Thanks to hiltigger from Bruinville.com (linked up by Tydides) and BN’s telemachus by now most of you have had a chance to see the emotional half time event from last Saturday during which CRN introduced his two star assistant coaches.
I wanted to reflect some more on that event before moving on.
There is something about this picture that is very powerful at least to me:
Photo Credit: Davenhill
I wasn’t at Pauley. But from what I gather from talking to number of folks (via email, IM, and the wonderful discussions here) despite Pauley being in delirium from watching our Ben Ball warriors thoroughly dismantling a good Zona team all night long, the loudest cheer of the night came during those moments.
It takes a person of classic leadership skills to pull off what CRN has done to date. And it is evidence in that image. CRN brought in his high profile assistant coaches and presented themselves as "we."
He had no problem in ceding the center stage to DeWayne Walker, who along with CRN had now problem glorifying Norm Chow:
Photo Credit: Davenhill
In return Pauley thundered right back, roaring their emotional support, firing off emotional bond that is going to link up the entire Bruin Nation from here on out. Kristy, a long time poster on bruinzone.com wrote a powerful response to those moments:
I know, I know...this will be Rick's first year, he needs time to build, we have to be a little patient, we won't win all of our games next season, we musn't be too greedy...I know all of that. But I can finally see a coach who burns with the same desire for greatness for our program that I have, that you have, that the faithful who have trekked out to the Rose Bowl, win or lose, for years and years all have. Those of us who dress our kids in BearWear, who wear our UCLA sweatshirts to the market or the gym the day after losing to the Trojans because we still want the world to know that we're Bruins, those of us with blue-and-gold blood running our veins...oh, we've been waiting a while.
Rick is putting the pieces into place. He's setting the table for the feast to come. I can taste it. Finally, at last, I can taste the climate of excellence in the air. It's on its way. And I'm going to savor every moment.
Deep down if there was any resentment either Norm Chow or DeWayne Walker might have felt against CRN, I’d think at this point all of that has vanished. It is pretty clear now that they are emotionally invested in the success of this program, as CRN has signaled in emphatic fashion that he has no problem giving credit where it is due.
We know neither Chow or Walker will be here for long. I imagine they will move on someday after hopefully what will be successful stints at UCLA. But when there will be time for CRN to replace them, he will not have a difficult time to attract talented assistants as they will know they will get their share of the credit and time in the limelight for their contributions in CRN’s program.
But back to present I am with Kristy. I do believe given the experience we will have to replace from all the departing starters, the tough schedule, and implementation of new offensive schemes, we are going to have a challenging year next season. However, that said for the first time in my years of following UCLA football, which goes back to mid 80s, I can now see a vision that I have never seen in Westwood.
We have always talked about that vision (during those tough years of the previous coaching regime) of UCLA football striving for the same level of excellence as all of our other sports teams (except for Olivier’s basketball program). But for the first time we have a coach, a leader, who is not only striving for it, but embracing it.
CRN’s vision has given all of us the audacity to hope. We can feel deep down inside something good is on the way. It will take a while to get there. But we know it is coming. And it is good to savor every moment of it.