June 19, 2008

I come not to bury Neuheisel...

Ugh. Not going to even pretend that this huge hiatus was anything but unacceptable. Moving on, hey, new color scheme. We'll try this out for a bit - feels a lot more 'UCLA,' but I'm not totally sure about how that translates to a blog's colors, or ease of readability. My, like... 1 reader out there (you do exist, right?), please let me know if this is manageable, or if I should go back to the old darker blue background.

There's been a lot of talk over the past couple of days regarding reasonable expectations of the upcoming UCLA football season. First, Nestor laid out his belief of what the season would likely be. Sunday Morning QB suggested, in response, that said projection was skewed not with reality, but with previous projections for the season made by the BN team during the reign of favored BN whipping boy Karl Dorrell. I might note that this message was possibly provoked - fairly or not - by a rebuke of his commentary on Rick Neuheisal. Unsurprisingly, Nestor and the gang replied in kind. Kyle from Dawg Sports put in his two cents plus change, and Meneleus of BN's staff gave a point-by-point rebuttal in return. Unsurprisingly, the definitive word comes from nowhere else but Every Day Should Be Saturday, and I believe Orson has found us all some ponies as party favors to boot.

The arguments involving Bruins Nation (on both sides) bother me somewhat - and I might also add that it's not that being in the minority (as BN appears to be) is always proof of being incorrect. Fans of UCLA football have certainly felt, to a degree, that they were placed in a rather unfair position given proximity to USC, the seeming bias of the LA Times, and a national media that has periodically been described as 'east-coast biased.' And to a degree, it is true, I believe. The moniker "Gutty Little Bruins" arose not from a hegemonic program that demolished all in its path, to say the least. But I worry that at times this sentiment engenders a bit of defensiveness that might not be the most healthy in the world.

One of the best parts about being involved in the New Wave of Journalism™ is the interaction between the various constituencies on the web. Whether that be the (sometimes not-so) enlightened back-and-forth of the Dems and Reps, or a discussion between fans of Ohio State and Michigan, it is the possibility for collaboration and immediate feedback that help to differentiate Old Media from Neu Media (see wut I did thar?). The attitude that everybody who speaks ill of UCLA (or positively about Karl Dorrell, up until a few months ago) was somehow targeting the program itself for destruction breeds more insularity. Which is too bad, because as I've said time and again I think that the group over at BN has a lot to offer - it just seems that rare are the cases when anybody outside of the UCLA sphere of influence seems to be positively involved, nowadays.

Web sites like Bruins Nation and SMQ are accurately described at opposite ends of the "most and least partisan college sports weblogs" spectrum (to quote Kyle's lengthy treatise on the matter). That dichotomy offers a divide in terms of the general rhetoric used, as well as the subject matter generally covered by each type of blog. But what is important to remember is - beyond the obvious platitude of "it's only a game" - that intelligent commentary can take all forms, even the sort that we sometimes dislike to see/hear. By allowing oneself to place too much importance on, not the content of a blog, but the blog itself, that message can get muddled. In summation, Orson is right as usual, and Rick Neuheisal is aesthetically pleasing in form to all who may observe his majesty.

As for me? My expectations for the season are both easier and harder. I don't expect anything. Cop-out, I know. But what I desire is simply to see evidence of a change in the structure of the offense (I suspect Norm Chow will have almost as much to do with that as anybody else might), and evidence that the team is willing to get behind their new coach. One of the most glaring problems with the Dorrell era, in my opinion, was the team's general willingness to play to the level of its opponent - this explains the handful of shocking victories, as well as the stunningly bad defeats. I don't even need to see consistency from the Bruins - new offense and lots of departing veterans make that unlikely. I just desire a clear and effective managerial vision that imparts itself on the team in some visible fashion.

Though projecting a surefire win over Southern Cal is a little delusional. Really, guys... Not even a 'toss-up'? :)

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