When Rick Neuheisel blew into Westwood following the 2007 season, it seemed the balance of power in LA football was about to shift. Top shelf coordinators Norm Chow and DeWayne Walker joined Neuheisel to form what looked like the best coaching staff in the country. UCLA had a lot going for it. It sits on the best recruiting pool West of the Mississippi, has a gorgeous campus and plays in the coolest stadium in college football.

Meanwhile, across town, the NCAA was dropping the hammer of Thor on USC and Pete Carroll was realizing that it had always been his dream to coach the Seattle Seahawks.

But even with all its built-in advantages, and even with the NCAA strapping a giant anchor to USC, hell, even when they became the inaugural Pac-12 South Division Champions, the first thing I was taught at USC Freshman orientation has always remained true: UCLA sucks.

Rick Neuheisel went 8-19 in the Pac during his first three seasons, before his blistering 5-5 in 2011, which won him the division, which got him fired, which led to him being carried off the field in triumph.

This could only happen at UCLA.

Now Jim Mora takes over hoping to repeat the miracle turnaround Pete Carroll did at USC. So far Mora has been saying all the right things, and brought in a great 1st recruiting class to add to a (three way tie with USC and Utah) conference best 16 returning starters.


UCLA’s superb tailback, Johnathan Franklin returns for his senior season in Westwood. Last season Franklin ran for over 1,000 yards splitting carries with Derrick Coleman.  This year he will likely shoulder more of the load and could easily hit the 1,500 mark.

Joseph Fauria stats didn’t jump off the page last year with only 39 catches, but the Notre Dame transfer is poised to explode this year as arguably the best tight end in college football.

On Defense, Tevin McDonald and Aaron Hester anchor what should be one of the best defensive backfields in the Pac-12.


With 16 returning starters there’s really only one change that people care about, Jim Mora’s decision to replace his returning starting QB with a redshirt freshman who has never played a down of college football.

Hometown boy, Kevin Prince could almost walk to UCLA from his parents house, was a big recruit and seemed like the perfect pairing with Rick Neuehisel. But after three mediocre seasons, Prince had amassed only 23 Touchdowns, and had thrown 22 interceptions.  Backup Richard Brehaut also returns to Westwood this season and is joined by highly prized recruit Devin Fuller from New Jersey.

But Mora decided to pass on all three of those players, instead tabbing the young Brett Hundly his starter very early in summer camp.

Hundly is big, fast, and strong but is not a polished passer, and of course, lacks experience. However, a strong running game and extremely dependable TE, make for an ideal environment for a young quarterback learning on the fly. If Hundly takes off, this UCLA team could really surprise.

SCHEDULE: The Bruins have a legitimately tough non-conference schedule. They open tonight with an easy one at Rice, but then return home to play Nebraska and Houston.

The Conference schedule looks very favorable as the Bruins play only 4 Pac road games and all 4 (Colorado, Cal, ASU, WSU) should be winnable. They draw Stanford from the North, but avoid Oregon and they get both the Cardinal and USC at home.

PROSPECTS: UCLA is experienced, talented, and riding a wave of enthusiasm with Jim Mora. If Brett Hundley takes to the offense, and the Bruins take care of business on the road, they could challenge USC in the South and find themselves in an excellent bowl…at least, if the sucking thing doesn’t get in their way.