I know it's easy to pick on the writers from the traditional media covering UCLA sports scene in Los Angeles. But this article from a local Alabama paper hit home how the reporters in LA's major papers covering or commenting on our football program really are in total denial. I usually don't cut and paste more than 6-9 paras. of news articles or columns. However, this column concerning the coaching controversy brewing in Alabama is so germane to situation around the Dorrell that I couldn't help posting this:
Either way, it could be bloody.
Cecil Hurt, the highly respected sport editor of the Tuscaloosa News, perhaps got off one of the few intelligent lines recently in respect to the feeding frenzy about Shula. The conventional wisdom seems to be that if Shula can pull the mild upset over the suddenly rudderless Tigers, then all will be right in the world. Wrong, says Hurt.
"When you're waiting on one game to make your decision, then your decision should already be made," he said.
Of course, if Shula loses, he becomes the answer to a Final Jeopardy! question: "Name the only Alabama head football coach to ever lose four straight games to Auburn."
The easiest choice, most say, is to go with the flow and stay the course, like Alabama did with Mike DuBose in 1999. After losing at home to Louisiana Tech, almost everyone concluded he had to go. A loss like that, coupled with the secretary scandal, was merely too much. Right? Wrong.
DuBose followed the Tech loss with one of the greatest wins in Alabama history, a win at The Swamp in overtime over Florida. At the end of the season, in the wake of the SEC title, the school publicly supported DuBose and extended his contract. He was fired the next November after a 3-8 season and with the NCAA wolves at the door.
So if Alabama stays the course with Shula, does anyone believe things will dramatically improve next year?
Staff changes are necessary, some say. OK, so what is accomplished if Shula shuffles the deck and brings in a few new position coaches and maybe a new offensive coordinator? What will be the net result? Will the offense still have Shula's handprints on it? Do you think a man who loves calling ball plays more than anything else in his job description (it's not like he is good at giving motivational speeches or press conferences) will turn over the keys to someone else?
By the way, how many quality offensive coaches would want to get on board knowing the ship is leaking badly? And do you think the new assistant coaches can bring the team some desperately needed discipline and maybe crack down on players mocking and laughing at the head coach behind his back?
So that's staying the course, which brings us to cut and run.
Look at the record for a moment. Against his four biggest annual rivals (Auburn, Tennessee, LSU and Arkansas), Shula is 2-13. On Saturday night, it will either be 2-14 or 3-13, pretty lousy, either way, wouldn't you say?
And this doesn't include the fact that Alabama, under Shula, is 0-18 in games when trailing at the start of the fourth quarter.
Some say this year's record, while disappointing, isn't that far off what the experts predicted. Whatever.
If you look at the teams Alabama has beaten, only one -- Hawaii -- has a winning record. The other five victories (Vanderbilt, Louisiana-Monroe, Duke, Ole Miss and Florida International) came against teams with a combined record of 9-40. That is not a misprint!
So perhaps with one of the worst schedules in Alabama history (two teams, Duke and Florida International are a combined 0-19), this 6-5 record could be significantly worse. Remember, the Tide needed a late field goal to beat Vandy (4-7) by three and was taken to overtime by Ole Miss (3-7).
Alabama is so close, some say. True. But it has also been uninspired in many games and lost two weeks ago to the worst program in the SEC. The scholarship limitations may have hurt, but in the future that will be much less of a problem, right? Not according to Stallings, seemingly a Shula backer, who said the scholarship limitations and lack of depth have no impact right now. It's a lack of execution, confidence and a team devoid of a personality, Stallings says.
So what does Alabama do? The road most traveled is to collectively shrug the shoulders, pat Shula on the back, give him one more "attaboy" and hope for the best.
The most excruciating choice is cut and run.
After 48 games under Shula, with a record of 26-22 (13-18 in the SEC), which choice do you think is the most appropriate?
It's game week. As mentioned down below I don't think anyone really cares any more about the match up against a horrible Sun Devils football program. We expect Bruins to win this game and have no problem with ASU's hapless defense.
There is really no excitement about the following game against Southern Cal. Given how vulnerable Trojans are in their secondary, their suspect running game, Bruins should be able to ride the momentum of fierce emotion of this rivalry game to end the losing streak of last seven seasons. But even a win over Southern Cal will not address the underlying concerns about Dorrell's program which has been nothing short of a skud over last four years.
As a result right now there is no excitement around this program. So when will the traditional media start writing the real story using facts and numbers to show why disenchanted UCLA alums, students, and season ticket holders are so unhappy and demoralized about Dorrell's leadership (or lack there of) of UCLA football?
When will the writers in LA's major traditional media and report what is really going on with the listless, dull, and mediocre UCLA football program? As that column from Alabama shows it's not that difficult to write up articles telling folks the real story. Is it?