Let’s start this Saturday by catching up on other football news and notes that might have slipped through our radar from the media day. One of the biggest complaints against Rick Neuheisel during his first two jobs was how as a young, brash head coach he quickly antagonized his colleagues from the same conference. Kevin Pearson from the Press Enterprise provides the following quotes which signal something different:
"I think guys are getting their just due," Neuheisel said. "In 2002, my last year, Pete Carroll was a good coach and now he's an icon. Mike Bellotti has now reached the status he deserves given his longevity. Jeff Tedford is now a bonafied big-time coach. Dennis Erickson was already, now he's come back and rekindled the magic everyone knew he had. The Pac-10 is a legitimate hotbed for big-name coaches. I would say it's on par with the SEC. The SEC, their salaries make themselves get a lot of notoriety."
In other words if Pac-10 coaches were hoping for bulletin board materials from CRN, they came away disappointed.
During the press conference reporters not surprisingly asked him about his expectations for his first season at UCLA. He was prepared with his response:
"I'm not going to tell players we're going out and having an 11-win season, then go in the back room and hope we win six," Neuheisel said.
"I know there is a willingness to be patient with a new coach. But it's all about creating an environment that will flourish eventually. Hopefully, it will happen sooner rather than later."
As for his own expectations, Neuheisel said, "I don't want to send the message that it is OK not to be good. Nor do I want to put a number on what it is for us to call it a successful season. I want to make sure that we get better so that I feel momentum when we go into homes [recruiting] in December."
Pretty much spot on. We have already talked about how we are not going to measure this year’s success by W-Ls. Given the challenge this team has with the questions around OL and QBs, if he can get these kids to keep fighting … and do what they can to get better through the season … we are going to be all right. No one here is looking for a miracle turn around.
What we are looking forward to is infusion of new talent such as Richard Brehaut, the QB from Los Osos who has emerged as the nucleus of Neuheisel’s second recruiting class. sponkey21 posted yesterday about an LAT blog post reporting how Brehaut was named MVP of Elite 11 camp. Though this was the key graf from that post:
"Another good thing about this camp was, it gave me the chance to show everyone what I was capable of doing. That was really important because I wanted to show coaches Rick Neuheisel and Norm Chow over at UCLA that they made the right choice in pursuing me to play for them and the Bruins.''
Again, it’s refreshing to hear from a recruit about wanting to impress the coaching staff for getting an opportunity to play at UCLA football. We are starting to get used to that feeling in Ben Ball. It’s fun to see the signs of it in the football program. Neuheisel and his staff still have ways to go on the recruiting front and a huge challenge this upcoming season. But right now we are seeing signs of hope and life that have been missing from program since that Stanford game in 2001.