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Dose of Reality II: Conspiracy Theory & Calibration

Can we please get rid of the conspiracy theories wrt to some kind of BN ploy to lower expectations for next season?

From a comment in response to the previous post providing a dose of reality:

If the prior coach had not been fired and had the same personnel, I suspect that the expectations would be along the lines of 9 wins, including one over USC, and a bowl win, right?


First of all, comparing the expectations for the first year of the Neuheisel era with those for a nightmarish sixth year of Dorrell era is off base. Of course, if somehow Dorrell was able to survive five consecutive under achieving seasons (and before any one brings it up, please go through a number of posts in the archive which shredded the argument that the 10-2 season from '05-06 was a “successful” one) and heading into his sixth year, the expectations would be in calibrated for a coach who has had time to establish his program after going through a full recruiting cycle.

The correct comparison here would between expectations for Neuheisel’s first season at UCLA and Dorrell’s first year in '03-04. Dorrell took over a program which was coming off an 8 win season and was fairly loaded with NFL caliber talent based on some great recruiting classes Toledo had hauled in following the 20 win streak during the '97-99 seasons. We were not around back then. But, if we were, based on the schedule of that season and the talent that was available in the program, we would have probably set a baseline expectation of 8 wins.  We would have expected 8 wins from the games against Colorado (away-a), Illinois (home-h), San Diego State (h), Washington (h), Cal (h), ASU (h), Stanford (a) and Oregon (h).  But we know how that turned out.  And the following year we would have set a baseline expectation of 8 wins and a must win over Southern Cal at the Rose Bowl.  When that didn’t happen, and Bruin fans started celebrating a “moral victory” against the Trojans, that led us to blogging and calling out the head coach at Fire Karl Dorrell.

So here we are after five years. The talent level has gradually gone down every year since Dorrell took over, increasing the talent gap against Southern Cal.  If I have time, I’d like look into this analysis I did couple of years ago and update the numbers.  Maybe someone can beat me to it.  But even if we take in this year's incoming freshmen class' talent into account, it would be unreasonable to expect too much out 18-19 year old kids in the world of college football where freshmen don't have the kind of immediate impact their counterparts can have in hoops.  

Moreover, I am also going to bet the schedule for next year is comparably more difficult than the one Dorrell faced during the '03-04 season.  So, based on that, it is not unreasonable to set the expectations around 6 wins.  Sure we can differ here and there on where the wins will come from.  However, it is baseless to say that we are giving Neuheisel some kind of break compared to how we treated Dorrell (based on what we would have expected from him in his sixth season).

Also from the comment thread in my post re expectations:

If the team embraces the enthusiasm of the coach and learns Chow’s offense by the time the season begins, 8 wins should be possible.

Remember what happened across town during Carroll’s first season?

Despite Pete's unending enthusiasm and Chow’s offense (who had a healthy Carson Palmer and better all around talent to work with), Southern Cal finished with a record of 6-6, which featured a 1-4 start and an ugly 6-10 loss against Utah in the Las Vegas Bowl.

We will go into depth chart details in the coming months.  But just taking a cursory look, we have a QB in Ben Olson, who has been brittle and inconsistent all through his career, and is now on his 4th OC in his 4th year at UCLA.  We have no idea how Forcier or Craft will turn out.  Same goes for Crissman.  We saw Chow couldn’t turn around even a Heisman caliber QB such as Palmer in one season.  So I would think we would calibrate our expectations accordingly.

We have some good players on defense such as Brian Price, Reggie Carter, and ATV.  However, we don’t have any dept at LB.  Our secondary is going to be totally inexperienced, and it is a little unrealistic to expect freshmen to step in (no matter how talented they are) and make an immediate impact right away.

With that said … do I expect our team to play with a better sense of purpose and more aggression?  Absolutely.  I think it will be fun to watch UCLA football.  I am going to be fired up for every game knowing that we will not have a coaching staff who will not have anything to do with “playing not to lose” mentality or taking a knee despite having good field position/TOs before the half.  I have full confidence that Neuheisel and his staff will be gunning for victories every game.  I am certainly not discouraging anyone here from being optimistic for an exciting season.  However, I am not going to let reality color our blue and gold tinted glasses in how we approach the season, given what has transpired during last five years.

So please ditch the conspiracy theories.  All we are doing is calibrating our outlook based on data points at this snap shot of time.