Oh it's a funny thing you know
We'll tell 'em if you like
We'll tell ‘em all tonight
They'll never listen
Because their minds are made up
And ‘course it's all okay to carry on that way
...But I said no!
You won't get me to go
Not anywhere, not anywhere
No I won't go
Oh no, no!
I was going to call this thing "Twilight Sleep," but that wonderful dental drug is too short-term for what ails us.
It seems as if all the possible problems we were concerned about after last season have, this season, proved out with a vengeance: inadequate quarterbacking, Chuck Bullough's conservative, "safe" schemes, conservative offensive schemes and play-calling, lack of athleticism and depth along the offensive line, an inexperienced front seven unable to cope with the loss of Brian Price, turnovers of course, and poor leadership from the very top. Even the secondary, which some thought to be a strength, has also proved disappointing (when has it never been thus).
The problem for some of us is: Where else can we go? We love Bruins football, along with the game of college football (though both the team and the game get ever harder to love). Some of us have vowed not to step foot in the Rose Bowl until we see at least a competent product on the field. And some of us will, no doubt, weaken, unable to abide by that vow. The rest of us will still be at our usual posts, in front of the TV, hoping to see signs of something good. It's been awhile and we're getting tired of the routine.
By now the SC game has been thoroughly hashed out. Most all of us saw the same thing, sort of like a collective bad dream. The Bruins, as usual, came out tight, none more so than Richard Brehaut… same as Kevin Prince before him, Kevin Craft before Prince, and so on back to 1999. And, characteristically, whenever the Bruins would tease us into believing they'd get back into the game, up would pop another Johnathan Franklin fumble, another dropped touchdown pass, another penalty, another failed 3rd-down conversion, another failed 3rd-down hold, another successful Trojan trick play or long touchdown run, another meaningless Bruin drive, too little, too late.
I don't so much listen to Rick Neuheisel anymore as study his expressions, catch his tone of voice. No point in listening to his analysis since it's more or less rote: If it's a win, we're hopeful we're on our way, we're cleaning things up but we've still got lots of work to do. If after a loss, well, we all know that song by heart. (H.L. Mencken once described an American president's words, Coolidge I think, as something like damp wash hanging on a clothes line.)
We pretty much know what the new deal will be: a new defensive coordinator for sure; perhaps a new offensive coordinator, depending on Rick's level of anxiety. (I mean, if he's in the process of going down, why not take his fate into his own hands, become his own OC?). That Chow/Neu proved to be a bad match - no matter the diplomatic language we hear – should be no surprise to anyone. The lesson learned: never give up the keys to the Mercedes. Considering Norm Chow's pride, I would suspect he's thinking along the lines of an honorable exit. And I expect we'll see some new faces among the position coaches.
It's hard imagining a "fifth year" unless we see a startling turnaround next year; five or six losses may not, should not, cut it. The incoming flack will be bad enough this off season. Dan Guerrero might have to travel about in disguise.
There's no point in reviewing the gruesome historical context of Rick's three seasons. Even "frat boys" must be vaguely aware of it: the preposterous won-loss record, all the blowouts, the unwatchable offense, the infernal, passive defense. But you may say, "Consider the injuries, the lack of experience, the turnovers. The staff has no control over that stuff." Uh… well-coached teams do not look like the Bruins. Sound teaching is also a component of good football programs, and Bruin fundamentals, despite all those good and great practices, seem to abandon the team on game days.
And it's not as if we're asking for a national profile. Short of a Harbaugh style miracle, we understand that sort of thing is nearly inconceivable. I'd be thankful if the national media quit thinking of UCLA as the sick man of college football… that is when they think of the Bruins at all. Even the Donahue years (an average of seven losses every two seasons over a 20-year period) have now strangely morphed into some kind of Golden Age.
At the moment, respectability is what we're all looking for, the "revised corner" a mid-conference finish and no blowout losses! Leave the "national" dreams for Rick's possible successors.
Perhaps I'm a bit carried away by the sough of rhetoric. Those "Been-Down-So-Long-It-Looks-Like-Up-To-Me" Blues will do that to you. I don't believe in determinism, so maybe Rick makes some good choices in the coming weeks. Perhaps his uncanny recruiting touch will suddenly bear fruit next season. Perhaps he becomes the "manager" and so-called "Face of the Program," while his coordinators, whomever they may be, begin to turn this leaky oil tanker of a program.
I've just put away a good breakfast with a couple cups of rich strong coffee. I'm going to take the missus to dinner and a good movie. I'm feeling better already. Maybe something like that dreamy coda at the end of "Raising Arizona" is beginning to descend upon me.
So when do tickets go on sale for San Jose State?