I'm going to work under the assumption here that on December 3 (the first business day after our season finale), Karl Dorrell will no likely be the head coach of the UCLA football program and the search for a new coach will begin (or likely already had in the confines of Dan Guerrero's office). Now there are the big names out there to contact (hello Steve Spurrier and the like), but there is more to it than finding a good coach. As most of us know Nebraska fired their AD and their head coach is likely to follow after the season and here is an excert from SI.com's Stewart Mandel on the firing and subsequent search for a new coach:"It's hard enough to rebuild a program, let alone one that's just been set back four years by one of the most ill-conceived "experiments" in college football history. As Nebraska found out the hard way, it's best to be absolutely sure you're hiring the best man for the job -- not just making the biggest splash."
Although this is about Nebraska, I think it relates to us as well. Nebraska has been ruined by 4 years of Callhan, but we've had the final couple years of Toledo and 5 of Dorrell to ruin us. Our football program is a mess and any good coach won't turn it around. We need to go out and find the right coach because the new coach will have A LOT to overcome in taking this program to the top and staying there like we all expect the next to do. Fact is, our program isn't the most attractive to prospective coaches right now. We are UCLA and that is EXTREMELY attractive, but any coach would be coming here for the university, not the football program.
Our new coach has a major task ahead of him. He has to take what will be a young team missing a lot of talent. A team that hasn't been coached in their college careers. They'll have to compete with SC for all the local recruits and they have to work with different academic restrictions than SC. Does this mean the task is impossible? Hell no. With all the advantages UCLA offers, it is more than possible, but it will take A LOT of work and A LOT of energy. Coaches know this and I think it makes some of the big name guys who are employed unrealistic. We need a hungry guy and I because of the challenges a new coach will face, I think the best fit will be a young guy who's full of energy and itching to make his mark on the national scene. This means the right hire may not be a nig name. Miami did it in the mid 90's with Butch Davis and while the situation isn't nearly as extreme, I think they're coaching search should be the model we follow (for more info on how that search went check out Cane Mutiny by Bruce Feldman. There's a chapter in there on his hiring).
There are lots of good coaches and sexy names out there, but are they the right fit for our unique situation? For example, while Mark Richt does well at Georgia and Jon Gruden has a Super Bowl ring do they have what it takes to rebuild this program? It's a question you have to think through and it will be difficult for any of us to make the judgement because we will not be in the room when Dan Guerrero interviews the potential coaches. Just as Nebraska will have to rebuild after 4 years of the Callahan experiment, we have 7 years of Toledo/Dorrell to rebuild from and I think it's important we take note of what Mandel said, "...it's best to be absolutely sure you're hiring the best man for the job -- not just making the biggest splash."