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Our Natural Advantages

Every now and then while talking up Karl Dorrell's mediocrity as the head coach of UCLA football, you will hear us talk about UCLA's "natural advantages." If you are still wondering what exactly that term means, read this article just published on WWL (emphasis mine):

UCLA has won championships in 16 different sports, ranging from big-ticket titles in men's basketball to dynastic streaks in men's tennis, volleyball and softball. The Bruins boast titles in swimming, golf, gymnastics, soccer and track and field as well.

UCLA's success begs the question: How can one school have so much success across the board?

"There's no better job in the country for any sport," Krikorian explained. "You're getting the rare opportunity to work with what I feel are the best coaches in the country in almost every single sport. You work with the best athletes, the best administrators.

"It's a lot of fun, but it's quite humbling. If you're third or fourth in the country, that's just not cutting it. [The school's success] adds a bit of pressure to your job because the expectations are so high, but with that you gain a bit of confidence -- you know you're part of something special, something much larger than yourself and your program. It's a thrilling opportunity."

UCLA has some built-in advantages. It's much easier to attract the best student-athletes to an academically challenging institution in sunny California than, say, North Dakota. And of course, the Bruins' long history of athletic success is tangible evidence for recruits that an NCAA championship is seemingly always within reach.

"I think there are a few reasons why our program is successful," Krikorian said. "One, we're at a great university. Academically, it's one of the best, and it attracts kids that are intelligent and have a burning desire to be successful. Two, we have the right support staff around coaches and players -- whether it's weights, training, coaching, administrative -- everything is in place to be successful. Three, you need talented players, and we've been able to attract talented kids with a tremendous amount of integrity, heart and work ethic. When you add it all together, nothing can go wrong. You've put yourself in a good situation."

But while those ingredients are necessary for any successful program, what sets UCLA apart is the support the coaches receive and the focus on producing not just successful athletes, but successful people as well. Perhaps no coach epitomizes this philosophy more than UCLA's legendary coach emeritus, John Wooden. The Hall of Fame basketball coach led the Bruins to 10 NCAA championships (including seven consecutive) in his 27-year reign as the Wizard of Westwood. In his current role, Wooden serves as a friend, confidante, and not surprisingly, coach to the rest of the Bruins' staff.
Read the rest of the article, which goes on to provide some wonderful account on how Coach Wooden is watching out for all of our programs.

As I was reading the article I was struck by the words of Krikorian. You didn't hear him making any excuses for UCLA academics being too tough for athletes. You didn't hear him making any excuses for UCLA's facilities not being world class. You didn't hear him making any excuses for the high COL in Southern California. All you heard from him was just relishing the greatness and tradition associated with that four letter word and the opportunity to coach and to win championships in the best athletic program in America. Coming to think of it if you substitute Krikorian with the names Howland or Savage or Scates, you'd get the same exact answers.

Yet if you substitute Krikorian and insert the name of you know who, all you would have gotten would be boilerplate, tired, boring, pathetic clichés, making sorry excuses for years of mediocrity.

Everyone knows it. You know it. I know it. And probably some reality based folks in Morgan Center knows it. Hopefully at the end of this coming football season, if it becomes clear that the standards established and revered in every UCLA sports is not being met in the world of UCLA football, our great university with all its natural advantages will be looking for a new coach to take us to a new direction. There is no reason we can't have in football what we have in every other major sports at UCLA.