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Spaulding Roundup: Chow Admiration, Shirley-Washington Chatter & Other UCLA Notes

Let's start today's roundup with some quarterback recruiting notes. Doug Tifft from the OC Register (unlike his Trogan hack colleague Adam Maya) actually posted some useful UCLA related information on the "UCLA blog" of the OC Register.  Tifft has some info on Stephen Rivers, the brother of outstanding San Diego Chargers QB Phillip Rivers, who might be interested in UCLA:

The elder Rivers reflected on his shared visit to Westwood at a lunch with local writers on Monday, including some positive signs for Bruins fans.

"[Stephen] was impressed with the place," Philip Rivers said. "And obviously with the history that I have with Coach Chow, he thinks a lot of him. So I think he is still keeping it on his short list."

The elder Rivers gushed about Chow to the local reporters in San Diego:

While Philip's only involvement in his brother's recruiting process to marvel at how early the modern high school star is recruited, he is able to lend a unique view of life as a quarterback under Chow.

"[Chow] was passionate, but not a screamer or yeller," Philip said. "He was a calm teacher of the game - didn't get real animated or fired up. He was easy to learn from and a very engaging person."

Rivers enrolled at North Carolina State early and started behind center immediately, so his experiences with Chow came at a critical time in his career. That is a large part of the reason he says Chow "was a big reason for getting me off to a good start [to my career].

"I think the biggest thing [Chow] did for me going into freshman year was he put me in a position to be successful," Rivers said. "We talked about tailoring the offense to fit the quarterback. He obviously had a system for years and years and years at BYU, but he tailored it to what I could do and be able to do as a freshman. He finagled it to make it simple so we could go out and be successful."

Hopefully years from now Kevin Prince and other UCLA QBs will be making same comments about Chow. FWIW, despite the story above not really sure how serious UCLA and Rivers are about each other.

Guess we will have to find out how rest of the chips fall in the coming weeks.  According to Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times (via, Brett Hundley is now planning to to take unofficial visits to both UCLA and UW before making a final decision. It is unclear when these visits are going to take place, so not easy to come up with "a timeline is for a decision and announcement."

As a Bruin fan, I'd recommend not getting worked up over any of this. I'd be worried if Darius Bell had not gotten into Westwood. Now that he is hire our depth is looking much better.  Hopefully CRN will bring in a solid QB this season. If not provided our offense take necessary steps forward this coming season, we should be able to snag elite QBs in 2012.

Speaking of UCLA and Washington, lot of breathless chatter on both and message boards about whether Josh Shirley will end up in Montlake. It seems like the Husky fans are feeling confident (and weirdly giddy) about the idea of getting Shirley into the program before the start of the season.

Keep in mind even Southern Cal - yes Southern Cal Trogans - shied away from pursuing Shirley "because they did not want to suffer the public relations hit of recruiting a player kicked off UCLA's team for an arrest." Yet, this is not a problem for Hello Kiffin's twin Steve Sarkasian.

If Shirley ends up with Washington, it will be a little amusing to see the same Husky fans who still can't stop talking about disciplinary issues with Neuheisel's UDbub program, rationalizing signing someone who was dismissed from Neuheisel's program due to disciplinary issues. I should also add that how Shirley and the two other frosh - Paul and Shaquille Richardson - react to their recent disciplinary measures will tell us a lot about their characters. Are they going to take responsibility and work their rear ends off to rededicate themselves in a JC (before coming back to UCLA) or are they going to take the easy way out and play the "victim" in this situation? We are going to find out eventually I guess. Either way, CRN and UCLA made the absolute correct decision and our program will be stronger for it.

Moving on to some more predictions, Dave Curtis from the Sporting News ranked UCLA at number 46:

Why we know we're right: The offense will be better. UCLA hopes to enhance its stagnant running game with a version of Nevada's pistol offense. Returning five offensive linemen with starting experience will help, as will sophomore quarterback Kevin Prince improving from an inconsistent freshman year. Bank on 6-5 Nelson Rosario to have a huge year outside.

Why we might be wrong: The defense. Losing All-American tackle Brian Price should make the Bruins more susceptible to the run, which means big trouble in the Pac-10. The unit still features individual stars, led by safety Rahim Moore and linebacker Akeem Ayers. Still, just three other starters return, and that makes this defense middle of the Pac-10 pack.

Our confidence level in this pick: Medium. The Bruins have some individual stars on defense, and the schedule brings five conference home games. But without major improvement on offense, especially running the ball, UCLA could sink below .500.

Nothing in there we don't already know. Jon Wilner from the San Jose Mercury News also wrote a mediocre "preview" for Sports News Yearbooks creating drama that doesn't exist in Westwood:

The Rick Neuheisel era at UCLA  has not lived up to the hype, which may not be the coach's fault. Combine the Neuheisel name with fans' desperation and a talent-depleted roster, and it's easy to see why too much might have been expected too soon.

But in Year 3, it's time for Neuheisel's energy, offensive coordinator Norm Chow's playbook and all those highly rated recruits to pay dividends for the Bruins.

Uhm ... kay. Wilner provided no evidence whatsoever about exactly "who" "expected" "too much" "too soon" in Westwood. Guess that is what happens when these guys have to write short, uninformative, vanilla previews without much substance within word limit restrictions.

Expect to read more "previews" like that in coming weeks. As for us we just have to keep in mind as long as we keep making progress and build on last year's winning season with hopefully a winning record in the conference, we will be in good shape heading into 2011.

Well I will just end with the following tweet from MJD (HT Angulo):

College football is about to start and I think my bruins are gonna do work this year.... UCLA is where its at (cont)

Enough said.