Apparently it's time for March Madness. Yet I don't feel any interest in our basketball program. I remember just few years ago during the glory days of "Ben Ball warriors," when we'd get all fired up to read the scouting reports on our next opponents to start the week. We'd wonder about the defensive assignments for guys like AA or RW - who would they get to lock down in playing that suffocating brand of basketball that put UCLA's opponents through a root-canal.
Instead of getting excited about tourney seeds - here we are looking for scraps of information on the football program. We are looking for anything to take our minds of a miserable basketball program. So Let's take in some quick football linkage - that will help you take your minds off our miserable basketball program. You're welcome.
Chris Foster reports that UCLA has raised "a little more than $30 million, up more than $ 3 million since October" for the new football practice facility. The facility is expected to cost $50 million. UCLA is making some progress here. But, it'd be helpful if we had an athletic director who is proactive about this stuff, instead of a reactive, incompetent bureaucrat.
@ESPNCFB folks shared a little "FLASHBACK" from this past season:
That was nice but as we discussed after that game - Bruins' performance in that contest was uneven at best. Hopefully, they will dominate the next matchup against the Bears from start to finish and finally end the Bay Area curse of recent years. We haven't won since beating Jim Harbaugh's first team in Palo Alto back in 2007. We haven't won in Strawberry Canyon since 1998 (Cade's senior year). Both of those streaks should end this season.
Last claimed national championship
1954 (Coaches, National Football Foundation). History shows it's hard for both UCLA and USC to be elite at the same time. Considering the Trojans have owned both the local battle and the national war in most years, can the Bruins continue rising as USC frees itself from NCAA sanctions?
How do they get the players?
UCLA will always be well-positioned to recruit the West Coast. It's simply lacked a strong enough program to take advantage. Jim Mora's changed that.
How do they even the playing field?
Offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone is one of college football's finest at packaging together a system that's simple and versatile. In particular, the system is suited to take advantage of the West Coast's preponderance of speed and limited number of big boys.
The Bruins relentlessly attack the perimeter with the quick passing game and screens until you only have five guys in the box to handle the zone read. Good luck with that.
Similarly, their defense uses a 3-4 scheme that brings pressure from multiple angles. Their usage of players like Anthony Barr and Myles Jack in blitzes allows them to recruit defensive line 'tweeners or squatty tackles who are hard to move but don't need to offer much of a pass-rush.
How do they get their chance?
The Bruins' combination of access to elite athletes and schemes that are designed to unleash them in space makes them a load for any team to handle. Winning a conference as strong as the Pac-12 is hard to top as a Playoff résumé line.
The title of the piece is interesting as it identifies UCLA (along with programs such as Michigan State) as programs that are not part of the "blue bloods" of college football. Yet as we have pointed out numerous times - historically UCLA has been in the top-15 best programs (if we are to go by factors such as AP rankings since 1936) until the program took a nose dive under the current AD.
Can we wait until 2020? I guess so if the Bruins are headed in the right direction.
Hopefully Jim Mora finally has the Bruins going in that right direction and back to where we belong. But to keep up the momentum, he will have to come through with a huge season in 2014 - that will have to include ending the ugly streak by the Bay, demolishing Southern Cal, and UCLA's first conference championship since 1998.
PS: Melsby was down.