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Bruin Expectations

During last four years, a lot of apologists (making excuses for Karl Dorrell's four mediocre seasons in Westwood) tried to haplessly make the argument that UCLA is not really a football school. We have always maintained otherwise, as we laid out in one of the early posts on Bruins Nation, detailing the tradition of UCLA football program.

Once the Bruins beat Florida State on December 27, I am sure we are going to see lot of Dorrell supporters running around the internets proclaiming the 2006-07 season as one of the greatest seasons ever. Before anyone here even thinks about getting swept up in that nonsense, here is a reminder for everyone (especially for the new Bruins who started following our Bruins since 1999) about what are the expectations of UCLA football. From the bloggers over at West Coast Bias (who keeps a keen eye on the world of college football from a perspective not dominated by the East Coast establishment):

USC, the same team that beat the tar out of an Arkansas team that would go on to the SEC title game, the same team that bullied Notre Dame last week, the same team that held Cal's prolific offense to one offensive score the week before, the same team that looked like a lock for National Championship contender for a fourth straight year, fell 13-9 to a UCLA defense that had teased us all year with their potential but finally delivered.  Never underestimate those rivalry games.  In a mediocre season, at a school which before the Karl Dorrell era was expected to compete for the Rose Bowl every year, this was a huge win for the Bruins.  The Emerald Bowl never tasted so sweet.  Quarterback Pat Cowan has done a decent job of keeping his team afloat, but there really shouldn't be any quarterback controversy for when Ben Olson gets healthy.  UCLA's defense proved that they are capable of greatness, but the Bruin offense is still a few steps behind.
That was excerpted from WCB's review of week 14 CFB action (emphasis mine). Again, three salient points:
  • 13-9 was a cathartic, HUGE and moral boosting awesome win, but
  • 2006 has been a mediocre season, and
  • UCLA should be competing for the Rose Bowl every year.
UCLA football should be about competing and getting to Rose Bowls. That's how it has always been at least till the day of the press conference of Dorrell's hire.

We have pointed out multiple times here on BN how Dan Guerrero and Karl Dorrell themselves reiterated those expectations when KD was hired in Westwood, proclaiming their goals were to win the Pac-10 and beat Southern Cal. Again, here is KD in his own words the day his hire was announced in Westwood four years ago:
''My expectation for next year is to win the Pac-10 championship,'' Dorrell said. ''Winning the Pac-10 and beating our crosstown rival are the biggest things on my mind.''
Well, after four years of Dorrell, UCLA finally beat Southern Cal. But still we are nowhere close to getting to the Rose Bowl.

Despite the euphoria of December 2, 2006, Dorrell is nowhere close to off the hook. After four years, he finally has put together a credible defense, thanks to the work of a good defensive coordinator (and KD should get credit for hiring Walker).  But he still needs to establish the foundation of an effective, consistent and productive offensive scheme, which is not dependent on hiring and firing of offensive coordinators. And he needs to get that done by this off-season.

It's been almost a decade since UCLA has won the Pac-10.

It's been more than 20 years since UCLA has won the Rose Bowl.

It's time.

If Dorrell doesn't at least win the Pac-10 in 2006, we need to hold him accountable. Going to the Holiday Bowl may be cause for hero worshipping at other programs in the Pac-10, but this is freaking UCLA.

There is a reason why our marching band busts out "The Rose Bowl ... F*ck $C" at every football game (and the words are changed to "The Final Four ... F*ck $C" at Pauley).

We expect Rose Bowls. Even with mediocre, vanilla coaching of Donahue, UCLA regularly went to Rose Bowls (and winning them). Even a below average coach like Toledo won the Pac-10 championship and got us to the Rose Bowl before his fourh year in Westwood. So why should the standards be set low for Karl Dorrell?

After Karl Dorrell takes care of business on December 27, instead of celebrating too much, he and his coaches need to get right back to work. They need to focus on FINALLY delivering on the expectations of bringing the conference championship back in Westwood in 2007.