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An Unpleasent Topic

bluestreet diaried on a series of recent Dohn posts on his "Inside UCLA" blog where he took a shot at about 20 something questions his readers left in the comment thread. Dohn tried his best to answer a series of questions on our football and basketball program, including some loaded questions concerning expectations for this coming football season.

'street already flagged the response in which Dohn said "UCLA should have a minimum of nine wins entering the USC game." He also had these responses to the following questions concerning the football program:

1. What is your impression of DeWayne Walker's commitment past '07, given that he has been quite vocal about seeking a head coaching position? If he has another year in which the Defense does much better than the previous year he will be much sought after in the coaching ranks.
2. What kind of pressure is there on Karl Dorrell, in your opinion, to achieve any of the goals Dan Guerrero and Dorrell himself placed on him when he was hired (win pac-10, play in BCS, beat SC), especially given the perfect storm this year of a large number of returning starters, large number seniors, and soft road schedule?

First answer: Through my discussions with Walker, I believe he plans on being at UCLA for a long time, provided he does a good job (which I'm sure he will). He loves L.A. He is from here, and wants to be here a long time. In fact, if Dorrell gets a chance to go back to the NFL, and acts upon it, I would not be surprised to see Walker running the program. He has a great long-term plan for building his defense, is being compensated well ($330,000 this season) and he is not all about the money. He took a pay cut to leave the Washington Redskins and come to UCLA.
Second answer: I think anything less than eight wins and Dorrell will feel enormous pressure. The one thing about it, and I know UCLA fans hate hearing this, is the playing field is not level when it comes to USC, and that must be brought into the equation. In order to win the Pac-10, play in a BCS, UCLA will likely have to beat USC. If UCLA fails to do that, they will join the ranks of nearly every other program in the country. Because USC is so darn good, and because its academic requirements aren't as strong as UCLA's, I think comparing UCLA to USC in football is like trying to compare USC basketball with UCLA basketball. It doesn't make sense to me, even though they are rivals.
Before reacting to these two answers, I am assuming the info. in these responses are Brian's opinions given this comment he posted in the response thread:
I love doing this. It's a chance for me to inject some of my opinions, and also either confirm or dispel myths that are so common in this internet age.
With that in mind let's take his responses one at a time.

First, I am glad Dohn thinks highly of Walker. However, I am not going to be convinced that Walker is head coaching material until he can show us that he can put together a defensive team that can stop creative, multi-dimensional spread offenses we see in college games. As we have said numerous times here on BN we appreciated the improvements in UCLA defense this past season. However, there was nowhere to go but up considering the atrocious effort of Kerr led defense the year before, and despite the improvement UCLA defense still couldn't stop like offenses of teams like Cal and Oregon, which we are going to need to stop this season, if this program wants to take the next step. Until then it would be shortsighted to proffer opinion on whether or not Walker has the qualifications to be a HC at UCLA. Clearly his current boss wasn't qualified to lead this team. So if UCLA were to look for a new coach next season, I would certainly hope DG would not make the same mistake again forcing us to go through the same "growing" and "learning" BS we have been going through last five years.

Now let's get to his answer to the second question. Look I have no problem with Dohn proffering the opinion that Dorrell may not face pressure from the UCLA administration unless he fails to win less than 8 games. Of course I do not agree with it just like I didn't agree with him last year when he told us Dorrell should be given at least six years to show whether he can get it done at UCLA. I think by mid point of the season if it becomes clear that Dorrell is not going to win the Pac-10, there is going to be incredible amount of pressure on him under which he may just collapse during the last few games of the season.

However, the problem I have is Dohn's apparent attempt to equate Trojan basketball to Bruin football. I think in that attempt Dohn shows that he may not have a grasp of UCLA's football tradition, which we have talked about over and over in this blog. Otherwise, he wouldn't go there. He wouldn't compare a program which has won or shared the conference title 17 times, appeared at the Rose Bowl 12 times with a pathetic basketball program, which celebrates appearances in the Steve-16.

To attempt to equate Trojan basketball to Bruin football is in essence buying into BS spin coming out of Southern California's PR department. Trojan basketball program, no matter how many articles appear in the Trojan Times and other Southern California newspapers about it being "Gap Closers" will never reach the same level as UCLA basketball. It doesn't have the history of UCLA football during most of its history (until the Dorrell era arrived) in which it competed against it's city rival for conference championships and appearances in the Rose Bowl. Just think about how many times UCLA and Southern Cal have played against each other with a spot at the Rose Bowl on the line and compared that to the number of times UCLA and Southern Cal hoops program have squared off with a spot in the Final-4 at the stake. So to compare those two programs IMHO is nothing short of an insult to the UCLA football program. And unfortunately it shows how even the best reporters covering Dorrell's program have succumbed to the spin coming out of Dorrell apologists, making excuses for a program. If Dohn's answer is to be taken seriously apparently it is too much to ask for to expect Dorrel's program to win the Pac-10 and beat Southern Cal in his fifth season, with twenty returning starters, even thought those were the precise expectations and goals he set out for himself when he was hired as the head coach.

Anyways. Let me make this clear. I have enormous respect for the job Dohn does in covering UCLA sports. He is probably the sole reporter covering the UCLA beat who exercises a modicum of due diligence when covering our favorite teams. And during the last few years he has actually done some reporting, instead of the cutting and pasting of press releases we get from so called reporters from the LA area and our campus newspaper. That said, good reporting on UCLA beat doesn't give Dohn the license to proffer opinion, which amounts to insulting of our program.

It is funny though. In a recent interview with ESPN apparently Dorrell waxed poetic about how the tradition has been restored with the UCLA football program. Yet here we are heading into his fifth season, the best beat reporter from Los Angeles covering UCLA football is telling UCLA fans that they shouldn't get upset if UCLA fails to compete against Southern Cal (by insulting the program comparing it to joke Trojan basketball program.

Either Dohn missed the point or Bruin football program is even worse shape than previously thought. Guess we will find out the answer coming season. Either way unlike basketball, baseball or any other UCLA sports, football is simply not a pleasant topic right now for those covering UCLA sports.