Dear 2010 UCLA Bruins,
A once-in-a-generation opportunity has been placed before you.
As you are aware, your archrival USC has been beset by turmoil with postseason bans being handed down by the NCAA, top recruits like Seantrel Henderson recanting letters of intent, the firing of iconic Trojan athletic director Mike Garrett, and a general feeling of discontent by many Southern Cal underclassmen, who feel as if they are paying for the violations committed by the program half a decade ago.
Given UCLA's recent shenanigans involving Paul Richardson, Shaquille Richardson, Josh Shirley, and a stolen purse, the team must be careful not to further damage this propitious offseason, when circumstance has made the Bruins the only team in Los Angeles with a shot at a bowl game until 2012.
As USC staggers from the fallout of the Reggie Bush investigation and waits on the results from Joe McKnight’s alleged wrongdoings, UCLA’s coaching staff needs to instill discipline more than ever to ensure that the transgression with the three (former?) Bruins remains an isolated incident.
While there is little debate which of the two college football programs has had more historical success, at least UCLA, for the most part, had been able to say it took the high road (except for a few misused handicap placards a few years ago).
In light of the news about the purse theft, the Bruins are in danger of losing their moral leg to stand on. Head coach Rick Neuheisel deserves some credit for attempting the best damage control possible by kicking the accused off the squad so as not to distract the team’s preparations for training camp. In addition to a new offense and two Trojan-less postseasons, UCLA has a lot to look forward to.
The Pac-10 will expand this year, and this may be the last opportunity for the Bruins to sneak into a bowl game with seven wins. Given the increased level of competitiveness with more teams and better overall quality throughout the conference, things aren’t going to get any easier for UCLA once Colorado and Utah join the fray in 2011.
Pac-10/12 expansion is but one concern as we look towards the start of 2010 training camp.
Frankly, we are a little skittish about the upcoming season for a couple of reasons. Although we’re eager to take on top-tier out-of-conference schools, it’s hard to ignore the notion that we may be completely outmatched in some contests. If Neuheisel doesn’t improve on UCLA’s seven wins and misses the bowl season in 2010, his third year as the Bruin head coach could be his last.
After monitoring the team throughout spring practice, and watching the scrimmage at the Rose Bowl back in April, we’re concerned that Kevin Prince and company won’t be able to score touchdowns against Stanford and Arizona State, let alone the tougher defenses circled on the calendar in Texas, Oregon, and 'SC.
The Revolver looked more like a peashooter during spring scrimmage, and we at least hope the playbook has other options should this offensive scheme fire blanks come fall.
What we’re trying to say is we’re excited about the upcoming season, the expansion of the conference, and that USC finally endured the repercussions that were headed its way after a five-year investigation. However, that excitement is mixed with cautious optimism.
Since the Trojan horse landed on “Go to Jail,” there will, in fact, be some semblance of a football monopoly in Los Angeles for the next two years. We’re just hoping UCLA doesn’t blow this chance to represent the Southland in a more admirable light.