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Irrational Exuberance?

Apparently a number of the ucla boards are lighting up with excitement that Neuheisel is going to attempt to hire Ken Norton Jr away from USC - and potentially put him in place of DeWayne Walker as defensive coordinator, should Walker take the DC position at Washington.

Apparently this is the proof that Neuheisel is in Pete Carroll's head and that the good times are on the way back to Westwood.

If I were a bruin, I'd be excited about Neuheisel too - the man can coach (for the first couple of seasons with other people's recruits). He certainly showed more insight about how to Illinois could move the ball against USC than Ron Zook's staff did in the first half of the Rose Bowl.

The last time I read about someone being in a Trojan's head, it was pre-season when Bruce Davis spent the Pac-10 media day telling everyone that he was in JD Booty's head. By season's end, ucla had lost another one to USC, Davis was blubbing on the sidelines in Las Vegas, and Booty was setting a career TD mark in Rose Bowl play.

(Mind you, if I was Bruce Davis and had left nothing on the field, only to spend my season watching the offense piss away games under the crack leadership of Dorrell and Norvell, I'd probably have wept also.)

Which is why I find this chatter about "getting in Carroll's head" to be so curious. Let's say that Neuheisel is going to offer Norton the job as Defensive Coordinator - will Rick get a pass from the Bruins boards about on-the-job training for DC? Let there be no doubt, Norton's been a hell of a coach for USC, and it must rankle bruins that he's at SC because Dorrell wouldn't even take him on as a graduate assistant. But he hasn't coached a down yet as a DC. I'd have the same concern if he were promoted at SC as well, to be honest, even though he'd be working with Carroll.

Again, let's be clear that this is no knock on Norton. As I noted in a comment to one of Paragon's earlier posts, if ucla wants to hire Norton because SC's been a decent training ground for their defensive coaches, then let them make the offer. It would be ungrateful indeed to begrudge Norton a chance of a promotion at his alma mater. How precisely he's been able to stay so motivated to coach ass-kickings of his fellow bruins speaks a great deal of his abilities, which is why I for one would be sorry to see him go.

But to get all riled up about this as if it were proof that Neuheisel is in Carroll's head? Seems to me like a combination of relief at the departure of Dorrell combined with wishful thinking and some good old-fashioned Kremlinology - "Norton looked pissed when he got the Gatorade bath! He got soaked before Carroll!" Gentlemen, Norton would look pissed at any point when he got soaked - he's not Mr Chuckles on the sideline.

Let's be clear about one thing: Neuheisel is a good hire for UCLA. At the moment, he's all potential success, not actual success. The proof will be in recruiting and on the field starting in August. That will show soon enough how good Neuheisel is, and how effective he will or will not be against USC.

Nonetheless, it's all vapor-ware at the moment, as they say in the software business. Nothing has actually happened yet, and that is what brings to mind the old Alan Greenspan comment about "irrational exuberance."