Check out the first batch of weekly answers…
1) I know some are disappointed with the recruiting service rankings of some of our recent verbally committed football recruits. If they have impressed the Bruin coaches that’s all I need to know. However, do you think accepting verbals from “less celebrated” recruits hurt when recruiting bigger name recruits? – Anonymous
I can’t really put this delicately, but what hurts with bigger-name recruits is 4-8. Neuheisel is a very good recruiter. It’s obvious. The new coaching staff seems to be able to connect well. But almost the only thing that matters to a big-name recruit is making it to the NFL, and 4-8 doesn’t often get you into the NFL. Sometimes it does (Moore, Ayers, etc.) but to an 18-year-old kid with eyes as wide as the Sahara, those teams who play into January are the ones who will get the first look. If UCLA gets 2- and 3-star commitments into October, and they’re 6-0, the 4- and 5-stars will come.
2) Two football recruits-one late in 2011 and the other early in 2012 – “won” combine competitions. I know this speaks to potential as football players. How much weight do you think coaches give these performances? What is your personal opinion of these competions? – Anonymous
I don’t know that it speaks to potential as football players so much as potential as athletes. Football is a different beast, man (Sorry, just had to add the “man”). It’s about a lot more than just running fast or lifting a weight. I’m not at all knocking those kids or the competitions, but I will say that I need to see them on a football field, taking a hit or giving one, and then I’ll know.
3) Do you feel Brett Hundley should red shirt since we have 2 returning starters? (He should change his number to 7 since morrell and viney are leaving) – Ty
At this point, I don’t really know. If Kevin Prince is healthy in the third week of August, and either he or Brehaut have emerged, and the team appears that it can win without burning Hundley, sure, redshirt him. Makes no sense to Brehaut him, to put him into the first game of the season in garbage time. But I think his athleticism and dual-threat..ed…ness make him a viable “package” quarterback, and he should get a look at that.
4) Any feel for getting Shabazz Muhammad? – tim warren
My gut says – and this is a big gut talking, with a New York accent, full of pastrami – that he will end up at UCLA. I spoke with his high school coach, Grant Rice, who I covered while working for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, a couple weeks ago, and he just reiterated the interest that Muhammad clearly has in UCLA. But he has not made up his mind, and there are other marquee coaches going after him, too.
5) I don’t think the university or AD Dan Guerrero has said anything about Neu’s job. However it seems like when there is a coach on the hot seat and he gets out to a less than stellar start, the media kind of creates it on narrative about the situation; starts asking players about it, ESPN highlights it and everybody starts asking how many wins does a coach need to keep his job. With this schedule, can the team realistically get out to a fast start this season and avoid this scenario or are we in for the circus atmosphere all season? – BruinBall
Great, great question, one that deserves some self-reflection from me. I don’t think we’re at the point yet where the administration would come out and comment on Neuheisel’s job – that is to say, I don’t think a tipping point has been reached – and I think it will be more of a “feel” situation. I think Guerrero is a patient man, and he takes into consideration the hurdles that Neuheisel has dealt with in his tenure. Neuheisel is a UCLA blue-blood, and win or lose, he has been a good ambassador for the school, so you take into account the team’s injury situation and lack of stability, and you clam up. But your take on the media is pretty accurate, and I don’t know that there is a way around it. Trust me, we hear from you guys, and the proliferation of message boards and fan sites makes it louder and louder. Then we ask the questions and write the stories, and you comment on them, and the snowball grows bigger.
To your main point; does the UCLA schedule look favorable in the early going? Yes, it does, if – and it’s clearly the big if – the line holds up and the quarterback play improves. But we have no idea, so I can see the Bruins going anywhere from 3-2 to 1-4. Should be interesting, at least.