Yesterday showed why putting all your eggs in one basket is ridiculously dumb in a high-stakes game like big time college football coaching. As we all hoped wouldn't happen but expected would happen, we struck out with Chris Petersen. There now seems to be no clear direction to the search, no sure-fire back up plan, and, it turns out, a lot less money available to play with.
The latter point is the key to the failure with Petersen, according a couple donor friends: The whales (Wasserman and another) were only willing to throw their cash on the table with a clear tier 1 home run hire like Petersen. Now that there seemingly isn't another tier 1 candidate in play, that money that we used to make the pot so sweet for Petersen would seem to be gone and we're likely to be back to good ol' cheapskate UCLA.I tend to agree with Wasserman and brethren for offering the cash to hire a coach on a limited-availability basis. Wasserman and people of his ilk (or their families) didn't get rich by doing the equivalent of pouring lighter fluid on a stack of bills and using it to stoke a bonfire. If I'm these guys, I don't want to let the AD think I'll give my money to any lost cause on a whim. I would want them to know that my money is earmarked for the pursuit of greatness and nothing less, and I think that's a sentiment all of Bruins Nation can agree with.
So this series of events leaves us in a pickle and puts us back in a situation of considering complete undesirables for the job. Fellow Tier 1 candidates like Patterson, Stoops, and the like seem more entrenched in their jobs at their football factories than even Petersen did. The issue of the disappearing donor money puts Tier 2 candidates who would seemingly be interested (Mullen, Sumlin, Butch Jones, etc.) in serious doubt because I doubt we'd pay $2 million+ to any potential coach with solely state funds considering the budget crisis California and the UC system are enduring.
This predictably leaves us back, as unfortunately has been the case with every UCLA football coaching search that has taken place in my lifetime, at the dreaded Tier 3. The same aforementioned donor friends told me to watch for two names in particular: Jim Mora Jr. and (I want to vomit as I type this) DeWayne Walker. Now, these friends aren't super big donors by any stretch of the imagination, but they give enough to have their ears to the ground. They alerted me to the potential hire of Seto a couple days before the furor started there, but I was so stunned by that one that I just laughed it off thinking it was impossible. The most palatable (see: least objectionable) Tier 3 type hire (in my opinion), Bellotti, seems to be a non-starter in this coaching search because of the distaste he left in the AD's collective mouth after the way he toyed with us in the post-mortem of Dorrell's firing.
In conclusion, I'm going to make a baseball analogy to describe the way we proceeded in the hunt for a new football head coach: we have conducted the Adam Dunn of coaching searches. When Adam Dunn has stepped up to the plate in his career (pre-2011 season), baseball fans have known that two possibilities were far more likely than any others: he would either hit a titanic home run or he would strike out by taking the most massive swing and miss imaginable. We swung for the upper deck with Chris Petersen, but unfortunately due to the arrogance and/or the incompetence of those leading our search, it's looking like we're going to record an embarrassing whiff when this is all said and done. And I'm not going to lie, I've been a UCLA fan for as long as I've had conscious thought, but there's only so much of this disappointment and ineptitude I can take. If we strike out in this search to replace Neuheisel, then I don't know if I'd be willing to subject myself to more of this. My fandom will be toned down for sure, and possibly dissipate altogether as I cleanse myself of the rot that is the current and prolonged state of UCLA athletics.