UCLA Coach Ben Howland talks to Reeves Nelson on the sideline during an exhibition… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)
With the recent ups and downs of the UCLA football team, the casual fan might think that nothing is more volatile than Bruins football. However, over the last decade-plus, there has emerged an entirely predictable pattern to the program, best described by the words of their own fans. The only variable is the time between each phase:
Phase 1: "We've finally found the guy. This is the coach whose hiring finally shows the school's commitment to being a football power."
Phase 2: "We have a great coach!"
Phase 3: "We have a good coach."
Phase 4: "We have a good coach, but those admissions standards are an absolute killer."
Phase 5: "Did I mention the admissions standards?"
Phase 6: "OK, so this guy isn't the greatest coach. But nobody can win with those admissions standards."
Phase 7: "How many years are left on this guy's contract?"
Phase 8: "What's this guy's buyout?"
Phase 8a: "Have we finished paying off the last guy?"
Return to Phase 1. Rinse and repeat.
If UCLA football's current mediocre season goes as expected, the Bruins will beat Colorado, lose to USC, then meet a fellow mediocre team in a mediocre bowl. There is a mediocre chance that they will win that bowl game, ending up with a mediocre 7-6 record.
There is a saying, "Good is the enemy of the great." In UCLA football's case, mediocrity is the enemy of the good.
Rick Neuheisel is quoted in Sunday's LAT as saying "I've done it," as in he thinks he's been a winning coach. Let's see. He took a top-10 Colorado program coming off an 11-win season and within three years turned them into a 5-6 team. At Washington, he inherited Marques Tuiasosopo and rode him to an 11-win inaugural season before falling to 8-4 and 7-6 in the two subsequent years, his last. Toss in a history of ethical lapses, greedy demands, slipperiness, lame excuses, delusional self-promotion and abject phoniness, and I can agree. Rick Neuheisel has indeed "done it."
Lynn T. Wood
Dan Guerrero has done a great job finding coaches for the Bruins' water polo, volleyball, soccer and softball teams. If only he could find good coaches in football and basketball. While he's at it maybe he could find a new job for himself.
Playa del Rey
Arguably the best offensive coordinator in college football history, Norm Chow's reputation was tarnished during his three years at UCLA. It's ironic that Chow's reputation was again elevated to genius levels — once he faced Rick Neuheisel's Bruins.
Then there's Ben
Ben Howland: Then and now
Then: His center was hungry for wins.
Now: His center is hungry for food.
Then: His players were decorated with awards.
Now: His players are decorated with tattoos.
Then: He recruited point guards who end up in the NBA.
Now: He recruits point guards who end up at other schools.
Then: His guards made three-pointers.
Now: His guards make three points.
Then: Had players with sweet jump shots.
Now: Has players who tweet dumb thoughts.
Then: His teams lost games in the Final Four.
Now: His teams lose games in the first four.
Then: His players played like John Wooden.
Now: His players play like John Wooden's great-grandson.
Then: His teams didn't play any zone defense.
Now: His teams don't play any defense.
Then: He replaced Steve Lavin as coach.
Now: Sometimes it's hard to tell.
I read with disgust UCLA sophomore Joshua Smith's complaint about playing basketball in the Sports Arena. While many of Mr. Smith's classmates struggle to pay rising tuition fees, $136 million is being spent to renovate Pauley Pavilion for his team. With his sense of entitlement in this time of austerity, Mr. Smith is clearly ready to make the jump into the NBA.
So I guess not a lot of fans will be spending that $16 for that bus ride from Westwood to the Sports Arena?
I am so tired of reading all the letters to the editor about minor stupid issues when there are important things happening in our world. I'm talking about the NBA strike. All these poor men facing a year without million-dollar paychecks, nowhere to go to stay out of trouble, lap dancers facing greatly reduced income in NBA cities all over America, and don't forget the children (and I'm just talking about the ones they admit are their own). Makes your problems seem minor by comparison.
Can one imagine if the NBA goes on strike what that would do for some college teams that complain that they are losing top players early to the draft, when there is no NBA for a college player to leave school for?
And as I sit here, with NFL football in full swing, with college football getting ready for league championships and bowl games and with college, and high school basketball starting their season, I ask, is anyone really missing the NBA games? And the response I get is a loud and emphatic "No!"