You know the old saying...the field turf is always greener at the other stadium,. Or, well, something like that. Except it doesn't count for Boise State. And our field is frequently dotted with little yellow hankies, so it doesn't really apply there, either. But you get the point.
Going back and reading through the comments in the game thread really provided an interesting perspective on things. I was surprised that, for a team that was once agin in the thick of the Pac-12 Title race, there were so many comments complaining about the offensive play calls, or about the lack of imagination by the head coach, or about the need to replace one of the coordinators, or about the rotten luck of key injuries, or about the frustration that the team would never reach its potential, or about the crappy Pac-12 refs missing blatant calls and being clearly biased for the opponent, or about the red zone failures, or about another year of middle tier bowls. Sound familiar?
Just to be clear, I'm not referring to our own game thread. I'm actually referring to the game thread at Utah's Block U.
I was surprised because I think that Utah has it going pretty good these days. I've looked at Utah's head coach with a lot of admiration. That guy seems to get way more out of his team than he has to operate with. In that way he's sort of the anti-Mora. The Utes move to the Pac-12 four years ago opened inroads to higher levels of recruits than they could find while in the Mountain West, and over the last couple years, Utah was just a game away from winning the Pac-12 South with a roster that couldn't quite stack up to the top teams in the conference, I thought that had finally evened out when Utah went on the road and beat Oregon by something like 80 earlier this season. The nation thought Utah was finally the real deal. With numerous coaching vacancies opening around the country, I thought that maybe their coach would be a popular candidate and hopefully we would see him move out of our conference and Utah would be forced to restart with someone who would likely be less effective.
But after reading through the comments on the Utah blog and after watching yesterday's game, it looks like Utah and U.C.L.A. aren't so different after all in some respects. In fact, lots of the comments on Block U would fit in perfectly on Bruins Nation. In true Bruin fashion, 2015 played out for Utah very much like 2014 and 2013 and their season once again fizzled in much the same fashion as it has before. The song remains the same for the Utes and unlike my perception that their program is in good shape, the Utah fans are getting frustrated with what they see as a lack of progress, and they are looking for greener pastures themselves. Weird how perception works.
I already know the snow in Utah isn't as nice as it is in Colorado, and maybe after all their grass isn't any greener than it is in Westwood, either, even if we only have 80 yards of it. This morning there are four other Pac-12 South teams that would love to be in our position, and that now includes our friends in Salt Lake City.
The Bruins advanced past the Pac-12 quarterfinals when they finally got a long awaited big win on the road against a favored team with our season hopes on the line, when the much mocked defense gave up just 9 points on the entire day, when the offense did just enough to overcome a relatively average game by our precocious quarterback and a juggled offensive line, the refs once again sucked but at least sucked pretty equitably, and most importantly, when U.C.L.A. wasn't overtly outcoached. Funny how that last part happens and everything else turns out ok.
Our football program still has legitimate, chronic, mind numbingly frustrating issues that need to be fixed for both the short and long term benefit of the team, but when I consider Utah's current position, it's clear that final factor trumps all others in predicting the Bruins success or failure. Whether is was Utah making strange play calls from the 2 yard line or the Bruins making adjustments on defense and improving throughout the game, I don't think you can look at yesterday's game and say that the Utes clearly outcoached the Bruins. Unlike the games against Stanford or Colorado or Wash St, the Bruins do just fine when the coaching game is relatively even. Fix that part each week and we'll get to where we want to be.
This article will be short this morning because in the end I don't need to find some curious psychological phenomenon or some cosmic universal parallel that manifests in U.C.L.A. football. That's not necessary today. Today there is really just one very basic and obvious and vital point: Beat $c.