I'm not going to sugarcoat this; it is a reality and it must be faced:
UCLA Football is not well. At all.
As a program, the Bruins are not exactly dying—yet—but they are certainly very sick.
An overall record of four wins and eight losses in 2010, which includes a ninth place 2-7 mark in the Pacific-10 Conference (soon to be the Pac-12 with the addition of Utah and Colorado next fall), and most importantly, losing six of their last seven games, is enough evidence of this malaise.
The only true highlight this season was their 34-12 win over Texas. But since the Longhorns finished 5-7 this year, that triumph seems hollow now.
The low points? There were almost too many to count:
1. Being outscored 70-7 by the Bay Area schools, Stanford and California.
2. Getting blasted 60-13 by Oregon in Eugene—yes they are 12-0, ranked second in the BCS, and will play Auburn in the National Championship game on January 10, but that's beside the point.
3. Having Arizona State score 55 points on them after building a 17-0 lead in Tempe.
4. Committing too many costly turnovers and making too many costly mistakes in losing 28-14 to USC, which showed that the talent level of the two schools are still fairly far apart, and...
5. With few exceptions, being plagued by fundamental mistakes and a lack of execution the entire year.
After a season like this, many Bruin fans are going to be calling for Rick Neuheisel's head, demanding that he be fired.
I am not one of them, at least at the present time.
The reason? Though the Bruin coach hasn't shown that he can win in the Pac-10, posting an 8-19 conference record in his three seasons at the helm, he has put together three straight top-15 recruiting classes, and his enthusiasm for the job and for UCLA is boundless.
Lots of folks will say that is not enough, but the reality is that Neuheisel will back in 2011.
However, his defensive coordinator, Chuck Bullough, is another story; after giving up all those points and yards, it's clear that Bullough should go. His unit allowing eight running backs to go over 100 yards has much to do with that.
If I were him, I would do the honorable thing and resign.
The run-oriented "pistol" offense, which the Bruins used this season should be tweaked, if not changed, to more of a pro-set, which would fit Richard Brehaut better.
With his ability to throw the ball down field, Brehaut proved to be a better weapon than Kevin Prince, the previous starter who went down with a knee injury in mid-season.
If it were up to me, Brehaut would be the starter in 2011.
Johnathan Franklin, with his 1,127 yards, was another bright spot as he was the first running back at UCLA to gain 1,000 yards since Chris Markey in 2006.
But the fact remains: The potential and individual talent may be there, but it takes much more than that to be a good team.
Simply put, the Bruins are far from being a good team.
Will things get better next season?
Though there will be many injured players who will return, as well as a core group of guys on both sides of the ball, I honestly can't say for sure if UCLA will turn things around.
It's painfully clear that something needs to change in Westwood.
It's also painfully clear that if 2011 is anything like 2010, Neuheisel will officially be on the hot seat, if not fired outright.
People will point to the many injuries that knocked out too many Bruins, but you know something? Good teams overcome that.
And I feel that the "we had injuries" excuse is just that—an excuse.
Ditto with the "we are young and experienced" mindset that some fans seem to have.
The bottom line is, UCLA backslid in football this season, and backslid greatly.
Whether or not they can reverse their misfortunes in 2011 is anyone's guess.
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