I have not had the stomach to read through the news clips of today's games. I don't really have any desire to read about the recap of what was a classic disgraceful performance UCLA football program has put on during the incompetent reigns of Peter Dalis and Dan "Chianti" Guerrero last 10+ seasons.
It was an epic fail from all angles and total breakdown from coaching to every aspect of the team. UCLA humiliated its brand and made the program a punch line on national TV. Here is Jim Mora with three players (Johnathan Franklin, Brett Hundley and Eric Kendricks) after the game [via BruinSportsReport.com] :
Mora didn't offer any apology for bringing a team that look it was hung over, looking ill prepared, unfocused and at times disinterested in the bowl game. While the stadium was rocking with 35,000 UCLA fans, Bruin came in with a game plan with no imagination and failed to exhibit basic improvisation to Baylor offensive scheme.
Particularly on offense, Noel Mazzone was a massive fail. Mora predictably meekly offered up excuses of offensive line being injured. Those excuses are valid but that doesn't explain how the Bruins couldn't adjust their basic offensive schemes with one of the most athletic QBs in the country. It wasn't until the game was completely out of hand, Mazzone decided to roll Hundley out of the pocket and move the launch point. I think there was one designed running play for Hundley in the first half, when we could all see how much running room he had. While Baylor was blitzing away, there wasn't any effort to tweak the protection scheme and bring in some extra blockers.
We can go on and on and rip apart and offensive performance in which Bruins converted something like 1 of 17 third down conversions against (IIRC) the worst third down defense in college football. So yes, the injuries hurt the Bruins but they didn't excuse the putrid performance we saw at the Holiday Bowl.
Hey, there are no doubt the Bruins improved from last season. But that's not saying much given the kind of season Bruins had last season or during the years leading up to that mess. We set the goal for this program in the regular season at 9 wins and victory over Southern Cal. We are glad Mora and his coaches met those goals.
BUT, this season was also about lost opportunities. Bruins had multiple chances to make this season special given the kind of schedule we had set up this season. We could have been in position to make a special run had we not inexplicably imploded against Cal in Strawberry Canyon. We let a massive opportunity to get away by imploding in that last drive against Stanford in the Pac-12 championship game. We showed up in one game this season with huge stakes on the line - that was against Southern Cal. But otherwise, this year Mora has struck out on multiple opportunities to make this year special.
It is not going to be easy to wash away the putrid taste of the debacle in San Diego. While the Bruins record wise when compared to Neuheisel's last season in Westwood, are headed in the "right direction," it remains to be seen whether Mora can put together an elite program at UCLA.
Mora deserves some credit for the season he had in his first year. But it is way too soon to coronate him into something special. Don't forget we coronated a basketball coach after three straight runs to the Final-4, calling Westwood "Howlandwood" and celebrating him as the "Caretaker" of Coach Wooden's program. Mora hasn't come close to achieving anything close.
For UCLA to head towards to the "right direction" in football it would mean eliminating the disgraceful performances like last night (and couple of other ugly losses this season) from our season score boards, and have a team that will legitimately compete for conference and national titles with inspiring performances in big bowl games. Otherwise, none of us here don't have much use for rhetoric of a program being headed towards "right direction," or the off-season favorite - "culture change" - to prop up a coaching regime who hasn't earned the respect ... not yet.