To no one's surprise local writers and beat reporters are having a field day with the latest UCLA football episode of the lame "over the wall" stunt. Scott Reid from the OC Register used the news hook to trash the program. He wrote up a post in which he took some cheap shots to pile on yesterday. It's painful to read.
If you look past some of Reid's cheap shots though there are some important points worth sharing on BN:
One can only imagine [Jim] Mora's reaction when he found out Tuesday that his new team had gone "over the wall." Just guessing that it was something like the response of Bruin quarterback Kevin Prince, who was less than amused that by his teammates antics. While other Bruins were also upset on Tuesday, Mora takes over a team whose sense of entitlement is matched only by its tone deafness, the latter characteristic it shares with the administration. When their per diem checks were withheld because they skipped the conditioning work-outs, several players took to pouting on Twitter and Facebook.
"Genocide in Westwood," one player characterized the mess in a tweet.
The following day interim coach Mike Johnson responded by holding a practice that lasted barely an hour, if that. Hey, it was raining. A few days later the Bruins were given the day off to play paintball. Tuesday the Bruins went AWOL. In less than a week they'll arrive in San Francisco thanks to Guerrero and Chancellor Gene Block. Block's oversight of the athletic department and presence can both be summed up in a single word: underwhelming. When UCLA accepted an invitation to play in the 2007 Las Vegas Bowl despite a 6-6 record, one of Block's predecessors, former UCLA chancellor Charles Young complained to the Register, "UCLA has no business playing in a bowl game with the kind of season they've had."
Young was right then and the four years later the Bruins are even less deserving. But Block and Guerrero are sending the Bruins to a bowl nonetheless.
At least UCLA will finally be part of the national conversation, Neuheisel so longed to be a part of. The Interim Bowl, 6-7 UCLA vs. 6-6 Illinois, a national joke.
The question is will anyone in Westwood care?
That's a question we have been asking relentlessly here on BN. It's fresh in our minds today as we are also discussing a new marketing fail from the Morgan Center as they rolled out another silly poster to promote a new coach. So where is Chancellor Gene Block on all this?
Nestor framed the story as an opportunity for Mora to usher in a new culture of accountability. I certainly hope he will seize this opportunity. It was just last Friday when I was feeling hopeful around Mora thinking that the malaise that infected the football program and the football team is lifting and that there is a new sense of urgency and intensity.
Mora is off to a good start but he cannot do everything by himself though. He is going to need genuine support from the very top. Based on his track record we know that Chianti Dan doesn't care much. He probably hasn't found out yet that our players skipped practice yesterday.
The question Bruin alums, students and season ticket holders will have to ask is where is Chancellor Block in all this? Is he paying attention? If not why? The story may be just about a football practice but that brand that is being damaged impacts the entire school. If Block truly cares about the reputation and appeal of UCLA's brand, he should be putting Chianti Dan on the spot and demand answers on what he has done to foster in a culture of accountability in his department. From what we have seen to date it appears to rest of the world that Chianti Dan is all tuned out, while his major revenue program continues to embarrass the four letters without any consequence.