Thursday, January 31, 2008

Parade All Americans

The official list comes out this Sunday, but a few UCLA commits (well... possible commits) are going to get the honor. Parade magazine names 58 kids to their All American list and it is one of the oldest and most distinguished awards given to high school football players.

Milton Knox added the Parade distinction to the long list of honors he has received this off season. He was also named City Section player of the year after setting the all-time leading rusher and scorer marks as a senior. Knox is taking a trip to Notre Dame this weekend and his final decision on where he will be play should come very soon.

Aundre Dean was given the honor for an outstanding season at Katy High School in Texas. He helped lead his team to their 5th straight state championship this past season. Dean racked up nearly 2500 yards and scored 26 touchdowns for the Tigers. Dean still has UCLA high on his list but hasn't made his commitment 100% official.

If both end up at UCLA, which I think they will, then the Bruins will have a very dynamic running back duo for the next four years.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Law Firm is Defunct

The great law firm of McLeod Bethel and Thompson is no longer practicing in Westwood. Good ole Mac has decided to move on to Sac State, where he can play some ball for the Hornets. This news comes right on the heals of UCLA getting a commitment from quarterback Kevin Craft and I'm sure the two aren't entirely unrelated.

Thompson will probably always have the dubious distinction of being the quarterback who melted down in the loss to Notre Dame. I'll never forget the expression on his face during the game... sheer panic. He did come lose to redemption in the Las Vegas bowl, but I'm sure the horrible lose to the Domers will be his enduring legacy.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Air Craft

Kevin Craft, a highly regarded juco quarterback, has given a verbal commitment to the Bruins. He was thought to be a lock to SMU (He was following June Jones from Hawaii) but apparently Norm Chow and Rick Neuheisel convinced him to come to Westwood. Craft is 22 years old and he has two years of eligibility remaining. He'll add some depth to the quarterback position that will lose two seniors after the 2008 season.

Craft is coming to UCLA from Mt. San Antonio College where he was the California Junior College Player of the year. He completed 60% of his passes while throwing for 4,231 yards and 44 touchdowns to only 10 interceptions. He played his high school ball down in San Diego and he spent a season at San Diego State University. His father, Tom Craft, was the coach for the Aztecs when Kevin committed. When Tom was fired, the younger Craft followed his Dad to Mt. SAC.

Craft could be a good substitute at QB for the next two years. If we, as Bruin fans, learned anything this past season, its that you can't have two many experienced quarterbacks. In the 2009 year, he could have a shot at starting. At that time, he'll be one of the only quarterbacks who has some on-field experience at the collegiate level.

I'm not going to get too excited about Craft until we see him in practice. He was given 5-stars by Scout, but that doesn't mean a whole lot for juco guys. Rivals only gives him 3-stars but they do put him on their juco top-100. He only had a few schools on his radar (Hawii, SMU, and UCLA) this year and, when coming out of high school, he signed with San Diego State. Not exactly an impressive list, but maybe this kid has just flown under the radar. His numbers at Mt. SAC and in high school were very impressive. At the very least, I think he'll be an adequate backup and he could play his senior year.

(photo credit: AP)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Sean Westgate Latest Commit

It has been a while since we got a football commit. Yesterday, the Bruins got a small but aggressive linebacker in Sean Westgate. He projects as a safety at the collegiate level, since he only weights 200 lbs, but the Bruins like him at linebacker. I'm sure he can add on some more weight and after a few years he could be playing on special teams or even in a passing package. I think he'll eventually get moved to the secondary, but you never know. Here are some comments on Westgate from recruiting expert Greg Biggins:
I'm a huge Westgate fan and feel he's a great football player at the HS level. His size is really the only drawback but he can really play and his film reminded me a ton of Matt Grootegoed. He has great football instincts, is very tough and runs right through people when he tackles them. It will be interesting to see how he develops, he's about 6-0, 200 pounds and doesn't have a big frame so even though he'll put on more weight, his size will be the thing to watch.

Sean was involved in a memorable play a few season's ago when he tackled Jimmy Clausen (the current Notre Dame quarterback) out of bounds and drew a personal foul flag. The hard tackle and pushing resulted in some retaliation later in the game. Obviously Westgate is a tough kid and he's willing to knock some people around on the gridiron.

Westgate was originally committed to Arizona, but a UCLA offer and a chance to play linebacker was all he needed to change his mind. From an interview with Brian Dohn:
Oak Park High's Sean Westgate said the reason he pulled back his commitment to Arizona and chose UCLA was the proximity of UCLA's campus to his home, and his desire to remain at linebacker. Many schools were recruiting him as a safety.
Westgate says that he suffered a torn labrum and he is currently recouping from right shoulder surgery. That, along with his size, probably precludes him from playing anytime soon. It will be interesting to see what happens to this kid over the next few years.

Scout gives Westgate 3-stars and Rivals also gives him 3-stars. Rivals ranks him as the #37 safety in the country.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Rose Bowl!

#$@! SC... (sorry, old habits die hard)

Some good news for fans that want to get a sneak peak at the new coaching staff. The spring game, which usually is held on campus, will be held at the Rose Bowl this year. The dates are yet to be announced, but spring practice beings in April, so probably late April or early May is the best bet. It is great to see excitement and anticipation swirling around this program again! It's also good that the practice is in Pasadena, since getting there is often easier than fighting traffic up and down the 405... well, at least for me anyways.

Wayne Moses New RB Coach

Wayne Moses, a veteran assistant coach, joined the staff on Wednesday afternoon. This is Moses' second tour of duty in Westwood; he was the the running back coach for the Bruins from 1990 - 1995. Most recently, Wayne was the running back coach with the Rams.

Moses has a lot of connections with Rick Neuheisel. They were both assistants at UCLA in the early 90's and Wayne was on Rick's staff at Washington for three years. This will be their third time working together and Neuheisel obviously has a lot of faith in Moses' coaching ability. Wayne brings 28-years of college coaching experience to the table, so that faith is definitely deserved.

Keeping true to the "SC Connection" that a lot of our coaches have, Moses was the RB coach under Pete Carroll in his first season with the Trojans. Like Norm Chow, Moses and Carroll aren't exactly best friends. Per Scott Wolf:
"[Mosese] was fired by Carroll after USC's first season (largely due to a falling out with Lane Kiffin) and pretty much became the first coach to become disenchanted and end their friendship with the soon-to-be successful Trojans coach."
Nice! This coaching staff definitely has USC locked into their sites.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Coaching Staff Getting Stronger

Mike Linn has been named the new strength and conditioning coach for the football team. Linn was a former offensive lineman at UCLA in the early 90's and the head strength and conditioning coach for the Bruin from 1999-2002. He comes back to Westwood after serving as the Vice President of Velocity Sports Performance, a corporation that develops training programs for hundreds of coaches across the country. Linn is linked to Neuheisel because Rick was an assistant at UCLA when Mike was a player there.

Another name being floated around the rumor mill is Mark Carrier. The former Trojan and Thorpe Award winner was the secondary coach with the Baltimore Ravens. After an 11 year career in the NFL, he spent two seasons with ASU before joining the professionals ranks. Since Carrier and Neuheisel were on staff there together, he might convince him to swing by Westwood for a season or two.

For those keeping score at home, here is the current coaching staff as of this morning:

Head Coach: Rick Neuheisel

Offensive Coordinator: Norm Chow
Offensive Line: Bob Palcic
Wide Receivers: Reggie Moore
Tight End: TBD
Running Backs: TBD
Quarterbacks: TBD

Defensive Coordinator: DeWayne Walker
Defensive Line: Todd Howard
Linebackers: Chuck Bullough
Secondary: TBD

Special Teams: TBD
Strength and Conditioning: Mike Linn

(photo credit: UCLA)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

We Got Hosed: A Look at College Football Rivalries

So it's 5:30 P.M. on the night of the national championship game and I just got back from taco bell. I'm starving, I got a mound of the best food in the world right in front of me (anyone who questions this notion, I hereby formally challenge YOU to a bareknuckled fight to the death) and the BCS National Championship game is about to start...I should be pretty happy huh?

But I'm not. Because we got hosed.

And when I say we, I don't mean "we" as in bruin fans...I mean ALL college football fans.

When people think of what makes a good rivalry, they tend to have the same ideas. Close proximity between the schools, maybe one is public and one is private, both are similiarly successful (or not successful...see Army v. Navy), etc.

Not a lot of people talk about, what I think is the most important thing: the coaches!

When I saw Les Miles and Jim Tressel (the same Les Miles that should be coaching at Michigan) I thought that we were missing out on one hell of a rivalry. Tressel and Les Miles are TOTAL opposites.

Yeah. I feel that.

Miles wears a jacket and a hat. Tressel...wears a sweater vest.
Les Miles. His name is Les Miles. He sounds like a friggin cartoon character. The name bleeds working class. He's definitely the kind of guy who might ask the opposing coach to pull his finger instead of shaking his hand after a game. Jim Tressel? Doesn't he sound more like the governor of the state of Ohio rather than the head coach of the Ohio State University?

Anyways, it would have made the OSU/Michigan rivalry quite a thing. When I think Michigan, I think the working class/pull my finger/off the cuff style of Les Miles would have been quite the entertaining antithesis of the neat and pressed Governor Tressel. I mean, we're talking Michigan here. Their most famous coach is named Bo Schembechler. That sounds like the guy who mixes the paint at the hardware store, not the guy who coaches the winningest program in college football history.

But, like I says, we got hosed. Rich Rodriguez? Yawn. Yes, his offense is exciting but he isn't. I got so excited when Rutgers coach and New Jersey native Greg Schiano interviewed for the Michigan job. He'd a been another perfect antithesis to Tressel. Can you picture the first mid-field meeting between these dudes? I think It'd go something like this:

Jim Tressel, after extending his hand, "Hi, I'm Jim Tresesl, Head Coach of THE Ohio State University."
Greg Schiano, who chooses to fold his arms rather than extend his hand:"What the **** are you starin' at?"

Do you see how awesome that would be? I do.

Rich Rodriguez. Jim Tressel...that doesn't excite me.

Another pretty doggone sweet coaching rivalry deal: Pete Caroll and Charlie Weis.

Why? Well, Pete Carroll is skinny and Charlie Weiss...well Charlie Weiss isn't.

Charlie Weiss and in the infamous "front ass."

Personally, i think if Charlie Weiss loses to Pete Carroll a fourth time in a row, we're going to see Weiss totally lose it. Yes, he's going to bust out the ketchup, put Pom Pom in between a warm, sesame-seed bun, and eat his troubles away. again.

So Rick Neuheisel and Pete Carroll. You know, I have to admit it's not particularly exciting on its face...but I think it might eventually be really exciting. Why? Neuheisel hired the two best assistants Pete Carroll ever had at SC. Norm Chow and DeWayne Walker are now his right and left hand men.

Who knows Chow's offense better than Carroll? Who knows Carroll's defense better than Chow?

But again, It'll be another wait and see thing. On gameday, I wanna feel the anti-carroll sentiment and I think we will. I can't wait...and its 11 months away :(

I'll tell you this, It'll be better than Dorrell vs. Carroll. Actually, I think Al Gore roaming the UCLA sidelines would be more exciting than Dorrell. oy.

As I love to say, we shall see. It's okay, I'm a very patient person.




Is it December yet?

How You Like Me Chow!

Think about this for a minute. Rick Neuheisel, in his first few weeks as head coach, just convinced two other coaches ( who were up for the exact same job ) to come work for him. That's some serious mojo. With Norm Chow officially on board, as of this weekend, Neuheisel has radically transformed the UCLA coaching staff from a game day liability into probably the best staff in the conference.

One of the best things about this staff of Neuheisel, Walker and Chow is that they are determined to best USC. If you could channel the collective hatred of the Ketchup n' Mustard and form it into some type of primordial ooze then out of that soup would emerge these three coaches. They want to compete with Carrol and company. They want to take back this city. It's emotional for them, it's a challenge, and I think it is also personal. In the Monday press conference, Rick had this to say about the Trojans:
"Our goal is for us to get where they are," Neuheisel said about USC during a teleconference to introduce Chow. "We want to be one of the elite college football programs."
Man... Norm frickin' Chow. Even as a die-hard Neuheisel supporter, I didn't think that was possible. As of last week I was writing stuff like this:
Speaking of Chow, I don't think he is coming to UCLA. At least not this year.
Believe me when I say that I'm much better at my day job then I am at predicting the outcome of coaching hires at UCLA. What a coup for Rick. I'm sure some of it was blind luck with Tennessee firing Norm. But hey, better to be lucky then good. In the news conference it was mentioned that Chow originally said no, on a few occasions, to offers from Neuheisel. Rick is persistent in his recruiting and it looks like that dogged determination has paid off in this coaching hire as well.

Ben Olson must be doing back flips right now. With his football career stuck in second gear and only one more season to prove his worth, he must have been praying hard for some quality coaches to show up at his door. I don't think he could have asked for a better duo in Neuheisel and Chow. Rick has played in the NFL as a quarterback and was recently coaching a Heisman winning signal caller at Baltimore. Chow has worked with a bevy of talented players: Matt Leinart, Carson Palmer, Ty Detmer, Steve Young, Jim McMahon and Philip Rivers. He was given credit for almost single handily turning around Carson Palmer's career and three of those guys went on to win the Heisman.

It is that kind of resume that will draw great offensive players to Westwood. You know every quarterback currently at UCLA is going nuts right now. You have to imagine that a lot of other kids, who aren't in college yet, are going to seriously take a look at UCLA... some probably for the first ime. What offensive recruit wouldn't want to play for Norm Chow? What defensive recruit wouldn't want to play for DeWayne Walker? Throw Neuheisel into the mix and the Bruins should be stocking talent for years to come.

Here is a quote from Ben via Rich Perelman's blog:

"I always wanted to play for Coach Chow and things didn’t quite work out at USC. I looked at USC twice -– when I came out of high school and then when I got back from my mission. I always wanted to play for Coach Chow, I’d be lying if I didn’t say that. I consider myself very lucky to have the opportunity to learn from the best and I’m going to make the most of the opportunity and work my hardest to do what he asks me to do.

"I can’t remember when I was this excited about football."

You and every other Bruin fan, Ben. It's exciting times in Westwood.

The exact details of the contract are still in the works. I'm hoping Chow sticks around for at least two years. We absolutely need some continuity on this staff. In just a few years, I'm sure Chow could get this offense back to the top of the conference rankings.

(photo credit: Getty Images)

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Just like Football

Dang, that sucked. Goes to show you that USC is far more competitive in basketball than UCLA has been in football. Even with Ben Howland at the reigns, the Bruins are a measly 5-4 against USC in the last 9 games.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Swing and a Miss

Nigel Burton, who was rumored to be in consideration for the secondary coach position at UCLA, has taken the defensive coordinator spot at Nevada. Ryan Mallett also officially enrolled at Arkansas, confirming the news that was leaked out last week. Brian Dohn is also reporting that Norm Chow is still interested in coaching at the professional level. Definitely a lot of heat being generated in Westwood these days... but not a whole lot of light.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The New USC? Chow Now or Later?

It's funny, in an ironic way, that so many of UCLA's coaching staff has ties to USC. Rick Neuheisel got his law degree from USC. DeWayne Walker coached on the Trojan sideline for one season. Bob Palcic worked across town for one season. Even the guys we're going after, like Norm Chow and Ken Norton Jr., are current or former Trojan coaches. I guess if you can't beat 'em, join 'em... or in our case: get-their-former-coaches and beat 'em.

Speaking of Chow, I don't think he is coming to UCLA. At least not this year. I'm looking at the fact that he gets paid $1 million from the Titans to sit on his butt at home. If he accepts the job with the Bruins then he loses dollar-for-dollar what ever UCLA pays him. I'm guessing he'll want to take a year off to reflect and relax and send some time with the Mrs. before jumping back into the coaching ranks.

But I don't think all is lost. I'm sure Neuheisel will be courting Chow heavily. Even if he doesn't accept the job this year, he could be enticed to come to UCLA next season or the one after that. It would be a great job for Chow as it is back in the college ranks, he can compete against Carroll and Trojans, and it is close to home. He's been away from his family in Nashville while he was with the Titans and I'm sure he'll want to stay nearby during the last few years that he coaches (Chow is 61 years old).

Neuheisel is a good offensive coordinator in his own right, and I could see him picking up a QB coach and maybe having that guy be a co-offensive coordinator with Rick. That way, when Norm is ready to jump back into the game, UCLA has an open position waiting for him.

Then again, Rick might surprise us all and bring Chow in now. I guess there is talk of UCLA putting together a multi-year deal where Norm would get the bulk of the payments in year three since his Tennessee payout stops after year two. I don't know if he would go for it but we could maybe get Chow for a few years and not pay much more than what we payed our prior assistants.

UCLA could offer a deal with $1 million paid out in year three and basically no money paid in the first two years. From Chow's perspective he would get $1 million a year for the next three years just with the Titans picking up the tab for the first two seasons and UCLA paying for the last one. From UCLA's point of view, we get a fantastic offensive coordinator for three years for only $1million. That's just $333K a year, which is right around what Jay Norvell was making. That would be one heck of a deal for UCLA. Trading in Norvell for Chow for virtually the same salary. It sounds almost too good to be true.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Norton Stays at USC

The LA Times is reporting that Ken Norton Jr. will stay with the Trojans despite a job offer from UCLA.

I'm not all that terribly disappointed to be honest. I wasn't that high on Norton to begin with and I think UCLA would benefit more from hiring Nigel Burton instead. Norton didn't exactly have a defined position at UCLA, so besides his recruiting prowess, there wasn't much he was going to add. He would get a nice title and competitive pay, but in reality he would become an assistant to the assistants. Howard and Bullough are already coaching the D-line and linebackers and Walker is the DC. Norton would have been a 5th wheel.

Titans Fire Chow!

Holy Guacamole! Does this mean that UCLA is in the running for Chow's services? Brian Dohn reported that Neuheisel had not even spoken with Chow as of yesterday, but he wont name an OC until he does. This might be the point were opportunity meets preparation. Bring it home Rick!

Can a Bruin realistically Dream????

Who Knew What

With the release of Tarnished Heisman today, the discussion around Bush-gate, and who knew what, is heating up. There are some interesting interviews with Lyod Lake, the wannabe agent and ex-felon, who is suing Reggie Bush over money owed to him from the former Trojan running back. He believes the USC coaches did know about the whole thing, but just kept it quiet.

In a piece written in the OC register, Lake says that USC's coaches should have noticed that Bush and his family were suddenly living the high-life:
"They knew Reggie was getting money from somewhere. They had to know," said Lloyd Lake. "Your family doesn't go from one extreme to the other, from barely making $1,400 a month in rent to paying a $4,200 (a month) mortgage, without that money coming from someone or somewhere."
A pretty obvious observation:
"If we didn't do it, who did? If we didn't buy this stuff, who did? They didn't win the lottery," Lake said. "They didn't go from never going to an away game to going to every away game, including Hawaii. From Reggie getting a new car to them living in a new house - it's too much of a change in your lifestyle. They didn't get a raise."
In another interview with the Union Tribune, Lake and his attorney mention a very easy way for Reggie to clear his name:

“If Reggie wanted to clear this thing up, all he'd have to do is show one canceled rent check,” Watkins said.

Said Lake: “Then we'd drop the lawsuit, and I'd give him all the book money.”

Lake also talked about an anonymous e-mail that the USC coaches received in 2005 warning them that Bush was taking money. He knew about the e-mail because Bush's parents called him up in a "panic". The only way Bush's parents could have heard about the e-mail is if the coaches asked Reggie about it. That should be something easy for USC to find and provide to the NCAA. If it is true, and trust me I don't believe everything this guy says, but if it is true then that could be a huge smoking gun. If they had any suspicion at all that Reggie might not be eligible and they did nothing to investigate it then that's NCAA sanctions time.

At the very least, the NCAA and PAC-10 have to force USC to forfeit games in 2005. That's an absolute no-brainier. Going back to games played in 2004 might be harder to prove as I have yet to see any receipts or evidence of illegal benefits back that far. Lake mentions in a recorded conversation with LaMar Griffen (Reggie's step father) that he has been giving them over $200K in gifts for a year and a half...
I never talked to him about [paying back $12,000 for a car], I wasn’t even looking for it back. I just wanted him to come to the company. I told him everything we did for you, because right now it’s about 200 grand. He can keep that or give it to you. If we get Reggie, he can keep that $200,000 we spent over the year and a half, whatever, see what I’m saying? He can just say “okay pay that back to my dad,” or he can give it to us, and we’ll give it to you.
... but that's just him making a statement. I don't know if they have any evidence that far back.

At the end of the day, with all the evidence that Tarnished Heisman and Yahoo! have uncovered, only the most die-hard Trojan fan could state that Bush didn't take illegal benefits. It is pretty obvious that he did and Bush could easily clear his name by providing evidence to the contrary. Did the USC coaches know? Maybe they did. Should they have know? I think the evidence is growing that they should have known as well.

Personally, I think at least some of the coaches knew about Bush and they just looked the other way. That's almost impossible to prove, but it is hard to believe they didn't notice that their best player was suddenly driving a new car and his family traveling all over the country to watch him play. It is pretty easy to add 2 and 2 together here. It's not like we're talking about some walk-on kicker either. It was Reggie freakin' Bush. If you can't keep tabs on your super-star athlete then you're doing something wrong.

Will the University get punished? There was a precedent set when Charles Woodson at Michigan took illegal benefits but the University received no punishment. Will that happen in this case? I don't know, but I think the NCAA and PAC-10 are under A LOT of pressure and attention with the Reggie Bush situation. If they do nothing then they'll come across as weak. I think at least some form of punishment (a lost scholarship, probation, no bowl) will have to be applied. The case is just too high profile for them to do nothing.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Last Games for Seniors

(Ed Note: Bruce Davis is now playing in the Senior Bowl.)

The last game for all the 2007 seniors was the Las Vegas Bowl last month. But a few more will play in some all star games.

This past Saturday was the Hula Bowl. It featured offensive guard Shannon Tevaga playing for the West team. Chris Horton also received an invitation but he declined to attend. The West team didn't fair too well and former WSU quarterback Alex Brink and Stanford quarterback T.C. Ostrander kind of stunk it up.

The East West Shrine Game is this up coming Saturday (Jan 19th). Bruce Davis and Dennis Keyes will be playing in that game. An interesting note is that the website for the game has a picture of (I think) Drew Olson. Pretty cool. Another note is that former UCLA coach Dick Vermil will be one of the coaches for the game. It will be played in Houston Texas and at least a replay of the game is available on ESPN2 and ESPNU. I don't think it is available live on national TV.

The last contest with a Bruin is the Texas vs. The Nation game. It will be held on February 2nd. Rodney Van is playing in that game. Not a whole lot of details yet on that one but I'm guessing it won't be on national TV either.

Unfortunately, no Bruins were selected to the Senior Bowl. A large contingent of PAC-10 stars will be there for that game on January 26th. It will be covered by the NFL network.

Bruins Lose a Good One

Everyone was saying that UCLA might lose a guy or two (or three) from this 2008 recruiting class. It looks like Uona Kaveinga is the first causality. The Salt Lake Tribune reported on Saturday night that Kaveinga had given a verbal commitment to BYU over the weekend. Bruin Report Online has also confirmed that story.

Kaveinga was the highest rated LB in the class and he just came off a great performance in the Under Armor All American Bowl. He had USC, UCLA, and BYU pushing hard for him and rumors had been swirling for weeks that he could de-commit from the Bruins. It is a tough loss for the Bruin but at least he went out of conference. Kaveinga is a member of the LDS church and that likely sealed the deal with the Cougars.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Zebrie Sanders

Here's a little piece of news for you recruitnicks out there. Zebrie Sanders, a 4-star offensive lineman, might be seriously considering UCLA again. That's because his two other favorites, Florida and Georgia, are officially out of scholarships.

If you look at the Bruin's 2008 class, you'll see that it could desperately use some skilled offensive lineman. Hammani Stevens (C) and Vaughn Dotsy (OT) are both high on UCLA. Jonathan Martin (OT) was also considering the Bruins but now that he has been admitted to Stanford, we are out of the running. That was about it. Sanders was also considering the Bruins at one point. However everyone said he was a lock for Florida (with Georgia as his backup) and UCLA was pretty much out of the running

But he may have waited too long. According to the AJC, when Ricky Barnum and Matt Patchan committed to Florida that filled their allocation for lineman. The Gators coaches called him up this week and said that they no longer had a scholarship for him. Georgia also has a full class, so now Sanders is back on the free market.

His father says that UCLA and Florida State are likely the leaders,
“He may take an official visit to FSU; he may take an official to UCLA,” Vincent Sanders said. “He’s going to go where they want him.”
I can't speak for Rick Neuheisel but I definitely want Sanders at UCLA. He would be a huge pickup for the Bruins in an area that is in desperate need of talent. Now that the Bruins have a O-line coach in Palcic, maybe this can be his first big recruit.

Scout rates Sanders
as a 4-star offensive tackle ranked 26th in the nation. Rivals also gives him 4 stars and ranks him as the 18th best offensive tackle in the country. Sanders played in the Under Armor All American Bowl earlier this month and is considered one of the best offensive lineman in the 2008 recruiting class.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Smoking Gun

Read 'em and weep Trojans. Here is the actual documentation used in the Yahoo investigation into the illegal benefits Reggie Bush received while at USC. It includes credit card vouchers for Bush and hotel receipts signed by Reggie. The deed to the Bush family house in his agent's name. Copies of e-mails between his step father and the New Era agents about promoting Reggie once he turned pro. Here is my favorite:

Bush posing in front of a car New Era bought for him


Mallett One Step Closer?

Tennesee just hired a new offensive coordinator. Why would you care? Well, it could mean that Ryan Mallet is one step closer to wearing the blue and gold next season. You see, former Michigan OC Mike DeBord and quarterback coach Scot Loeffler were supposedly looking at that job. With the Volunteer's OC spot filled, Loeffler might have to head somewhere else. That somewhere else could be UCLA.

Mallet's mother had this to say about her son's position coach,
"We love Scot Loeffler," Debbie Mallett told the Free Press Wednesday. "He's done wonders for Ryan, especially in the last few weeks. We don't want Ryan to regress. We want him to continue to progress, and he would with Scot. "
Since Loeffler did interview for the UCLA job last week, we know that he is at least interested in Westwood. I don't know if the Bruins are the front runner but with Tennessee out of the picture, it does increase our chances.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Nigel Burton

There was an interesting post on Scott Wolf's blog yesterday. It was about Ken Norton possibly coming to UCLA but it ended with another coaches name: Nigel Buron. Now, normally, I disregard every rumor Scott Wolf publishes as patently false (he did say that Rick Neuheisel was definitely not going to be our head coach). But I think this one might have some legs. So who is Niguel Burton?

Burton is currently the secondary coach up at Oregon State. Nigel has been on the staff with the Beavers for five years and their defense was one of the best in the conference this season. He is considered a fantastic recruiter and an up and coming coach. Before OSU, he coached at Portland State for a few seasons and at South Florida. He did an internship with the Denver Broncos for a season to help gain some experience at that level.

The interesting connection, and why his name is coming up as a possible defensive assistant coach, is that Burton and Rick Neuheisel were both at at Washington briefly in 1999. Since Gary DeLoach, the current secondary coach is on his way out, Bruton could take over those responsibilities. If Norton gets hired on the staff then there might not be room (i.e. $$$) for another defensive coach. But if Norton does not come to UCLA then Burton could be a real possibility.

I like the idea of brining in Burton. He has proven to be a good coach for the Beavers and he fills an immediate need on the staff. If his recruiting prowess is that good then he could be a great addition. He would have connections to the Pacific Northwest to complement the recruiting of LA that Walker and Scott have covered. Of course, bringing in Norton has the added benefit of hurting USC. So both options are pretty attractive.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

With the release of the investigative reporting book on Reggie Bush coming out in 6 days, a website is supposedly being setup to reveal documentation of the almost $300,000 he and his family received in illegal benefits. The site,, has yet to go live, but it should be up to coincide with the release of the book on January 15th. I'm sure they'll be getting a lot of traffic on that day.

The domain is registered to a company run by the book's author, Don Yaeger. Yaeger is an investigative reporter and associate editor for Sports Illustrated. The initial reaction from the LA Time Trojan blog: "it doesn't look good".

That's just music to my ears.

Mallett Officially Leaves Michigan

With the hiring of Rich Rodriquez at Michigan, things are changing in Ann Arbor. Ryan Mallett's transfer was probably one of the worst kept secrets of the last few weeks; yesterday, he officially packed his bags for greener pastures. Lots of programs are gunning for former Wolverine backup QB and UCLA is right there in the mix.

Right now Mallett has a few schools very interested in his services. Tennessee might be the favorite with Texas A&M, Arkansas and UCLA also perusing the tall signal caller. The conventional wisdom is that Ryan would follow his QB coach, Scott Loeffler, to whichever school picks him up. Tennesee is also considering hiring the former Michigan offensive coordinator, Mike DeBord, so a package deal with Mallet could be in the works. There was talk that Loeffler, who interviewed with Neuheisel this week, might come to Westwood.

Mallet's measurable:

Height: 6'6"
Weight: 247
40-yard: 5.14s

He looks like he has decent mobility for a guy so big. His 40-yard dash time is dirt slow. He towered over the kids at the high school level and could run around a bit. At the D1-A level, he'll play exclusively as a pocket passer. That's pretty much the way he was used at Michigan.

High School Highlight Reel

High School Highlight Reel

In many ways, Mallet draws comparisons to Ben Olson. Big, tall, cannon-for-an-arm. Very highly recruited coming out of Texarkana, Texas. He played in the Army All American Bowl back in 2006 and both Scout and Rivals ranked him as a 5-start prospect. You know a kid is big time if he has his own fan site.

He's also a bit slow like Olson and he has a lot to learn. His completion percentage for 2007 (43%) was pretty bad and he only threw 7 TDs to 5 INT. That was as a true freshman and sadly that was probably better than most of our QB's. Bringing along his quarterback coach and continuing to develop him would be a must. Since the whole team has to learn Neuheisel's new offense, he wouldn't be any further behind than anyone else in this program. He might even benefit from sitting out a year.

If Mallet comes to UCLA, he would have to sit out the 2008 campaign but he would have three years of eligibility left. That would put him right in line for an open quarterback position in 2009 as both Olson and Cowan will graduate after this next season. That might be a motivating factor for Mallett in choosing Westwood and having a former NFL QB coach in Neuheisel probably doesn't hurt either.

(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

New RB Coach?

There are some rumors circulating that a former assistant coach at ASU, John Wrenn, has interviewed for the same position at UCLA. Jill Painter, over at the Daily News, is also reporting that Dino Barbers, the current running back coach, will likely leave the staff. There should be decisions coming near the end of the week.

Coach Wrenn has primarily been in the high school ranks. He had a brief stint at the University of Illinois back in the late 90's. At the high school level he racked up a lot of awards and victories, including being named a regional coach of the year over 15 times. I'm sure Wrenn would bring a lot of high school contacts with him to UCLA.

Recruiting Reset

With the coaching staff coming together and less than a month left before letters of intent are signed, lets see where we are at with this 2008 recruiting class. I've updated the recruiting snapshot (make sure you zoom in on the image) with all the latest ratings and ranking from both Scout and Rivals. I've also included information on commits who played in the nationally televised high school All American games.


A couple of things to note over the last version (which was compiled back in November) is that Jonathan Franklin went from being a Safety to being classified as a running back by Scout. Franklin ended up playing running back his senior season and some believe he wants to play that position at the collegiate level. Rivals ranks and rates him as an "athlete" and Franklin definitely fits that category. He's a guy that could easily play on either side of the ball.

The other big change was the removal of Aundre Dean from the class. Scout has removed him as a commit as well, but Rivals still lists him as a "soft verbal" to UCLA. From the comments that I've read from Dean, it sounds like he isn't committed anywhere. I think the Bruins still have a shot at him, but it would likely be an outside chance at best.

The rest of the rankings are about the same, with guys just going up or down a few ticks. The big exception to that was Nelson Rosario. He was a bit of a sleeper coming into the 2007 season, but the Bruins picked him up early and it looks like we have a gem. His rankings sky rocketed and he went from one of our lowest rated receivers to the highest. He reminds me of Dominique Johnson (kind of tall and lanky) and if he plays like Johnson did this last year, he'll be a good one for the blue and gold.

One other observation is how talented our defense recruits are in this class. If you look at the All American icon (AA) in the snapshot, you'll see that 8 of our 9 defensive commits played in high school All American games. I think we all knew those players were good, but that just shows you how talented these guys are from a national perspective. With the retention of coach Walker and most of the defensive staff, I think we got a pretty good chance at getting all of those guys to Westwood next season.

Which brings me to the state of our recruits. Obviously, the coaching staff is still solidifying, and Rick has only been on the job for a little more than a week. He's been making calls and meeting with recruits, but with so many participating in All American games (and the week of practice that proceeded those games), he still has to make the rounds. Right now, Scout lists the following players as "soft verbals":

Ouch. That's half the class that is still listed as being on the fence about their decision. Neuheisel definitely has his work cut out for him. The other impact to these recruits' decisions would be the status of coach Eric Scott. If he is let go then that could tip a few guys the other way. I have the feeling that most of these guys will stick with UCLA. There is talk that EJ Woods might be the softest of these soft verbals. Grades might be an issue and he is being recruited hard to other programs. I wouldn't be shocked if he chose Washington or Colorado this February.

That being said, I think a lot of these guys are going to be listed as solid verbals soon. Aaron Hester has told the local reporters he is solid after talking with coach Neuheisel, and Knox and Carter sound like they are also on board. I'm sure many are keeping their options open, but I full expect almost all of these guys to sign with the Bruins.


Assuming the coaches can shore up the current commits, let's talk about filling the last few rides. UCLA has about 4-5 more scholarships it can give for 2008. Looking at the holes in the class right now, you would have to think that offensive lineman and defensive tackle are the highest priorities. Apparently Bob Palcic, the newly hired O-line coach, enjoys recruiting and I'm sure he'll be hard at work in that department starting tomorrow.

Two of the biggest recruits that UCLA could go after are Hammani Stevens (C) and Vaughn Dotsy (OT). Both are interested in the Bruins and Stevens briefly committed to UCLA back during the summer. Dotsy is a huge dude, but he doesn't have an offer from UCLA. Jonathan Martin is another player, who was a one time Bruin commit. He chose Stanford over UCLA a few months ago, but I'm not sure if that decision is entirely finalized, because he was waiting for his application to be accepted. Scout still lists him as not being a verbal to the Cardinal, so maybe UCLA is still in the mix.

For defensive tackle, UCLA missed out on a good one with Willie Mobley. He had UCLA on his short list but he never got an offer. Who knows the reasoning behind that but Mobley has signed on with Ohio State. I don't see any other defensive tackles on UCLA's radar,so this might be a position that goes unfilled. Unless Rick can steal someone away from their prior commitment?

Another guy is Adam Long (DB), who currently has offers from UW, UCLA, Cal, and Oregon State. It looks like he is leaning toward the Huskies. I think our defensive backs are pretty well set but in case some of the soft verbals don't stick, it is always good to have other options.

Bob Palcic New O-Line Coach

Yesterday, Bob Palcic was added to the coaching staff as the new offensive line coach. He's an experienced guy, who has coached at the collegiate and professional level for a long time. From my first impression, this is a good hire for a unit that struggled for much of the 2007 campaign.

Neuheisel and Palcic are old friends and the two coached together at UCLA in 1993. After that Palcic went to the NFL ranks while Neuheisel went on to a head coaching position. Bob is 59 years old and he brings a wealth of coaching experience. He has been coaching offensive lineman, almost exclusively, for over 30 years.

Palcic has coached the offensive line at a lot of different schools, mainly in the Big Ten and PAC-10. He did a long stint at Ohio State, a couple of short stops at USC, UCLA, and Arizona and a few tours at Wisconsin. That was his most recent stop until joining UCLA for 2008.

Palcic has coached a number of guys on to successful NFL and collegiate careers. All-Pro tackle Jonathan Ogden (No. 4 pick in the 1996 NFL Draft), third-team All-American and NFL veteran (Green Bay and Houston) Mike Flanigan and first-team All-American and 11-year NFL player Vaughn Parker. All of those guys were under Palcic's tutelage during his one season at UCLA. All-America Tony Boselli (USC), first-team All-Big Ten offensive linemen Bob Maggs, Jeff Uhlenhake, Joe Staysniak, Jeff Davidson and Alan Kline (Ohio State). More recently he coached All-American Ray Snell and 2006 Outland Trophy winner Joe Thomas (Wisconsin).

This is a quote from the Madison Capital Times:
So it was a natural fit for Palcic who will coach the O-line for Neuheisel. "We've been friends for a long time, and he wants me to go out there and help him resurrect the UCLA program, and I thought that's what I should do," Palcic said Sunday. "We've stayed in touch over the years. And he has always asked me if I would go with him if he ever got another head coaching job, and I always told him that I would. So when he called me up and offered me a substantial raise, I just thought it felt right. This is really the first opportunity we had to get back together."
The one thing that really jumps out at me is the part about a substantial raise. Not sure if that was said in jest, but if it was a serious comment, then we're talking about a new era in UCLA football. One where coaches get paid well and we can even lure top candidates to Westwood. Hopefully this means we can retain these guys for at least a few years to build continuity. There was talk soon after Neuheisel was hired that "the money would be there" for the right assistants. If Palicic is any indication then I think Neuheisel will be able to afford a top notch staff!

This brings up an interesting question about the current O-line coach, Bob Connelly. He hasn't been officially let go, and there is a possibility that he could coach another position (like Tight End), but will he stay at UCLA for 2008? I'm not going to shed a tear if Connelly is fired because our offensive line play was so inconsistent and maddeningly prone to penalties this prior season. With him being let go as the O-line coach at Alabama after a coaching change, you got to wonder if maybe that's not his best position. He sure doesn't look like an O-line coach as the players are twice his size.

Oh well, the Bruins have a good hire in Palcic and it looks like Neuheisel is forming a good mix of young, energetic coaches (Moore), the best of the Dorrell era coaches (Walker, Bullough, and Howard) and experienced veterans (Palcic). All have prior or current connections to UCLA and Rick is definitely working his contacts. The big remaining question is who will be the offensive coordinator? Maybe we'll have an answer soon.

(photo credit: Ghetty Images)

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Bruins at All American Games

Today there were two All American games featuring players committed to UCLA. The Under Armor All American Bowl and the Army All American Bowl. The UA game was a bit more exciting with six Bruins (the most for any school) in the mix, both on offense and defense. Rahim Moore was the sole representative for UCLA in the Army game.

I didn't get to see all of the games, as today was a busy personal day, but I did catch a few of the highlights. Nick Crissman, the Bruin committed QB for 2008, had a rough start getting sacked after he tripped on a play-action pass. He redeemed himself later by throwing a nice, spiraling 30-yard pass for a touchdown. He's still a ways away from being a viable option at the collegiate level, in my opinion, and he definitely needs to add some size size and strength. But the kid is a gamer and he has some raw talent that the Bruins can mold.

Jeff Locke, who is coming to Westwood as a punter, was handling all of the kicking for his team. He had a rough day. On a very makable 37-yard kick he came up surprising short (right as the announcers were talking about how big his leg was). He also missed badly on a punt, which he shanked. I think the kid was nervous. Kai Forbath looked awful when he first started kicking during scrimmages this last spring; he ended the season on the all-conference team. I'm sure Jeff will settle into the role.

One time commit, Aundre Dean, got a few carries. They were primarily short gainers and not much to write home about. It will be interesting to see if Dean decides to come back to his UCLA verbal. He has a lot of schools fighting for his services. Dean's team just won the State championship, so he probably hasn't had much time to really sit back and think about where he will play next year. Let's hope it is Westwood, because I think he'll be a good one.

It was little bit harder to follow the defensive recruits. There was a pretty heavy rotation in the UA game, so guys would come and go after just a few plays. I saw Dye a few times around the ball and he made a few tackles. E.J Woods was out there but I don't remember seeing him do much. Line backer Uona Kaveinga was very active. He seemed to always be around the ball and ending up in the pile more times than not.

The lone Bruin representative at the Army game definitely made the most of his time. Safety Rahim Moore earned the game ball for the West team's defense. He was quick, closed even quicker, and had some big hits. Moore, who got off to a slow start in the first half, had a huge second half and finished the game with 6 tackles and a pass breakup. The Bruins have a great one with this kid and he might even make his way into the lineup as a true freshman.

Why Rick is Good for the PAC-10

For a while now, the PAC-10 has been a lopsided conference. There was USC at the top and the nine dwarfs trailing well behind. But times, as they say, are a changing. The rest of the conference is starting to get its act together and Rick Neuheisel could be another reason why the days of Trojan dominance are numbered. There is little doubt that Neuheisel will be good for UCLA but I believe he will also be good for the PAC-10 as well.

The Rise of Troy

Let's turn back the clocks a few decades. If you look at the winners of the PAC-10 (and it's prior incarnations) over the last five decades, you'll see three schools repeated over and over: UCLA, USC, and Washington. Since 1959, one of those three teams have won at least a share of the conference title in 43 of the 49 seasons. Occasionally, a Stanford or Arizona St or Oregon will rise to the top, but the three historical powers in the PAC-10 are the Bruins, Trojans, and Huskies.

Yet in 2001, those three teams were in decline. USC had been struggling under Paul Hackett, Bob Toldeo was presiding over a fading UCLA squad, and Rick Neuheisel was about to have his job as the Huskie head coach yanked out from underneath him. Add to that the impending departures of Mike Price at WSU and Dennis Erickson at Oregon State and the PAC-10 was in the midst of a serious power vacuum.

Into this environment walked Pete Carroll. He wasn't USC's first choice to replace Hackett, nor was he the second. Hell, he wasn't even their third choice. Nobody knew it at the time, but this almost-passed-over coach was about to lead the Trojans to a record setting six straight conference titles. He inherited a gold mine of talent at USC. He also found a fertile recruiting bed that had been shipping it's best players outside of California for a number years. With UCLA in no position to challenge for those players, and the conference lacking a true powerhouse, Carroll woke the sleeping giant and quickly pushed the Trojans to the top of the conference.

Typically, in college football, you see cycles of success and failure that last a few years. But the Trojans found themselves in a perfect storm of conditions that have lead to their absolute dominance of the conference for the better part of this decade. Both UCLA and Washington, the other two historical powers, have spun their wheels during the seven years since Carroll took over. Washington went into the toilet after they unceremoniously and illegally (per the civil suite they settled) terminated Rick. They hired a string of coaches who have run that program into the ground. UCLA unwittingly put up the white flat when it hired Dorell. He sputtered and stalled and kept the Bruins far below their potential as a national football power.

The last two years, however, have seen a crack in the Trojan amor. They have lost two conference games in back-to-back seasons and they've had to share the conference crown as well. Dennis Erickson is back in the conference coaching at ASU and he has the Sun Devils firing on all cylinders. They were PAC-10 co-champs in his first season. Jeff Tedford has California's name being mentioned in national conversations. Mike Bellotti has turned Oregon into a dangerous team as well. Heck, even Stanford has some life under Jim Harbaugh.

The New Neuheisel Era

Yet still, the other traditional powers besides USC, have struggled. Until now. Rick Neuheisel has only been on the job for one week but he is already making a splash. He had the press eating out of his hand at his introductory press conference. He had a cameo at the Rose Bowl, went on national sports radio, and rumors are circulating that top-notch players are looking to transfer to UCLA. He's eying USC's coaches and he even won his first recruiting battle against Tyrone Willignham for the services of DeWayne Walker. There is a buzz around Westwood for the first time in a long time.

It will likely take Neuheisel and his staff a few years before he can get UCLA back into the national spotlight with their play of the football field. But, in the meantime, he is serving the rest of the college football world notice. UCLA is coming. The Bruins are going to start competing for championships. They're going to start competing with USC. We're going to bring back some balance to the rivalry and help topple the king off his throne atop the conference rankings.

If Neuheisel can start recruiting top talent to UCLA then the Bruins can knock a few paces off of USC's step. Not only by winning recruiting victories, but by fielding a team that competes with the Trojans, year in and year out, on the field. The 2008 recruiting class is shaping up nicely and the Bruins have a bright future if Rick can keep that ball rolling. With the aura of invincibility removed from the Trojans, top recruits will start considering UCLA and other schools in the conference as viable places to show case their talent.

When that happens, the PAC-10 will again become a conference of balanced, competitive play. Instead of just one super power winning the title every season, we'll go back to a time when eight different teams won a share of the conference crown in the course of a decade. The Bruins won't win them all under Neuheisel, but you can be sure that UCLA will finally be getting its fair share of grid iron glory. That will be to the detriment of USC and their fans, but it can't be anything but good news to the other programs living in the Trojan's shadow.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Moore Coaches Added

There were some early reports today about Reggie Moore coming to UCLA as a wide receiver coach. I was trying to find some more information on it, but nowhere did it say he would actually coach the wide receivers at UCLA. He was the receiver coach at North Dakota State, and the report said he would take a "similar position" at UCLA. The official site is reporting that he will join the staff at a position yet to be determined.

This is a particularly interesting development because of how it will impact the current wide receivers coach, Eric Scott. Scott has also been instrumental in recruiting this last year and if he were let go by coach Neuheisel then that could potentially have an impact on the recruiting class. There could also be some options where Scott or Moore coach different positions and changing coaching responsibilities is a common practice at the collegiate level. We'll have to wait and see how this develops.

From the press release:

Moore has spent the last four years (2004-07) coaching the wide receivers at North Dakota State University. He spent the 2003 season as a graduate assistant at the University of Washington (he was hired by Neuheisel but coached for Keith Gilbertson), working with the wide receivers.

During his Bruin career (1987-90), Moore was a three-year starter at wide receiver. He ranks No. 18 on UCLA's all-time list with his 92 career receptions and with his 1,483 yards. He averaged 16.1 yards per catch and scored 10 touchdowns as a Bruin.

Following his collegiate career, Moore played in the National Football League for the New York Jets (1991-93) and the Los Angeles Rams (1993) as a wide receiver and return specialist. He then coached in the high school ranks at James Madison High School in Houston, Texas, for four seasons (1999-2002). He also served as a fire fighter and paramedic with the Houston Fire Department from 1996 to 2003 before joining the staff at the University of Washington.

Moore, 39, earned his BA in History from UCLA in 1991.

Since Reggie was a return specialist as well as a receiver in the NFL, he might be given responsibility over special teams. Gary DeLoach, the current special teams coach, wasn't one of those coaches retained with the Walker rehire, so I have a feeling he is on his way out.

(photo credit: UCLA)

The Offense Defense All American Bowl

One more High School All American game will be played tomorrow. It is the Offense Defense All American Bowl. The game will be played at the Orange Bowl in Miami and it will be televised by FOX Sports at 4 p.m. Pacific time. Representing the Bruins will be Damien Holmes (DE), Datone Jones (DE), Aaron Hester (DB), and Patrick Larimore (LB).

Walker! Walker!

Oh yeah! DeWayne Walker has agreed to stay on as UCLA's defensive coordinator. This is fantastic news. We get back a great coach and an even better recruiter. This will likely keep the entire 2008 class together, and with the coaching staff solidifying, the Bruins can get back on the offensive and hit the recruiting trail again.

Defensive line coach Todd Howard and Linebacker coach Chuck Bullough will continue in their current positions. I think both have been great assistant coaches and it is good to see continuity continue in the coaching staff. That's been sorely missing over the last few years. Hopefully we'll see defensive improvements under Walker and his staff for years to come.

There were rumors, soon after the Rose Bowl, that Ken Norton Jr. might join the staff at UCLA. those rumors might have been just idle speculation, or maybe Neuheisel was looking at a backup plan in case Walker and his assistants split? In any case, with the defensive staff all but complete, I don't see Norton returning to Westwood... at least not this year.

I have to admit, I wasn't all that thrilled in getting Ken Norton Jr. back in Westwood. Not because he was at USC or because he negatively recruited against the Bruins; that's all part of the job. No, I just don't see him as being that great of a coach. Sure, the linebackers at USC are good but that's because they recruit insanely good players. I've heard talk that Norton isn't all that smart and he isn't a great X and O's guy. He might be a decent position coach, and no doubt a great recruiter, but I would hate for UCLA to take a chance on him as the defensive coordinator. Maybe if he goes and gains some experience at a lower level, to prove that he is capable, then I would be interested. As of now, I think the Bruins got a much, much better coach in Walker.

Neuheisel had this to say about keeping Walker,
"It's a great hire for us as we go forth with the new staff. DeWayne has proven himself as a bona fide, top-notch defensive coordinator in his two years. We're elated."

Neuheisel said Howard and Bullough were
"two cornerstones of the defensive staff that have proved their mettle the last couple seasons. All three were coveted by other programs. The neat thing is they decided their work wasn't done here."

Walker on the decision process,
"At the end of the day, it's about winning championships. When I had a chance to sit down with coach and listen to his vision and commitment in terms of trying to get to the championship level: (it's) really trying to finish what we started. To be a defensive coordinator but also to win a championship. Being from L.A. and having a chance to grow up around the Rose Bowl is something we haven't accomplished yet. The recruits and the (current) football team and all those things factored into this decision."

(photo credit: Getty)

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Will He Stay or Will He Go?

Now that the head coaching position has been filled, the question is who will be the coordinators under Neuheisel? The rumors are flying fast and furious over coach Walker. Will he stay with the Bruins or will he go to Washington?

Sporting News is reporting that Walker has already signed with Washington. But nobody else, as of this morning anyways, has confirmed that. Brian Dohn spoke with Walker recently and he said no decision has been made. The chatter on internet message boards seem to confirm the Sporting News report that it is a done deal. So is it? I sure hope not, because Walker is a great coach and an even better recruiter.

If Walker jets for another job, then Rick Neuheisel will immediately have to earn that $1.25 million salary of his. There is only a month and a half left before signing day. He'll have to see how many recruits he can convince to stay with UCLA. It might be a challenge, as so many have stated that Walker and Eric Scott where key reasons they commited in the first place. But Rick is supposed to be a great recruiter and if anyone can keep this class together, it is our golden boy.

Under Armour All-American Game

Another high profile All Star game with Bruin recruits is the Under Armour All-American Game. This is the first year of the game and it will be played in Orlando. The game will be played this Saturday, January 5 at 11 AM Pacific Time and it will be televised on ABC.

EJ Woods (S), Nick Crissman (QB), Anthony Dye (DB), Uona Kaveinga (LB), and Jeff Locke (P) are all playing in the game. A former Bruin commit, Aundre Dean (RB), will also be attending. I'm sure these Bruin committed players will be pushing hard for Dean to rejoin them in Westwood. Especially with Rick Neuheisel now officially the head coach.

Army All American Game

One of UCLA's star recruits, Rahim Moore, will be playing in the Army All American Bowl this year. This is an annual event that pits the best high school seniors in the country against each other. The game will be held at the Alamo Dome and televised on NBC this Saturday, January 5th, at 10 AM West Coast time.

Last year Brian Price was selected to play in the game and in 2006 both Terrance Austin and Kai Forbath represented UCLA. If these players are any indication of the caliber of player that attends the AAA Bowl, then the Bruins are getting a special kid in Moore. If you're itching to watch some more football, and you'd like to get a sneak peek at this future UCLA safety, then make sure you tune in this Weekend.

From his bio,

Moore has excellent instincts and closes on the ball-carrier or receiver quickly and with force. He has excellent hands, as evidenced by his 14 picks in two years.

An all-state underclass first team pick in 2006 and an all-City Section selection, Moore had 122 tackles as a junior and seven interceptions for Los Angeles (Calif.) Dorsey. He also had 90 tackles (56 solo), and seven interceptions during his sophomore season at Dorsey High in Los Angeles, being named an all-City Section second-team selection in 2005.