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Reality based Bruins Nation ...

So I am slowly getting back into swing of things after a week long vacation out West. Thanks so much again to M for more than holding down the fort over here at BN.

I wanted to start my week off by commenting on this gem of a post that apparently appeared on another message board. It's from BruinBlue and he gave us his permission to share it with everyone in the BruinsNation:

Karl Dorrell isn't going anywhere

That was the cry of Dorrell's supporters, when their man was compiling a 6-6 and then a 6-7 season, after taking over for a career assistant coach who despite his basic incompetence had managed a 50-33 mark, and was 15-9 in his last two years, before being fired for not winning enough. "Karl Dorrell isn't going anywhere," they retorted to those who criticized Dorrell and claimed that he was not the coach which UCLA needed to do what the new Athletic Director had stated was his goal when he fired Bob Toledo: "Win conference championships and play in BCS Bowls."

And they are right; Karl Dorrell isn't going anywhere. After boosting his career record to 22-15, the worst three-year start of any UCLA football coach since Babe Hormel in the 30's, he is virtually a cinch to be here another ten years, maybe twenty, as he bids to surpass the endless reign of Terry Donahue, his mentor. And like Donahue, Dorrell is proving that he is lucky enough, and can bring in enough talent, to win an average of seven games a year, which is all that UCLA fans have learned to require to be satisfied with their football coach.

Even better, Dorrell is on an upward tick--most average coaches, except for the absolutely incompetent, have an upward part of their ultimate coaching graph, in which they bring the program to a higher level, before sliding back down again. And it must be noted that with the fortuitous transfer of Ben Olsen, a bit better recruiting, some reasonably good assistant coaching hires, and the current mediocrity of most of the Pac-10, it looks as if UCLA under Dorrell is ready to have a couple of nine-win seasons in the next few years. But for those few remaining UCLA fans who realize that it could be so much better in Westwood, if only a real coach were hired, Dorrell's achievements are going to fall far short of what is possible.

UCLA has gotten to the point where it cedes football dominance to USC, and its fans are relegated to hoping for Pete Carroll to go to the NFL, or for the NCAA to sanction the school; no longer thinking of actually getting comparable players and beating them on the field. Actually, all USC has done is to finally find a coach who can bring them to their previous level, after they had made some UCLA-type insular hires such as Hackett and Robinson II, and slipped down to below UCLA' standard. Since Red Sanders came to UCLA in 1947, the Bruins have competed very well with USC, except for the Billy Barnes period, the early years of Donahue vs. Robinson, and now--where the gap between the programs is greater than at any time since the early '60's. And who is responsible for that? To a large extent, it is Dorrell, who compares very unfavorably in coaching ability, experience, and image among recruits, to Pete Carroll. It certainly didn't have to be this way, but most UCLA fans either don't realize this, or have become so inured to second-class status, that they just put up with it.

Last year, UCLA somehow managed to win ten games, by making improbable rallies in four of them. They trailed a 2-9 Washington team (a 24-point underdog) at home, with three minutes to go, and Washington with the ball. One more first down, and the game was over; but a holding penalty snuffed out a first down, UCLA got the ball, and scored in the last minute. A win is a win, but this was hardly a testament to coaching ability. Nor is it an inspiring thought to realize that UCLA trailed at half in every single conference game, except for Oregon State. The season culminated with an incredibly humiliating 52-14 loss to 3-8 Arizona; and of course the laughably pathetic 66-19 disgrace against USC. Of course, Dorrell being Dorrell (or Donahue II), a come-from-behind win against Northwestern sent the loyalists home happy.

And I have no doubt but that Dorrell can do enough to keep enough of the Bruin nation satisfied to ensure that his job is secure for as long as he wants to stay here; which would probably be forever, since, as with Lavin, no one else is going to offer him a better job. Dorrell thus could go down in history as the only college head football coach who never was offered any other head coaching job, either before or during his tenure. And it is entirely fitting that UCLA is associated with such an honor, because we are the only major school which has made a history of hiring coaches with no background and no prospects, except for the mother school.

What is truly sad is that so few can extrapolate from the natural resources which UCLA is gifted with--great local talent pool; beautiful campus; reasonably storied long-term history; and all the rest--and understand that with a Butch Davis, say; or a Spurrier, or even a Tom O'Brien, we could reach the highest levels in this sport. But we have willingly played with one hand tied behind our back for decades, while the Oklahomas, Ohio States and Floridas have relentlessly goine after the best coaches, and quickly fired those who have not made the grade. At UCLA, we give them at least seven years; and all the rope they need. A successful season every few years is more than sufficient. And so, ultimately, we have the football program we deserve, for what that is worth.

Under Dorrell we have not won any of those conference championships which Guerrero coveted, nor have we come close to playing in a BCS Bowl. However, in a ten-year period, I fully expect Dorrell to win one conference title, maybe two; to beat USC once or twice (this year is a likely opportunity, but he had better do it now, or he won't for another five years). Compared to what Florida and Notre Dame and Oklahoma and Southern Cal will accomplish, it won't be much; but it will undoubtedly be enough. The Dorrell supporters have won; but it was a contest which was stacked from the beginning in their favor, at this school, and with this fan base. Karl Dorrell isn't going anywhere, literally and figuratively.

I understand the total sense of hopelessness in Bruin Blue's post. What has happened under Donahue, Toledo, and Dorrell's watch have caused lot of Bruin alums to completely give up hope. Can?t really blame them for their sense of despair about the state of UCLA football.

However, I am not ready to give in yet. Not even close. I don't have much confidence in Dorrell. I think the guy doesn't having any winning instincts, who will most likely turn out to be the mediocre loser Bruin Blue projects him to be in his well written post. That said, times are a little different. This is not the 80s or even the 90s any more, eras during which underachieving pathetic coaches and losers like Donahue, Toledo, and now Dorrell could operate in a vacuum.

I do believe the internet is somewhat of an equalizer. It provides us with forums where we can rationally make cogent arguments time and time again, relentlessly building up the case of why coaches like Dorrell have been constantly underachieving at a gold mine of a school like UCLA, and not being held accountable for their failures year after year. Make no mistake about it. Everyone is reading the thoughts, frustrations, and arguments of articulate Bruin fans like Bruin Blue who are keeping their perspective on UCLA football grounded in reality, and willing to share them beyond the protective firewalls of subscription based fan sites.

These are the same reality based UCLA fans who were being laughed at, sneered at by a mostly clueless traditional media both nationally and locally due to the PR works of Steve Lavin. Remember those days when national and local traditional media, not to mention fans from other conference opponents were deriding UCLA fans for being unreasonable for allegedly being too harsh on Stevie Boy? But now it?s the UCLA fans, who always kept their basketball thoughts grounded on reality, that are getting the last laugh as Ben Howland is showing how a good coach can methodically rebuilt the basketball tradition at UCLA, while keeping the reasonable UCLA fan base happy.

The same way those who know what UCLA's potential is in football know we can have a winning program which can find itself in top-10/15 year in and year out, beat a morally bankrupt program like USC with its cheating thugs 6 out of 10 times, and make a legit run for the national championship (not the smoke and mirrors bullshit 10 win season we saw last year) every 3-5 years. It can happen only if we have a capable and a competent coach.

Perhaps Dorrell can still be the answer. But if he fails to post a decent season, which is winning 9 games and beat SC, it will give that much ore fodder for the reality based Bruins Nation to argue for a change and push for someone who is competent enough to rebuild a football program which has seen its share of high rankings, huge bowl wins, national recognition, not to mention wins over USC.

Based on the evidence we have seen so far from the current losers in charge, it may not take 10 years to get the message across that we need a change and that we need a Ben Howland of college football who will change the culture in Westwood. If Dorrell keeps it up, he may totally crater this football program in next 2-3 years because of the way he has failed to close the talent gap in Westwood.

And, oh please, don't fall for the nonsense bullshit constantly propagated by Trojan assclowns who will keep saying UCLA will not pay for a top dollar coach. Those are the same asinine arguments we heard from the bunch of imbeciles who kept repeating that UCLA will not pay top dollar for a coach like Howland.

Who are going to believe? Dorrell apologists who like to think a win in the Sun Bowl is like a win in a BCS game, Trojan blowhards from across-town, or the reality based Bruin fans who keep telling the honest truth?

I know which side I am going to fall in. Thanks to fans like Bruin Blue who keep dishing the cold hard truth. We just need to stay positive, not get worked up about the BS you see on message boards or Trojan blogs, and worry about what is best for our football program. Stay grounded in reality.

Our day will come. Sooner or later. That's what kept us going during those dark days of Steve Lavin and that's what will keep things humming during these tough days of Karl Dorrell.