June 22, 2008

State of the Program - Football

With the heat of summer bearing down upon us all, I thought I'd toss off a few words concerning the state of the football program under Coach Neuheisel.

First, and most obvious, is the fact that Neu was able to build a very well-respected staff (spearheaded by coordinators Norm Chow and DeWayne Walker) and hold onto basically the entirety of a well-stocked recruiting class built by departing coach Karl Dorrell and assistant coach Walker. This gives the team a sense of positive energy moving into the latter half of the year, and moving towards the season. It remains to be seen if the team will be able to manifest that energy into on-field results, but it would be hard to argue that the program has a greater sense of vitality than it has had in years. That would be due largely to the difference in personality types between Dorrell and Neuheisel, who in many ways reminds me more than not of Pete Carroll. The similarities between the two could be a good thing, or a very bad thing. We'll find out.

Obviously, there has been, as referenced in the post below this, some dissent over what kind of season it would be reasonable to expect. However, one must believe that to demand an enormous improvement in any coach's first season - especially one in which he loses so much talent on both sides of the ball - is rather unfair. When talking about the chance to transform that energy into game results, one must expect the buck to stop right at the foot of the Tennessee Volunteers. Expecting a win is, perhaps, too much at this juncture. However, the team must come out with a sense of visible purpose and desire to attack that has been lacking in previous years. Getting embarrassed on national television in the opening game of the Neuheisel regime - especially in the Rose Bowl - would put a huge screeeeching halt on all the momentum the program has been building over the last half-year or so.

The lull in the sports world that presides over the mid-summer months will cause many fans to salivate wildly in anticipation for the tiniest bits of information regarding the program. But it is important to remember that the big picture must be one that requires taking a step back, in order to view it all. This is not a championship-caliber team. That should not be where the focus lies for the short-term. Instead, be excited for a new era in the UCLA football tradition, and hopefully one that will last long and bear many great successes.

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