Now that we are in the off-season we will have to keep track of some movement in the coaching ranks. The main issue surrounding our program is the immediate future of DeWayne Walker. Here was Brian Dohn’s latest report from yesterday:
Fresh off his defense's gutsy performance in Saturday's 28-7 loss to No. 5 USC, Walker will interview today for the head coaching position at San Diego State, according to sources.
San Diego State officials were in contact with Walker during the week, but he did not want to interview until after the USC game.
Walker would bring strong recruiting ties from Los Angeles to San Diego State, and he is considered one of the leading candidates.
But that is not the only job Walker has discussed. According to sources, New Mexico State officials and Walker spoke during the week. A formal interview did not take place, but one could be scheduled later in the week.
Neuheisel said he expects other programs, and NFL teams, to try to hire members of his staff.
"It's always tough because when you have a talented staff, there's usually opportunities," Neuheisel said. "I'm hopeful that we can keep everybody, and I'm hopeful we can make it very difficult for them to leave. But you have to be prepared if those opportunities come to the guys we have on this talented staff."
I have a feeling that Neuheisel will do everything he can to help Walker make the best decision. The question whether opportunities such as SDSU and New Mexico State represent ideal opportunities for Walker. To me the SDSU job seems like a career killer for promising coaches. It sounds great on paper with a great location with a nice recruiting base of SD schools. However, the program is notorious for not getting any support from its alums, boosters and the administration. The SDSU president fwiw is talking a big game to San Diego reporters. He is talking about bringing in a "name" head coach which include candidates such as Dennis Green and Glenn Mason whose names are reportedly in the mix. But, I just don’t see that program being anything much more than a middle of the road non-BCS program.
Again, I know I am being somewhat selfish but I think if he stays around for 1 or 2 more years and this program gets totally turned around, he will be line for better gigs.
BTW, speaking of the New Mexico State job, Southern Cal’s Ken Norton isn’t even interested in talking to them:
USC assistant coach Ken Norton was contacted by New Mexico State about its head-coaching vacancy, but he quickly informed them he was not interested, according to sources.
So that little bit information goes against one of the talking points for all the Norton haters, who claim that no other program is interested in him. Apparently, at least in the case of New Mexico State, the administrators there think of him in the same level as DeWayne Walker. Also of note, with more than 600 votes in, almost 60 percent of Bruin Nation seems to be all right with Norton taking over as DC at UCLA.
I do get the concern re. Norton though. He hasn’t had any experience as a DC in a major program. That is a big question mark. However, I can think of couple of arguments on his behalf. First, as a Niner fan, I remember Norton’s performance really well. He was not only a physical Mike LB. He was cerebral. He was superman version of Christian Taylor, the quarterback of Niner defense, who was always at the right place, at the right time to make key plays. IIRC he was also there when Carroll was running the Niner defense (and did a superb job at it). Secondly, I think Norton’s record as a Trojan LB coach speak for itself. Yes, I get all the Bruin hate re. Trojie LBs. Yet, I believe Norton deserves credit for being able to recruit the incredibly talented athletes Trojans have stockpiled at LB during his time. I know there are valid concerns about the way Trojan LBers hit , yet you can say whatever you want about their schemes, their on-field record and statistics, speak for themselves.
Perhaps the best solution for us would be for Walker to stick around here for two more years and Norton to move up to Seattle to take over as the Huskies DC? So after two years when Walker moves on to a HC position at a more high profile and desirable venue than SDSU or Utah State, Norton will be primed and ready for a return to Westwood.
Meanwhile, wanted to share couple of notes that have been on my mind during last few weeks. Remember these two names from our head coach search last year: Temple’s Al Golden and (then) Philadelphia Eagles assistant John Harbaugh? DG interviewed both of them (Al Golden was one of the finalists as he flew in to California). Lot of us, including yours truly were frustrated with those names.
I think I underestimated DG. Golden is becoming a big name out East. He recently turned down the opportunity at Syracuse. Per our friends at Black Shoe Diaries, he is positioning himself (with a great shot) for the head coaching position at PSU:
Moving from Temple to Syracuse is an upgrade in every sense of the word. No offense to our Temple friends, but a BCS school with history, playing in a conference with no ten foot giants to overcome, is a better gig than coaching the MAC, even if you are on the rise. I mean, get better than Cincinnati and you are going to the Orange Bowl. He could even maintain most of his recruiting ties and knows he has the ability to turn around a struggling program.
So the only explanation, for me anyway, is that he is waiting for a better gig. The thing is, though, coaches running middle of the pack MAC teams don't get a lot of offers.
He's waiting out the Penn State job. I really think it's that simple. I'm not suggesting he is a lock for Next Head Coach At Penn State, but you don't turn down a job like Syracuse, where each passing day makes it look like an easier and easier land, unless you are confident that PSU will at least give you a fair shot.
He is a qualified guy, of course, with Penn State ties both personally and in his staff. We probably aren't doing this song and dance for at least another year, maybe two or three, but the setup continues to get more interesting.
Meanwhile, John Harbaugh as many of you know became the head coach of Baltimore Ravens. His Ravens roughed up the Red Skins last night upping their record to 9-4. Harbaugh quietly is putting together one of the most successful debut among the rookie head coaches this season.
DG ended up selecting CRN over those two individuals who are proving to be more than qualified coaches based on their recent success. In hindsight given the infamous budget and cultural constraints that have existed at UCLA, DG's search last year looks lot more impressive than the ones we have seen at some high profile programs this year as Washington had to settle for an unproven 34 year old assistant while Clemson ended up retaining their interim head coach.
So perhaps DG knew exactly what he was doing during the search process, which was maligned by number of UCLA fans? Picking CRN over a young coach with solid heading coaching experience who might be in line for the head coaching position at Penn State and over someone who is having success in a solid NFL team. Not too shabby in my book.