Once mora into the breach. We are on our fourth football coach in the Doughnut reign of error, counting Bob Toledo as a holdover who was already there when Doughnut arrived. We do not expect a national championship every year. But it would be nice to have a steady stream of New Year's games more often than not. This is the mark of a team which is relevant on the national scene.
Here is the year-by-year bowl picture starting with Doughnut's inaugural season, in 2002. A couple of notes first- when we say that a given Bowl takes conference team #3, that does not mean that the bowl automatically takes the 3rd team in the standings. Rather, it means that the given Bowl picks after the prior two bowls in the conference pecking order have been filled. Second, the $ amount for each bowl is not the amount that UCLA receives for playing in that bowl. As a member of the Pac-12, UCLA shares with all conference members in total bowl payouts for all conference members. But the $ amount for each bowl is a decent proxy for the prestige level of a given bowl. For example, the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl matching the 6th place team from the Mountain West and the 3rd place team from the Mid-Atlantic conference had a payout of $325,000 in 2013, compared to $18,000,000 for the Rose Bowl. And I would hazard a guess that the Rose Bowl is more prestigious than the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. As a final note, if two teams from the Pac-12 are selected for prestige bowls in a given season, with the 2nd being selected as an at-large (for example, one team in Rose Bowl, another in Fiesta Bowl), then the rest of the conference moves up a slot. So if a given Bowl is taking conference team #3 in that year, they are actually taking team #4 (Rose, Fiesta, and the bowl with selection #2 pick before them).
With that, on with the show-
Bob Toledo- 2002 Las Vegas Bowl, 5th selection (actually 6th team selected), $800,000 payout (16th highest of 28 bowls). Conference teams which played in games with higher payout- Washington State (Rose), $C (Orange), Washington, Arizona State
Karl Dorrell- 2003 Silicon Valley "Classic", 6th selection, $750,000 payout (20th highest of 28 bowls). Conference teams which played in games with higher payout- $C (Rose), Oregon State, Cal, Oregon, Washington State
2004 Las Vegas Bowl, 5th selection, $800,000 payout (18th highest of 28 bowls). Conference teams which played in games with higher payout- $C (Orange championship game), Arizona State, Cal
2005 Sun Bowl, 3rd selection, $1,575,000 payout (11th highest of 28 bowls). Conference teams which played in games with higher payout- $C (Rose championship game), Oregon
2006 Emerald Bowl, 5th selection, $750,000 payout (18th highest of 32 bowls). Conference teams which played in games with higher payout- $C (Rose), Oregon State, Cal
2007 Las Vegas Bowl, 4th selection, $1,000,000 payout (19th highest of 32 bowls). Conference teams which played in games with higher payout- $C (Rose), Oregon, Arizona State
Rick Neuheisel- 2008 no bowl game. $C (Rose)
2009 EagleBank Bowl, selected as at-large team. all Pac-12 slots were taken by other teams, $1,000,000 payout (19th highest of 34 bowls). Conference teams which played in games with higher payout- Oregon (Rose), Stanford, Arizona
2010 no bowl game. Oregon (BCS championship) and Stanford (Orange) were in BCS games
2011 Fight Hunger Bowl, 6th selection (actually 7th team selected), $837,500 payout (25th highest of 35 bowls). Conference teams which played in games with higher payout- Oregon (Rose), Stanford (Fiesta), Arizona State, Utah, Cal, Washington
Jim Mora- 2012 Holiday Bowl, 3rd selection (actually 4th team selected), $2,075,000 payout (14th highest of 35 bowls). Conference teams which played in games with higher payout- Stanford (Rose), Oregon (Fiesta), Oregon State
2013 Sun Bowl, 4th selection, $2,000,000 (15th highest of 35 bowls). Conference teams which played in games with higher payout- Stanford (Rose), Arizona State, Oregon
Over those 12 seasons, BCS Bowl participations were as follows- $C 7, Oregon 4, Stanford 4, Washington State 1. We are tied for 5th- yay.
And the following schools have played in games in which the payout was greater than the amount received for UCLA's bowl (excluding seasons where UCLA did not go to a bowl)-
Oregon 7, $C 6, Arizona State 5, Cal 4, Stanford 4, Oregon State 3, Washington State 2, Washington 2, Arizona, Utah
This year, UCLA will wind up probably in the Alamo Bowl or the Holiday Bowl, despite having the best QB in school history in terms of the record books, and the all-time leading tackler and a schedule which had almost very tough conference opponent as a home game. And a chance to clinch a spot in the conference championship against a team which was 6-5 and was without their biggest playmaker.
The Alamo Bowl has the 2nd choice of Pac-12 teams, after the conference champion. But since both Oregon and Arizona are probably going to one of the 6 prestige bowls, that means that the Alamo Bowl will actually be selecting the 3rd Pac-12 team. And if they choose the Bruins, we will be the 3rd team selected, making this year equivalent to the 2005 Karl Dorrell Sun Bowl. When I make reference to Dorrellian Bowls, that is not a compliment. And we are looking at a Dorrellian bowl this year.
If the Alamo Bowl takes Arizona State instead, we could drop to the Holiday Bowl as the 4th selection. The 4th selection is the same as last year's Sun Bowl team and the 2012 Holiday Bowl team, so we are really running in place under Jim Mora despite the excitement engendered by Brett Hundley's return, the favorable schedule, etc.
And if Oregon wins the conference championship, and goes to the Rose Bowl as a national semifinalist, there is a chance that the Playoff Committee could leave Arizona out in the cold. I don't think they would, because the Playoff Committee presumably wants to share the wealth across the six games and the five power conferences. But let's say that they do. Then Arizona would be selected by the Alamo Bowl. We would then be in line for the Holiday Bowl (again in the same position as the #3 selection as we were in the 2005 Sun Bowl). And if the Holiday Bowl passed on us in favor of Arizona State, then the Foster Farms Bowl would probably greet us with open wings as the #4 selection (which again would be running in place as the same slot taken by the 2013 Sun Bowl team).
When Brett Hundley decided to return for his junior season, I am guessing that it was not for the chance to play in the Alamo Bowl (best case scenario), the Holiday Bowl (meh case scenario), or the Foster Farms Bowl (gag case scenario).
I don't think it is particularly productive to compare the total payout over the Doughnut era to other schools on the national scene, because the Pac-12 has not had as good matchups as other conferences like the SEC and Big 10, so the payouts for the 3rd place Pac-12 team for example, are not as good as for the 3rd place Big 10 team. But there is one comparison that says it all in terms of how awful our football program has been in the Doughnut era.
Over the period 2002 through 2013, we have appeared in bowl games with a total payout of $11,587,500. If we had gone to the Rose Bowl one time since 2002, the payout would have been at least $15,000,000 for that single game. And the payout was $18,000,000 for last year's Rose Bowl.
If we make it to the Alamo Bowl this year, the payout would be $3,825,000. Again, that is the best case scenario at this point. Adding that to the $11,587,500 through 2013, we come up with a "grand" total for the Doughnut era for his four coaches combined of $15,412,500. That is still less than either participant in this year's Rose Bowl will receive.
Our combined prestige factor for every Bowl game in the Doughnut era, as measured by payout amounts, is less than we would have received from a single appearance in a BCS game. Now factor in multiple BCS games for programs like Stanford and Oregon, and tell us again how we are turning a corner. I don't think so.