Watch the Horizon -- LA Times Has DG's "Short List."

Well, the time is almost "officially" upon us.  As already caught by our astute members in one of yesterday's speculation threads, the LAT is reporting on DG's short list:

Dorrell will be fired and a short list of candidates has been assembled, sources familiar with the athletic department said Sunday.

Boise State Coach Chris Petersen is said to be the first choice of Athletic Director Dan Guerrero, with Texas Tech Coach Mike Leach and former NFL coach Steve Mariucci considered among the other top candidates. Representatives on behalf of the UCLA athletic department have contacted all three, multiple sources said.

Former Washington and Colorado coach Rick Neuheisel will not be considered for the job, according to one of the sources.

Personally, I am of slightly mixed feelings on Rick being left out of the mix.  I know I have been steadfastly against his hiring due to his up then down performance at Colorado and UW, to say nothing of his NCAA violations, but class1984's impassioned reasons for supporting him have given me at least a little pause.

However, the fact that DG is possibly looking at Petersen as the #1 choice makes me even more confident that DG and many in the Nation are on the same wavelength.

Surely, the vast majority of the Nation can agree that Petersen, Leach, and Mariucci are a far better "short list" than the coaching bouillabaisse that Field came up with in Dorrell, Riley, and Robinson.

Another encouraging sign from the Fishwrap (boldface added):

Petersen is under contract through the 2010 season, with a base pay of $935,000 per year. He is also believed to covet the Oregon job should it open up in the next few years.

Petersen spent six seasons as a Ducks assistant.

Leach, who has a 64-37 record in eight seasons at Texas Tech, comes with similar financial red tape. He will make $1.75 million next season, $1.85 million in 2009 and $2.15 million in 2010. He will also receive an $800,000 bonus for remaining at the school through 2009 and $200,000 if he is still the Red Raiders' coach after 2010.

Yet, financial hurdles are not believed to be a problem for Guerrero, as "the money will be there for the coach who is the right guy," a source familiar with the situation said.

Mariucci, who previously coached the San Francisco 49ers and Detroit Lions, fits a profile similar to Petersen and Leach. All are considered innovative offensive minds, though Mariucci preaches the West Coast offense, which has been ineffective for the Bruins under Dorrell.

Mariucci, though, comes with no strings attached. He is working for the NFL Network as an analyst.

He was the head coach at California for the 1996 season.

The financial part certainly got my attention; DG found money for Howland, so it's not surprising that there are some boosters who will pay for a quality head coach, It's not a big stretch to think that a number of recruits will think similarly and stay for the "right" coach.  The bit about Petersen possibly wanting the Oregon gig someday is not surprising, and is understandable.  It will likely be difficult to pull a coach like Petersen from such a good situation for him personally like Boise State.  Hopefully, though, we can put together a package that helps convince him why UCLA may be the best place in the world to be a head coach.

A new day may be dawning, Nation.  Watch the horizon.

M

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