Good Gawd!, I thought February 5th would never come. Riding the BRO recruiting roller coaster for the first time in my life was worse than the first time I rode "Colossus." I thought I was gonna die. I wasn't sure if my post-2/5 hyperventilation was caused by Kevin Brown finally signing his damn LOI or Whitney Lewis choosing the same repulsive program as Steve Smith (it would help if Matt Cassell turns out to be another John Fox, or that either one of these guys goes two years and out). Before my life as a BRO, I would go about my normal routines, coasting from late December to LOI day in blissful, relative ignorance, receiving a couple of Internet tips from Cynical Dan on this or that prep "phenom" whom I might or might not be familiar with, committing here, there and everywhere. But mostly it would be a case of reading in the L.A. Times that some blue chip, 6' 4" quarterback from Texas named Tommy Maddox had committed to UCLA, woo-hoo!, then happily checking those closely printed paragraphs on February 6th (height, weight and position)... then finally waiting until the opening of spring practice to read those closely printed player profiles of the incoming class, and asking Tracy about this player and that.
UCLA will never be
And all these talented players that have come through UCLA the last 35 years without seriously contending for a national championship were not ordinarily engineering or pre-med majors. Lately, most of these guys are either history or sociology majors, very few with a view to becoming the next Sterling Professor of History Emeritus at Yale or even seeking academic tenure. And though their average SATs and GP's are not comparable to the average incoming freshman, neither are they a crowd of the academically disabled, such as you might find at
Like a lot of other BROs, I was hugely relieved and wrung out, by the time KD's coaching staff and recruiting class were finally in place. He hasn't made a serious misstep yet, IMO, though the proof of any coach is always on the field of play. He says all the right things about a
Whatever we see next season can't be worse than what we've been looking at. Take away Cade and Rocky Long and BT would have been exposed much sooner. Had he not been BT, he could've put a stranglehold on the Pac-10 after the '98 season, with the recruiting advantage he had in his grasp. But even had he been a more aggressive recruiter, he was not the head coach to have taken advantage of that talent and punish the opposition in the manner of
You know the national media is going to be gaga over "The Return of Troy." The pre-season rags and websites are going to be ugly. I hate to say it, but I'll be shocked, too, if SC doesn't solve their quarter- back question in some form or another. But if the Bruins solve their's, and if KD can walk the walk, the Bruins might just even up this currently lopsided rivalry in shockingly short order. Lightning changes are one of the great attractions of college football. This sport starts with coaching and talent on the field and ends with quarterbacking and aggressive, quick defenses with attitude. There are signs that the Bruin defense will finally come into the modern age without such handpicked BT millstones as Aliotti, Field, and, yes, Phil Snow, holding them back. There seems to be a new feeling in Westwood that size only matters if accompanied by speed. Rocky Long was once on the verge of putting that "soft" image to rest, and if this defensive staff can match or exceed Rocky with better material than he ever had, and if either Moore or Olson can seriously threaten a defense, Saturday night dinners will once again be a pleasure, and UCLA football might finally be worth taping again. SC took their qualifying tests last year and passed with flying colors. If they can follow it up this year, as expected, they'll be sitting near where John McKay put them in the mid 1970s (not a pretty prospect).
Short Carson Palmer and Norm Chow, KD has almost the same opportunity in his first year that Carroll had in his second. But even respectable quarterbacking and the new Dorrell offensive approach might do wonders. Bruin fans have been down so long that KD will have at least a four-year window to bring back UCLA to national prominence, which should lessen the pressure a bit. He has all the good will in the world supporting him; he's got lots of returning talent, including some promising redshirt freshmen and a couple of promising, true freshmen defensive linemen, plus God knows what in Maurice Drew. For KD, it's going to be the time of his life. For the rest of us, we're at least free at last, free at last...