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UCLA Football: Rick Neuheisel At The Eleventh Hour

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UCLA was flailing in the desert in Tucson, and Rick Neuheisel stood on the sideline with a vacant expression, as if he couldn't escape fate. The son of Westwood looked like he was carved out of wood Thursday night, and there was nothing that could save him from being chopped up.

Nothing made much sense about yesterday's no-show by the UCLA Bruins against the Arizona Wildcats, the latest in a series of no-shows by the football program under Rick Neuheisel. The Bruins were getting tossed aside like they were Northern Arizona, and could easily have been mistaken for them based on the stat-lines. It's the nadir of a series of nadirs for Neuheisel, whose program has gone one step forward, two steps backward every step of the way.

Consider that ...

This charade will go on the rest of 2011 barring the miracle of miracles (a UCLA sweep perhaps, a Pac-12 South title, an upset of Oregon/Stanford to get to the Rose Bowl). After that though, the UCLA Bruins football program is likely to start anew after 2011, and it'll be interesting to see which path the team takes. Athletic director Dan Guerrero has been anything but popular in Westwood lately, and while he probably won't let Neuheisel go until after the season, he's probably got that list of candidates all ready to go.

Pac-12 coaches seem to be hitting crucial marks this October. Chip Kelly needed to prove his success wasn't entirely due to LaMichael James. Mike Stoops had to be jettisoned at Arizona to just give Wildcats fans reason to watch their team again. Jeff Tedford is at a crossroads at Cal because no one knows where his team can go except down the conference totem pole.

And now it looks as if Rick Neuheisel has reached a dead end at UCLA. It's up to him to find the way back, or find the way out.