Sunday, July 27, 2008

Trouble Bruin In Westwood

No, the Bruin football team didn’t go over the wall again to leave Coach Neuheisel standing in embarrassment. But the new coach still has his hands full in this first year of “the turnaround”, which is geared towards lifting the program back to a level of national prominence and significance. His quarterbacks are banged up, the media still votes his program as the ugly step-sister of USC, and players are leaving the field, only this time not voluntarily.

In preparation for a big out of conference contest with Tennessee, Neuheisel was forced to suspend starting Safety Bret Lockett for that opening game. UCLA takes on a Volunteers team that gives up very few sacks, and they will do it with only one returning starter in the secondary. Academics also claimed another Bruin, as Tailback Christian Ramirez is academically ineligible for the 2008 season.

During last week’s Pac 10 media day, Rick Neuheisel referred to the Trojans as the “Elephant in your living room”. He went on to say, “You can’t be the head coach of UCLA and not find a way to compete successfully with USC”. And he finished it off, without an “if”, but with a “when”.

“But the good news is when we catch them, and I say when…”

I guess those words are necessary for player motivation and from a recruiting stance, but barring a complete collapse of the USC program, that “when” doesn’t appear to be anywhere in the near future. “When” you win the recruiting wars, that “when” may appear much closer. But as it stands today, USC is still a choice program of the nation’s top high school recruits. An important step towards advancement would be a victory over Tennessee. Lose that game, and lose it badly, and you are moved to the back of the recruiting line. But win that game, in front of a national audience, and UCLA could find their name on the short list of some top prospects. You can record a victory against an SEC opponent, and the media will launch you dramatically in the rankings, regardless of whether or not that Southern opponent was actually good. That's just the way it is in this media controlled world of bias.

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