Over the past 24 hours, the extent to which the Morgan Center's opinion of coaching candidates is dominated by media coverage has become apparent. I can't find any other explanation for the treatment of Petersen compared to Leach.
On the one hand, Petersen has been almost universally anointed as the only candidate capable of being UCLA Football's savior. So much so that even before hiring a consultant or forming a search committee, Dan Guerrero is reportedly flying out to Boise to offer Petersen a package which may rival Urban Meyer's. Don't get me wrong, Petersen has had an amazing run at Boise State and deserves to hold a prominent spot on our short list. But what's incredible is the one key piece of information which isn't a part of the discussion: Boise State is currently facing sanctions due to actions by the football coaching staff. Yes, it was the coaching staff during Petersen's tenure as head coach that led to the sanctions against their football program. If we're going to get upset about Trogans borrowing their employers' cars, we need to think twice before inviting a head coach whose staff provided players with free housing. For that matter, I remember that alumni had some reservations about Neuheisel's hiring based on his own history of minor violations. What's different about Petersen? Where's the discussion now?
On the other hand, Mike Leach is somehow considered an untouchable candidate because he's too controversial to hire at UCLA. Of course, the "controversy" surrounding Leach has been debunked many times over. Who exactly is objecting to his hire? Are we really worried about upsetting ESPN? What will they do, hire more Trogans to cover Bruin Football? In many ways, Mike Leach may be an even better candidate for UCLA than Petersen. He's focused on academics and won't mind the restrictions that our academic requirements place on recruitment. He's faced the pressures of playing in a BCS conference as well as the heightened media scrutiny of a BCS conference. Most importantly, he's built and maintained a successful program.
So how is it that Mike Leach is too controversial to hire, while Chris Petersen is our would-be savior? It's sadly very simple. The media coverage regarding Petersen's violations has been fairly low key, and has almost entirely placed the blame on the university for failing to properly monitor its programs. The coverage of Mike Leach's situation was sensational, and turned a non-event into a scandal. Either the Morgan Center is too lazy to look beyond the media for its information or it believes that its alumni are. In either case, the sad fact is that one of the best candidates for the job, who has stopped just short of publicly lobbying for the job, will be overlooked, while Petersen's less-than-appealing aspects will also be overlooked.