Happy Neu Year everyone.
I will post a round up of Coach Neuheisel's home run presser later this am. But I will start with some notes around his effort to put together a new staff. Chris Foster from the LA Times reports on whether or not the new staff will include DeWayne Walker:
To reach those Rose Bowl and USC dreams, he will assemble a staff that may include Walker, who was a finalist for the head coaching job. Besides creating a solid defense, Walker has been a key figure in recruiting. But he is entertaining an offer to go to Washington as defensive coordinator and has received feelers from other universities.
"DeWayne and I have had a couple conversations and I think we're going to get along great," Neuheisel said. "I'm optimistic, but I understand DeWayne will have to do what is best for him."
As for the remainder of the staff, Neuheisel said they are "all very, very good guys. There are some anxious moments in terms of what the future holds."
Neuheisel said he has names in mind for assistants, but "it is important to have a chance to talk with them before making their names public." He has already stated his desire to talk with Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Norm Chow.
"The idea was, UCLA deserves the best. If there is somebody out there to help us become the best, we want to take advantage of that," Neuheisel said. "Norm is in that category."
Neuheisel will get a little help in hiring assistant coaches. Athletic Director Dan Guerrero said that the pool of money allocated for assistants would be raised from $1.625 million to a little more than $1.8 million.
It is great news to hear Coach Neuheisel will have a bigger budget to draw from to put together a coaching staff. It will certainly enable him to attract top flight coaching talent into Westwood. As for Walker there are lot of conflicting reports going around.
Rich Perelman over at What's Bruin
had reported earlier yesterday that Walker wanted to stay
. However, later in the day Tom Dienhart of Sporting News
posted that UDub had already hired Walker
Bob Condotta from the Seattle Times
has his own read on the Walker `drama'
The LA Daily News, which has had the best read on the Walker situation throughout, says only that it is "headed in that direction" (meaning toward UW) but that nothing is final. The Daily News had reported earlier in the day that more than money would play into Walker's decision. While the Daily News story doesn't say it, that could possibly mean Walker having a say in decisions about the rest of the defensive staff. So there's a chance this could mean more changes on UW's defensive staff if Walker is hired. The LA Times blog hints that the issue of the rest of the assistant coaches on the defensive staff could be a factor in whether Walker stays at UCLA or comes to UW.
Per Kuwada in the OC Register Walker spoke with Willingham on Monday
Walker reportedly has been offered a two-year contract by Washington and has been mentioned in connection with jobs at other top schools, including Texas. He spoke with Washington coach Tyrone Willingham on Monday, as Neuheisel was formally introduced as Bruins coach in the Morgan Center.
Willingham is said to have sweetened the offer to Walker, who last season was paid $330,000 and was the highest-paid assistant coach under Dorrell.
And Kuwada also reports on how Walker might be angling to take other defensive coaches:
If Walker leaves he might take defensive line coach Todd Howard and linebackers coach Chuck Bullough and perhaps safeties coach Gary DeLoach with him.
Receivers coach Eric Scott, who has been instrumental in the Bruins' renewed efforts recruiting inner-city high schools, reportedly also has been approached by another BCS school.
Honestly at this point I am not holding my breath over Walker or any of the aforementioned assistants. Those guys need UCLA need lot more than UCLA needs them. Besides given what we have been through for last five years it is probably for the best if we can have a clear break just like we did when Howland took over the basketball program. More on the issue from DumpDorrell.com
On the defensive side of the ball, it gets trickier. First, even if you like everything the defense has done, and we don't (Utah, Arizona, Wazzu, etc.), and even if DeWayne Walker is Coach's #1 recruit, Coach Neu probably will not bring back the entire defensive coaching staff ... for several reasons. First, we need to shore up our linebackers and secondary. Against the pass we sucked bad, #71 in the nation. Right there is a need for change. Our linebackers could not keep up with receivers once they got off the line. We think we probably need a new secondary coach and linebackers coach.
But more importantly, Coach Neu needs to make sure that his assistants are loyal to him from the get go. If Coach Neu allowed Walker to keep his entire staff how long would it be before Walker's assistants would stop listening to their head coach?? Its the big elephant in the room no one wants to acknowledge is there (although we and BN have talked about it). Coach Neu needs to build loyalty around him. We think he needs to take some of Walker's assistants away for obvious performance issues but also for loyalty.
Having made these observations, we know Coach Neuheisel knows what he's doing and there is no doubt in our minds that coach will do the right thing for UCLA football, whatever that may be.
Can't agree more. As I mentioned above as this point I am not really all that stressed about the `drama' around Walker. If the guy wants to stay and can work under the unquestioned leadership of Coach Neuheisel and Coach Neuheisel is comfortable with having him around the program then I am ok with it. I have more than enough confidence in Coach N's personality and coaching ability that he will not allow anyone to undermine his leadership of the program.
Moreover, I have no doubt right now Coach N is working the phones reaching out to coaches he has on his mind, who he wants in his staff at UCLA. I am not all that worried if losing someone like Walker means losing a recruit here and there. Given what we have already seen from our first RN press conference, I think there is no question in our collective minds who is the best recruiter, spokesperson, and the unquestioned leader with the right vision for UCLA football.