Now that it is June, we're a little bit closer to the start of the college football season, but realistically, the dog days of summer often prove to be the longest, most drawn out part of the offseason. Granted, there are the preview magazines to keep us occupied, but until fall camps open in August, there is very little news cycling in and out of campuses nationwide. That leaves us relying on extensive season previews and bulletin board material to keep us entertained in the meanwhile. Fortunately, UCLA signee Dietrich Riley of St. Francis (La Canada) is already providing USC fans with a few amusing quotes. Per Cali High Sports:
When UCLA finally fired Karl Dorell and replaced him with Rick Neuheisel, it was unclear which direction UCLA was headed. It was unclear after his first season. It was unclear at the conclusion of last season, which featured dramatic highs and embarrassing lows. Now, as he enters his third season, it appears as if UCLA is on track to return to national prominence, and finally give the city of Los Angeles a legitimate cross-town rivalry.
"I was a USC commit. With Pete Carroll leaving and the sanctions, I just felt like USC was heading in the wrong direction. I wanted a place where I knew I would succeed and the team would succeed." Those are words that would be nearly impossible to get a recruit to say two years ago, and it wasn't just any recruit who said them. Four star commit and ESPN15O prospect Dietrich Riley headlines UCLA's star-studded recruiting class ranked in the top ten nationally by most scouting services. Riley is a big, athletic safety who led the charge as top commits shocked the nation and committed to UCLA.
I don't mean to beat a dead horse, but how often are we going to hear about UCLA being on the "rise" over the next three months? It's already June, and I'm getting fed up with the incessant chatter about how the Bruins and Neuheisel are headed in the right direction. I guess when you follow up a 4-8 season with 7 wins and a highly-rated recruiting class, the next move must be a Pac-10 championship and a Rose Bowl berth. Well, according to Riley, it does.
What does Riley consider among those big things to come?
"Were going to get back to a BCS game soon, and we're going to win a national championship."
I get that players should be confident in their abilities, but where does this sense of entitlement come from? I'd be a lot more understanding if this was an Alabama or Texas recruit. Those programs have a history of winning championships, and have been successful in recent years as well. If they want to make bold predictions, I'm not going to try and stop them.
But what exactly has UCLA or Neuheisel done to inspire any sort of belief that a national championship is a realistic goal? They were a seven-win team in 2009 and ended up playing in the EagleBank Bowl. Granted, it was an improvement from the season prior, but that doesn't mean they're on a collision course with the BCS title. Even Karl Dorrell went 6-6 in his second year after going 6-7 in year one, yet never really got the ball rolling. Neuheisel doesn't necessarily equate as the bastion of success either. His career is well over .500 at 77-44, but to this day, he has just one conference title to his name during his ten years of coaching. Sorry to be such a downer, but neither inspires much confidence.
Maybe I'm just too much of an 'SC homer, but I still fail to understand how the BCS is even in the picture, considering UCLA's history. Look at the past winners...Alabama in 2009, Florida in 2008, LSU in 2007, Florida in 2006, Texas in 2005, and USC in 2004. All those programs have had a record of success.
What has UCLA ever achieved on the gridiron? It has one shared national title in 1954. As a result, I don't comprehend how a team that has been floating around .500 for the better part of a decade, and with a small track record of success, can throw around stuff like national championships and BCS bowls so casually. Call me crazy, but it be wise for Neuheisel's crew to tone down their "big-time talk" until the season begins and they prove capable of having a winning record in the regular season.