Bruins' program is a tough sell right now, but Rick Neuheisel gives it a shot

UCLA finished eighth in the Pacific 10 Conference in 2008 and eighth again last season.

Two months into this season, the Bruins are tied for eighth.

Given the consistent second-tier status, Coach Rick Neuheisel was asked during his Monday news conference how he sold progress to recruits.

"Well, I think there is certainly a story to be told, but it's not one that needs to be out there in the public," Neuheisel said. "It's one that needs to be told in homes about where this program is and how we're going to get there."

Then Neuheisel went into elements of that pitch.

"We certainly talk about the virtues of this great university. We certainly talk about where we were once and how we're going get back there," he said.

Neuheisel's reference point is his UCLA career, which he began as a walk-on quarterback in 1979 for a team that went 5-6 and ended with his MVP performance in the 1984 Rose Bowl against Illinois, the second of three Rose Bowl victories in a four-year stretch for the Bruins under Coach Terry Donahue.

He also said, "I have also been a part of a program as a head coach that has been there. I think right now I'm the only coach in the Pac-10 who has won a Rose Bowl."

Neuheisel's Washington team won the 2001 Rose Bowl.

Those examples were from the past. As to selling the here and now, Neuheisel said, "You go and get the guys who can help that here and now happen."

Neuheisel's first three recruiting classes were ranked in the top 15 nationally. UCLA is 3-5 this season.

Just test no

Without using the words "drug" or "testing," Neuheisel said that the UCLA program is close to a "solution" to the incident that led to the suspension of four players the last two weeks.

Multiple sources said that all failed drug tests for the third time, an automatic one-game suspension under UCLA's policy.

"In one stretch of the imagination, it can be deemed as this being a rampant problem," Neuheisel said. "The other stretch of the imagination, more close to reality from where I sit, [the suspensions] are addressing the issues and making sure that you're going to solve the problem instead of putting your head in the sand and acting like it isn't really happening."

Neuheisel also said, "Because we increased the amount of supervision, rather than go the other way, I think everybody understands. I think we are closer to the solution."

Asked whether "increased amount of supervision" meant increased testing, Neuheisel said, "I just said increased supervision."

Looking back

Kansas State has a 5-3 record and is fourth in the Big 12 Conference North. Texas has a 4-4 record and is fifth in the Big 12 South, and has lost three times at home. Houston has a 5-3 record with four victories coming in Conference USA play.

The verdict on UCLA's nonconference schedule is in and it doesn't appear to be as tough as had been predicted.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World