It didn't take very long for discipline to start unraveling at UCLA after yesterdays "Ditch Day". The criticism being directed at Coach Neuheisel is getting a lot of attention down South. It seems Rick was caught by surprise, and the result was pretty embarrassing since there were invited media, officials, recruits, and HS coaches present who went away with a very bad taste in their mouth.
Rick is now faced with one of those early moments of truth that are going to go a long way in defining his tenure at UCLA. I think it is going to be interesting how he handles it. If he comes down hard on the team, and the senior instigators, it means he has learned from the past. If he chooses to ignore it, buries it, and moves on it means that once again he is on the road to running a program that does not have a lot of discipline.
UCLA has the reputation of being soft, so does Rick, so it will be interesting to see if he puts his foot down to begin turning things around.
The "over the wall" tradition dates back about 30 years, and was practiced when Neuheisel was a UCLA quarterback. The tradition was suspended when Bob Toledo was coach but restored by Karl Dorrell.
Asked how he dealt with the "over the wall" day, former UCLA coach Terry Donahue said, "not very well." Donahue said he believed the tradition began before his team's playing Oregon State in Japan at the end of the 1980 season and then carried over to spring practice.
"During bowl season it had merit," Donahue said. "In spring, you wanted to work on particular things or maybe you had a couple of important guests who were looking at you like, 'What kind of place are you running?' But for the most part it was harmless."Donahue's empathy for Neuheisel goes only so far.
"When he was a junior and senior, he was the one instigating it," Donahue said. "I guess what goes around comes around."
The Daily Bruin took this view:
I understand tradition. I like tradition.
If tradition were a girl, I would go through an extremely long courtship until I was sure of our love, and then I would propose marriage to tradition and hope against hope that tradition said “yes.”
However, some traditions are stupid. (Who said I would be marrying tradition for its intelligence?)
Case in point: Yesterday, the UCLA football team decided to ditch practice.
Bruins Nation had this to say:
I don’t think anyone here would complain if those seniors pulled that kind of stunt if they were coming off a victory again against Southern Cal and have shown a track record of winning/contending for championships like their peers in pretty much all other athletics programs at UCLA (except for women’s hoops).
But this group of seniors haven’t done much to distinguish themselves at UCLA (notwithstanding that 13-9 aberration). So they need to think through in the coming days and decide what they need to leave on a proud note, playing their part in restoring the football tradition of winning Pac-10s and Rose Bowls that we have respect for (and hope will be restored in the coming years) here on Bruins Nation.