Posted on: December 18, 2010 6:07 pm

Neuheisel fires UCLA defensive coordinator

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

You can't accuse Rick Neuheisel of guaranteeing his staff a thing during UCLA's swan dive to 4-8. So it's no surpise that with the season over, heads have started rolling :

UCLA defensive coordinator Chuck Bullough and wide receiver coach Reggie Moore were fired Saturday morning, according to a source in the program who was not authorized to speak on the subject.

It is the first response to a disappointing 4-8 season, but likely not the last. Coach Rick Neuheisel could not be reached for comment.

That's the Los Angeles Times breaking the news, but Neuheisel would go on the record later to say that Bullough got the ax because the Bruins "were not consistent enough in stopping the run" and that he was "still working" on whether he'd make any other staff changes.

After the kind of campaign the Bruins just endured, it's hard to say anyone on the UCLA coaching roster -- maybe even Neuheisel himself -- would deserve to keep their job, and Bullough is no exception; with his unit ranked 95th in total defense and a miserable 109th in stopping the run ("not consistent enough" is kind), there's no question the defense could use a shakeup.

The only question is how much shaking Neuheisel is willing to do. The guess here is that there's a good deal more to come, since another disaster like 2010 will lead to the head coach's office getting the shakeup at this time next year.



Posted on: December 4, 2010 9:33 pm
Edited on: December 4, 2010 10:12 pm

Two stabbed outside Rose Bowl at USC-UCLA

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

For years, UCLA has occasionally struggled with attendance issues at the Rose Bowl thanks to a low profile in the crowded Los Angeles market and various other factors.

The annual grudge match with USC isn't one of those times. But long-term, we're not expecting this to help. As CBS Los Angeles reports:
Police say two people were stabbed in parking lot 1 of the Rose Bowl, just before the annual game between USC and UCLA.

The stabbing happened about 4:30 p.m. during a brawl, Pasadena police Commander Darryl Qualls said. About 50 to 75 people were fighting, he said.

The melee began with a pickup football game in the parking lot that turned violent when someone complained they were getting to close to a car ...

“We do believe alcohol played a factor,” he said. “Due to the high fan level because of the game tonight, we think it had to do with some little rivalry.”

Hey, who says Pac-10 fans don't care about their football? In all seriousness, it's excellent news that the victims are in the hospital in "fair" condition. The police have arrested two men suspected of being involved in the incident and have been booked on "suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon."

Here's to hoping this is an isolated incident and the game can pass without further incident from the two fanbases. Both the Trojans and Bruins have taken it on the chin for much of the year; fan unrest is just one more negative neither program needs right now.


Category: NCAAF
Posted on: December 2, 2010 10:30 am
Edited on: December 2, 2010 10:31 am

UCLA guarantees Neuheisel's position is safe

Posted by Chip Patterson

There is plenty of reason for concern in Westwood over the UCLA football program.  Since hiring head coach Rick Neuheisel, the Bruins have gone 15-21, they have zero offensive identity, and despite the coaching of the legendary coordinator Norm Chow - the Bruins have no certainty at the quarterback position.  Neuheisel has already addressed the evaluation process for all the assistant coaches, but what about the evaluation of the head coach?

Even with the downfalls, UCLA still has Neuheisel's back for now.  Athletic director Dan Guerrero stood firmly behind his head coach when questioned about Neuheisel's status with the Bruins for 2011.

“Of course there’s never been any question of that,” Guerrero said outside the Bruin locker-room following UCLA's 55-24 loss at Arizona State on Friday. “There’s no doubt. Why would you ask that question?”

There are many reasons why both fans and critics would question Guerrero's confidence in Neuheisel.  The former Washington head coach was brought in with the promise to "end the football monopoly in Los Angeles," but even with a win over the Trojans on Saturday the Bruins will have failed to pick up more than three conference victories in the brief Neuheisel era.  Scott Reid, of the Orange Country Register, seems to suggest that Neuheisel's critics may also be Guerrero's critics.  If so, and the losing continues, there could be major changes on the way at UCLA.
Posted on: December 1, 2010 12:32 pm

Matt Barkley probably not back this week

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

After fill-in starter Mitch Mustain struggled in USC 's home loss to Notre Dame last Saturday, leading the Trojans to just 16 points and  throwing a game-ending interception for which the word "ugly" doesn't entirely do it justice, this assessment of Matt Barkley 's health from Lane Kiffin must have been music to the Trojan fans' ears:
Early Tuesday, Kiffin told Times columnist T.J. Simers that despite Barkley's slight limp [after an ankle sprain], he would play against the [UCLA ] Bruins at the Rose Bowl .

"He will play," Kiffin said. "Notice I didn't say, like I normally do, 'I hope he'll play.'"
We noticed. So it's too bad that if that was music, Kiffin's backtracking later in the day must have been the sound of a thousand cats fighting outside the window at 2 a.m.:
When reminded that he earlier had said Barkley definitely would play, Kiffin's tone turned mischievous.

"I said he is? I said that? When?" Kiffin asked, adding, "I said I hope he's going to play. Or maybe I said I think he's going to play. So, I hope he's going to play and I think he's going to play. But I don't know for sure [that] he'll play."
Uh-oh. What happened between Kiffin's two appraisals? Practice happened, a practice at which Barkley was only healthy enough to throw "a small number of passes ... with the scout team." Between that report and Kiffin's sudden retreat on the status of Barkley's ankle, it seems more likely than not that the sophomore won't be ready for the annual grudge match against the Bruins.

Unless Mustain takes a major step forward this week (not totally out of the question given the increased comfort level in his second start, and that his drop-prone receivers can't be any worse than they were in the rain against the Irish), that's bad new for USC. Probably not bad enough news to outweigh the good news that they'll be facing the flailing Bruins (losers of five of their last six by an average of 24 points), but bad nonetheless.

Posted on: November 25, 2010 5:52 pm
Edited on: November 25, 2010 5:56 pm

Despite extension, Chow still has no guarantees

Posted by Chip Patterson

UCLA Rick Neuheisel would not make any guarantees for any of his staff, and many believed that legendary offensive coordinator Norm Chow was in jeopardy of being replaced.  Then, it was announced on Wednesday that that UCLA had approved a two-year extension for Chow.  The announcement was likely a result of the hot-seat rumors, with the extension being agreed on in July and approved late last week.  UCLA firmed their commitment with Chow after USC head coach Lane Kiffin made a play to get Chow out of Westwood.

But the Bruins offense has been far from impressive so far in 2010, ranking 111th nationally in total offense and 117th in passing offense.  Not what you would expect from a coach who has helped with two national championships and coached two Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks.  Contrary to what the extension may imply, the status on Chow's job has not changed.  The deal was made before this dismal season, and Neuheisel reiterated Wednesday that each member of the staff would be evaluated at season's end.  Just because the deal has been approved does not guarantee Chow will be the offensive coordinator in 2011.  

Posted on: November 23, 2010 10:07 am
Edited on: November 23, 2010 10:08 am

Norm Chow on the hot seat at UCLA?

Posted by Chip Patterson

UCLA was able to find some hope near the beginning of the 2010 season with upset wins against Houston and at Texas, but the Pac-10 schedule has not been particularly friendly to the Bruins.  When UCLA kicked off conference competition, their opponents were well prepared for the Pistol offensive attack that carved up the Longhorns for 260+ yards rushing in Austin.  The Bruins offense has struggled to score in the second half of the season, never scoring more than 21 points since October 2.  There are many things to blame for the Bruins failures, but the one name that continues to come up is offensive coordinator Norm Chow.

"I don't want to talk about who will be or who won't be on the staff next year," head coach Rick Neuheisel said when asked about Chow's status with the Bruins for 2011.  "Our staff is intact and we're ready to go. I honestly haven't even start to think about that road."

Neuheisel did go on to say that Chow, along with the rest of the staff, would be evaluated at season's end.  Chow is one of the great offensive minds in college football across the last 30 years, and his legacy was cemented with two national championships and two Heisman winning quarterbacks at USC.  But something at UCLA is clearly not working.  The offense has looked less like a Pistol for most of 2010, and more like, well, this.

Posted on: November 21, 2010 12:26 am

What I Learned from the Pac-10 (Nov. 20)

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Only three games in the Pac-10 this week, but we still learned a few things:

1. Stanford deserves a BCS bowl berth. The Cardinal caught a break in catching Cal in the "horrific" week of their solid/horrific yo-yo-routine; after the Bears put together such an impressive performance against Oregon last week, the proper bet regarding their performance this week was the house, on collapse .

But that still shouldn't take anything away from the kind of dominance Jim Harbaugh 's team has shown the past few weeks. The Cardinal simply annihilated Cal from the opening gun, watching Andrew Luck hit 16-of-20 without an interception and even embarrassing a Bear defender on a long run just for kicks ... holding the Bears scoreless through the first three quarters ... scoring on their first eight possessions, every one Luck directed ... leading 45-0. It was the sort of display usually reserved for beatdowns of bottom-rung FCS teams, and it all came in "The Game," Cal's biggest rivalry game of the year, on the road in Berkeley.

Between this performance, the thumping of Arizona two weeks ago, and the 41-0 road whitewashing of Washington three weeks back, it's safe to rank Stanford alongside the likes of Auburn and Boise State as one of the hottest teams in the country and the hottest in the Pac-10 . Assuming they wrap up the season at 11-1, they'll deserve to have a shot at playing in one of the big-money BCS games rather than having to slink off the Holiday Bowl . That may or may not happen -- it'll be helpful if Auburn loses and opens up a slot in the BCS title game for a non-AQ team that will otherwise hog a spot in the Rose Bowl -- but there shouldn't be any "may or may not," not the way the Cardinal are playing.

2. Corvallis is USC's own personal house of horrors. You can't really argue that Oregon State 's Reser Stadium is a "tough place to play," not this year, not after the Beavers got trounced at home by Washington State last week. (Yes, that Washington State. Yes, that actually happened.) But apparently it doesn't matter how welcoming a host OSU might be for anyone else; they are always going to be at maximum hostility for USC .

In 2006, the Trojans were third-ranked and favored to return to the BCS title game for the third time in three years when they went to Corvallis; they turned the ball over four times and lost 33-31, snapping their 27-game Pac-10 winning streak. In 2008, USC had just defeated No. 5 Ohio State 35-3 and were the No. 1 team in the country; Jacquizz Rodgers exploded for 186 yards against one of the best defenses of college football's past decade and the Beavers won 27-21. Obviously the 2010 Trojans can't measure up to the '06 or '08 versions (who finished with a combined record of 23-2), but they had won three of their last four and beaten a good Arizona team on the road just last week. And, you know, Washington State.

No matter. Matt Barkley had his ankle bent into all kinds of incorrect directions ; Mitch Mustain went only 8-of-17 in relief; Rodgers went off for another 128 yards and a score; Beaver QB Ryan Katz recovered from a terrible week against Wazzu to hit 17-of-24 with two touchdowns and no picks; the Trojans lost the turnover battle 0-2 and only gained 255 total yards; and in the end, the Beavers crushed the Trojans 36-7 .

Corvallis: home sweet home to Wazzu, the worst place imaginable for the Trojans. Go figure.

3. UCLA's offense is ... well ... you know. We know the Bruins are struggling with quarterback issues and with a scheme conversion to the pistol that has been, to put it as politely as we possibly can, a work in progress.

But there's a point at which politeness isn't really appropriate anymore, and once you've scored zero points over the final three quarters and netted all of 163 yards (over 61 plays, an unbelievably terrible average gain of 2.67 yards per-play) against a team that entered the game ranked 109th in the FBS in total defense, that point has long since past. We've posted this portrait of UCLA's offense before, and after the stinkbomb the Bruins laid up in Seattle last Thursday, we feel we have no choice but to post it again:

It's a shame, because the Bruin defense -- which hounded Jake Locker into another "that guy is a first-rounder?!?" performance (10/21, 68 yards, 0 TD 1 INT) -- isn't great but is good enough to get UCLA to the postseason they desperately want . The offense, however, will be lucky to drag UCLA past their current four wins.  

Posted on: November 17, 2010 9:15 am

Sarkisian: Locker cleared to play

Posted by Chip Patterson

After yet another day passed without any word on Jake Locker's status, Washington fans were beginning to fear that the star quarterback may not get to see the field in his final home game against the Bruins on Thursday night.  Locker, still recovering from a broken rib, did practice with the team on Tuesday but head coach Steve Sarkisian informed the media he had yet to be cleared to play by team doctors.  Sarkisian not only wants Locker to play for the betterment of the Huskies, but also knows that the former Pac-10 Freshman of the Year would like to close out his career under center in Husky Stadium.  When doctors finally cleared Locker late Tuesday, Sark was not about to wait for any press release to be written - he took the good news straight to Twitter.

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