So it happened. Rick Neuheisel made some surreal comments about UCLA "headed in the right direction" during his weekly presser (moved up a day) yesterday. You can see the key sound bite here. From Peter Yoon at ESPNLA:
"I was told that we need to move the needle and if the needle moved that we would be fine and I'd get to continue along my five years of my five-year contract," Neuheisel said. "We have won five conference games as opposed to three last year. We have won the right to represent the South in the conference championship. We've certainly had some unfortunate evenings where things haven't gone our way, but I think the program is headed in the right direction."
Once again the word here as we have used to describe number of Bruin debacles under Dan Guerrero's watch is "tragicomic." Not surprisingly Neuheisel's comments are not going over very well here and elsewhere in the greater Bruin Nation. I understand the angry feelings those remarks are generating among our alums, students and the fanbase. I don't feel sad for a college head coach who is being paid very well by UCLA and yet has produces results, no where even close to the expectations we all had when he came into Westwood.
So I get the anger and disgust at Neuheisel's tondeaf remarks. There is no point in offering up litany of datapoints to show how absurd he sounds. We have been there, done that. Sidebar: if you want to read other excerpts check out highlights via Jon Gold here, here, here and here. I don't really care too much about his thoughts on the game but you can click on this links to read up.
What is worth emphasizing is that Dan Guerrero's indecision is solely responsible for the sorry spectacle that was Neuheisel's presser in Westwood yesterday. There was no need for the UCLA community to go through that. There was no need for UCLA to drag out Neuheisel infront of that farcical Pac-12 championship background and force him to answer ridiculous and tonedeaf responses to expected questions from a pack of wolves.
Of course the dignified move for Neuheisel himself would have offer his public resignation yesterday. So he is also to blame here. But really the focus of the anger and pressure of the entire Bruin Nation needs to be on Guerrero and the UCLA administration. Neuheisel is just the symptom of a diseased culture of mediocrity that has blown up our proud major revenue programs (both of them) in last few years.
It would have made lot more sense if Guerrero made the decisive move by pulling the trigger Sunday morning and have someone like a Mike Johnson or Bob Palcic lead the Bruins to Eugene on Friday night. If Guerrero made that move, instead of the narrative being all about the sorry spectacle that is Neuheisel, it could possibly have been about players trying to go all out to make a stand, and the Bruins looking a new future with a new head coach. So again, the blame here is all on Guerrero.
There may be just one excuse - ONE (that's it) - for Guerrero to make the UCLA community go through what it is going through now. That is - he better have a "deal" in place with a top tier football head coach (not some up and coming assistant), who still has a game left with his current team. If that is the case and the deal is executed, then Guerrero may have a point for letting this show drag on.
Still from what we have heard in the background, UCLA boosters are pursuing candidates without much leadership from Guerrero. Still as Tracy Pierson poignantly reflected, Guerrero's indecisiveness in pulling the trigger now could jeopardize UCLA's search and locking in on its top target. If UCLA somehow fails to land its top target the blame will be all on Guerrero. And even if the top target comes to UCLA despite Guerrero (thanks to the efforts of boosters who apparently are doing what they can to step up in a big way), the heat will remain on him for various other reasons we have detailed on BN in recent months.
We will see how it all plays out soon enough. For now though the only person to blame for the sorry media spectacle is none other than Chianti Dan, who has turned the Bruins into a national joke. I get that the idea of UCLA going to the Rose Bowl is more absurd that one in a million shot from Dumb and Dumber. Yet we saw that transpired on Black Friday. There is just no point for Guerrero to even keep the chance of this most absurdly awkward scenario in play (not unless he has a "deal" in place with a first tier head coach).
One has to wonder whether Chianti Dan gets it... it's not just us ... the entire nation is laughing at your program.