Rick Neuheisel and the UCLA Bruins have the Pac-12 South title unbelievably one win away from them. The crosstown USC Trojans stand in their way. And Neuheisel is doing what he always seems to do lately: Stirring up a hornet's nest when he absolutely doesn't have to do anything of the sort.
Neuheisel is clearly on the hot seat if his team comes up short and doesn't make it to the Pac-12 Championship game. UCLA would be 6-6 and headed to another middling December bowl, and would have very little to be proud of. It's a bowl-eligible season that barely squeaks by acceptable, and UCLA wants much more from their football program.
So Neuheisel has to make proclamations and talk about why the Bruins are actually making progress with their rivals. Here's what he had to say (HT Bruins Nation).
We have closed the gap more with SC. We got a chance to win a championship this week. That's closing the gap. We haven't had that chance in the past. We'll see where the gap is after the ball game, but the gap is closed. We're much closer to them than when we first got there. The gap has closed - I'm not sure if it's all the way done.
Neuheisel be trollin yo.
These are bold words from a coach that has been outscored 84-28 in the crosstown rivalry game in three matchups. USC just came off a big victory in Oregon that ended their BCS hopes; UCLA beat the worst Texas team of the past decade. There's a bit of a contrast in resume there.
UCLA might want to tell their head coach to quiet down, because nothing good has come of his public pronouncements. This is the same Neuhisel who declared the monopoly in Los Angeles to be over when he arrived in Westwood, and has proceeded to flame out against every big opponent that has come his way.
Nestor of Bruins Nation addresses some other damning facts of Neuheisel's tenure.
- Only two of Neuheisel's 27 losses by less than a touchdown. Six of 27 losses by less than 10 points.
- 20 of 27 losses by two touchdowns or more.
- 15 of 27 losses by three touchdowns or more.
- Neuheisel's Pac-12 record is an abysmal 12-23, which includes a 0-3 record against Southern Cal.
- UCLA total road record under Neuheisel is 5-17, for a .227 winning percentage.
- UCLA's conference road record under Neu is 3-18. Those 3 wins came against a winless Washington team, a horrific Washington State team and this year's terrible Oregon State. Those 3 teams have a combined record of 3-30.
Neuheisel must know that his jig is close to up in Westwood if he doesn't deliver one of the biggest rivalry upsets in conference history. The Bruins faithful want to move on and start anew with someone fresh and interesting, and Neuheisel represents too much of the past. He's tried winning with talent (fail), with big-time coaches (fail) and with unorthodox (fail).
Neuheisel is trying to con UCLA one more time into accepting his spin as to why he should be back as Bruins head coach. I doubt anyone will bite.