The other day, several BN members suggested that Bruin Coach Jim Mora should bring back Rick Neuheisel to UCLA as his offensive coordinator to replace Kennedy Polamalu.
Yesterday, Neuheisel effectively shut the door on that very unrealistic possibility on his radio show on SiriusXM College Sports.
In the latest round of verbal sparring between Mora and Neuheisel, the former Bruin coach offered his opinion on UCLA’s offensive woes, according to CoachingSearch.com.
Let me tread carefully. I am the former coach and have taken my share of slings and arrows, unceremoniously was given my walking papers there in 2011, right when I though we had a team ready to compete. Jim came in and did what I thought was going to be done, he beat USC three times in a row with Brett Hundley at quarterback. Guys like Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks playing linebacker, both now starting for the Vikings.
Wow. Talk about revisionist history. Of course, Neuheisel didn’t want to be fired, but, for him to say the rest of that sounds a little bit like 20/20 hindsight. If he had the forethought of moving Anthony Barr to linebacker, he would have done so. He didn’t. Mora did.
And that says nothing about how anyone could possibly be thinking that UCLA was on the verge of beating Southern Cal three times in a row after getting whipped 50-0 in Neuheisel’s final game as coach. In fact, at that particular point in time, the only Bruin fans were thinking about was firing Neuheisel as head coach. Now, Coach Neuheisel may have been thinking it and he may have argued that when he was called into Dan Guerrero’s office and fired the following Monday, but he and possibly some of his coaching staff were the only ones who were thinking that at the time.
Honestly, there might be a book someone could write on UCLA Football in the Guerrero Era. (Of course, the Guerrero Era of UCLA Football encompasses the Dorrell, Neuheisel and Mora tenures.) It would be interesting to see some of the insights into how much or how little control Neuheisel was given over things like hiring coordinators. But, that’s truly another topic and one that CRN may very well have a right to gripe about.
The real meat and potatoes of what CRN said today had to do with UCLA’s current offensive woes. CoachingSearch.com offers another quote from Neuheisel’s radio show:
What Jim’s trying to do is change the fortunes of UCLA. Just as many people in the SEC tried to take on Sabanizing, I think he wanted to be more like Stanford, because he has yet to beat Stanford. He just doesn’t have the personnel.
That’s a pretty bold statement from Coach Mora’s predecessor and he may be right.
But, after reading that and having followed the team like I do, I have to disagree. Or, at least disagree to a degree.
When he says, "He just doesn’t have the personnel." It makes me think of the talent level of UCLA Football when Neuheisel took over. The fact was that the cupboard was bare.
It’s been very well documented here and elsewhere how much of a disaster Karl Dorrell’s tenure in Westwood was. It bears reminding everyone that it was just a disaster on the field. It was a dumpster fire when it came to recruiting too and that laid the groundwork for years of failure.
To Neuheisel’s credit, he brought in a lot of talent. And, Jim Mora’s recruiting classes have all been very good to excellent.
For Neuheisel to say Mora "just doesn’t have the personnel," sounds like he’s saying that Mora hasn’t recruited the talent needed to do what he wanted to do. There may, in fact, be some truth to that.
At least until you look at the offensive line for the entirety of the Mora years.
Of the five seasons Mora has been in Westwood, last year was the only year where the offensive line was passable. Last season, they did a reasonably good job cutting down on the number of quarterback sacks from the year before and the running game did a reasonably good job of moving the football and balancing the offensive attack.
In the first three seasons under Mora, the offensive line was a trainwreck. The only blocking technique those guys seemed to have learned was the ol’ "Look Out Block" — as in, "Hey, Brett! Look out!"
And, so, last season’s offensive line was the outlier in five years of terrible line play.
Is that really a "personnel" problem? I don’t think so.
Now, I don’t want to put words in Rick’s mouth here, but the only possible way he could be right on his assertion is if he meant that the coaching staff had failed to develop the offensive line.
I don’t think he meant that. If he did, I think he would have said it. After all, Rick Neuheisel is not known for mincing words.
In yesterday’s weekly BN Roundtable discussing the Washington State game, I mentioned an article by Heisman voter (and BN member) Lisa Horne on the PigskinGrind.com.
If you haven’t read this article, you need to read it NOW. It’s ok. I’ll wait while you go read it. I promise!
Now, that you’ve read it, you’ve seen for yourself that personnel, in and of itself, is not the issue. Horne correctly points out that UCLA recruited four 4-star offensive linemen in 2015. To be sure, one of them left the program after last season when Fred Ulu-Perry transferred, but that still leaves three former 4-star linemen from that class.
One of those three has been filling in at tackle while Kolton Miller is hurt. That’s Andre James. Another, Josh Wariboko-Alali, actually got the start at left guard last Saturday and it’s about time. I’ve been highly critical of our guards, in particular, since Spring.
So, what is the problem exactly? It’s not personnel. It’s the development and coaching of the personnel we have. And, with that, we have our answer. The problem is still Adrian Klemm, who, as of today, is still employed by UCLA.