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Rick Neuheisel Really Wants You to Buy Season Tickets

One of my buddies who’s currently a student at UCLA’s law school passed on a message to me Wednesday. He got straight to the point, wasting no time:

i just got the most obnoxious phone call
rick ****ing neuheisel
on a broadcast message …
talking about how great UCLA is for sports and academics
and how great the program is going to be

At first he found the message humorous, but after about a minute of the blathering he got annoyed and hung up since he’s a Cal fan. And sure enough, sitting at home today, the phone rang and went to the answering machine. Who was it you ask? None other than Neuheisel with a recorded message expressing optimism about the football program, urging me to get season tickets. FanHouse’s Brian Grummell picked up on this story yesterday, and passed on a link to Bruin Report Online where other UCLA people said they’ve received the call. Considering the fact that many of you have no connection to the UCLA family, here it is for your listening enjoyment. Though I can’t stand recorded spam messages, I like the energy and enthusiasm the football program is now trying to generate. This is just the type of spark we need to revitalize interest in what’s been a dead program.

Bob Stoops: Not a Big Game Coach?

If you’ve watched college football the past few seasons, you have to be asking yourself that exact question right now. Is Bob Stoops no longer a big game coach? And what happened to Oklahoma? After getting smashed by West Virginia last night, Oklahoma is now 1-4 in their last five bowl games under Stoops. Don’t get me wrong — the guy is still a marquee coach who I’d love to have leading my program — but why the losses to end the seasons?

The Sooners got beat by Boise State last year, throttled by West Virginia this year, crushed by USC in the Orange Bowl, and beat by LSU in the Sugar Bowl the previous year. The argument can be made that they’ve overachieved in the regular season — a tribute to Stoops’ ability as a coach — and wound up in a mismatch come January. Only problem is that such reasoning doesn’t suffice when you’re matching up against Boise State and West Virginia who are traditionally inferior programs. So why, why I ask, did Oklahoma go for an onside kick in the 3rd quarter? They had the momentum after cutting the halftime deficit from 14 to 5 points but subsequently shortened the field for West Virginia who punched it in and regained momentum.

It seems to me that there were questionable play calls that fall on Stoops’ shoulder which cost Oklahoma the game. So I ask you, is Bob Stoops no longer a big-game coach? Or is it mere coincidence (or poor timing) that they’ve lost their marquee bowl games recently?

Georgia Puts Hawaii in Their Place

It was such a lovely story. The little engine that could. Hawaii was on a mission to repeat what Boise State had done the year before. Only problem, Boise State had already made everyone aware of the little guy; Georgia was having none of that. All those people who said Hawaii deserved a shot at the national title for going undefeated, what do you have to say now? From 12-0 to getting destroyed by a real team. It wasn’t even funny. They looked like a JV squad out there against Georgia. They got their quarterback killed.

Let’s just call Hawaii what they were — a nice story and good team that took advantage of a weak schedule. Sure, they managed to beat everyone they played (until now), which is more than what we can say for the Michigans and USCs that lost to inferior opponents, but that doesn’t mean they’ve earned the right to compete with the big boys. One out of ten times they can pull an upset on a big-time team like Georgia, but the other 10, they’ll get throttled as they did. Anyone watch the game? You see the disparity in talent? Colt Brennan couldn’t even get to three in his snap count before he had a pack of Dawgs on his back. He got crushed. They couldn’t protect him for crap. And boy, did you see the Hawaii defense (if you can call it that) attempt to stop the Georgia running game? What a joke. No wonder this team gave up 44 to the likes of Louisiana Tech.

So what’s the point? Just keep this game in mind next time we have a small school run the table. They’re great stories, but they really don’t belong with the big boys just as Georgia proved.

UCLA Settles on Rick Neuheisel

That’s Neuheisel — N-E-U-H-E-I-S-E-L. Better get it straight since it’s the name I’ll be pounding into the keyboard incessantly over the next several years. And I have to say, I am quite satisfied with the hire. I think Neuheisel can do what I want with UCLA football: make them achieve at reasonable levels. With Rick at coach, they’ll probably average eight wins a year, pulling 10 in a good year, and maybe only six in a down year. If he recruits a few superstars, heck we could even sneak into a BCS game or two. What I’m wondering is why it took UCLA three weeks to hire a man they could’ve had a long time ago. Is Neuheisel not ashamed that the Bruins took this long?

See, UCLA was looking to take the hottest girl in school to the prom. They knew they could get laid if they asked Rick, but what’s the fun in that? Once the hot chicks were already taken or showed no signs of interest, they settled for the sure thing. And you know what? Sometimes that’s the best way to go. You have a guy who wants the job and will work hard at the job. A guy who’s had a questionable past but has likely learned and will try to avoid the same pitfalls that brought him down elsewhere. I expect Neuheisel to be around the Bruins program for the next 10 years or so and I’m satisfied with the hire. Now retaining DeWayne Walker as defensive coordinator would be a great bonus.

Saban vs. Petrino: Worst Game Ever?

This morning on the radio, my man Chris Moore made mention of Saban and Petrino when discussing Rich Rodriguez leaving West Virginia for Michigan. When the two coach against each other in the SEC for an Alabama/Arkansas game, for whom do you root? In other words, could Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide taking on Bobby Petrino’s Arkansas Razorbacks be the worst game ever? That got me thinking (which is a dangerous thing, I admit it), has there ever been a game with two bigger villains pitted against each other? Could you imagine the type of hype surrounding the game when these teams meet?

I’m trying to consider what I would do when those teams play. Perhaps a 0-0 tie would be in order. Apart from Bama and Arkansas fans, is there any sports person in the country that actually wants to see either of those coaches succeed after their shenanigans? I can’t remember a match up of two worse villains recently, so I’m going to go ahead and say this would be the worst game ever. Maybe you can come up with a worse scenario that I could be forgetting. Until then, I’m going Petrino vs. Saban. That’s hard to beat.

Holiday Bowl Ruining Pac-10′s Rep

Every single year, one of the bowls that always catches my attention is the Holiday Bowl in San Diego. By nature, it’s an exciting game since it pits the 2nd place team in the Pac-10 against the 3rd place team from the Big 12. That means you’re usually seeing two top-20 teams that won anywhere from 8-10 games during the regular season. This year, it’s Arizona State going up against Texas. So if the Holiday Bowl provides an excellent game annually, why is it so bad for the Pac-10? I’ll tell you.

Can you name any other bowl of significance played this far in advance of January 1st? Squaring up on December 27th I’d expect to see a MAC and WAC team, not the 2nd place team from the Pac-10 and 3rd place team from the Big 12. This sort of game deserves to be on New Years Day, or at worst, New Years Eve. Secondly, the match up is an inherent display of inferiority on the part of the Pac-10. Regardless of whether or not the conference has two fewer teams, by agreeing to have their second place team play another conference’s third place team, it’s a sign of inferiority. Seriously, what sort of exposure is it for the conference when the only team the rest of the country gets to see play is on January 1st in the Rose Bowl? The Pac-10 needs to get itself together, move the Holiday Bowl to a later date, and find a conference that will match two equals. Until that point, the Holiday Bowl will always serve as a joke for the Pac-10, marring its collective attempt at gaining national respect.

At Least the Heisman Bucked a Trend

After seeing how magnificently some of the recent winner performed in the pros, my confidence in the significance of the Heisman Trophy award certainly dwindled. The Heisman does not go to the Most Outsanding Player in college football. Nay, as my man John Fricke pointed out, it goes to the best offensive performer on an excellent BCS team who also happens to be an upper classman. The biggest challenge in giving the award to anyone but a quarterback, running back, or receiver, is the inability to quantify the other aspects of the game. As dominant as defensive lineman, linebackers, or offensive lineman might be, how do you represent their accomplishments and on-field ability using numbers the public understands? You just can’t. Touchdown passes and yards gained is the language we speak, not tackles nor pancake blocks. There was however one excellent development on Saturday night that indicated some progress in the awards ceremony — the Heisman went to an under classman for the first time.

Whether or not Tim Tebow deserved the award is debatable. Nonetheless, I was pleased to see that the voters were undeterred by his sophomore status, not settling for the lame argument that he would have two other years to win the prestigious award. If a player is outstanding, that’s all that should matter — nothing else. Tebow had a fantastic year, and may never perform at the same level he did this year in his collegiate future. He was rightfully rewarded for his season, and the voters finally showed some competence in bucking the trend. Hopefully in the future there will be continued flexibility in the mentality of the voters.