UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero petitioned the NCAA for a bowl bid waiver as soon as he found out UCLA would play in the inaugural Pacific-12 Football Championship Game.
Because of the possible outcome of Friday’s game between the Bruins and Oregon Ducks, Guerrero was afraid his 6-6 team would not qualify for a bowl game.
Per NCAA rules, teams with six wins but more than six losses are ineligible for postseason play.
Congratulations, Mr. Guerrero, UCLA won their petition Wednesday and in the process further embarrassed the UCLA football program and Pac-12 football.
Well, at least the South Division.
This is not the storybook ending Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott had hoped to achieve in the first season of Pac-12 football. UCLA has the indignity of having to get a waiver to be bowl-eligible after playing in the conference’s first title game.
How embarrassing is this situation for the Pac-12 and Larry Scott?
Before Pac-12 fans get upset, yes, the University of Southern California had a fine year and represented the South Division well with a 10-2 season.
Truth be told, Lane Kiffin deserves votes for Coach of the Year for his efforts with this year’s Trojans team.
With no postseason bowls to play in due to NCAA sanctions over Reggie Bush’s violations, Kiffin guided the Trojans to what would have been an appearance in the Pac-12 championship against No. 8 Oregon, a team USC beat 38-35 two weeks ago.
Kiffin would have been one game away from possibly playing in the Rose Bowl against a probable Big Ten opponent, but USC’s 2011 accomplishments matter not.
Instead, 6-6 UCLA is representing the Pac-12 South.
The Bruins are now one game away from playing in the Rose Bowl. But is letting the world know they do not think they can beat the Ducks—the reason for petitioning for a waiver—right?
To make matters worse and perhaps more confusing, UCLA fired head coach Rick Neuheisel on Monday. The Pac-12 championship game will be Neuheisel’s last game as the Bruins' head coach.
Why would any AD in their right mind fire a coach before the end of the season when said coach could truly embarrass said AD by winning?
To clarify the situation, the Bruins are in the Pac-12 championship game, regardless of their record. They are one game away from a possible BCS Rose Bowl berth, and they fired their head coach.
Why would UCLA’s AD risk the proverbial egg on his face situation if Neuheisel beats Oregon Friday?
That’s why Guerrero petitioned for the bowl waiver—he does not believe UCLA has a chance against the Ducks.
What happens if the Bruins do the unthinkable and beat the No. 8 Ducks?
Guerrero would have lame duck interim head coach Mike Johnson, the team’s current offensive coordinator, leading the Bruins into a BCS bowl game thanks to Neuheisel’s efforts.
Think of all the positive media attention that would bring UCLA and its program.
With all that is on the line, could Guerrero not have waited until the end of the season to fire Neuheisel? Why create further distractions before the Bruins' final two games?
By the way, did you know Neuheisel is a UCLA alumnus? “Thanks for the memories, Rick.”
Through it all one, can only assume Bruins players are tickled by all the support given by the athletic department for their efforts during their embattled season.
In their own little protest to Neuheisel’s firing, players carried their terminated head coach off the practice field Wednesday.
To be fair to Guerrero, UCLA has more than underachieved over the past four years under Rick Neuheisel. The Bruins are 21-28 during Neuheisell’s tenure and have only made one bowl appearance—the 2009 EagleBank Bowl.
For those of you that don’t remember UCLA’s EagleBank Bowl bid that year, the 6-6 Bruins accepted the bid because Army, the game's usual tie-in, was 5-7 and thus not able to accept the bid.
Because Guerrero knew the right thing to do this year was reward the players for their hard work, he petitioned the NCAA for a bowl waiver.
Making sure the football team gets to play in a bowl game because of their hard work, not for the bowl money, the 2011 Bruins appear to be headed to the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco.
Not the Rose Bowl, at least not if you ask Dan Guerrero.
Another fine ending to a football season for the mighty Bruins!
Commissioner Scott, there’s always next year.