I wonder if there is some way I can say this to make UCLA sports fans seem more ambitious than selfish.

No, there isn’t. UCLA sports fans are selfish.

But being selfish isn’t always a bad thing, is it? Sure we have 104 NCAA Championships, more than any other university in the country. But it’s not enough.

What is the one thing that avid Bruin fans are missing in their lives? You guessed it. A contending football program. But with the program under the guidance of coach Rick Neuheisel, or as I like to call him, “Slick Rick,” it looks as if the UCLA football squad may turn the corner in the near future.

Now, optimism in Bruin Nation is at an all-time high, to say the least. After a disastrous 2008 campaign, there isn’t much to point to as positive. But the first step in constructing a competitive sports program is recruiting, a concept that Neuheisel has clearly grasped.

Coming off of a 4-8 season, Neuheisel landing the recruiting class that he did speaks wonders to his recruiting abilities. According to scout.com, UCLA maintains the No. 5 recruiting class in the nation for the upcoming season. That puts them ahead of the likes of Oklahoma, Texas, Pennsylvania State, Michigan, Florida and, most importantly, USC.

ESPN has the Bruins at No. 17 in the recruiting class rankings, but we all know that ESPN is prone to go with the “sexy” pick rather than what may be accurate. Who knows, maybe I’m biased.

But I digress. Included in Neuheisel’s new batch of recruits is the nation’s consensus No. 1 tight end, Morrell Presley, who was actually slated to be a Trojan but eventually came to his senses. He now sports a giant UCLA Bruins logo tattooed on his bicep.

Nice touch, Mr. Presley.

In addition to Presley, Neuheisel also got his hands on Xavier Su’a-Filo, the nation’s No. 3 offensive lineman, and Richard Brehaut, the No. 9 quarterback in the nation and No. 2 quarterback on the West Coast.

Go Rick, go!

You see, Bruin Nation should be optimistic about this recruiting class, and here are a few reasons why.

First off, this is Neuheisel’s first complete recruiting class, meaning that last year, he coached a group of guys that he had no hand in recruiting.

Secondly, with this new class, the Bruins are beginning to gain more recognition on a national scale. Ranked No. 5 on scout.com? Ahead of the defending national champions and other college football Godzillas? Go Rick, go!

Thirdly, and maybe most importantly, this class establishes the Bruins as contenders in the recruiting world against the Trojans. We took Presley from ‘SC. And although the folks down the I-10 landed the top quarterback in the nation in Matt Barkley, it’s known that he considered UCLA heavily as well. How did Neuheisel react to Barkley going with the Trojans? He signed the No. 2 quarterback in the West in Brehaut.

See, Neuheisel is building something at UCLA. When Presley switched from ‘SC to UCLA ““ probably the best decision he will make in his life if I may say so myself ““ he cited the opportunity to build something as one of the reasons behind his decision.

USC’s football program is too established ““ established to the point of monotony. You go to ‘SC, you stay for two years, you’re in national title contention for those two years but usually choke it away, and then you’re off to the NFL. Blah.

But if you come to UCLA, you have the chance to become a part of something. You have the chance to lay the foundation for what is bound to be a topflight football school in a few short years.

Can you feel it now? Neuheisel has brought a new attitude to this program. He’s brought a new demeanor. He’s a competitor. He wants to give Bruin Nation what it wants and deserves, which is a bowl game preceded with the word sugar or fiesta or rose or orange.

That’s what Bruin Nation craves. And if Neuheisel can keep up the momentum he has built this offseason, maybe, just maybe, he can deliver us to the promised land.

Should we say it again?

Go Rick, go!

If you are considering a “Slick Rick” tattoo on your bicep, e-mail Watson at bwatson@media.ucla.edu.