Those of you who have been wishing the summer away with pigskin dreams can pinch yourselves and wake up. Football is finally back, and the UCLA Bruins face one of the most unique seasons in the history of the program.
First, 2010 will be the last season that the historic Pac-10 will exist. Next year the Utah Utes will join, and in 2012 Colorado will come onboard to form the new Pac-12. This once-in-a-lifetime change will likely generate realignment, increased television revenue for each school, newfound rivalries, scheduling changes, and increased competition to advance to the postseason. Of course, not every team, regardless of record, is eligible for bowl contention.
USC, the Bruins’ arch nemesis across town, faces sanctions for the Reggie Bush investigation (for starters), and will have zero chance of being invited to any bowl game until 2012. In spite of the postseason ban, UCLA may still struggle to finish the season with more wins than the hated Trojans. But if they do finish ahead of Southern Cal in the Pac-10 standings, it will be because of great coaching from Rick Neuheisel and Norm Chow, who have installed a new offense, the Pistol.
With the Bruins having literally taken a page from the University of Nevada playbook, the Pistol is an option-style offense designed to keep the quarterback mobile and opposing defenses on their heels.
Fans ranging from self-proclaimed “realists” to admitted optimists are respectively projecting anywhere from four to 10 victories for the UCLA football team in 2010. Here are five reasons for the latter fans to smile, as well as another five reasons for these same loyalists to worry.
Let’s start with the positive: