Tonight, many of us will be watching the Bruins participate in the inaugural Pac-12 Championship Game, going up against Oregon in Eugene (5pm PST, Fox). AHMB wrote up previews of the matchup with the Ducks earlier in the week, while there is admitedly not much confidence in Rick Neuheisel's last game as UCLA head coach ending with success. Unfortuantely, the same can also be said about Chianti Dan Guerrero's search for The Next UCLA Football Coach.
The last 24 hours has shown signs that Chianti Dan's pursuit of Boise State's Chris Petersen may end the same way that other AD's have found their pitches to Petersen to end - with Chris staying in Boise, playing the college football role of Mark Few. While the folks (because calling these people 'reporters' is really a stretch) making the claims are not the most credible of sources, the news is out there. ESPN's Joe Schad tweeted that after UCLA inquiries, Petersen will not be a candidate.Who told this to Schad and what their own motivations are, we don't know.
Whatever the current status of Petersen's thinking regarding UCLA, Boise State is taking decisive action to settle the foundation of its athletic department, which had been without a leader since Gene Bleymeyer's firing earlier in the year. The university announced the hiring of Mark Coyle, Kentucky's Deputy AD as its new Athletic Director. In addition to the wisdom of hiring an up and comer from a major athletic department, Coyle supposedly has personal links with Petersen, and his hiring may be one step to keep Chris happy in Boise. If nothing else, he realizes the draw that UCLA, or other schools with openings might have on Petersen, and has tasked himself with doing whatever is needed to keep him in town.
Newly hired Boise State athletic director Mark Coyle made it known in his introductory news conference Thursday that keeping Petersen was one of his top priorities.
"My No. 1 goal is to keep Chris Petersen at Boise State University," Coyle said. "He's raised the bar. How do we help him move the needle and take it to the next level?"
Boise State's president also told the Idaho Statesman of the various inquiries from other schools toward Petersen, and the importance of retaining him. While declining to name schools, UCLA's status as a possible destination slipped during the interview.
"I understand this is the time of the year when people are going to come after him," Boise State President Bob Kustra said. "We’re going to do everything we can to work with coach Petersen to make sure he has what he needs here to continue moving this program forward and to make him personally successful in every way.
"We’re going to stay on this one. I don’t at this time just assume that UCLA is necessarily his next step. I think it’s our job to work with him and convince him that there’s a future for him here in this program and that’s because of the support that we give him."
The situation with Petersen is far from settled; while there is a good chance that he stays in Boise, even if he is considering a move away, we won't hear anything immediately or in the near future. The big thing to keep in mind is that schools that have gone after Petersen in past years have had backup plans. Does Chianti Dan have one? And would anyone really be surprised if Chianti Dan has gotten outplayed and outsmarted by Boise State?
While WSU and Mike Leach officially reached agreement on his 5-year deal to move to Pullman, and ASU may or may not have offered their open position to Houston coach Kevin Sumlin (who we are not that impressed with), another major program has created an opening. Texas A&M fired Mike Sherman after 4-years of .500 football in College Station. Like UCLA, aTm seemed to dither a bit before deciding to cut Sherman loose, in a decision that may have been made over the head of AD Bill Byrne. But with the school's impending move to the SEC, the university administration and trustees likely decided that Sherman and his mediocre record in leading the Aggies was not the best way to enter the conference. Early rumors point to the Aggies pursuing Kevin Sumlin, with Vandy coach James Franklin, Larry Fedora and Kirby Smart as backups.
Rick Neuheisel spent part of his penultimate day in charge of UCLA Football at the Pac-12 Championship Game press conference. Unsurprisingly, most of the questions aimed toward Neu had to do with his firing rather than the game itself. Helene Elliott looked at the team's reaction to Neuheisel's last game for the LA Times, while Jon Gold talked with some members of the team after settling in Eugene, and was reminded that for the players at least, tonight's action is still a big deal. Especially with the recent shakeup in the program.
"Towards the end of the year, with school and everything - and especially this year, with the highs and lows and coach Neuheisel getting let go - I'm really thankful I have a game on Friday just to get rid of all the other BS," junior middle linebacker Patrick Larimore said. "There's a ton of it."