Before going any further, we would like to point out a few things:
First, we know you are getting hammered by the media and certain fan sites. It is our belief that you have probably forgotten more about football than all the UCLA fan pay site operators have ever known about the sport.
Here, at BruinAuthority.com, we don’t have a financial interest in seeing you fail, or in trying to create controversy around the program. We don’t need to sell subscriptions to a pay fan site, we don’t need to sell newspapers, and we don’t use this site to create the perception that we are so smart, we can out-coach you.
We created and run this site because of the love of the University, not for the money (there is no money in being an independent fan site), and certainly not for the glory. In other words, we can say what we think without the pressures of fattening our wallets, having agendas, or needing to pretend we know more about the game than you.
We are just fans who care about the University and support the program.
Now that is out of the way, we can begin.
UCLA is a great University. A world class University. A University that is known across the globe. One of us remembers visiting Shanghai, China, and coming across a UCLA store. We have since found that there are many of these stores around the world. Why would people in Shanghai buy UCLA gear? Because UCLA is one of the most recognized educational brands in the world. We are BIG.
And academically, UCLA is highly ranked on just about every educational ranking site. It is a great school, and our graduates are proud of that degree. They know what it took to get it. The value of that degree is something you sell to recruits everyday.
It is also a beautiful school. Just about every alum can remember walking around campus as a student and thinking how lucky they were to be there. How proud they were, and still are. There are great memories AND there is a very strong identification that both alums and fans have with this special University.
That manifests itself the most with the athletic programs, particularly football and basketball. In some ways, UCLA football and basketball are extensions of our UCLA experience, and provide us with some of our best memories. These programs are important to us, and it goes deeper than just being a fan. It is in a way, part of our identification, and we have entrusted you with it.
In basketball, we were blessed, and spoiled, to have possibly the greatest coach in history, in any sport, John R. Wooden. Not only was he a great coach, but he was a great man. Loyal, honorable, dedicated to his staff and players, and of course a winner.
However in football, it has been a very different story. UCLA last won a national championship in 1954. That is before most of the current fan base was even born. That is before you were born.
UCLA football has been a mostly frustrating experience for the average UCLA fan for decades. As stated above, the University is blessed with a spectacular campus, beautiful weather, one of the greatest stadiums in the country, a world-wide academic reputation, and is located in an area that most of the rest of the people in this country wish they could live in.
Yet, in spite of all these advantages, we seem to have continued to under-perform year after year.
And the frustration is not just about expectations. It is also about being in the same town with another school, a football factory if you will, that seemingly has few of the natural advantages of UCLA. A school that has repeatedly chosen the low road when it comes to sportsmanship. An example is the 2009 game, with USC ahead 21-7 and with 54 seconds left in the game – the honorable thing to do would be to run down the clock. Instead, USC head coach Pete Carroll decided to pour it on, and USC scored on a 48 yard bomb. What was the point? Evidently, to humiliate the UCLA players, among other things. We have quite a few of these examples from over the years, and we don’t forget.
Also, remember UCLA played in the Coliseum up until 1984. That’s right, we played all our home games in our biggest rival’s home stadium. Think for a moment about how that can affect a fan base.
The media has not helped either. Everyone loves a winner and the local media is no exception. USC has a history of winning and the local media has a history of pumping it. As we were sitting around working on this article, one of the writers recalled a game day in the 1970’s. UCLA had just soundly beaten a nationally ranked team, and USC had just avoided a an embarrassing loss to a doormat. Driving proudly back to campus from the game, feeling good about the team’s performance and how it should change perceptions, he was listening to a radio station no longer around, by the name of KHJ. As the station was updating the day’s scores, the announcer said something like, “UCLA slipped past their opponent, but USC TOTALLY DESTROYED theirs.” 40 years later, a Bruin fan still remembers the slight.
The point of all this is that historically, UCLA fans have felt the program had everything needed to succeed, yet due to weak athletic administrations, poor (but very safe) choices of coaches, high admission standards, and other elements, we have been doomed to always be seen as number two when it comes to Los Angeles football.
Then you came along.
A coach’s coach. A player’s coach. A fan’s coach. A fiery competitor. A man who cares about his family and the community. A guy who doesn’t care about the past or the history with USC. For the first time in years, there was really new life in the program. New optimism. A feeling that there really could be a shift in the football culture of California. Things could and WILL be different.
And it is not just you, your staff is clearly made up of high octane coaches that care not just about winning, but also about their players. And the players! The character of the young men you have recruited should be the envy of most other programs. Their visits to hospitals, the taking of younger players under the wings of the older ones, their reaching out to children with cancer and other life threatening illnesses, and their respect for number “36,” have not gone unnoticed.
So what’s that mean for you? It means both the spotlight, and the target. And with that comes the bashing, often by the very same people who had a financial interest in hyping you as a pre-season national title contender.
Now, times are tough. Two straight losses, dropping out of the top 25, and the luster of the season is off. No one is happy, including you. Especially you. But you know what? We have great fans. We have supportive fans. The Utah game was among the loudest we have attended in decades. The Oregon game reportedly broke the record for student attendance. Season ticket sales are at an all-time high, in fact, the expensive premium seats in the Terry Donahue Pavilion have completely sold out.
We believe most fans are still behind you. We want you to succeed. We are rooting for you.
All we ask, is that you continue to be a coach that learns. A coach that can put the ego aside and be willing to change if necessary. Don’t let stubbornness interfere with the success of your players or your coaches. We don’t know that this is even happening, but as managers and former managers, we know it is easy to get a sort of tunnel vision and overlook what sometimes may seem obvious to others.
Wooden wasn’t always a championship winner. He coached UCLA from 1948 to 1963 before his first national championship. He learned every season, he perfected his coaching and leadership every season, he created a system over those years that would be the foundation for his 10 national championships. UCLA has a great history of coaches who have learned from the Wooden legacy. We hope you are open to being one of them.
It can still be a good season and we are standing tall, taking the very public position of supporting you. Like you, we’ll take some hits for it, but also like you, we plan to just keep on grinding.
Go get ’em Coach!