Let's look beyond tomorrow's game against Southern Cal, the outcome of which should have no bearing on the status of Karl Dorrell's tenure at UCLA. To date we have had a number of interesting discussions on coaching candidates here on Bruins Nation, and lot of the thoughts we have posted here, have trickled into the media.
Now this is my gut feeling. My hunch right now that a coaching search process has already been underway. In fact, I will be surprised if UCLA officials find themselves (in the background) just at the start of this process, when they are officially on the market for a new coach. I'd imagine if Dan Guerrero, is a prudent and diligent AD, he has already done this preliminary research (unlike last time he didn't have a basketballs coaching search to obsess over and the football one is not going to be an unanticipated project like it was in 2002). More on that later (may be next week).
Now as this drama gets played out in public and in the back channels, I'd like to articulate our principles (and many thanks to Meriones for helping with starting the thought process on laying these points out) re. what we do no want in our next football coach. We have already had discussions on what we are looking for in our next coach here, here and here.
We are not going to accept any candidate as a viable or credible option as UCLA football's coach, if he falls into any of this following 4 categories:
1. NO RETREADS: We will not accept any coaches whose names always seem to pop up when there's a vacancy somewhere, and keep getting jobs in spite of themselves. Moreover, we don't need coaches whose name will pop up, but they will always bring some baggage. Names like Bowden, Leach, and even Francione. Yes, I included Leach's name in there. He is an interesting and colorful guy with Southern California connected. We ourselves were intrigued at times over the years, until we realized his team still hasn't showed the ability to play good defense, and he still hasn't learned to project cool, composed, and in control demeanor (see Howland and Savage) that will be necessary at high profile UCLA, located in the second largest media market in the United States.
2. NO RETIREES: College athletics and specially college football and basketball is almost a 24/7-365 day gig. I mean just look at our Coach Howland. The man doesn't let up. And we need someone like him, who is going to come here and dive right into a rebuilding project that is going to require incredible amount strategic and focused hard work, and all out commitment to restore the tradition in our program (going beyond using flowering clichés in television interviews). We will need a coach who is not going to be content with delegating recruiting efforts to talented assistants (we realize their importance). We have had enough of CEO types of coaches who have been billed as strategic "thinkers" and delegators. UCLA should not be a place where a 60 something retiree can come in and expect to sail through his name alone. There is a good chance a head coach in his 60s may not want to handle the rigors of recruiting, going straight up against the ferocious efforts of Pom Pom (or someone like Del Rio who may step in when he escapes to the NFL) leaving us vulnerable to down years when our best- recruiting assistants take other jobs ( e.g. Eric Bienemy, Tom Cable). In other words we have no interest in Rich Brooks or in Norm Chow (who by the way do not have any experience as a college head coach, that will disqualify him under our category number 4).
3. NO REPEAT OFFENDERS: This is simple. Unlike the losers across town we don't want to live with the idea of the NCAA breathing down our necks, and have a permanent target on our backs. So no Rick Neuheisel. Personally this is a tough one for me because I still have a soft sport for Coach Neuheisel, but unfortunately he brings too much baggage. And from the rumor mill, it sounds like DG could be with us on this.
4. NO "RETAINERS": This should be very simple. UCLA should not be a training ground for coaches who do not have any head coaching experience. Period. Really young coaches who still aren't battle-tested with HC experience do not need to apply for this job. That means NO to DeWayne Walker.
For example, a package deal of Norm Chow as HC, and DeWayne Walker as an assistant coach will not be acceptable in Bruins Nation.
Again we are not going to stay silent if the Morgan/Murphy Center brain trust once again allow one of our major program to fall into the trap of fantasyland, dreaming that some promising assistant will blossom into a head coach. We have no doubt about Chow's credentials as an offensive wizard. And DeWayne Walker through all his self promoting over the years (I have heard from sources it was him planting the WSU story in the media to make himself look more marketable) in the eyes of some delusional UCLA football fans has established himself as some kind of promising coaching prospect. But that doesn't mean the notion of Chow as HC who can come in here for 3-5 years, establish an offensive scheme, and then hand of the reins of to Walker will work. That is just silly. All these fantasy land scenarios were dreamt up with Farmer, Hazzard, Lavin, Toledo, Dorrell et al, in which UCLA administrators were looking for the easy way out buying into the romanticized notions of assistants growing into successful coaches. But we have had enough of coaches "growing" and "learning" in their positions as head coach.
There is a reason Chow was rejected by 4 schools. He has no personality whatsoever, which will be devastating in recruit trails. Yeah, I will hear some argument about Coach Howland not being all that smooth either. But Coach Howland knows how to play it straight, and had experience based on 9+ years of experience as an head coach, who turned around and built two different programs. Chow's experience is no where close to that. Moreover, I don't like the idea of a Walker hovering around as a defensive assistant -- head-coach-in-waiting -- figure. It will be imprudent for UCLA to even consider this scenario, because I doubt it will take 2 years for all the Walker lackies around the program to plant stories about how Walker is ready for prime time, looking to push the HC out of the door. The way they have acted on the BRO boards, it didn't take them that long to throw Walker's boss under the bus. And we don't need to go through that routine again in 2-3 years.
So here is my emphatic no to entertaining any combination package of Chow and Walker who fall under one of more of the categories enumerated above.
Hopefully starting Monday, the coaching search will become public. And as we get consumed in those discussions, I myself will not personally campaign for any specific coach. Sure I have thrown the name of Spurrier out there, but that was more to start the discussion. I just want to make sure there is a credible and legitimate hiring process is in place (if it hasn't been unfolding already), but I also want to make sure UCLA picks a candidate, with legitimate head coaching experience, who will be the right fit and give us the best chance to succeed. I do know that I am not going to advocate for throwing our support behind any candidate who falls under one of the four categories listed above. If UCLA picks any coach (or combination thereof), Dan Guerrero will find himself where he finds today, a divided Bruin Nation.
Hopefully he will not make that mistake.