes on Mora and his coaching staff for not having another quarterback in the program. See, it’s not just that turning over the program to Asiantii Woulard is a huge questions mark, it’s that we’d go into next season with just Woulard, Jerry Neuheisel and Mike Fafaul. If Woulard is a question mark, then the other two guys are a question mark, an exclamation point and an emoticon of a head banging against a wall.

~~~

A thought occurred to me while watching the Sun Bowl.

Virginia Tech has been to a bowl game more than 20 seasons in a row. Only a few times have the challenged for a national title and I believe they played in the title game once, when they had Michael Vick.

Could you be happy with VaTech's program? A team that always is good enough to play in a bowl, an 8-9 win team every year that once in a while puts it all together and challenges for the championship?

Would Frank Beamer and his record satisfy you or the UCLA faithful? Just wondering.

~~~

One more comment on Hundley, something I never thought of before.

As the talk about Hundley the pros swirled, and people started talking about him competing for a starting job in the pros, it occurred to me that he’s never really competed for a job at UCLA. (UPDATE: I COMPLETELY FORGOT THAT PRINCE AND BREHAUT WERE ON THE ROSTER LAST SEASON. I HAD IT IN MY HEAD THAT THEIR LAST YEAR WAS NEUHEISEL'S LAST SEASON. TOTAL MISTAKE ON MY PART. I ADDRESSED IT IN THE COMMENTS BELOW, BUT FELT IT WAS IMPORTANT TO TAKE NOTE OF IT HERE. BASICALLY, THIS SECTION OF THE POST HAS ROOTS IN MY CONFUSION ... A)

When he was a freshman, my memory is that he had a minor injury early on and that basically eliminated any thought that he might challenge the returning seniors Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut for the position. Even after Hundley got healthy, Rick Neuheisel stuck with his decision to redshirt the young quarterback.

I have to give Neuheisel some credit for that. I mean, what if he had played Hundley as soon as he was healthy? What if we had won more games with the freshman starting? What if we had done enough to convince Dan Guerrero that things were looking up and that he should stick with Neuheisel another season? If all that had happened, we wouldn’t be worried about losing our head coach to Texas.

Back to Hundley, it’s probably not that important, but it did occur to me that he’s been the only viable option at quarterback these past few years and didn’t have to compete for the job. Does that matter? Probably not. But at other positions, competition makes the team better. Competition pushes players to new heights. Hundley hasn’t had that and if he comes back, he won’t really be competing for his spot again.

More generally, I feel we need to get more quarterbacks into the system so that there is genuine competition at the position. At the moment, we don’t have a committed quarterback in this recruiting class and there is certainly no guarantee that we get a kid to flip to us so late, as Woulard did a year ago.

That’s all I’ve got for today. Just some random thoughts and feelings as the season finally comes to a close.

Feel free to talk about anything on your mind regarding the football team in the comments below, maybe you all have some conversation starters that weren’t top of mind for me.

Happy New Year.

With that, here are your Pregame Guesses, Season Is Over Edition:

  1. Other than Brett Hundley's return, what is the biggest issue facing the team this offseason?
  2. What redshirt are you most looking forward to seeing play next season?
  3. How will you spend your Saturdays now that there is no more college football to watch?
  4. If you're married -- do you even remember what your spouses and children look like?
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