Butch Jones - One of several names under consideration for UCLA
We are now two days away from the Pac-12 Championship game in Eugene, and two days into the Post-Neuheisel era in Westwood and the search to hire his successor. A couple of notes to get out of the way before delving back into the coaching search. As I mentioned in yesterday's roundup, Justin Combs - the son of P-Diddy - verbally committed to the Bruins on Monday. While Justin's father may have the big name, his play on the football field has gotten attention, garnering offers from Iowa, West Virginia and UVa in addition to the Bruins. While Monday's developments were breaking, another high school senior commited to UCLA Football - Trayvon Watson, a Safety out of West Adams Prep-Los Angeles. Welcome to Westwood to Justin and Trayvon. Meanwhile, the team continued to prepare for Friday's game, with Jon Gold and Peter Yoon covered the scene for ESPN LA.
Rick Neuheisel appeared on the Dan Patrick Show yesterday, confirming that he will not be coaching the team beyond Friday night, while also discussing the overall situation of football at UCLA and the university's need to give the football program the facilities and the tools that it needs to keep up with the rest of the nation's major programs.
Bruce Feldman has posted his list of the 10 fastest-rising assistant coaches in college football. Not all of these guys may be ready to take over a major program, but there are some names on his list - such as Gus Malzhan, Kirby Smart and Manny Diaz - that have already come up in discussion surrounding open jobs. These coaches may not be at the top of our list, but it would not hurt to look at them and see how they fit into our criteria for a new head coach. Athlon Sports put up a list of 15 candidates for the UCLA job. Their list includes most of the commonly discussed names - whether promising or retread - as well as a few successful head coaches of smaller programs and a couple of the assistant coaches from Bruce's list.
The Cincinnati Enquirer reports that the athletic director at Cincinnatti is working to keep head coach Butch Jones happy with his job leading the Bearcats in the face of rumored interest by UCLA, Illinois and UNC. Jones is finishing the 2nd year of a 5 year contract which pays him $1.05 million/year with a $100k/year retention bonus and a $1.5 million buyout if he leaves before January 1, 2012. The Washington Post talked with Bud Foster, the architect of VIrginia Tech's defense about the coaching carousel upon which he surprisingly rarely is asked to ride. And just in case anyone reading this still had any thought that Tom Cable should be a candidate for our job, Pete Carroll gave Tom his seal of approval.
The Coaches Hot Seat blog has a post looking at the UCLA coaching search and the overall situation that faces that coach in Westwood (hint - they don't have much confidence in Chianti Dan either). They can see the decline in the Bruin football program under coaches Dorrell and Neuheisel and the need to move decisively to reverse those fortunes, not only in identifying the right coach, but in improving facilities and ramping up the fundraising to help pay for them. The financial offer that the HSB editors believe should me made by UCLA is significant, but not far out of line from what is reportedly on the table.
For those supporters of other Pac-12 schools who sounded personally offended at the idea that Dan Guerrero should so much as ask for Urban Meyer's phone number, you might not want to read to the end of that post. In asking themselves who they would hire if Chris Petersen's name is taken off the table - given the financial resources that UCLA currently has or should have to offer - the editors came up with 5 names to start with; one of which we have already considered and rejected, as well as the Dread Pirate Leach. The last name, though, is the interesting one.
We would then hire either Kevin Sumlin (Houston), Mike Leach (ex-Texas Tech), Troy Calhoun (Air Force), Gary Patterson (TCU) or even a wildcard choice that might have a hankering for some new scenery, some warmer weather to live in and a big stage to coach on which is Los Angeles…
Would Bob Stoops consider taking the UCLA head coaching job?
Well, we do know that when the Pac-12 was talking about combining with 4 schools from the Big 12 which would have included Oklahoma that Bob Stoops was very excited about the Sooners playing some new teams at some new venues on the West Coast ....
Hell, it looks like to us that Bob Stoops needs a new challenge in life and rebuilding UCLA football would be a GREAT and FUN challenge for the man from Youngstown, Ohio.
There is only one way to find out…..Give Bob Stoops a call.
That last line sums up the argument that I and the other frontpagers have been making for the past several weeks - at times regarding Urban but also leading to the general point that if there is a coach out there that whoever is running the coaching search thinks would be a good coach for UCLA, you talk to him. The point of the Urban talk from my POV, at least was never about the expectation that we would see him introduced at a Morgan Center presser this month - though I would have been ecstatic had it happened - but rather the twin demonstrations that Chianti Dan has the balls to go after an elite/hard to get head coach, and that UCLA was willing to provide the financial ammunition to make such an approach credible.
Reports of the financial offer reportedly being made to Petersen point to demonstration #2 being satisfied; the question behind demonstration #1 is not as easy to answer. Chris Petersen is certainly a good coach, and one of the big names in today's coaching market. But deciding to offer him the head coaching position, or at least place him on the short list of candidates, is not exactly a tough decision. That is not to say that approaching him is anything but a good move - in fact, it is exactly one of the things that Dan - or any AD in his position this Fall - should be doing. But that is a decision that anyone should be able to make. It does not take a particularly smart, savvy or courageous Athletic Director to ask CP if he would like to take $4 million/year of his school's money to move to California. It might have taken those qualities to pitch Urban, or to give Bob Stoops a call, or - if the coaching vacancy continues beyond the rumored Bruin expedition into Idaho - even to go after another successful AQ-conference head coach like Mark Dantonio.
To close things out, some MSM reporters have been writing about the possibility of players transfering out of UCLA due to the coaching change. Those sort of rumors are natural when a coach leaves his program, and a player or two are likely to end up leaving - just as other players that might have considered leaving the program under the old leadership will stay at UCLA. As noted by the Washington Post, there is at least one player who we don't have to worry about.
Yet the Bruins don’t have to worry about Brett Hundley, the freshman quarterback from the Phoenix area who was the prize of Neuheisel’s last recruiting class.
"I’m definitely not leaving," said Hundley, who’s redshirting this season. "This is the school I picked. I didn’t just pick it for the coaching staff. I love going to school here, and we’re going to make this team better."