Fast-forward to the end of this UCLA football season, with the team blemished by the stain of another ugly 4-8 record. Three victories were unimpressive, including a brutal beat-down of the Cal Bears, who lost to everybody. But one win did sparkle--the 35-34, season-ending, trimming of the snooty Trojans, who clearly took the Bruins for granted.
The slide started with the Texas trampling and rarely slowed down. Throughout the season, the players looked dazed and confused, inevitably stationed in the wrong place, fumbling and stumbling.
Head on the chopping block, Coach Rick Neuheisel is about to be guillotined by Athletic Director Dan Guerrero.
"It wasn't all my fault," Neuheisel groans in the pivotal meeting. "My top two quarterbacks were gone by midseason. That Kevin Prince was accidentally run over by his own players. What am I supposed to do without quarterbacks? Look at who I was stuck with by the end of the season, for Chrissakes.
"I need better players. Trying to get decent players in this school is getting to be as tough as getting players into Stanford. I know I've been here for a few years but I need more time. I can upgrade the coaching staff again. That would help.
"Gimme another shot. I deserve it."
Guerrero smirked, unsettling visions dancing in his head--visions of the university paying well over a million dollars in contract buyouts for fired coaches.
A short while later, Neuheisel walks calmly out of the meeting room and is accosted by a mob of students and media, anxious to hear his fate.
"Well?," they ask.
Looking oh so self-satisfied, Neuheisel smiles smugly and struts away.
"Nooooooooooooo!!!!!," wails an anguished student.
Could this happen...?