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T.J. SIMERS

For Rick Neuheisel and UCLA, time to wave white flag

A 50-0 loss to USC symbolizes the embarrassing level to which Bruins have sunk, and foolish decision to wear all-white uniforms only underlines the point. No way Neuheisel keeps his job as coach now.

November 26, 2011|T.J. Simers
  • UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel, a former Bruins quarterback, throws a pass as his players warm up for their game against USC on Saturday evening at the Coliseum.
UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel, a former Bruins quarterback, throws a pass as… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)

UCLA football has become an embarrassment, but must the Bruins add to the humiliation?

As it is, it is a terrible joke or a mistake to have the Bruins playing in the Pac-12 championship game.

Everyone expected UCLA to get trampled by USC; I stopped counting at 50-0. But come on, who thought the Bruins would change uniforms before they changed head coaches?

Here's my concern with UCLA dressed in white from helmet to cleats.

If the look catches on and Bruins fans start dressing all in white, return to the Rose Bowl and do the wave, it will appear as if UCLA is waving the white towel.

Maybe that's why the Bruins switched to all white for this game, their way of announcing their surrender before it started.

It was already 22-0 with 12:48 remaining in the second quarter, and dressed as a high school team, UCLA was playing like one.

It's like the pistol offense — the white just doesn't fit UCLA unless it's the Bruins' intention to look like BYU.

What was wrong with the gold helmets? No one connected to UCLA could remember the last time the football team wore anything but gold helmets.

Is it UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero's goal to make the Bruins generic losers?

It got so ugly here, the Bruins blew a chance for a field-goal try to close the first half after failing to manage their time properly.

It was 29-0. What a whitewash.

A UCLA spokesman said the insanity will continue, the school already having agreed with Adidas to give the Bruins another uniform in yet another color — a secret, even Rick Neuheisel not knowing.

I guess they don't figure he needs to know if he's not going to be back.

You can just imagine what's going through Ben Howland's mind right now: I wonder if I'll be around long enough to see what color our new uniforms might be.

Just before kickoff UCLA issued a news release saying, "The Bruins will be sporting a new Adidas HI OCTANE uniform."

The difference between UCLA and USC, of course, is the Trojans prefer HI OCTANE players rather than mannequins dressed to look the part.

It took USC four plays to start the game and score against UCLA's defense. There is something to be said when Monte Kiffin doesn't have the worst defense in town.

"UCLA has one of the most classic looks in college football," Mark Daniels, director of football for Adidas, said in the news release.

So then why would UCLA and Adidas mess with the Bruins' classic look in such a traditional game?

Everyone is pretty much in agreement UCLA hasn't looked good, but it has nothing to do with how the players appear in their uniforms.

More than anything, it has to do with Jim Harbaugh.

That's right, Jim Harbaugh, who has ruined it for all coaches who say they need only time to build a winner.

Harbaugh has demonstrated that one man can change the culture of football, and do so quickly. That's not good news for someone like Neuheisel, four years on the job and sitting with a 21-28 record.

Pete Carroll made an almost immediate impact, too, but that might be too hard for UCLA to swallow.

Harbaugh turned things around at Stanford under the kind of tough academic limitations that some suggest handicap UCLA.

And now he's successful seemingly overnight with the San Francisco 49ers, as good a reason as any why the Chargers remain foolish for waiting on Norv Turner to excel.

It is time for UCLA to find its Harbaugh, and although it's Guerrero doing the hiring, Mike Garrett found Carroll and Lane Kiffin. And then he went away.

How can UCLA stick with Neuheisel, who has offered only rhetoric to date and four consecutive losses to USC, the latest one after announcing the Bruins had closed the gap on the Trojans?

Who scores more against UCLA? USC, or Oregon next week? Will Neuheisel still be the team's coach?

Neuheisel told UCLA fans last week the naysayers predicted the Bruins would never get to the conference's championship game.

It would be a better game had they been right. But as it is, the naysayers had UCLA pretty well pegged, a 6-6 season just about right for a mediocre team playing in the conference's substandard division.

Maybe if UCLA had a quality quarterback it would be different, but Neuheisel knows quarterbacks and is supposed to be a recruiter. It didn't happen.

Neuheisel's biggest win was Colorado's shocking upset of Utah to put UCLA in the title game.

Neuheisel just hasn't been able to nudge the Bruins over the hump. His offense, for example, moved the ball the first time it had it against USC's shaky defense, but on fourth and goal from the one, the Trojans stuffed UCLA.

It took USC five plays to go 99 yards and score.

Along the way, the crowd starting chanting "one more year," but they were not directing it in Neuheisel's direction.

The message was for USC quarterback Matt Barkley, who has played the last month like an athlete who deserves a trophy.

At the same time Kiffin has been everything that Neuheisel has not. He has three fewer wins than Neuheisel in half the time on the job. He came to town full of promise, and despite obvious NCAA limitations, he's delivered.

The Trojans will finish the season ranked in the top 10, winning on the road at Notre Dame, almost toppling Stanford and then winning in Oregon. And I guess they had something left in the tank for UCLA.

Kiffin's job is only going to get tougher, the Trojans with only 15 scholarships each year for the next three while opponents have as many as 25.

"We can't make any mistakes," Kiffin said. If only Neuheisel had thought of that.

t.j.simers@latimes.com

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