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Answering Our Critics

In recent days, BN has been the target of ignorant criticism from other fanbases who think our expectations for Karl Dorrell are unreasonable and unfair. They know who they are, and while my personal feeling is that it's none of their damn business how we feel about our coach, I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume their takes come from ignorance rather than the fear of awakening the sleeping giant that is Bruin Football. After all, it is in the best interest of the current football elite that the Bruins don't join their club, and it would appear that us retaining KD is the best way to keep us down.

Some of our critics are undoubtedly ignorant rather than fearful, and that is what this post is all about: education. There are way too many reasons to doubt that KD can get the job done this year for me to list here. A small sample can be found in ESPN's recent "All Access" piece on our football team, in which our head football coach was made to look like a bumbling idiot in front of the nation. But I'm a Basketball guy first. I take refuge from the winter cold by ducking into Pauley Pavilion to watch our basketball team dismantle yet another hapless opponent. In that light, I'll share my personal reasons why it is absolutely imperative that our expectations are met this season.

The urgency starts and ends with this man:

I believe I felt a collective shudder from Bruin Nation upon seeing this mans mugshot. For the Non-Bruins who may not know who this is, this is Steve Lavin, ESPN commentator, #1 Worldwide consumer of petroleum products (hairgel), and one of the worst coaches UCLA has ever had. Among his "accomplishments" in Westwood are:

  • Second worst record of any post-Wooden coach (145-78, 0.650)
  • UCLA's first losing season in 50 years
  • History of Postseason Failure (Inability to get past the Sweet Sixteen despite an abundance of NBA talent on his roster)
  • Embarrassing blowouts to elite teams, unexplainable and unforgivable losses to far lesser teams
  • Complete lack of player development
So what? That's basketball, not football. Hold on just a second, let's take a quick look at Karl Dorrell's "accomplishments" in Westwood:
  • 29-20 Record (0.592)
  • 1-3 Record in second tier bowl games (losses in Silicon Valley, Las Vegas, and Emerald Bowls)
  • Embarrassing blowouts to elite teams (SUC)
  • Unforgivable losses to far lesser teams (UW, Arizona)
  • Lack of player development (Anyone watch the NFL Draft this year?)
Yes, what we have here is a full blown case of history repeating itself, at our expense. I ask our critics, what justification do you have for criticizing Bruin fans for not wanting to repeat the same mistakes twice? There is no answer for that. Lavin took the greatest tradition in college basketball and ran it into the ground. Why should we stand by and watch the same thing happen to our football program not even 10 years later? The first step to ensuring that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past is to clearly state the expectations we have of our coaches. Lavin was an expert at lowering the bar and creating an atmosphere where he was not held accountable for his failures by painting the UCLA fanbase as unreasonable. In much the same way that I see parallels between KD and Lavin, I see them between our critics and Lavin's slick bar-lowering techniques.

Those who continue to insist that we are being unreasonable by holding our football coach to his own expectations from back when he was hired must be afraid to see what could happen when UCLA finally gets a Howland or Savage type coach in place for our football program. In the span of four years, Ben Howland has undone the damage that Lavin hath wrought and then some, which is nothing short of a miracle. Savage is well on his way to awakening a long dormant underachieving baseball program. We are UCLA, the first university to get to 100 NCAA championships. The two aforementioned coaches have merely helped basketball and baseball join the majority of programs in Morgan Center who are already at the elite status, and have been there for quite some time.

We know what is possible for our football program, because we see success every day in virtually every other athletic program. That is why the expectations are what they are, and we must not back down and allow another Lavin to run roughshod over another one of our programs.