Rage at how the 2011 season ended (brought up merely at the thought of UCLA’s next football season), and excitement as a result of me being able to wash the stink of shit off my clothes after a pitiful 50-0 loss and a 6-8 football season.
Of course, that wouldn’t be appropriate, just 12 hours before gameday, which is when this was written.
Because this isn’t any regular gameday. This is the first time, first game, that a new era begins for UCLA football. The first time that I watch a UCLA football season opener. This is my first time blogging about my Bruins before any football game.
And how fitting that the first thing I’ve ever written about UCLA was the day after Rick Neuheisel was fired, stating with passion that a new era in the UCLA blogosphere would emerge to coincide with the ending of an old regime in Westwood for UCLA football.
A lot has happened, since that post. I was graciously picked up here, at Go Joe Bruin, by Michael Castillo, FanSided’s NCAA director and (ironically) a USC student covering the Trojans at Reign of Troy. On a more UCLA-y note, the time between that initial post and the moment you’re reading this saw UCLA make what is likely the most unconventional hire in the nation in Jim L. Mora, an NFL coach with an abrasive, outspoken attitude with a mediocre resume in the pros and a blank one in college.
Bruins fans — including myself — went DEFCON 1 upon learning of Jim Mora’s hire. We knew what he was about in Seattle and Atlanta, and we wanted no part in a guy like that.
Or so we thought.
But here we are, moments from kick-off against the awful Rice Owls in Houston. And, we’re not stupid, we know you’re as anxious as we are for this coach — the coach who was hated by UCLA fans before USC fans hated him — to begin a new era in UCLA football.
Because Mora has done everything in his goddamn power to get us excited about UCLA football again. He hired one of the most versatile, most energetic coaching staffs in the nation despite being a guy who received literally no support from the UCLA fan-base. Knowing he had millions of Bruin fans, students and alum against him, he worked tirelessly to force us to do a Mitt Romney and entirely flip our opinion on him.
And here we are, a top-20 recruiting class, an explosive spring game, and a grueling fall camp later, chomping at the bit to turn our TVs to CBS College Sports and indulge in UCLA football, as if all of a sudden, this could be our year, our coach.
Because, genuinely, it could be. Because UCLA has never been in the position before in this millennium.
What position? We couldn’t tell you, but it’s this position. In a position to win games immediately in a new coach’s first year, and a position to feel proud of UCLA football again, as many fans did back in the 90s.
It could be all a mirage, though, and UCLA could shit its innards, the wheels could fall off, and we could go back to being bottom-feeders in the Pac-12 and once again become the butt of the nation’s joke.
I can’t tell, though, and neither can you.
We can sit here, predicting all we want. We can tell you that we’re on the verge of a 9-win season or a 3-win season. We can tell you all we want about Brett Hundley, and a shiny, new 3-4 defense and Noel Mazzone and all that.
But this team, this program, has become wholly unpredictable, beautiful in its potential and ugly with its execution. Watching UCLA crash and burn — as has been our custom for the past decade — is akin to watching a meteor coming right at your home to destroy you, erase you from existence.
Maddening, frustrating, scary, yet no matter how pissed off you are, nothing’s going to change that meteor’s direction except for that meteor. UCLA will always be unpredictable, always unstable.
Unless this is our year, and this is our guy, in Jim Mora. Brett Hundley has absolutely no power to “save” this program; if there’s going to be a savior in Westwood, it’s going to be Jim L. Mora, no matter how many times he apparently puts his foot in his mouth.
If he isn’t though, everything’ll go to hell for another year. And we, like the friggin’ masochists that we are, we’ll tolerate it. We’ll throw our plates, break our television sets, call whatever administration and pretend like we have a voice, and so on and so forth.
That’s the worst-case scenario, and as is the case with these Bruins, worst-case scenario is never really the worst-case scenario.
Which is why we’re desperately pleading to whomever will listen for change, why we’re hoping things are different, and in the most positive way possible, so we can piss the past ten years of Bruin football out of our bloodstream.
The future is now. And while we can’t be too sure if it’s a good or a bad one, we know it’s going to be different; it has to be different.
But of course, it might not be. Only one way to find out, huh?
UCLA kicks off against Rice in hours. Are you ready?