UCLA Coaching Hot Stove: No to Bellotti and No to Johnson

Chianti Dan Guerrero continues to mismanage every aspect of this coaching search. As N updated today, Miami head coach Al Golden is no longer a candidate for the U.C.L.A. head coaching job.

Yet another colossal blunder by Guerrero. Our chances of landing Golden would have been great a few weeks ago, before Miami shut the gate by giving him a four year extension, making it prohibitive to get him away from Miami. Of course, that extension was signed last week, while Guerrerror was blindly placing all his eggs in the Chris Petersen basket, when anybody with any sense on Petersen knew that we should at least be considering other options at the time, in case Petersen said no.

Speaking of "No's", another name that is repeatedly being mentioned is Mike Bellotti. We have repeatedly made the case here on BN about acceptable criteria for our next football coach, and Bellotti clearly does not fit. We are not going to waste another 3+ years with a retread coming out of the broadcasting booth who has been out of the game for several years. Bellotti's most recent gig in college was as the AD of Oregon, after being their OC or head coach for 18 years. What allegiance do you think he is going to have to UCLA football and the school's history now, other than to the paycheck? Bellotti might have made sense as the replacement for Bob Toledo a decade ago. He also had his chance at the UCLA job when Dorrell was fired, but he let U.C.L.A. twist in the wind a while before saying no.

Some could argue that Bellotti would be a safe hire. Another word for safe is conservative, or uninspiring. A lot like punting. Basically, Bellotti is Terry Donahue. Bellotti is not going to energize the fan base, restore our faith in Bruin football, and get people to start buying tickets again, ala Mike Leach and WSU. He had a few good years a while back while riding Nike money in Oregon and with Chip Kelly as his OC, advantages he won't have in Westwood. Sure Bellotti might make a serviceable coach for a couple years, but we are not in the market for a short term serviceable coach. This program needs an overhaul from the ground up, and a 61 (in 2 weeks) year old coach with no new ideas is the wrong choice. No way do you hire coach with the plan that he is here for 3-4 years to set up shop for a longer term replacement. That is giving up already. Bellotti's best years are behind him. Time has moved on and so has U.C.L.A. Wrong time, wrong person, wrong hire.

A few beaten and battered Bruin fans are also suggesting that interim coach Mike Johnson be named the next head coach. I have commented that I am afraid this could happen, but in no way do I or any reasonable Bruin think this should happen. While we are behind Coach Johnson as our team prepares for the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, this is ashore term allegiance. Remember that this is the OC who led the Bruin offense all season. And every time we complained about the absurdly conservative, run-run-pass, no imagination offense, that was Johnson's squad out there. And when we gave the offense some props this year, realize that it was juxtaposed against one of the worst defenses in college football, where anything resembling competency would be praised. Johnson has just 3 years as a college coach before becoming OC for the last year, and has no experience running all the aspects of a major D-1 football program such as hiring assistants and recruiting, two crucial components of the job. We have seen nothing from Johnson to make us believe that he is the right coach to lead this team out from the abyss and back into national prominence.

It is really disheartening to hear names like Bellotti and Johnson thrown out there when there are still several candidates who are much more established and promising (Mullen, Patterson, Fitzgerald to name a few). This is a critical juncture for U.C.L.A. football, and settling for an easy choice isn't going to be good enough. This program absolutely has to have the right leadership and personality to revive it. We know Guerrerror isn't up to the task, so it is more important than ever that our voices be heard by calling and emailing the Chancellor, and supporting the donors who are trying to save our athletics program. We cannot settle for retreads or U.C.L.A. assistants from a failed regime.

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