We Have a New Enemy

Posted by: Avinash on Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

RickNeuheiselRick Neuheisel’s hiring at UCLA has everyone talking with excitement at Westwood about how the Bruins will finally supplant the Trojans as the best team in the Pac-10, become a football empire and establish dominance in both of the big major sports for the next decade.

Okay. Stop laughing. I might have exaggerated a bit, but I’m sure some Bruins fans believe it.

Unlike USC’s glorious Red Armies, UCLA was more like Chiang Kai-Shek’s bumbling Nationalists–great at defending the home turf, terrible at everything else. By the end, just like Kai-Shek’s descendant Taiwanese parliament, Bruins Nation looked something like this.

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So while UCLA seems to have assuaged the flames by hiring Rick, a coach that has at least made a Rose Bowl, add to the fire, the Seattle Times is running some devastating columns on Rick’s 2000 Rose Bowl athletes (if you read some of it, you’ll understand the perils of coddling talent). Welcome to the UMiami of the West Coast folks!

What effect will it have on the Bears? Bruce Feldman has pointed out (I can’t remember where, but he HAS pointed it out–someone please send link!) that UCLA really needs to loosen their recruiting standards. Many likely UCLA recruits have ended up at Cal because of some amazingly high academic requirements for college athletes at their public schools (I believe Cal had similar standards before the arrival of Tedford, when there was “adjustment”). With Neuheisel in command, you might see some additional “adjustment”, which could mean Tedford has his work cut out for him in expanding his recruiting base. Plus Neuheisel might just give everyone $40 too.

So, is Neuheisel a good fit in UCLA? Yes…for a few years. But Bruins fans should really be wary of the track record of Rick. His last two coaching gigs lasted four years apiece, starting out with impressive bangs the first two years in both Boulder and Seattle (three ten win seasons and a Rose Bowl appearance). But then he faded quickly, and by year four he was done dirtying up the program and was out.

Then again, this is UCLA. I doubt they’ll care if their 2010 Rose Bowl champs end up becoming the 2015 Vacaville High Security Prison All-Stars.

In terms of personal rivalry, I guess I won’t mind. Losing to Dorrell was a shitty feeling. At least with Rick you’ll know you’ll get UCLA’s best shot. It’s nice to have three healthy California battles every fall. And dealing down a sleazeball next October is just fine with me. Let’s go.

What are your thoughts on Rick Neuheisel, UCLA, and the future of Cal vs. UCLA football?

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