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A Very Good Fit ...

Terry Bowden from Yahoo! Sports channels a little BN (HT to tasser10):

Over the past 25 years, UCLA has split its games evenly with USC at 12-12-1. I realize Southern Cal has won eight out of the last nine, but before that, the Bruins were dominant over the men of Troy winning eight straight. More importantly, UCLA is in the same geographical recruiting area as USC … and those are the most fertile recruiting grounds in America. There are more top division football recruits (over 200 in 2008) in the Los Angeles metropolitan area than in any other city in the U.S.

Many of you will argue that it doesn't matter how close UCLA is to USC because the great players will always choose USC. However, when UCLA is winning it is just as likely to get those athletes out of Los Angeles as is USC. And, when they have the right guy at the helm they have won a lot of football games.

From 1976 to 1995 UCLA coach Terry Donahue won 151 games, five Pac-10 championships and three Rose Bowls. Donahue was also 10-9-1 against USC. Terry Donahue was the right guy at UCLA and as far as recruiting goes, he owned the city of Los Angeles.

That makes Rick Neuheisel's hiring at UCLA quite probably the most important one in the Pac-10 since Pete Carroll. Like Donahue, Neuheisel is a UCLA graduate and as a senior led the Bruins to a victory over USC and a Rose Bowl championship. He knows the territory and he knows what is expected of him. More importantly, Neuheisel has proven himself as a very good football coach on the field at both Colorado and Washington where he had some big years and big victories.

Although Rick made some poor off-the-field decisions in his first two head coaching jobs, I suspect he will make the same successful "game-day adjustments" in his career that he has made on the sideline.

Neuheisel is a very good football coach and UCLA is a very good fit for Neuheisel. That ought to make for a very good future for the Pac-10.

And that's not good for USC.

Now I am sure Bowden’s commentary will cause some heads to explode around the internets. No, we are not beaming our talking points to Terry Bowden re Neuheisel being the “right guy” or retorting to silly jabs about UCLA being just a “basketball school”. But we do note this is not the first time Bowden has advanced some of the same arguments we have consistently laid out here on BN.

Anyway, I am sure this season (and probably next one as well) every time UCLA football experiences setback on the field (or on the recruiting field) there will be a cascade of criticisms and “I told you so” directed toward Neuheisel from Colorado to Washington, and from all other corners around the Pac-10 conference, who are desperately hoping for UCLA and Neuheisel to fail. But the greater Bruin Nation would be well advised to ignore all that chatter, just like all

As Bowden pointed out above, UCLA is arguably the only team in the conference that has the potential to challenge Southern Cal’s dominance in the conference given its access to LA’s incomparable talent pool. And we saw that playing out in the recruiting front this past season, in which even the previous regime was able to put together the best recruiting class in the conference despite going 1-4 against Southern Cal in previous five years.

If Neuheisel chips away both on and off the field and not repeat the mistakes he made as an young coach in his previous two head coaching positions, we think he is best suited to not only re-establish UCLA as a Pac-10 power in the day of Donahue. We also think he will be able to take us few steps further and be able to sustain that success on a long term basis. However, we are not naïve enough to think that all this will transpire in one or two seasons given what we have endured in last five years. That is why no one here is going to head for that ledge every time there is a little recruiting setback or our first two seasons under Neuheisel look like (record wise) the same caliber of seasons Howland produced in his first two years at UCLA.

Just like we maintained perspective even after UCLA was bounced in the first round of NCAA in Howland’s second season, we will do the same with Neuheisel (provided that we see all the signs of progress in terms of how he is building our program and with the kind of mentality our team is competing on the field). But at least it is good to know we are not the only who believe Neuheisel is the right fit for UCLA.