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Straight Talk In Bruin Nation

We have already had a lot of discussion (here and here) on the football season ad UCLA placed in the LA Times and the Daily News. We are currently running a poll to take a general pulse in terms of reaction to that ad. You can view it on the right hand side of our blog or by going here.  Again I believe the ad was more than anything a straight message to the Bruin Nation from Rick Neuheisel. He is telling us directly that he understands what we expect from him in the long term as the head coach of UCLA football program. Rather than engaging in the typical coach speak, Neuheisel is taking on the responsibility and embracing the expectations in an incredibly direct manner. It is in one sense Howlandesque. Remember when he arrived in Westwood, instead of hiding away from the expectations of UCLA alums/students (which lot of so called national pundits and incompetent leaders such as Steve Lavin relentelessly concern trolled about) he embraced it head on with his own candor.

Well I didn’t expect this. It looks like there is at least one observer who is recognizing what Neuheisel has done through that ad and his other actions since he has taken over as the UCLA head football coach. Adam Rose, the Southern Cal Trojans alum who blogs on LAT’s "What’s Bruin" offered up his perspective on Neuheisel’s actions in Westwood, which I think hits lot of the right notes. Per Adam it all comes down to CRN’s candor:

Neuheisel hasn't been mincing many words since returning to Westwood this year. In fact, he's been extremely direct. For those new to Neuheisel, it doesn't necessarily gel with the reputation that preceded him. […]

Yet for the last few months, the slickest thing about Neuheisel might be how he seems to let it slide off his back. His charisma has lived up to expectations, but his candor has exceeded them.

Adam continued by saying how Neuheisel’s candor has allowed him to be simply human …

"It's hard," Neuheisel recently told ESPN's "Outside the Lines" about coaching problems he had that led to NCAA investigations at Washington and Colorado, "especially when you're living in the area where the debacle took place, to be reminded on a daily basis, whether it be the whispers of people in the grocery store or seeing another headline in a newspaper. It's a constant reminder that things have gone wrong."

He doesn't have a problem talking about it. Most people aren't that open on Facebook. This guy was on national TV.

In order to get to back to UCLA, Neuheisel was direct with his boss. Now that he's on campus, he has a healthier outlook and a better way of saying "I'm a man" than some other coaches. He just admits he's human. And moves on.

… and be "realistic" while remaining "relentlessly positive":

During a news conference this week, he talked about freshmen having to play substantial roles. "There will be growing pains. You don't have to wonder if there will be. There will be."

Asked about his biggest concern with this year's team, Neuheisel spoke about adversity. Then he added, "I think this group has a little chip on their shoulder, if you will. It feels like they've just been cast off as also-rans. It may very well be that's what comes to pass, but I don't think they like the notion of it, at least now. I think they're anxious to show we're more than that."

Sounds like he was managing expectations. Slick? Perhaps. But even if his answers are polished and/or motivated, it doesn't make them insincere. And they're certainly not indirect.

Adam then noted how Neuheise's candor has enabled him to be "direct" as evidenced in that recent ad referenced above:

Without his candor, it would have been harder for UCLA's marketing team to declare, "The football monopoly in Los Angeles is officially over."

UCLA has a long road to reach USC in college football Gloryville. If Neuheisel's actions can follow his words, at least his team will take the most direct road.

Sounds about right. Read rest of the post here.

We have been very rough on Adam (and for good reasons) here on BN for some of his previous takes on our rivalry with Southern Cal. But we have to give credit where credit is due. And despite being a Trojan, Adam gets some serious points for being able to appreciate how Neuheisel has handled himself while communicating to the Bruin community of alums, students and long time football fans, who were exuberant in his return home as the head coach of our program.

We are going to find out in next few years whether Neuheisel will become successful at UCLA. It will take a while. We know his detractors will waste no time in jumping all over him at the first sign of adversity (it’s going to happen this year – and odds are against the Bruins tomorrow night).

Yet, we are going to stay behind him not only because he is doing all the right things in terms of slowly rebuilding this decimated program, but also because the way he has communicated with all of us as the leader of UCLA football program. Adam’s  post has been one of the few I have seen in the traditional media which recognizes why the Bruin Nation (beyond this community) has filled up its collective passion bucket behind this Bruin with an imperfect past:


Brian Price high fiving his head coach (Credit: dabruins07 (flickr))

It’s his candor that’s one of many reasons giving us the confidence that he simply gets it. In other words it's his straight talk (along with his actions as the head coach such as bringing in Chow, retaining Walker, maintaining a relentlessly positive/excuse free atmosphere at Spaulding) that has given this Nation the audacity to hope.