Friday, October 21, 2011
Rockbottom for UCLA (And Neuheisel's officially Lame Duck status)
Normally I would save this post til my weekly football wrap but after UCLA got demolished in Tucson, Arizona. I need to say this. Tonight I haven't been this embarrassed to be a UCLA fan and that first half was the worst moment I've seen in my 16 years being a fan of the Sons of Westwood.
Wednesday night I posted my wish that Arizona didn't embarrass us on national TV. Tonight, I left work to see that the Bruins were down 35-7 before halftime. I barely got in my car and I found out that UCLA was down 42-7. Forget heading home to watch this, I was going to the gym.
What made it worse? A dang streaker ran on the field right before the last play of the half. Then to top it off, UCLA got in a brawl with several players. I usually don't mind fights if it's done in the right place but that was classless. A team getting beat down and you resort to throwing blows. That's stupid and unless Arizona was instigating as well, I can't condone that.
So to recap. UCLA goes to Tucson. Can't run the ball on one of the worst run defenses in the country. Gets dissected by Nic Foles - the 2nd best QB in the conference who led them to TD's on every drive. Lets Arizona and their pitiful run game (72 yards per game) steam roll us. Gives Arizona a safety late in the 2nd half. And lost to an interim coach.
Heck, their cheerleaders probably outdanced and out-cuted ours. Well, that last one might not be hard given Arizona's female student body.
Now I remember when UCLA was blasted out of oblivion by BYU 59-0. That might have a worst margin of victory but this was worse. I can blame that team being led by Kevin Craft, one of the worst QB's I've seen behind center, and BYU being ranked No. 18. What's the excuse here?
The Rick Neuheisel era can now be classified as a failure and it will end sometime in December or 2012 with his termination. It started with such promise. I was at the Rose Bowl covering his debut game and there was electricity in the stands when they beat Tennessee in overtime. Slick Rick was there in the dark rallying the student body and you felt maybe something could happen.
Course the next game was the BYU debacle. It was the story of his tenure: great highs and lows. Their 2009 recruiting class was supposed be great and then he completely mismanaged it as guys didn't produce or pan out. UCLA was supposed to finally be better than USC in 2010 and couldn't find a way to end the losing streak .
Neuheisel alienated his dream coaching staff of O-coordinator Norm Chow and D-coordinator Dewayne Walker and installed a pistol offense where neither QB he recruited could run it. He's wasted some very talented WR's and if not for his defense being solid, it'd be a slipshod unit all around. I don't see much toughness all around that team and this year, I think he's lost control of his bunch.
He came with a lot of pretty talk and attitude. But he couldn't take advantage of USC's sanctions and the way his team is playing, it's going to be hard to convince big time recruits in California to go to Westwood. Slick Rick is a great communicator/talker but as a coach, he's falling way short and after Thursday, there's no doubt he's a lame duck coach waiting to be taken out back.
UCLA needs a makeover. We haven't been relevant since 2005 and besides Ben Olson, it's going on 13 years since we had a great QB. We haven't been consistently tough on D since Walker left and it's time for a change. A change in recruiting and leadership.
Last night was the lowest I've felt as a Bruins fan. And I shudder to think of what USC is going to do next month.