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The "10-2 season" and the threat of USC

UPDATED::Brian over at MGoBlog released the final blogpoll yesterday. Bruins finish the season at number 15. Again big ups to Brian for doing a remarkable job of putting this project together week in and week out. It takes a lot of work to keep bugging more than 50 college football fanatics week and week out and getting them to routinely submit their votes. Brian pulled it off and it made following the scene of college football at a national level that much for fun. -N

Charles Chiccoa sums up the ambivalent feelings of Bruin football fans about the so called successful 10-2 season:

Considering the sorry state of the defense, the two blowout losses, and with all the talk of academic restrictions, it's hard for some of us to work up the usual enthusiasm for a 10-2 season.  I continue to believe it's about the coaching and that winning, on a consistent basis, can overcome these much discussed restrictions.  The dialogue about Bruin football, thus far, seems to have settled around two positions:  (1) the admissions policy is what it is (and for good reason), so get used to the fact that the Bruins cannot (or will only rarely) compete with the likes of SC, and (2) Lower the policy and add some new jock major (to go along with sociology and history).  But why so little talk of working though the existing framework, clearing whatever academic hurdles need to be cleared, then fish in a smaller lake for your premium recruits.  I mean is Ben Olson an engineering major?  How about Junior Taylor, Mo Drew, Jarrad Page, Marc Lewis, Shannon Tevaga, Kevin Brown, Brigham Harwell, Justin London, Spencer Havner, Aleksey Lanis, Shawn Oatis, Aaron Ware?)  Which is to say just because UCLA can't recruit all the local four- and five-stars doesn't mean it can't be a top-ten program.  And once you begin attracting positive national notice (and shedding that infernal "soft" label), you can start attracting more premium national talent, thus expanding your pool of eligible prospects.  The challenge, now, for KD is to win with what he's got, to exploit the presence of such a hugely talented player as Olson (at the most important position on a football team), while finally developing a hard defensive presence: aggressive, fundamentally sound and far more imaginative.  With the single exception of Rocky Long's brief stay, UCLA has been satisfied to stay with their characteristic coverage-and-contain style; keep the ball in front of you, force the play to the middle, and don't worry about the opponent nickel and dimeing you down the field in hopes (usually futile) you can stop them in the red zone.  Yet this "safe" defense still gives up the long play and they still routinely over-pursue misdirection and reverses.  They can't contain and they can't cover.  The whole thing is as slack and depressing as Grampa's shorts.  It not only bends, it breaks, and it's not just injuries and it's not entirely on the players.
Well of course right now from all indications that KD is going to retain Larry Kerr, one of the worst DCs in collge football in his staff, which is not going to help the dire situation re. our defense. And the situation is truely disconcerting if you are a Bruin football fanatic, because Pom Pom Pete is not going to let up even after the deflating loss to incredible Vince Young. CC has more on the aftermath of the Rose Bowl and what impact it had on a community that lives and dies with Bruin football:
[I]t's the day after Trojan Armageddon and I just can't wait to splash about in their tears.  This game should prove, once and for all, that Bruin fans always root against SC.  Pac-10 prestige?  There isn't much east of the Rockies.  Cal last season in the Holiday Bowl and Oregon, this season, continued to insure that.  Until these nationally televised intersectionals start going the Pac-10's way, it's still "USC and the 9 dwarfs."  And SC and UCLA, because of history and proximity, are inextricably connected.  John Wooden killed SC basketball in the mid-sixties, and Pete Carroll, right now, is trying to do the same thing to Bruin football.  Dan Guerrero and Karl Dorrell need to understand there's some real danger here.  Pete plays it down and dirty and this is no time for boy scouts.
CC seems to me affirming what we have been saying here for weeks - it's nice we won 10 games by eeking out 5 wins over mediocre to worthless teams, but Dorrell really has a long way to go when it comes to reestablishing UCLA according to the measuring stack that truely matters (or should matter) to the BruinsNation - how we play against USC? On that standard alone, there is a reason to be concerned about the direction of UCLA football under Karl Dorrell.