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Summer 2003
Field of Dreams
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But even in an environment in which academic excellence is as vital as athletic prowess, Guerrero asserts that Bruin teams have a realistic shot at glory on the field as well as in the classroom.

“I believe that we can have a program that can be consistently among the best in the country,” he says. “Our programs should, on a continuous basis, be able to vie for Pac-10 and national championships.”

Offensive tackle Bryce Bohlander also believes that setting high academic standards for athletes doesn’t mean diminishing the quality of UCLA’s teams on the field. In his view, academically deficient athletes aren’t the ones you would want as teammates.

“If you’re not a good student coming into college, that kind of says something about your character,” says Bohlander, who vowed when he was recruited to complete his degree in four years. He did, graduating this spring with a degree in political science and a nice fellowship package for graduate school.

Rather than asking fans to lower expectations, perhaps more should be made of the high expectations that exist in the invisible areas — at practice, in class, in social conduct. When those kinds of expectations are at the forefront, coaches say, the championship banners will go up for everyone to see.

“Those who hire you as a coach are wanting winning teams,” says Wooden. “They’re thinking of scores. But I believe those scores can be a by-product of these other things.”

And maybe more of an effort should be made to educate fans that building a winning team — or rebuilding one from a team that has had a disappointing season or two — doesn’t happen overnight.

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