Tuesday, January 01, 2008

On Rick Neuheisel

At the start of the coaching search, he probably wasn't my first choice. But whether it's rationalization, or the acquisition of new information, I've gotten to like the idea, and I'm glad that UCLA made that hire. Nothing he's said since has dissuaded me from that view.

I'm not worried about the past trangressions. Despite their volume, they were very minor, and I think he's probably learned his lesson.

I'm not worried about the gambling thing. And any of you who want to bitch about that, well, if you've never participated in an NCAA basketball pool, have at it.

I'm not worried about him lying about interviewing for other jobs. He's not leaving UCLA unless he's asked to leave. This has always been the job that he wanted.

I'm not worried about Walker leaving. Dissolution of the recruiting class would be unfortunate, but I don't think recruiting will be a problem long term. And at this point, I'm not sure Walker would be comfortable working under Neuheisel. And let's be honest, the DC will have to work under Neuheisel. He's not an equal, he's an assistant. And if this class is loyal to Walker, and Walker isn't loyal to the head coach, that could mean big problems down the road. But if Walker is willing to maintain that position, and agree to work under RN, then all the better.

But ulimately, he's not Karl Dorrell. He's not wedded to the West Coast Offense, which does not work in college football, nor is it philosophically the right offense to play in college. He's been successful during his two stops as a head coach. He's got pro experience as a coordinator. He knows what he has to do to keep his nose clean. I like the hire, and I think UCLA is a better program because of it.

Ilinois 17 - thUg$C 49; Thoughts on the Rose Bowl

  • There's no question which team is better, just as there wasn't before the game. That said, I think Illinois would beat $C probably 10-20% of the time, and experience was a big factor. Maybe the mood was different on TV, but there was a real sense of momentum in stadium when Illinois was driving to make the score 21-17.
  • Three plays were the difference in the game. The Jacob Willis fumble was the first, but I actually think the Illini could have recovered if they had been able to get a defensive stop. They blew an opportunity to do that when $C converted a 3rd and 12, which was followed by the lateral that bounced into Joe McKnight's hands for a 64 yard run. That took the wind out of the Illini sales, and the game was effectively over right there.
  • I thought the play calling in the first half was atrocious. It was the same uninspired run, run, screen, run, run, run, run, screen, etc. that they ran against Iowa. No deception. No play action. Just the same crap over and over until they decided to throw at the end of the first half. Lo and behold, things opened up, they started to move the ball, and Mendenhall got off. If they had done that a quarter earlier, that Mendenhall score may have made the game a lot closer.
  • Temple City High School has had very few athletes ever make noise on national level, but I was embarrassed to be a Ram after Temple City grad Desmond Reed showboated his way into the end zone. It would have served him right if he had torn up his knee again while doing it.
  • The thUg$C band is as undisciplined as the football team, but it was great to see the 3 in 1 again, even without the Chief.
  • It's a lot different going to the game and having good seats than it is having the crappy seats I used to get when I worked the game every year.
  • Rashard Mendenhall is a freaking stud. I haven't seen many guys who blend his power and speed. He may have run his way into the first round today.
  • Illinois looks to be pretty good next year. If they can replace Mendenhall, and if Juice can learn to throw a little better, the offense will be improved. The defense will be a bit of question mark, though.
  • The game was a good experience, and I'm glad I went, even with the score the way it was. It was nice to be around so many fellow alums.