As alluded to over the last day or two (HT to SuperBruinMan), Rick Neuheisel has given Chucky "Base D" Bullough and Reggie "Stone Hands" Moore the axe, moving the football program's coaching staff in the right direction. This morning it was made official, per Ramona Shelburne and Peter Yoon at WWL:
UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel fired defensive coordinator Chuck Bullough and wide receivers coach Reggie Moore on Saturday and said more changes to the coaching staff could be coming.
There's no hiding who Neuheisel is referring to in making additional changes. Rick cut straight to the chase on Chow:
"The offense is still a place I'm evaluating and Norm as the coordinator is certainly in that category," Neuheisel said. "But I'm just trying to figure out what is the best way to go, whether it's a reshuffling or if it's new personnel. I'm still sorting that out in my own mind."
While the Bullough and Moore firings will be met with great fanfare by UCLA fans frustrated with a soft defense that didn't utilize the talent on the roster and an inconsistent receiving corps that had trouble holding on to the ball in key situations, ran poor routes, and stuck with older guys (Nelson Rosario and Taylor Embree) who were choking in lieu of younger guys (Josh Smith and Randall Carroll) who were making plays, the possibility of Chow being let go has been a contested topic of conversation at BN.
More on the firings after the jump.
After a very disappointing 4-8 season, Neuheisel apparently is taking change true to heart, evaluating the entire staff:
"I'm not entirely done evaluating," Neuheisel said. "There are certainly some other things that I want to continue to consider, but I'm sure about these particular moves and I informed them this morning."
Rick is rolling the dice. He needs to find a staff that will combine to bring the Bruins at least 8 or 9 wins, including a victory over Lame's sanctions-plagued U$C Trogans. The big chair is hot and Rick knows he is running out of time to produce a winning product before the fan-base forces a regime change. Letting Bullough, a Walker hold-over, and Moore, a coach who has flat out failed, go is a step in the right direction.
It even sounds like Rick has been channeling the collective frustration of BruinsNation:
"I just felt like we needed to have a couple of schemes that would help make us more consistent," Neuheisel said. "He's a 4-3 guy and believes in the 4-3. At the end of the day we were not consistent enough at stopping the run and I felt like some of the athletes that we have in our program might fit better in some alternate schemes.
"Chuck was, in my opinion, not the guy who was going to be the expert in that department."
Now, I don't think it really matters if we run a 4-3, a 3-4, or some alternative defensive formation (since there are programs that run each one successfully), but what we need is a defensive coordinator who can evaluate talent, scheme to maximize that talent, and be flexible enough to change schemes to match the kind of offense we're facing (one of the biggest failings of the Walker/Bullough scheme was the inability to scheme against a spread option offense).
Although Bullough has been sacked, Neuheisel is retaining the rest of the defensive staff, per WWL:
Neuheisel added that Bullough would be the only defensive coach changed, meaning linebackers coach Clark Lea, defensive line coach Todd Howard and secondary coach Tim Hundley will return next season.
Now, there has been chatter of the possibility of Dewayne Walker returning to Westwood. Or, in other words, we'd swap the failed pupil (Bullough) for the failed architect of the failed defensive scheme (Walker). Has everyone here forgotten all the angst in these threads and posts watching Walker lose game after game? Do I need to say anything more than Brady Quinn and Notre Dame to remind you of how his defenses would collapse in the clutch with soft zone defense?!
Walker would be a desperate choke job if Neuheisel brings him back. Walker is the kind of coach that is always looking for his next pay check and to parlay "rumors" into more money for himself. This is the same guy who had his friends floating rumors about other jobs offers, trying to make him sound more in-demand than he really was. Does no one remember self-created rumors about Walker going to LSU or Washington? The claims and rumors he was a top candidate for the HC job at Iowa State? Look at the guy's track record. He's a nomad, moving from job to job, using rumors to manipulate employers into paying up for a coach who has a record of mediocre, soft defenses that get annihilated by the spread offense.
Of course Walker wants to come back to Westwood, so it wouldn't surprise me if he's actively pushing this storyline. This is a guy that wants Rick's job. He wants it bad and he probably thinks that if he can maneuver his way back to UCLA that if Rick gets the axe, he can convince Guerrero to give him the job he thought he deserved (but was completely unqualified for) when Dorrell got canned.
Oh, I'm sure of the Walker-lovers out there are ecstatic. When Walker was in charge of our defense, we weren't exactly getting it done on the field, with records of 7-6, 6-7, and 4-8. He's the guy who went to New Mexico State, claimed he would get the program on track and competitive within five years, and after one season of ass-beating after ass-beating, was already trying to engineer a way out of town. I'm sure there are folks pushing the "fire Rick and hire Walker as HC" angle. Those people are idiots. Plain and simple. It's not up for debate.
Walker's defenses were mediocre. People give him way too much love for 13-9. One win does not make a career folks. The guy is 5-20 as a head coach. Oh, please, let's sign that guy up! Give me a break. If Neuheisel ends up bringing Walker back, it will just be more evidence that UCLA football and Morgan Center are completely clueless, without any imagination, and without any commitment to winning.
Couldn't say it better myself. Other names floating out there include former Miami head coach and defensive coordinator Randy Shannon (who had impressive defensive stats as the Miami DC) and SDSU defensive coordinator Rocky Long.
On the receivers coach front, with Reggie Moore out the door, UCLA can go after someone who will actually develop the talent we have at the position, rather than let it stagnate. One interesting name to keep tabs on is Texas' Bobby Kennedy. I know what you're thinking: "why would a guy leave Mack Brown and Texas for UCLA?!"
First, he's pretty well qualified, developing some quality receivers at Texas (from his official Texas bio):
Kennedy laid the foundation for the 2005 corp with his work a year earlier. The Longhorns had lost three wide receivers to the NFL after the 2003 season and were left without much experience in the 2004 group. Fifth-year senior Tony Jeffery emerged and established career highs in receptions (33), yards (437) and TDs (three). Also, Sweed tied for third on UT's all-time receptions by a freshman list with 23.
Now, why would Kennedy come to UCLA? Take a note of this:
Prior to joining the Texas staff, Kennedy spent two years coaching wide receivers at Washington. Under his guidance, Huskies All-America receiver Reggie Williams ranked fourth nationally in receptions per game (7.4) and 16th in receiving yardage (92.4 ypg) in 2003. Williams finished his career as Washington's all-time leader in receptions (238) and receiving yards (3,536). Williams was selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the first round (ninth pick) of the 2004 NFL Draft.
In Kennedy's first season with the Huskies, he tutored Williams in a year that the sophomore wideout earned first-team All-America honors. Williams set UW's single-season records for receptions (94) and receiving yards (1,454) that year.
I'll give you one guess at who was running the Washington program at the time. If Rick is on top of it, he'll reach out to his old receivers coach and try to reel in a big hire who could take the talent on the roster (which we have a lot of at wide receiver and tight end) and develop it into the kind of elite receiving corps we thought we'd have before this season started.
Just some notes in the post-Bullough and Moore era. Fire away with your thoughts and consider this your coaching changes open thread.