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Spring Football Is Here ...

Time to start thinking about our football program again. Spring practice kicks off tomorrow afternoon. If you are interested in attending here are details of practice schedule posted on the official site:

UCLA will open its 2007 football Spring Practice on Thursday afternoon, April 5. All practice sessions are open to the public and weekday sessions are scheduled for 4:00 - 6:00 p.m.

UCLA will host a Fan Appreciation Day, with players and coaches signing autographs and posing for photographs on Saturday, April 7. Practice will conclude on Friday evening, April 27, with a final scrimmage.

Following is the schedule (tentative and subject to change):

Week One - April 5 (4:00 - 6:00 pm), April 6 (4:00 - 6:00 pm), April 7 (11:00 am-1:00 pm).

Week Two - April 9 (4:00 - 6:00 pm), April 10 (4:00 - 6:00 pm), April 12 (4:00 - 6:00 pm), April 14 (10:00 am-Noon).

Week Three - April 16 (4:00 - 6:00 pm), April 17 (4:00 - 6:00 pm), April 19 (4:00 - 6:00 pm), April 21 (1:00-3:00 pm).

Week Four - April 24 (4:00 - 6:00 pm), April 26 (4:00 - 6:00 pm), April 27 (7:00 pm scrimmage).
If you attend one of these practices and have specific impressions/notes to share that are not being reported in the local players, by all means please post them here on BN.

The story of this camp is going to be the faceoff between Cowan and Olson. I have certain thoughts on that duel which I will post later this week or early next week.

Meanwhile, the other story line (at least here on BN which will probably filter into the traditional media sooner or later) is the incredible pressure building on Karl Dorrell to win the Pac-10 in his fifth season at Westwood.

We weren’t paying much attention during the Madness. However, bluestreet flagged something really startling in a writeup Sportsline.com’s resident a**hole Dennis Dodd. In that write up Dodd laid out his pre-season top-25 in which he penciled in the Bruins at number 9. Now there are other folks who are picking UCLA to be a top-10 team next season. But what was really interesting from Dodd’s writeup is that it was Marc Dellins, the Sports Information Director from Morgan, who is expecting UCLA to win not just the Pac-10 this season, but beat Southern Cal by at least 20 points (emphasis mine throughout):
The Bruins are in!

You knew that, and you didn't know that. Final Four? Sure. The Spring Top 25? Let's just say I am making Marc Dellins' day. Dellins is the UCLA Minister of Propaganda -- they call him the sports info director in Westwood -- who was quick to point out that his Bruins have 20 returning starters from a team that beat Southern California.

This is an issue because the Bruins got, uh, well, somehow left out of my first 2007 Top 25 in January. Being the good MOP that he is, Mr. Dellins quickly shipped me the galleys of the spring guide. He apologized in advance for the typos (the bound version is coming). I didn't notice any except the bold prediction on Page 3 about beating USC. Again. By 20. To win the Pac-10. Now that's a good MOP.
Now I think this is pretty significant. This is a pretty clear cut public signal from the Morgan Center brass that they expect Dorrell to win the Pac-10 this upcoming season. And that note basically ratchets up public pressure on KD. The boys over at DumpDorrell.com (who are at the moment experiencing some technical difficulties) read it the same way:
This is BIG. Morgan Center is stating in bold clear language, printed in a glossy media guide they will send out to journalists across the country, that Dorrell will take our football team to the Coliseum and beat USC by 20 points!! AND … and … in doing so Dorrell will have won the Pac-10 championship that he hasn’t come close to sniffing as head coach. Well hello EXPECTATIONS!! Might as well call out Carroll and his thugs by name while you’re feeling confident.
Well since that article from Dodd came out, UCLA released it’s own spring outlook. And they are not backing away from those rosy expectations:
A year ago, the UCLA football team won its final three regular-season games, finishing in fourth place in the Pacific-10 standings and earning its fourth straight bowl bid under head coach Karl Dorrell.

It also set the table for what should be an exciting and successful 2007 season.

Coach Dorrell and his staff will welcome back a wealth of experience as the nucleus of this year's team. The starting contingent includes 10 players on each side of the ball who started the majority of games at their positions. In addition, there are several other players on both offense and defense with extensive starting experience. A total of 24 scholarship seniors populate the 2007 roster.
And KD on his part is spouting out his usual barrage of clichés:
"As a program, we are ready to move forward," said head coach Karl Dorrell. "I feel we are at the point where we have the talent and the depth in the program to do something special.

"Last season, we made tremendous strides defensively and we are going to build on that unit's success. The competition for playing time at several positions promises to be intense and the returning starters are going to have to continue to perform to hold off the younger players in the program.

"Offensively, we have made some changes that I feel will help us maximize our offensive potential. We are looking forward to taking a long look at both the veterans and the newcomers during Spring Practice and building a very productive unit.

"We have quality experience at virtually every position on both sides of the ball, but our younger players will also be given the chance to earn playing time. I expect this will be the most competitive Spring Practice during my tenure and it should raise the level of everyone's game."
Hmm doing "something special." Again will reporters call him out on that comment considering last year before the season he declared he had his deepest team ever. In any event when he says "doing something special" there is no other way to interpret that other than winning (at least) a conference championship. Dorrell may be digging his own grave here in terms of expectations and we will flag every single comment during this off-season, which we will use as markers for our minimum expectations of at least a Pac-10 championship next season.

Well now that hoops season is over as soon as practice starts we will keep an eye on all the stories coming out in next two weeks. I don’t think it is going to be very difficult for us to lay out over next few months, why Dorrell should either win the Pac-10 or leave (or be fired) Westwood at the end of this upcoming season.

We are not going to be patient and from reading the tea leaves at Morgan Center, it looks like UCLA officials themselves may not be in the mood to be all that patient with an underachieving coach either. Good news all around.

GO BRUINS.