Oh yeah, that's right.
We have a game tonight.
Winner gets Roses.
If there's been a crazier week for UCLA football fans, I don't remember it.
This week alone we've experienced the most humiliating loss ever in the rivalry series with UCLA, saw our head coach fired, then three days later watched the team emotionally carry him off the field on their shoulders in tribute and all the while our athletic director has embarked on a Quixotic search for a new head coach.
I wish I could say it's been fun, but it hasn't.
The truth is, it should never have gone down this way, it should never have happened.
Bruins Nation made the call first. In an October 21 front page post (posted under the collective "Bruins Nation" byline) titled "Clean the House: Time for Wholesale Regime Change at UCLA," we wrote (in the wake of the Debacle in the Desert, played the night before):
So after last night, no matter what happens the rest of the season, we can say absolutely, without any doubt, that Rick Neuheisel is not the man for the job in Westwood.
We've been on it ever since. In the days that followed our initial call for Rick Neuheisel's firing Bellepheron posted a piece titled "Bruin Bites: Dan Guerrero and Rick Neuheisel Must Go Edition." I followed with the criteria Bruins Nation would use to assess the next head coach and a piece we called "Checkmate for Neusheisel: On Field Results Rest of this UCLA Season Will Not Matter."
And so on.
There were reasons we made the call at that moment. It's not that we had something personal against Rick Neuheisel. In the Pregame Guesses for the Colorado game I wrote that I'd be sad to see Rick Neuheisel go and many of the commenters (including BN frontpagers) agreed. This week alone, Nestor posted about the emotional send off Rick Neuheisel got at his last practice and we all were a moved by the player's final tribute to their coach.
No, we made the call after the Arizona game because we understood that there was no point in delaying the inevitable and because we also understood that there were strategic reasons for making the move. See, no coaching search could really commence as long at Rick Neuheisel was our head coach. As long as Dan Guerrero remained committed to giving Rick Neuheisel a chance to keep his job, he couldn't start looking for Rick Neuheisel's successor.
So in the interim, we were subjected to a blowout by lowly Utah and a 0-50 ass kicking from the Trojans. 0-50 is how you describe the speed of your sports car, not the final score of your football game with a rival. And even after the USC game, Chianti Dan was hesitant to make the move. Even after we became the sports laughingstock of the city, Dan Guerrero wanted to give Rick Neuheisel a shot at redemption in the Pac 12 title game against Oregon.
This was not smart.
If we had made the move against Rick Neuheisel after the Arizona game, we would have had a month's head start on every other program looking for a coach. We could have been negotiating with Bolse State's Chris Petersen for weeks by now -- and if we had we'd know if he was willing to come to L.A. for 20 million dollars. If he was, we'd be done with this so-called search. If he wasn't we could have perhaps moved on to Mike Leach or Rich Rodriguez. Now, we can't. Leach is signed and sealed by Washington State and and RichRod is in Tucson and meanwhile Arizona State and Texas aTM are now looking for coaches and if we don't get Petersen there is no indication that there is any viable Plan B candidate.
I'm not joking when I say don't be surprised if you hear we've hired a search firm and that there is no rush to hire the next coach.
And don't be shocked if we end up with an NFL guy like Jim Mora, Jr. (who wore out his welcome in two NFL cities and is currently not coaching anywhere) or former Oregon coach Mike Bellotti (who hasn't coached in years and who played us for fools all the way back when we hired Bob Toledo to replace Terry Donahue.)
Oh yeah, we have a game tonight. We play Oregon for the Pac 12 Championship. If we win, we'll play the Big 12 champ in the Rose Bowl. We haven't won the Rose Bowl, by the way, in 26 years.
With that, here are your Pregame Guesses, Oregon Ducks/Pac 12 Title Game edition:
- Will UCLA cover the 31 point spread in tonight's game?
- Will UCLA senior Derrick Coleman score any touchdowns in tonight's game, his last conference game as a Bruin?
- Who do you think will be the next head coach at UCLA? Not who do you want, but who do you think will ultimately get the job?
Put answers to 1 and 2 in the subject header. As for number 3 use the comment space as an ongoing open thread to discuss your predictions re. the end result of the ongoing UCLA football coaching search.