This is it, folks. We’re less than seven days away from getting to see UCLA football’s final product on the field at the Rose Bowl against Nevada. After a successful 2012 campaign that ended bitterly (boy, we’ve said that a million times and it still stinks), the Bruins have attempted to come back stronger this time around.
And now, much like Jim Mora and his staff, it’s time to start focusing on the task at hand: The Nevada Wolf Pack.
Let’s preview this team, shall we?
To put Nevada’s trajectory into perspective for UCLA fans, let’s pretend UCLA baseball coach John Savage retires tomorrow. After having rebuilt the program from scratch and taking UCLA baseball to its peak, the program suffers without his guidance. The Bruins are back to being useless in baseball for about a decade.
Ten years later, the Bruins hire John Savage again. And, again, Savage builds the program from nothing and takes UCLA baseball to its peak. Then, after about ten years of that, he retires. Again. This time, for good.
That’s where the Nevada Wolf Pack are. After Chris Ault’s first tenure as head coach from 1976 to 1995 (whoa), Nevada struggled mightily. As Bill Connelly of SB Nation brilliantly put it, Chris Ault is the face of Nevada football. When Ault came back in 2004, the ship was righted and, until now, things have been peachy for Nevada.
Now, a Colin Kaepernick and a 7-6 season later, they’re here. Ault-less and without much direction.
OK, so they have a head coach in Brian Polian, and Polian is no stranger to college football. Since 1997, Polian’s bounced from team to team as a position coach, but nothing more than that. His longest tenure came as Notre Dame’s special teams coach from 2004 to 2009, and he’s been a special teams coach ever since. (Not that this isn’t a big deal; UCLA assistant head coach Jeff Ulbrich is poised to take a head coaching position pretty soon given his success with producing high-quality special teams units.)
But Polian’s never been a head honcho. Granted, not every good college football coach got their job from a previous head coaching job, but the leadership role is different. Consider, too, that the kid is a youngster, only 38 years young. (He’s also only retaining Ault’s offensive coordinator Nick Rolovich, though that’s an important retention; Nevada’s offenses are normally prolific.)
Side note: Nevada still employs the offense they made famous, and the offense that eventually got Rick Neuheisel fired: The Pistol.
Continue to the next page for a preview of the offense.