Bumped. A must read post. GO BRUINS. -N
I think considering his hires (Howland, Savage) Dan Guerrero has a pretty good eye for talent. He brings in good coaches who have UCLA competing for national titles, just as all Bruin coaches should. However, college football is a big money business and with all big name coaches looking at over $1 million per season, UCLA will have to spend much more than they ever have on a football coach if they want to have a top notch football program instead of continuing their decades long commitment to mediocrity.
First, here's a recap of what happened during the last coaching search for those who don't know (if you do then skip down a while and I get to my point at the end):
When Guerrero first took over as the UCLA AD, he fired Steve Lavin and Bob Toledo, leaving him the department's 2 most prominant programs in need of a coach. First came the search for a head basketball coach which started in November, where he worked the backchannels as Lavin led the Bruins to their worst season in over 50 years. Mike Montgomery, a proven winner in the Pac 10 was his first choice, however Montgomery had no interest. Next on the list was Ben Howland, a lifelong Bruin who wanted nothing more than to come home to Southern California and lead UCLA back to glory. While he couldn't speak with Howland until the season ended, Gurerro did speak with multiple people around the nation and those close to Howland to get a feel for what it would take to bring Howland west. Howland was willing to take a pay cut to come to UCLA, however when negotiations first began the offer UCLA came up with (roughly $600,000 per season) would have forced Howland to take such a pay cut that even Guerrero knew Howland couldn't agree to it.
At this point Guerrero made his push to the adminstration. If they want to win, they're going to have to pay for it. After meeting with a few different administrators over 3 days, Guerrero finall got the OK to pay Howland what it took to bring him to Westwood. The contract was drawn up and Guerrero merely had to wait until the season ended so he could speak to Howland personally and get him to sign the deal. Howland became UCLA coach and we all know what he has done with the basketball program since.
Next came the search for a head football coach. Again, the UCLA administration did not want to spend for a top notch coach. They wanted a smaller name, who didn't cost as much and maybe that guy could turn the program around. Guerrero didn't feel this was the right way to go about the search. He wanted to start with a list of 10-15 coaches and then to narrow it down to 4 or 5 to interview. He also realized that the program eneded a proven coach so again he went to the administration to get a bump in money for him to offer, however after getting it for basketball, Guerrero was ignored by the adminsitration and essentially told, "we gave you the money for basketball now leave us alone." This wasn't OK with Gurrero though so he pushed and pushed for more money, upsetting the adminsitration and especially, our chancellor Carnesale.
Carnesale decided he would take control of the coaching search and enlisted his buddy Bob Field to help him. He told the administration he would get the job done with the money they allotted so the search began, with Carnesale and Field at the head. The final 2 candidates were Mike Riley and Karl Dorrell. Following the interviews, Guerrero repeated what he said at the beginning: UCLA needs a proven coach. So with that his vote went to Riley. On the other hand Carnesale and Field loved Dorrell. He was a Bruin, had a great interview and was young. Guerrero was outvoted and Dorrell was hired. Ever since then, the administration has stood by Dorrell, saying he needed more time, plus they weren't paying Dorrell much and the football program was making money, so why tinker. Carnesale was still on Dorrell's side too, however this fall Carnesale left and Gene Block took over as chancellor. Block seems to have sided with Gurrero in all aspects of athletics, from the need to raise money, improve facilities and demand excellence. With Block on his side, Guerrero has turned up the heat on Dorrell and gotten to ear of the administration and Dorrell has done his part too.
That is where we stand now as the Bruins are 5-4 with 20 returning starters and their 3 toughest games remaining. While the Bruins still control their destiny in terms of the conference title, but Dorrell still controls the Bruins so I'm not getting my hopes up. Dorrell looks likely to get the boot after the season and we will have to rewind 5 years to start a head coaching search again. The search will start in the same place it did last time: the adminsitration allotted far too little money for the next head coach and Gurrero asking for more to bring in a head coach that will raise the football program to the level of all other Bruin programs.
I am optimistic that this time the administration will give Guerrero more money to work with because he alone will be in charge of the search and won't have a chancellor undermining him. The chancellor is another HUGE part to this search. Block will not only side with Guerrero in his push for more money, but Block will bring in additional money. At Virginia, Block was the lead fundraiser as the Cavs built a brand new basketball arena, as well as renovated the football and baseball stadiums. Block is a proven fundraiser. Combine that with UCLA alumni eager for a winning program, Guerrero should be able to offer a coach UC money, Adidas money and alumni money. My guess is the Bruins will be offering roughly $1.5 million per season to their new coach, with a possibility of it being pushed to $2 million if it goes to a big name (Steve Spurrier).
While the story of the last head coaching search is 100% fact, the speculation on the upcoming search is simply that..speculation. The administration could certainly stick to their cheap history and show no inclination to pay up for a coach UCLA deserves while paying Dorrell a buyout. Personally, I don't question the Bruin fans or alumni's desire for a top notch football program. I don't doubt Block or Gurrero's desire either. The only people who's desire I question is the administration. UCLA has been mired in over 40 years of mediocrity on the football field. Despite this, the administration hasn't showed an inclination to make a commitment to the football program and get it on top of the Pac 10 and nation like it should. As long as the football program can continue to keep the athletic department self-sufficient, they are content. Now is the time for the university to make its statement. Do they want a winning football program or not? Is mediocrity OK or will they demand more? The statement they make this offseason is going to determine the future of the program for not only the next 5 years, but likely the next few decades.