Friday, November 30, 2007


Since today is the last day I can post this. Here ya go: SCOREBOARD.

SC fans taking it to a new Low

Just in time for rivalry week! When USC decided it wanted to put some pressure on the Coliseum for some improvements, it had a couple of ideas. First, was pretend that they were looking for a new home. That didn't go over so well, when UCLA and the Rose Bowl called their bluff. Second option? Call in death threats to the Coliseum Commissioners. Classy.

The USC athletic department urged alumni to call up the Coliseum Commision and "complain". Well Raider Nation... err, Trojan Nation responded! Here are some of the gems:

"I've gotten many, many calls along the following lines: 'Hey, Mr. Chadwick, hope our paths don't cross. Understand you're married, you've got three little girls,' " Commissioner Bill Chadwick said.
Don't these chuckle heads have a game this weekend? Guess the naming of Pat Cowan as the starter has them shaking in their boots. Unreal.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Dean Decomit

It looks like some of the blue chip players committed to UCLA in the 2008 class are starting to change their minds. The first lose is Andre Dean. The uncertainty at head coach (or maybe I should say the growing certainty that Dorrell won't be the head coach) is the cause. Tough loss for the Bruins because Dean looked like a real play maker at running back. It looks like he will return to his first commitment which was Texas A&M.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Oregon Highlights

Ten Reasons

I posted something similar at Bruin Report Online last year and I figured I should keep the tradition alive. Call it superstition or call it desperation... in either case here are my 10 reasons why UCLA can beat USC this year.

10. The Reggie Bush Curse. Don't believe in curses? You should. Cade McNown cursed UCLA when he tried to run up the score on the Trojans in 1998. The Result was 7 years bad luck for the Bruins. Reggie Bush has laid a similar hex on SC. Hey, they haven't beaten us since Bush left for the NFL!

9. Tricky, Tricky! Jay Norvell and Karl Dorrell have thrown in some trick plays this season. Will we see the play book busted open this game? Let's not forget that UCLA has performed a fake punt every year under Karl... but not yet this season. A reverse to Slater on a kickoff? A pitch back to Olson on a run? How about a Breazell pass... or two??? Who knows what the Bruins have up their sleeves. Certainly the SC defense doesn't.

8. Eight and Seven! This rivalry has been all about streaks lately. The Bruins won 8 in a row and then the Trojans won 7 straight. History tells us it is time for the Bruins to keep their new streak going.

7. Rain Rain, Come and Stay. The weather forecast for this weekend is a 30% chance of showers. Bad weather can slow down otherwise good offenses. It also makes passing difficult. UCLA is pretty tough against the run, so this could play into our favor. Our own offense is already terrible, so rain isn't going to make it any worse.

6. We own your Booty. John David had a tough game last year... and that's putting it mildly. He also didn't play well as a reserve in 2005. Maybe the Bruins are in his head? I'm hoping Bruce Davis is in the ear-hole of his helmet very often this weekend.

5. Been There Done That. USC used to be the unbeatable giant of the PAC-10. That stigma is gone. This Bruin squad already beat this team last season and the air of invincibility isn't there. Expect the Bruins to come and play.

4. Win One for the Gipper. Bruin fans may be virtually unanimous in their calls for a new coach, but the players support him. They haven't quit all season and they might use Karl's job situation as extra motivation to beat SC.

3. Kai Forbath. How did we win the game last year? It was defense and field goals. If it comes down to the same situation this year then UCLA has a virtually automatic kicking machine in Forbath.

2. Matt Slater. He is the X-factor in every game. He basically is the UCLA special teams unit. Not just on kick returns either. He has laid some spectacular hits while covering punts and kicks and recovered a fumble as well. If he can take one to the house then that could really help the UCLA cause.

1. D-fence! D-fence! How did we win the game last year? It was field goals and defense. About the only real strength the Bruins have is their defensive unit. If they rise to the occasion and, maybe more importantly, are fortunate to get some turnovers then they can keep the Bruins in this game. Hopefully Walker has his boys well prepared for battle because UCLA will lean heavy on his squad.

OK, OK... maybe I should call this the 10 reasons why UCLA can keep it close this year. It may be a beat down of epic proportions on Saturday and the odds are definitely not in the Bruin's favor. Then again, we were 15 point dogs last year and look how that turned out. You never know how things will go in a rivalry game. At least that's what I keep telling myself over, and over, and over again.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Bowl Eligible

Good thing you don't get points for style, because that was one of the ugliest games I've seen in years. It was a defensive battle from the start. The quarterbacks from both teams combined for 15 of 56, 0 TD and 5 interceptions. Yikes! Oh well, we got to the magic six win mark and that gives this team an extra game to play this holiday season.

Amazingly, UCLA is still in contention for the Rose Bowl. They had an unlikely path but their win today was the 3rd domino in row to fall. Arizona's upset win last week over the ducks, and the Trojan's clobbering of ASU were the first two. Now the Bruins just need ASU to lose to Arizona and, of course, beat USC. With the Trojans playing their best ball of the entire season, it looks like our dreams of a BCS game will end at the Coliseum on December 2nd.

Still, it was nice to come away with the victory today. Oregon hadn't been shutout in a game for over 22 years. Our defense was sweltering and Johnathan Stewart was held to only 34 yards. It was also nice to see Karl Dorrell actually make a change at quarterback when it was obvious that Rasshan wasn't playing well at all. Olson didn't play much better but he did keep some drives alive that gave UCLA good field position. That was incredibly important in this game and the switch was the right move.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Betting on the Bruins: The Band Aid Bowl

With a banged up Ducks squad taking the field this weekend against the Bruins, we could call this game the Band Aid Bowl. It might be 4th string on 4th string especially since Oregon's 2nd string quarterback Ryan Leaf has also been nursing an ankle injury. It definately won't be a pretty game but one that both teams must win if they are to keep any hope of a Rose Bowl appearance alive.

The Bruins have been poor against the run lately and Jonathan Stewart has had a huge season. Of course, that was with Dixon behind center. Without their Heisman hopeful taking snaps the Ducks will be running a simplified offense with far less spread. Going up against Walker and the Bruin defense with an extra week to prepare might be tough for the Ducks. Then again, it is hard to know exactly what Oregon will do with Leaf in there. He hasn't been particularly accurate but he does have a lot of experience as a backup.

On the other side of the Ball, UCLA gets back Chris Markey... again. His last two returns have been poor, so I'm not holding my breath for a big day from him. Sheppard and Moline were decent against ASU and with an extra week of practice, I think Rasshan should be more comfortable. The Coaches also said they are tailoring the offense more to Osaar's strengths. Oregon's defense hasn't been great this year and UCLA plays much better at home, but I still don't see the Bruin offense putting up a lot of touch downs with their current personnel.

The current spread is UCLA +2. I like the Bruins in this game. Senior day, week to prepare, and some positive momentum. The Ducks look almost exactly like California, losing the prior week while #2 and their players and fans still dwelling on what could have been. I say Bruins plus the points and with a 50.5 over/under I think defense will dominate. So under.

Well, time to go do a bit of Sports Betting on this one.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

About the Players

Remember when watching UCLA football was about the players? Back when you went to a game and cheered on the team because they wore blue and gold and had the letters U-C-L-A emblazoned along the the side of the helmet? As the debate around Karl Dorrell's future in Westwood hits new lows, can we all just take a moment to remember why we call ourselves Bruin fans in he first place.

This weekend's game against Oregon is Senior Day. The last regular season home game where all the senior players on the team get special recognition. They've struggled and toiled their way through four or five years, taking on school, practices, games, and all the "regular" pressures college kids face. Most won't go on to professional football careers. This is likely the last time they'll get to play in front of the home crowd and compete for gridiron glory.

With that in mind, I'm going out to Pasadena this weekend to cheer on my boys. I'll be there for Christian Taylor, Kevin Brown, Chris Joseph, Rodney Van, Chris Horton, Dennis Keyes, Bruce Davis, Joe Cowan, Brandon Breazell, and all the other seniors on this team. I'm going to cheer for a Bruin victory and I really don't care how it impacts the coaching situation at UCLA. It's us against the Ducks and all of the off-the-field "noise" means nothing to me once that first ball gets kicked off the tee.

Karl Dorrell is only one person on this team, yet he gets 95% of the focus of UCLA football fans these days. I'm done focusing on Dorrell and I'm getting back to why I love the college game in the first place. The young men who bust their butts just for an opportunity to wear that uniform and represent their school. So no more from me about the coaching situation. It is all about the players.

Jonathan Martin Decomit

The news on Martin's de-commitment from UCLA went from: he is going to Stanford, no wait... he's staying with UCLA, and now it is back to Stanford. It looks like it officially happened today and the big offensive tackle is now going up to the Farm for certain. Apparently this has nothing to do with the coaching situation in Westwood.

I've updated the recruiting snapshot. Sorry, no more PDF. I'm tired of dealing with my free file hosting service. So it is JPEG only from here on out.

Let's hope the Bruins can land a couple more OL recruits for this class. That has been a sore spot for this current team and the depth along the line is troubling for our future. Of course, with Dorrell and staff embattled at the moment, I don't see us landing any great prospects. Hopefully the coaching direction can be cleared up soon.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Say Hello to my Little Friend!

Maurice Drew has found his way onto YouTube a lot since he turned pro. Usually it is some crazy, spinning, juking run into the end zone that is captured on film. This time, however, it comes from a monster block. Drew absolutely owns Shaun Merriam on the San Diego Chargers in this clip. The best part about it? Marcades Lewis makes the TD grab all alone in the end zone. Ah yeah!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Coach Profile: Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson recently made the national news when he lead Navy to their first victory over Notre Dame in over three decades. He's also making a name for himself as a coach who can take struggling programs and build them into consistent winners. Can he come into Westwood and work his magic one more time?


Paul Johnson is 52 years old and is currently the head coach a the United States Naval Academ. He started his coaching career in 1979 as an offensive coordinator. He has used a number of different offensive schemes over the years but there has been a consistent emphasis on a strong running game wherever he has gone.

From 1987 to 1994 Johnson was the offensive coordinator at Hawaii. He developed a successful offensive unit which had top-20 statistical rankings in scoring offense, total offense and rushing offense during six of his eight seasons. In 1996 he was given the head coaching job at 1-AA Georgia Southern. He ran another potent running offense there that lead the Eagles to two National Championships and five conference championships.

In 2002, Paul moved to the 1-A level when he took the head coaching job at Navy. This was a program in disarray and many sports analysts thought the service academies could not compete with other teams in the modern era. Johnson proved them wrong and lead Navy to four consecutive bowl appearances for the first time ever in school history. His Midshipmen have lead the NCAA in rushing offensive during Johnson's tenure. His salary at Navy is right around $1 million.

College Head Coaching Record

Year Team Overall Bowl Rank#
Georgia Southern (Southern 1AA) (1977 - 1994)
1997 Georgia Southern 10-3

1998 Georgia Southern 14-1

1999 Georgia Southern 13-2

National Champ

2000 Georgia Southern 13-2

National Champ

2001 Georgia Southern 12-2

Georgia Southern:

Navy (Independent) (2002 — 2007)
2002 Navy 2-10

2003 Navy 8-5
Houston (L)

2004 Navy 10-2
Emerald (W)

2005 Navy 8-4
Poinsettia (W)

2006 Navy 9-4
Meineke (L)


Total: 105-39

Indicates BCS bowl game. #Rankings from final Coaches Poll of the season.


Johnson has had a lot of success wherever he has gone. He has won two D1-AA national championships, five conference titles, and was named the 1AA coach of the year for four consecutive seasons. He was named the 2004 Bobby Dodd national coach of the year when he lead Navy to their first 10 win season in a century. His overall win loss record is awesome and he has won almost 75% of the games he has coached.

What's even more impressive is that he has done this at schools who had struggling football programs before he arrived. Navy also has a huge recruiting disadvantage being a service academy, yet Johnson was able to develop his players to compete with other big programs. They only had two winning seasons in the 20 years prior to Johnson but they have recorded winning season in the last four years with Paul at the helm.

Johnson has run multiple types of offenses over the years including different versions of the spread, run-and-shoot, and even the triple option. He has adapted his strategy to take advantage of the players he has and their background. That type of flexibility is in stark contrast to the rigid dedication Karl Dorrell has to his West Coast Offense.


Johnson has never had a coaching position at a high profile school. Will he be able to handle the extra media attention and visibility that comes with the UCLA coaching job? Along those same lines, he hasn't competed against top-tier opponents. It is a lot easier to post winning records when you have Duke, Temple, and Army on your schedule every year.

Another question is will he be able to recruit against guys like Tedford, Erickson, and Carroll? He doesn't have the NFL experience nor has he put many kids into the league. He also doesn't have the buzz and hype like some other coaches because he uses a rather antiquated offense at Navy. Some have questioned if he'll be able to draw elite quarterbacks into his program because he has used an antiquated offense in the past.


Paul Johnson is an experienced, successful, proven head coach. He hasn't coached in a BCS conference yet, but virtually no other coach on UCLA's radar can claim such accomplishments. He is a five time national coach of the year and he has revived languishing programs wherever he has gone. He is also flexible and thinks outside the box. Will he be able to take UCLA to the next level? If anyone can do it, I think Johnson can.

The knocks on him recruiting might be a bit over blown. If he can mold the Bruins into winners then the recruits will come. Also, he can hire a dynamic recruiter like Eric Scott or DeWayne Walker to pound the pavement as well. Even if he doesn't have the greatest talent at his disposal, it seems like Johnson develops his kids into successful football players. I can't say that is true with our current head coach.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Coach Profile: Bronco Mendenhall

It seems like a lot of the coaches being mentioned as possible replacements for Karl Dorrell's job have connections to BYU. That is especially true of the next coach, Bronco Mendenhall, as he is currently coaching the Cougars. Bronco is different from all the previous coaches, however, in that he has a background on the defensive side of the ball.


Bronco Mendenhall is 40 years old and currently the head coach at Brigham Young University in Provo Utah. He finished out his college career at Oregon State as a defensive back in the late 80's and then immediately went into coaching.

Bronco held a number of defensive coordinator positions at Northern Arizona, Oregon State, and New Mexico. It was with the Lobo's that he worked for former Bruin coach Rocky Long. In 2003 he took the defensive coordinator spot at BYU and after two seasons was promoted to the head coaching position.

Mendenhall has been busy over the last two seasons trying to restore BYU back to the prestige it had in the 1980's and 1990's. Some of that has been off-the-field changes like restoring traditional uniforms, pre-game ceremonies, etc. The other part has been building up a formidable defense and offense that has lead the Cougars to the top of the Mountain West.

His current salary at BYU is around $900,000.

College Head Coaching Record

Year Team Overall Bowl Rank#
BYU (Mountain West) (2005 - present)
2005 BYU 6-6
Las Vegas (L)

2006 BYU 11-2
Las Vegas (W)

Total: 17-8

Indicates BCS bowl game. #Rankings from final Coaches Poll of the season.


Mendenhall has revived BYU and helped turn a losing program back to the top of their conference. He has embraced the recruiting restrictions that a conservative, religious school like BYU brings to the table and yet still manages to entice good, young talent. I think he would be able to understand and work with the academic restrictions that have limited some of the prospects UCLA can offer.

Though Mendenhall is a defense coach, he helped institute a wide-open offense that catapulted BYU to the top of the MWC and national statistics in 2006. Their passing attack ranked 4th in the nation and Cougars had the longest winning streak in the country going into their game against UCLA in the Rose Bowl this season. His teams execute well, never seem to lose focus, and never get blown-out by inferior competition.


Bronco only has three years head coaching experience. Will he be able to replicate his success outside of BYU? Will he be able to compete in a BCS conference? These are all unknowns with Mendenhall.

UCLA's problems under Dorrell have been primarily on the offensive side of the ball. Mendenhall's experience has been on the defensive side, so he'll likely have to rely on a good offensive coordinator to lead that unit. UCLA's track record of not paying assistants well might prevent him from bringing in a top notch OC.


To me, Mendenhall is a less impressive, defensive version of Chris Peterson. He might go on to a great coaching career, but there really isn't a track record there to prove he'll have consistent success. I also don't know if Bronco brings the "wow" factor or name recognition that would draw elite recruits to UCLA. He's a solid choice, and I'm sure he could build the Bruins into a successful program if given enough time, but I don't know if the fans, donors, or athletic department is willing to go through another learning curve after Dorrell.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Coach Profile: Chris Petersen

If you haven't heard the name Chris Peterson before, don't worry, because you'll probably see it mentioned about a million more times on UCLA message boards over the next couple of months. He's definitely high on the list of a lot of UCLA fans and it seems like the media is buzzing about him as a candidate as well. If momentum and hype had a name it would be Chris Peterson.


Chris Peterson is 43 years old as is currently the head coach of the Boise State Broncos. Peterson has been at BSU for 6 years, 4 as the offensive coordinator and 2 as the head coach. He played his college ball as a quarterback at UC Davis before jumping into the coaching ranks.

Peterson has spent most of his college coaching career in the Pacific Northwest. He was the QB coach at Portland State for two seasons before taking the wide receiver coaching job at Oregon. In 2001 he went to Boise State and the Broncos have won the WAC every season since. Peterson was thrust into the national spotlight after his team went 13-0 last season with a thrilling overtime victory against Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. Chris was the first head coach in the history of Division 1 to ever go 13-0 in his first season. His current salary is around $850,000.

College Head Coaching Record

Year Team Overall Bowl Rank#
Boise State (Western Athletic Conference) (2006 - present)
2006 Boise State
Fiesta (W)+

Total: 13-0

Indicates BCS bowl game. #Rankings from final Coaches Poll of the season.


Peterson has a near flawless record as a head coach. His win over Oklahoma was extremely impressive considering the talent he has to work with at Boise State. He has a creative mind, a go-for-it style, and he has built a juggernaut program in his conference that has won 5 straight titles.

Chris has also turned Boise State into an offensive machine that has consistently ranked amongst the best in the NCAA. If he could bring a similar change to the Bruins then this team could be a force to reckon with in the PAC-10. His teams are balanced, they execute well, and they play hard each and every week. That is almost the exact opposite of what we have now under Karl Dorrell.


The only knock on Peterson is just lack of experience. He is only in his second season as a head coach. While he has put up great numbers, including going 8-1 so far this season, it is hard to say if he'll be able to replicate that success somewhere else. He also coaches in the WAC, which isn't the stiffest competition. It is a lot easier to get our team up for one or two big games every season versus having to play a tough PAC-10 conference schedule week in and week out.


It is hard not to be enthralled by the idea of a hot up-and-coming coach who has had amazing success his first two years on the job. He draws a lot of comparisons to Urban Myer, who also took a mid-major team (Utah) on an undefeated season and a BCS bowl victory.

I'll give you two other comparisons, though, just to illustrate a point. Rick Neuhisel went 20-4 his first two seasons as a head coach after being a hot up-and-coming offensive coordinator. His following seasons, while successful, we not nearly as impressive. Bob Toldeo was also a promising coordinator who took a head coaching job with little experience. By the end of his 3rd season he had his team on a 20 game winning streak (the longest in the nation) and on the cusp of a National Championship game. We all know how Bob's teams did after that early success.

I'm not saying Peterson will go down the same paths as Neuheisel or Toledo, but we have to be careful about anointing a coach as an "instant success". For every Urban Meyer there are a dozen other young coaches who don't pan-out. I would prefer for UCLA to get a more experienced, proven head coach (like a Ben Howland) who you know has been successful at multiple programs. Not just someone who is successful now but we hope will be a success at UCLA.

I think Peterson would be a pretty cool hire but it is still rolling the dice. If we can't land someone with more experience then I'm totally down with him. He is exciting, has great buzz, and he could really invigorate this program. I'm not sure if he'll want to leave the Pacific Northwest, but Guerrero might be able to lure him away with a much bigger salary.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Damaged Dixon

Dennis Dixon got hurt in the Ducks game against the Wild Cats tonight. His left leg buckled on a play and he is out for the game. The extent of the injury is not yet know but it looked serious. He might be unavailable for the game against UCLA next week. That could seriously change the dynamic of the game. Brady Leaf has replaced him.

Coach Profile: Mike Leach

Mike Leach knows offense. He is considered one of the most innovative offensive minds in the college game today. With the Bruins struggling to perform consistently in that department under Karl Dorrell, could Leach be the coach to make this team a conference juggernaut?


Mike Leach is 46 years old and is currently the head coach of the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Leach never played college football, one of only five D1 coaches who holds such a distinction. He did attended BYU where he studied the Cougars and the past-first offense developed by LaVelle Edwards. He gained a masters degree from the United States Sports academy and then went immediately into coaching.

Leach started as an assistant at Cal Poly (woot woot!) and then moved into an offensive coordinator position at the Division II level before getting gigs at Kentucky and Oklahoma. In 2000, Leach was given the head coaching position at Texas Tech. In his time with the Red Raiders, the program has been one of he most prolific passing teams in the NCAA. They have had the #1 passing offense 4 of the last 7 seasons and finished with a top-10 total offenses every season since 2001. His current salary is around $1.6 million.

College Head Coaching Record

Year Team Overall Bowl Rank#
Texas Tech (Big Twelve) (2000 - 2006)
2000 Texas Tech
Galary Furniture (L)

2001 Texas Tech 7-5
Alamo (L)

2002 Texas Tech 9-5
Tangerine (W)

2003 Texas Tech 8-5
Houston (W)

2004 Texas Tech 8-4
Holiday (W)

2005 Texas Tech 9-3
Cotton (L)

2006 Texas Tech 8-5
Insight (W)

Total: 62-35

Indicates BCS bowl game. #Rankings from final Coaches Poll of the season.


The offensive numbers speak for themselves. Obviously Leach has taken the concepts of pass-first offense to an extreme and he has found some good success. His records are even more impressive when you consider that Tech has to compete with the University of Texas and Texas A&M in state. The Big-12 south is a tough conference and the Red Raiders hold their own.

Leach is in his 8th year as a head coach and he has never had a losing season. That is very impressive considering the cycles that college football programs tend to follow. That kind of consistency is sorely needed at UCLA.


While Leach's offense puts up amazing passing numbers, it also puts up equally abysmal rushing statistics. That's kind of gimmicky to me and I like to see a scheme with more balance. Right now Arizona is running a version of Leach's "Air Raid" offense and I'm not particularly impressed. It makes your team awfully one dimensional. Besides, how will Leach recruit top running backs to Westwood if they know they won't get many carries?

I also think Leach doesn't put enough emphasis on defense. His teams haven't had great defensive efforts, which is why he hasn't had better records even with his top-10 offenses. The PAC-10 may be offense oriented, but you aren't going to win many championships unless you can field a great defense. Maybe with the right coordinator, he could be more successful.


I just don't see Mike Leach coming to Westwood. His current salary is higher than Guerrero would probably be willing to spend and you know that UCLA would have to go even higher to make up for the cost of living. He has a good gig there in Lubbock and I don't see how coming to the PAC-10 is an upgrade over the Big-12.

While his offense might put up some great numbers, I'm still not a fan. I think a strong running game is a must if you want to be a top-tier team. The Bruin definitely need to find a way to move past their middle-of-the-conference finishes and I just don't see Leach's system being able to accomplish that.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Coach Profile: Steve Mariucci

Steve Mariucci has been on the outside of the coaching world looking in since he was let go by the Detroit Lions in 2005. His name gets mentioned for a lot of coaching positions and I think we'll see him jump back into a coaching spot this season. I'm sure Dan Guerrero will consider Steve for the position in Westwood.


Steve Mariucci is 55 years old and he currently works for the NFL network as a commentator. Before that he was the head coach of the Detroit Lions from 2003-2005. Steve has gained most of his head coaching experience in the NFL.

In college he was a 3-time division II All American quarterback at Northern Michigan. After completing school, he was an assistant coach at Northern Michigan before taking a position at Cal State Fullerton. He also took some assistant jobs at USC and Louisville and did a few stints in the NFL and USFL before ending up in Berkley.

In 1996, Mariucci was given the head coaching spot at California. He only spent one season leading the Bears before he bolted for a head coaching job with the San Francisco 49ers. It was here that Steve had a lot of success, compiling a 60-43 record, and he lead the 49ers to the playoffs in 4 of the 6 seasons he coached there. His time in Detroit was less than stellar and after two losing season he was canned.

College Head Coaching Record

Year Team Overall Bowl Rank#
California (Pacific Ten) (1996)
1996 California 6-6
Aloha (L)

Total: 6-6

Indicates BCS bowl game. #Rankings from final Coaches Poll of the season.


Mariucci has a lot of experience in the NFL. That would likely give him some traction with recruits looking to play in the pros. He was successful at San Francisco and he obviously knows how to field a winning team. His background as a quarterback (and being a former quarterback coach) will help the Bruins develop that position, which has been a real sore point since Cade McNown was under center.

Steve also has media savy and he already works in the Los Angeles area. Not all coaches would be willing to live the "big city" lifestyle but Mariucci already does. His personal nature would likely be a big plus with recruits.


Mariucci is a strong proponent of the West Coast Offense. UCLA, and other schools like Nebraska, haven't performed well running the WCO at the college level. If he isn't willing to adapt his offensive ideas to the college game then the Bruin offense might continue to struggle.

Since he is currently out of the coaching ranks, he might be willing to take a job at a lower pay then when he left. Still Mariucci's contract in the NFL was paying well over $2 million a year. The Bruins probably would not be able to pay even close to that. If he does take a big pay cut, expect him to bolt at the first NFL job that is offered (just like he did with Cal).


Mariucci looks like a great coach for the NFL. He has spent most of his coaching career at that level and I'm sure that is where he wants to return. I don't think UCLA will be able to pay for his services and, even if we could, he would likely be gone after a year or two. I think the football program would be better served by finding a coach willing to stay for at least 4-5 years to build this team into a conference power. With the large amount of turnover in the coaching staff over the last 5 seasons, the last thing I want is another big shake up in a few years.

(photo credit: Sports Illustrated)

Keep on those Red Shirts!

With the season winding down, Coach Dorrell announced that Brigham Harwell and Marcus Everett (who have both missed big chunks of the season) will be back next year. This is good news for the 2008 squad, which will field a lot of inexperienced players. Freshman quarterback Chris Forcier, who the coaches were thinking of playing at points during this season, will also red shirt.

Harwell's return will make the Bruins defensive tackle spot very deep for next season. Brian Price will be a true-sophomore next year and he has played well in his freshman campaign despite missing all of the fall camp and a big chunk of the season because of issues with the NCAA clearing house. He recorded his best game last weekend against ASU, including 5 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and one forced fumble. Add to that Jerzy Siewierski (R-So) who has played a lot this season as a reserve and Jess Ward (R-So) who took the starting role when Harwell was injured and this position should be one of strength on next year's team.

Everett will be back to add some much-needed experience to the receiving corps. Terrance Austin (So) and Dominque Johnson (R-So) will be the other two returning receivers. Kevin Ketchum will also be back next season as he is a true Junior but I still haven't hear word on whether he will be granted a medical red-shirt as well. Loosing Breazell and Joe Cowan will also be tough as they have lead the team in receptions this season.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Arizona State Replay (15 minutes)

Coach Profile: Norm Chow

Ever since Norm Chow helped bring USC back to the pinnacle of the college football world, he has been a hot commodity. He almost single handily turned Carson Palmer from a going-nowhere bust into a Heisman trophy winner overnight and he has coached a lot of guys who went on to successful NFL careers . It is a well documented fact that Chow wants a head coaching spot and I'm sure his resume will find it's way onto Guerrero's desk during a coaching search.


Norm Chow is 61 years old and is currently the offensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans. In his younger days, Chow played at the University of Utah as an offensive lineman. He spent a brief stint in the Canadian football league before he suffered a career ending leg injury.

Chow received a masters degree and PHD at BYU and he ended up as an assistant coach at Brigham Young in 1977. Chow spent 27 years as an assistant in that system and he coached pretty much every single offensive position during that time. It was here that Chow developed his offensive philosophy and he blossomed as a quarterback coach and offensive coordinator. In 1999 he went to North Carolina State and then was hired as the offensive coordinator at USC in 2001. He helped lead the Trojans to their 2005 national championship.

Norm has coached 6 of the NCAA's top 16 career passing efficiency leaders and was involved with squads that hold 11 of the top 30 single season passing yardage totals in NCAA history. Some of the players he has coached include Matt Leinart, Carson Palmer, Steve Young, Jim McMahon, Marc Wilson, Gifford Nielsen, Ty Detmer and Robbie Bosco. He also received the assistant coach of the year award in 1993, 1996, and 1999 by a few publications.

College Head Coaching Record



Norm Chow has an incredibly impressive track record as an offensive coordinator. His history of developing successful NFL quarterbacks would likely draw top high school prospects from across the country to Westwood. He has also overseen some of the most potent offenses in the history of college football and it is easy to see UCLA becoming a power house under Chow's oversight. That is very important in the PAC-10 where offensive prowess is paramount.

Chow could also groom and mentor a replacement for himself. A young assistant with good potential could learn from Chow's decades of offensive coordinator experience. The flip-side of that is that he could just be the offensive coordinator himself. That way he could free up some money to pay for a top-notch defensive staff.


For someone who has had amazing coaching success for over 30 years, you have to wonder why he hasn't been given a head coaching position? Many have speculated that Chow hasn't gotten a gig because he has an abrasive, take-it-or-leave-it personality. He had a very well documented fall-out with the USC coaching staff that lead to him eventually leaving the school in 2005. He is also said to be a very bad interviewee and was passed over for the head coaching position at Stanford because he rubbed the AD the wrong way.

As a head coach, there comes other commitments outside of the football field. Chow may not be up for socializing with boosters and athletic department personnel. He may not be interested in sticking with a college head coaching job and jump back to the NFL where he can focus entirely on just the on-field coaching.

The other downside is that Chow is getting up there in years. He is definitely set in his ways and he didn't spend much, if any time, on the recruiting trail while at USC. As the head coach you have to be involved in recruiting whether you like it or not.


Chow is a bit of an enigma for me. You got to love the offensive coordinator background and his cerebral approach to the game. If we could just harness that mind for good rather than evil, it would be awesome. Some of the personality issues could really be a problem. You would hate to have a dysfunctional staff trying to lead this team where Norm is pissing off all of his assistants and the administration.

Maybe I'm making to much of it but obviously no other school as thought it worthwhile to offer Chow a head coaching job. There has got to be something wrong with him. I'm not sure if UCLA wants to roll the dice and be the first to give him a shot. If Guerrero does take Norm and it works out, he'll be a genius. If it doesn't work out... well he might think about preparing his own resume as well.

Coach Profile: Rich Brooks

Rich Brooks may not be a name you've heard before, but he has recently come up on some boards as a candidate being mentioned within the UCLA athletic department. Brooks has a long coaching record, probably the longest amongst all the candidates I've heard about. He's had his ups and downs, but anyone who has coached for over three decades must be doing something right.


Rich Brooks is 66 years old and he is currently the head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats. He played out his collegiate career, back in the early 1960's, as a defensive back at Oregon State. He worked as an assistant there from 1965 - 1970 before a brief stint at UCLA for one season as the linebacker coach. The next few years he alternated between coaching gigs in the NFL and Oregon State and another stint in Westwood in 1976.

Brooks got his first head coaching job in 1977 at Oregon and he stayed there for 17 season until he finally left for the NFL in 1995. During his time in Oregon he helped revive a historically insignificant program and that effort culminated in 1994 with a PAC-10 championship. Brooks received the National Coach of the Year award that season for his effort.

In the NFL, he was the head coach for the St. Louis Rams for two seasons. He also spent time in Atlanta as an assistant coach and as an interim head coach for a few games in the 1998 season. After two years away from coaching, Brooks returned to the college game in 2003 when he took over a troubled Kentucky program coming off of NCAA sanctions. His current salary is around $1 million.

College Head Coaching Record

Year Team Overall Bowl Rank#
Oregon (Pacific Eight/Ten) (1977 - 1994)
1977 Oregon 3-8

1978 Oregon 1-10

1979 Oregon 4-7

1980 Oregon 6-3-2

1981 Oregon 2-9

1982 Oregon 2-8-1

1983 Oregon 4-6-1

1984 Oregon 6-5

1985 Oregon 5-6

1986 Oregon 5-6

1987 Oregon 6-5

1988 Oregon 6-6

1989 Oregon 8-4
Independence (W)

1990 Oregon 8-4
Freedom (L)

1991 Oregon 3-8

1992 Oregon 6-6
Independence (L)

1993 Oregon 5-6

1994 Oregon 9-4
Rose (L)


Kentucky (South East) (2003 — present)
2003* Kentucky 4-8

2004 Kentucky 2-9

2005 Kentucky 3-8

2006 Kentucky 8-5
Music City (W)

Kentucky: 17-30

Total: 106-141-4

Indicates BCS bowl game. #Rankings from final Coaches Poll of the season.


Brooks is the exact opposite of UCLA's last two coaching hires who had no head coaching experience. Rich has coaching experience in spades and he spent a very long time in the PAC-10. He also has some head coaching experience in the NFL, though that was almost a decade ago. He did groom Mike Bellotti for the head coaching spot at Oregon and he could be a good mentor to an up-and-coming assistant who just needs to gain more experience.

Having coached at Kentucky for the last four season, Brooks knows what it is like to the lead the football team at a basketball school. He has done a good job of winning over the fans there and they seem genuinely excited about football again. He lead them to their first bowl appearance since 1999. He also runs a clean program and has good integrity.


Brooks overall coaching record, while lengthy, isn't very impressive. In fact, he has a lifetime record with more losses than wins. That doesn't tell the entire story, as he has coached programs that had little tradition and poor recruiting history, but UCLA doesn't really fit that mold. The Bruins have a strong history in football and they really need a coach who can make this team a consistent threat to win the conference. Brooks does not have a track record of doing that. He's good at moving teams from the bottom of the conference to the middle. UCLA needs to move from the middle to the top.

Brooks is a pretty old coach, and at 66, you have to wonder how many more years he has left in him? He definitely doesn't have the "wow" factor of some of the younger up-and-coming candidates and it is hard to envision him as a dynamic recruiter in the new fast-paced recruiting environment. I don't know if he'll win many recruiting victories over coaches like Pete Carroll, Dennis Erickson, and Jeff Tedford.


I don't see a lot of positives with a hire like Brooks. If it was 2002, when UCLA was trying to clean-up the program, the Brooks might have made some sense; but the football team has a solid foundation now and what the Bruins need is an exciting coach who can take them to the next level. There is virtually no buzz around a coach like this and his age means he probably won't be coaching long at Westwood anyways.

This discussion might all be a moot point since Brooks has a pretty solid position in Kentucky. He was on the hot seat there not too long ago and is now experiencing strong support from the fans and alumni. I don't know if he would want to go back into the lion's den by taking the UCLA head coaching position.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Coach Profile: Rick Neuheisel

On pretty much every UCLA message board there seems to be a fairly good sized group of fans who think Rick Neuheisel would be the perfect coach for the Bruins. At the same time, there seems to be an equally large group of fans who are strongly opposed to Neuheisel coming within 100 yards of the program. No other head coaching candidate seem to polarize the Bruin fan base more than one of Westwood's own sons.


Richard "Rick" Gerald Neuheisel Jr. is 46 years old and currently the offensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens. He played his college ball in Westwood, as you all should know, but you may not know that he started off as a walk-on. He eventually earned the starting spot his senior season and he lead the Bruins to a PAC-10 championship and Rose Bowl victory over Illinois in January of 1984. He had a very brief professional career with the USFL and played a few games for the San Diego Chargers during the strike season of 1987.

Neuheisel started his assistant coaching career at UCLA where he helped tutuor Troy Aikman. In 1994, Rick took the assistant coaching job at Colorado and a year later was promoted to the head coaching spot at the very young age of 34. After four seasons in Boulder, he left to become the head coach of the Washington Huskies. In his second season in Seattle, Neuheisel's team won the PAC-10 title and the Rose Bowl, posting an 11-1 mark for the season.

In 2003, Rick was fired from Washington for his involvement in a neighborhood March Madness basketball pool. The Infractions comitee found that Neuheisel had violated NCAA rules but didn't sanction him becauce the University had erroneously sent a memo to all their coaches saying they could participate in such pools. Neuheisel sued the University for wrongful termination and they ended up setteling the suit for $4.5 million.

After taking a few years off from professional coaching, Neuheisel took a position as the quarterback coach with Baltimore in 2005. Last season he was promoted to offensive coordinator. It has been long rumored that Rick is eyeing a return to the college head coaching ranks and his past history as a Bruin player and assistant coach means that UCLA could be high on his list.

College Head Coaching Record

Year Team Overall Bowl Rank#
Colorado (Big Eight/Ten) (1977 - 1994)
1995 Colorado 10-2
Cotton (W)

1996 Colorado 10-2
Holiday (W)

1997 Colorado 5-6

1998 Colorado 8-4
Aloha (W)


Washington (Pacific Ten) (1999 — 2002)
1999 Washington 7-5
Holiday (L)

2000 Washington 11-1
Rose (W)+

2001 Washington 8-4
Holiday(L) 19

2002 Washington 7-6
Sun (L)


Total: 66-30

Indicates BCS bowl game. #Rankings from final Coaches Poll of the season.


The fact that Neuheisel has prior head coaching experience is a plus and it helps that he has a PAC-10 championship under his belt as well. His recent tenure in the NFL will likely resonate with recruits who are looking for a school that will prepare them for professional football careers. He is still a young coach and his overall win loss record is pretty good.

Since Neuheisel is looking to get back into the college game, he might be willing to accept a lower salary then another coach with his background. His salary at Washington, back in early 2000 was close to $1 million, so UCLA might be able to draw him in with the a contract close to $1.2 million. His ties to UCLA could also keep him around for a few years if he is successful.


Neuheisel is controversial for a reason. His programs at Colorado and Washington both had minor NCAA violations. He also had a reputation for letting his players get out of control and there were some questionable off-the-field incidents while he was the coach. While Rick was virtually cleared of wrong doing in the gambling incident up in Seattle, it leaves a lot of fans antsy that the NCAA infractions committee might follow him to Westwood.

Neuheisel also has critics that say his recruiting wasn't very good and the proof of that comes in his limited long-term success at both schools. He did very well his first few years, but he couldn't continue with that success in subsequent seasons. It is hard to know for sure, since his tenure at both Colorado and Washington were rather short, but something to consider in his hiring.


I think the trouble Rick got into with the NCAA has been overblown and the guy has had some success both in the PAC-10 and in the NFL. He hasn't had consistent success in his time as a coach, but I think Neuheisel will learn from his past mistakes. You have to feel like he'd get recruits excited about playing for the Bruins and his background as a QB coach and offensive coordinator could draw some really talented signal callers into the program. UCLA definitely needs a boost in that area with our quarterbacks really stinking it up this decade.

He probably isn't the most exciting pick but it would be hard for Guerrero to not even consider a former Bruin player in his search. The "toxic" factor may cause Dan to shy away from actually hiring Rick especially since he hired Dorrell primarily to cleanup the mess Toldeo left. I have to say, it would also be nice to get a coach who isn't directly related to Terry Donahue in some way... just for a change of pace. Still, I think Neuheisel could really improve this program.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Coaching Profiles

The hot topic these days on pretty much every UCLA message board and blog is who might replace Karl Dorrell as the head coach of the football program. There's been a lot of names bantered about and everybody seems to have their favorite candidate. I thought I'd spend a little time over the next week and write some articles that look a little deeper into some of the coaches that seem to be drawing the most interest. But before we get into the details, let's first take a look at what Dan Guererro would be working with if he decides to replace Dorrell this off season.

Right now Karl Dorrell is making right around $800,000 - $900,000 a year. That's not exactly an enticing salary, especially if UCLA wants to lure in a coach with some experience. You also have to factor in the cost-of-living on the west-side of LA, so Guerrero is going to have to seriously up that figure. There has been talk on the Bruin Show that UCLA might be able to afford somewhere around $1.2 - $1.5 million for a new coach. With that kind of pay range, it opens up a lot more options.

The other thing to consider is that UCLA isn't the only team potentially shopping for a new coach come January. There might be at least one other PAC-10 team looking for a coach as Bill Dobba of WSU is on a very hot seat these days. Mike Stoops looks like he'll be back at Arizona next season, but things can change dramatically in just a few weeks, so you never know. There are also persistent rumors that Jeff Tedford up at Cal could be lured away to another big time program.

Those are just the changes in conference. Nebraska, Texas A&M, Georgia Tech, Indiana, and almost a dozen other schools keep popping up in the news of teams looking for new direction. Of course, if those jobs get filled by current head coaches then that leaves another opening to fill somewhere else. Last year close to 20 head coaches were changed in the off season. The Bruins will have to compete with all of those programs in their search.

So why would a coach want to take the job in Westwood? Well there are definitely some positives. UCLA is in a major media market and any coach with even an inkling of going to the NFL would jump at the chance to have major media outlets just down the road. The Bruins also play in a BCS conference, which might be a draw for an up-and-coming coach or coordinator. UCLA is also smack dab in the middle of one of the hottest recruiting areas of the country. You could field an amazing team without ever leaving Southern California.

On the flip side is the coast of living. You earn less, in spending power, when you have to live in the LA area. UCLA hasn't historically payed it's head coaches or assistants very well either, which compounds that problem. Along with that low pay comes very high demands from the fans and it doesn't help that the football program plays a distant 2nd fiddle to the basketball team. As much as we hate to admit it, the football program doesn't exactly have great fan support and this isn't a fanbase that really travels well outside of California. The other big downside is that you have to live in the shadow of USC, which throws almost all of it's athletic resources into it's football team.

Still, a head coaching change at UCLA will draw a lot of interest. Guerrero might have to go courting some coaches and others may be banging down his door, but there will likely be a pretty big pool of candidates to choose from. Let's see if we can narrow down that list during this next week. Look for a new article on a different coach each day this week. Also, shoot me a name if you're really interested in somebody. I'll do my best to include them in my analysis.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Stick a Fork in Us

It was always a long shot, but UCLA did have a chance to win the conference if it swept it's last three games. That dream didn't last very long as the Bruins lost to ASU on Saturday. Sadly, that game was winnable, but the Bruins made some bone-headed mistakes. I guess that sums up our season: games we could have won, should have won... but didn't. Well, the season is officially over and UCLA really has little left to play for this year.

Bruce Davis gets the bone-head award for the night. His inexplicable late-hit at the end of the first half gave the Sun Devils a free shot at a field goal. Those 3 points forced UCLA to go for a touchdown at the end, instead of working into field goal range, and likely cost us the game. Christian Taylor made a similarly stupid mistake on 4th-and-long and only a timely turnover forced by Brian Price kept Arizona State out of the end zone.

Chris Meadows almost had the play of the night. He was wide open, I mean wide open, not a guy anywhere near him, and Brandon Breazell threw a beautiful pass to him. He was thinking three steps ahead and forgot he had to catch the ball first. Man, after I gave him some hype coming into the season, he let me down! Oh well, I guess you can't expect too much from a walk-on transfer who has barely played this season.

I guess the silver lining is that we are playing a lot of our younger guys. The backfield is all sophomores at this point with Moline, Rasshan, and Sheppard. Sheppard had a decent day with some solid runs averaging 4.7 yards a carry against one of the better defenses in the conference. Dominque Johnson is a soph and Terrance Austin, who virtually scored a touchdown on that punt return, still has two years of eligibility left. Not to mention that Forbath is just a freshman.

The really good news is that we get a bye next weekend. The Bruins need some time to lick their wounds and heal up. The only thing left to play for is some pride, a chance to play spoiler, and getting bowl eligible. You might say, "Why do I care about playing in some crappy bowl?", well it does give our guys some extra time to practice this year and one more game to gain some experience. With 2008 being a rebuilding season, we'll want these young guys to get as much playing time as possible.

It's amazing how far this team has fallen from it's pre-season ranking and BCS expectations. Now we're in an uphill battle just to get into the Poinsettia Bowl. With Oregon and USC still left on the schedule, even achieving that modest goal might be impossible.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Betting on the Bruins: Arizona State

I'll have to make this one quick. I like ASU on offense and defense in this one. The current spread is UCLA +7. I think the gamblers are giving the Bruins too much credit with Rasshan at QB. I think our boys are in big trouble. It might be close early but I expect the Sun Devils to take this one easily in the second half. I'm going with ASU minus the points. The over/under is 51.5. I'm liking the under because I think the Bruin defense will play well at home. ASU's defense is pretty good as well and I think the UCLA offense will have a very hard time moving the ball with the Sun Devils stacking against the run.

Bush Tapes Played

Well, well, well. If you haven't stayed up on the latest news from the Reggie Bush saga, here is what you need to know. Lloyd Lake, the wanna-be marketer and agent, has claimed for a long time that he had audio tapes that he secretly recorded of himself and Reggie Bush. These tapes, he claimed, showed that they had a financial relationship while he was still at USC. Trojan fans everywhere denied that such tapes existed. Fast forward to this week, and low and behold, Lake produced the tapes for the NCAA. In a six hour meeting, he played portions of the tapes for investigators. Finally, some tangible results from this investigation! It looks like it might be just a matter of time now before USC gets hit with sanctions, including having to forfeit games and possibly a national title. Good. It couldn't have happened to a more deserving program!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

While You Weren't Watching

It's a busy time of year. The football team is still playing. Basketball is starting up. There's the NBA, NFL, MLB just wrapped up. So you may not have noticed what UCLA's former opponents have been doing since we played them. Here's a quick rundown of who's done what in the blue-and-gold wake.

We all know that Notre Dame stinks. They've been playing awful and just getting it handed to them each and every week. The national media has documented their struggles well and they've lost every one of their games, well except for one. Those loses weren't even close either. USC demolished them 38-0. Boston College whooped on 'em. But their worst lost came this last weekend when the Domers lost to Navy for the first time in 30+ years. By definition Navy has no NFL bound players because they're all signed up to go into the Navy after they graduate!!! This will probably end as one of the worst seasons in the 100+ years of Notre Dame football. How did we lose to these guys???

On a happier note BYU has done very well since we beat them back in week two. They lost a squeaker to Tulsa the very next Saturday but have since won 5 in a row and are atop the Mountain West standings. Utah has also been playing very well. They got back all of their starters (who were out with injury when they played us) and have also won 5 consecutive games. It looks like the Cougars and the Utes might have a big show down near the end of the season for the MWC championship.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Look Who's Talking

Today Llyod Lake is scheduled to talk to NCAA investigators about the Reggie Bush case. According to his attorney, Lake gave $291,600 in payments, lodging and other accommodations to Bush and his family from November 2004 to January 2006. If the NCAA finds all of Lake's evidence credible then they could rule Bush ineligible during that time frame. That would force USC to forfeit those games. This might be just what Karl Dorrell needs! He could get two more ticks in the win column for his time in Westwood against the hated Trojans. Maybe Karl should send Lake a gift basket.

The real question is will the investigators find any wrong doing by the University? There doesn't seem to be any direct links between Lake and Michaels (Bush's supposed agents) and the Trojan coaching staff. Even the attorneys involved say there was likely no contact or knowledge by Carroll and company. However, if the NCAA finds that Southern Cal should have know about these transgressions then they can still be held accountable. Not very likely, but the possibility still exists. We'll keep an eye on this and see what happens.


Hard to imagine anyone getting excited to play the Bruins, but it looks like at least one ASU fan is looking for a little payback.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Lucky Devils

I've always thought of Arizona State as being our close brothers in the conference. They've had their ups and downs, won a couple of championships along the way, but they've mainly hung around .500 this decade. Heck, their one big season (2004) ended with 3 loses and a Sun Bowl victory. It all sounds so familiar. Yet, ASU comes to play in the Rose Bowl this Saturday with an 8-1 record (their only lose to #3 Oregon) while UCLA is on trajectory for another mediocre season.

Let's see.. What's different in Tempe this year? The players? Not really, they got back some great offensive weapons like Torrain and Carpenter but lost a lot of defensive personnel coming into their 2007 campaign. Is it their schedule? Eight home games helps, and a cupcake filled OOC doesn't hurt, but the Sun Devils still play the same conference lineup as UCLA. Maybe the water? No, that's not it either. So what is it about this team that has them doing a 180 from their prior meandering ways? Dennis Erickson, that's what. What a difference a coach makes.

The Devils were a wildly inconsistent team under Dirk Koetter. They were always an offensive power but they could never muster a decent performance on defense. Even when their offense was clicking it would usually become one dimensional. Great passing one year, poor the next. There was the heart breaking last second defeat to LSU in 2005 and a humiliating blowout loss to Hawaii last season. The whole Rudy Carpenter vs Sam Keller debacle. Did I mention the "we surrender" punt against the Trojans in the coliseum? Until they beat Stanford this year, the Sun Devils hadn't won a game in California since 2002 when they played San Diego State. You had to go all the back to the Butch Snyder era for a conference victory in the Golden State (1999).

It's not for lack of talent that the Sun Devils sputtered. There was a point during this season that Sun Devil quarterbacks (or former Sun Devil quarterbacks) were starting at three different D1 programs. Sam Keller at Nebraska, Rudy Carpenter at ASU, and Max Hall at BYU. How many programs would kill for that kind of depth at QB? The talent and skill have been there, it just hasn't been utilized properly to produce wins.

Consistent inconsistency, as we all painfully know, is the sign of poor coaching. Well, those days may be over in Tempe. Erickson has brought this team into alignment for the first time in over a decade. The offense is producing, like you would expect, but it is balanced. ASU was 3rd in the conference in both rushing and passing numbers heading into last weekend. Their defense, however, has been the real story. The Devils used to run a bend-and-break defense before that would routinely give up huge yards, and points, to opposing teams. This year they rank first in a number of defensive categories with a #12 in the nation scoring defense. That hasn't been against the greatest competition, but ASU is beating the teams it is supposed to beat. Which is more than the Bruins can say.

Another intriguing element in this team is they way they respond and recover from adversity. ASU has trailed in almost all of their games this year. Against the Bears, they went down 13-0 before they adjusted. California didn't score a single point in the second half and ASU went on to outscore them 31-7. These aren't the last-minute, 4th-quarter, comebacks that the Bruins magically produced in 2005. This is a team that adjusts and adapts to it's opponents game plan and then shuts them down. You might call it luck, but I call it good coaching. Don't panic, do what you do, and perform. Even against a top-ranked Oregon team the Devils kept fighting.

Are the Sun Devils really for real? Who knows. ASU still has to play some tough games and they probably won't make the Rose Bowl. Still, for a first year coach, Erickson has his team believing in themselves. He brings decades of experience, but maybe more importantly, an expectation to win. He has won PAC-10 championships before. He's won national championships before. He's got a buzz and a positive vibe going in Tempe and you can just feel them gaining momentum after each victory. As UCLA stumbles through another season with Dorrell at the helm, Arizona State passes us by in the race to the top of the conference.

What a difference a year makes. What a difference a coach makes. Those lucky Devils.

(Photo credit: AP)

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Too Little Too Late

The worst part about Saturday was watching Rashaan almost lead UCLA back to victory in this game. Not because he performed poorly. Oh quite the opposite... he looked pretty good. He is still raw, but there is some serious talent and heart there. What kills me is that this kid has sat unused on the sidelines while UCLA's season has been pissed down the drain. Chalk that up as yet another reason why Dorrell is gone at the end of the season.

I would have almost been happier if Osaar had come in and thrown 5 interceptions. Then, at least, I could have justified why the coaches played Mac Thompson against Notre Dame. "Hey, they didn't have any other options". But Rashaan comes in and leads UCLA on a 13-0 finish to the game. Just imagine what could have happened this season if they had put him in to that game against the Irish. What if they had put Rashaan in against WSU, even as late as the 4th quarter, when the Bruins were clearly going nowhere on offense. Hell, what if they just put him in earlier against the Wildcats?!?!

It absolutely kills me that Dorrell just won't make a change even when things are clearly going poorly. Everyone in that stadium and watching on TV knew that Cowan wasn't playing well. The poor kid has two leg injuries and sprained a finger, yet the coaches were sending him back in to the game. He was at less than 75% healthy but the coaching brain trust wouldn't pull the plug. No, they let 3-and-out after 3-and-out happen while the Wildcats put the game virtually out of reach. Only when Cowan goes down with a concussion are they finally forced to make a change and low and behold... the game changes and UCLA comes back. Absolutely unfreakin' believable.

Can anyone tell me why Rashaan wasn't the 3rd string QB at the start of this season? As soon as Cowan got hurt during the Fall camp they should have put Rashaan back into the rotation. When Ben was hurt and out with surgery, they should have been giving Osaar as many snaps in practice as possible to get him ready. Yet, for some inexplicable reason, they were still working with Mac and Chris Forcier over Rashaan. Forcier isn't even going to play this year!!! Only this last week did they finally move OR into the backup spot. Talk about having no clue on how to evaluate talent. No clue whatsoever. None.

Osaar Rashaan may not ever turn out to be a great QB. But he sure has hell is better than a non-scholarship walk-on and a less than 75% backup who had multiple leg injuries. This isn't Monday morning quarterbacking. People have been begging for OR to have a shot at playing for almost two seasons now. Only when Dorrell had no other choice does he finally listen. Look at the results. Too little too late. For the game, for the season, and likely for Karl's career in Westwood.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Betting on the Bruins: Arizona

So, who do you like more? The wildly inconsistent team with big wins and bad losses or the wildly inconsistent team with big wins and bad losses? That's the choice this week between UCLA and Arizona. The battle of the embattled coaches. The loser may very well lose his job at the end of the season.

Where is UCLA going to find any offense this week? Maybe Markey if his turf toe doesn't slow him down too much. At least Cowan got a full week of practice this time. Road game, and UCLA has been horrific on the road the last two years. Can the Bruins maintain some focus this time? Will all the injuries prevent this team from even having a chance? Can UCLA win?!? Let's see what the magic 8-ball says.
There ya go, folks. My years of following UCLA football, decades of watching and studying the game, and 6 months of running this blog have lead me to asking online magic 8-balls for advice on how the Bruins will perform. So, I'm going with UCLA minus the 2 points and whatever the under is. I don't even know the number, but does it really matter? It's going to be a defensive game. I just looked it up. 50 points. So, yeah, the under.

  • WSU. O/U: 54.5. My pick: Under. Actual: 34. +$100.
  • WSU. UCLA -6. My pick: UCLA minus the points. Actual: WSU +20. -$100.
  • Cal: No line.
  • ND. O/U: 48. My pick: Under. Actual: 26. +$100.
  • ND. UCLA +20.5. My pick: Notre Dame plus points. Actual: ND +14. +$100.
  • Org St. O/U: 54. My pick: Over. Actual: 54. Push.
  • Org St. UCLA +2.5. My pick: Org St minus points. Actual: UCLA + 26. -$100.
  • UW. O/U: 47. My pick: Under. Actual: 75. -$100.
  • UW. UCLA -6.5. My pick: Washington plus points. Actual: UCLA + 13. -$100.
  • Utah. O/U: 43.4. My pick: Over. Actual: 50. +$100.
  • Utah. UCLA -14. My pick UCLA minus points. Actual: Utah +38. -$100.
  • BYU. O/U: 46. My pick: Under. Actual: 44. +$100.
  • BYU. ULCA -7.5. My pick: UCLA minus points. Actual: UCLA +10. +$100.
  • Stanford. O/U: 46..5 My pick: Under. Actual: 62 . -$100.
  • Stanford. UCLA -17. My pick: UCLA minus points. Actual: UCLA +28 =: +$100.

I am not actually gambling on these games. This is entirely for fun. I know nothing about gambling and have no insider information. If you actually bet on these games using my predictions you are crazy and will likely lose all of your money