WESTWOOD —Everyone knows it’s almost football season when the new NCAA and Madden football games start to dominate the commercials on television. Gamers and football players rush to the nearest video game store to play with their favorite team or play as themselves to make up for all the times they never got the ball in practice—they score every time!
The anticipation of the football season hits everyone all around the country, but now more than ever UCLA is counting the days to the start of the 2010 season. This upcoming season is the third in the Rick Neuheisel era and the one with the most pressure. Going 4-8 in his first season was understandable since the team was filled with another coach’s players. Going 7-6 in the second season showed improvement, and put the Bruins on the right track. However, heading into his third season, the heat is on for Neuheisel to deliver.
After two years of excellent recruiting—and bringing in players such as Morell Presley, Randall Carroll, Malcolm Jones, and the number two high school defensive end in the country Owamagbe Odighizuwa—UCLA fans everywhere expect greatness to finally return to Bruin football. In the beginning of the last two seasons, the Bruins have showed promise under Neuheisel, but eventually started a decline that continued for the rest of the season. Things looked really good for Neuheisel in his first game as head coach for UCLA in 2008 when junior college transfer Kevin Craft overcame four interceptions in the first half against the Tennessee Volunteers. Later the Bruins had a miracle win in the second half. Unfortunately the rest of the season did not go the same way.
Last season was almost a mirror image of 2008. The Bruins went up to Knoxville for the second game of the 2009 season, and defeated Tennessee on their home field in front of over 100,000 fans. Once again it looked like UCLA was on its way to a promising season, but near the end of the game quarterback Kevin Prince suffered a broken jaw, which led to the Bruins going on a five-game losing streak. When Prince returned, the team bounced back and finished off the season strong, and made it to the Eagle Bank Bowl where they defeated Temple in an exciting comeback win.
This year the goals for the team are much more than just winning. All off season the Bruins have been working tirelessly to make sure they are ready to claim that top spot in the Pac-10. They all know what is expected of them, and more than anyone else, they want to bring the Bruins back to its football glory days. After the first four games of the season it will be pretty easy to tell how the next chapter in the Neuheisel era will be written.