So yesterday was a brief lull in the storm for U.C.L.A. football. Things were quiet around Spaulding with the players having this week off to concentrate on finals before resuming practice and preparations next week for the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl on December 31. Things were quiet from a news standpoint around Morgan Center as Chianti Dan spent the day at the IMG Intercollegiate Athletics Forum in New York. He is scheduled to return to Westwood later today and resume his well-planned, thoughful, and out-of-the-box search for our next football coach. Oh, wait...
But even with no official news coming from Westwood, the widespread ruminations on the future of the Bruins football program still didn't miss a beat. Since our not so media-savvy athletic director is not providing any information, or even attempting to demonstrate some control over the discussions, the rumors and speculation surrounding the already bungled coaching search picked up speed. With Jim Mora Jr's (who, btw, isn't really a Junior) name continuing to be bandied about for the head coaching job, seemingly to the exclusion of about 30 or more better qualified options, the nearly unanimous anger at Chianti Dan and his mishandling of his 3rd head coaching hunt marched on.
tasser10 provided an in depth look at Mora's decidedly unimpressive career 2 days ago, and Patroclus laid out a strong case in yesterday's Roundup why Mora has no business being U.C.L.A.'s next coach. These were followed by a pair of great posts by Odysseus that reviewed some objective criteria backed by data that could be used to stratify coaches, and then applied those criteria to many of the coaches being mentioned across the country for jobs right now. By objective criteria, Mora is nowhere close to being a top candidate. When Chianti said in the Monday press conference that U.C.L.A. is able and willing to spend the money necessary to get a top coach, I had a glimpse of hope. I also figured it revealed that the big time boosters were heavily involved in the process, since Guerrero's actions on Monday were completely inconsistent with his words the previous Saturday night. However, that promise of going after a big name coach appears to have only applied to Chris Petersen. Since then, it's been clear Guerrerror had no Plan B, and he has not shown any indication of pursuing the other top tier coaches. I guess I should have known better than to believe him. After all, his lips were moving at the time.
It could be that the increasing buzz around Mora is coming from his camp which is desperate to find a job, any job, which will offer him. No one else is knocking on Mora's door, and that should tell you all you need to know right there. As such, there is no reason at all to not to take the time to meet with other candidates. Mora, a guy who lasted an entire year at his last coaching job, and has been available for two years since, will be available in February. As of Wednesday night, no offer had been made to Mora, according to the LA Times.
From Gold's blog, Inside UCLA, June Jones may be back in the mix. Talks between Jones and ASU fell apart last evening, after earlier reports said the two sides had reached a deal. While there is more than enough controversy whether Jones represents the kind of fresh blood and new direction that UCLA football desperately needs, he at least appears markedly more qualified than Mora for the job. Meanwhile, Mullen, Malzahn, Chryst, Patterson, Dantonio, Calhoun, Briles, etc are all busy with their respective jobs getting ready for their bowl games, when we ought to be creating an environemtnt that would have them competing for our coaching spot.
The most disturbing of the rumors being passed around online last evening, just to stir up a shitstorm, includes the combination of...wait for it...Jim Mora Jr and Jim Tressel. The reports earlier in the week of an alleged Tressel sighting in Los Angeles were largely debunked on Gold's site (but fanned by Petros) which I hoped would put an end to the desperate hopes of those who are so beaten down by circumstance that they would compromise all integrity and applaud a Tressel hiring. Well, this is even worse. Some rumors now have Mora being hired as head coach and Tressel coming on as a member of his staff. From a purely practical standpoint, it is unclear to me if the potential show-cause penalties that would likely follow Tressel to a new job apply if he is not a head coach but merely an assistant. How that even matters at all, though, is beyond me. While other front pagers may disagree with this, there is no way in hell this is an acceptable proposal to me. Mora is already not a viable candidate in my eyes. To add a disgraced cheater and liar to his staff does not improve his candidacy. Two wrongs don't make a right. They just make U.C.L.A. look completely hypocritical and they make Chianti look dumber, if that is even possible.
Despite his collection of minor recruiting violations from early in his career, we were willing to take a chance on Neuheisel due to the time since those transgressions, his history with U.C.L.A., and his presumed sincerity to do right by his alma mater. Tressel's actions by comparison make Rick an acolyte. Sure, things are rotten with the football program, but I haven't yet reached the point where I'm trading integrity for wins. How Guerrero could come up with something this potentially far out of the box is befuddling, which make the optimist in me refuse to believe this could be true. The realist in me is dreading this, though. And then there is the cynic in me that thinks that Tressel's willingness to take the fall for tOSU's admin, which knew all about the cheating there, to avoid an enormous scandal at one of the NCAA's pet institutions is now being rewarded by allowing him to ease back into the coaching ranks via one the NCAA's biggest lap pet in Westwood - allegedly. But that smoke-filled room scheme doesn't account for Tressel's Youngstown days. If there is any truth to this pursuit, U.C.L.A. loses all credibility an d license to call out the cheaters across town. But I don't. Tressel to Westwood, is an awful idea, especially with so many better alternatives still available, and the so called Bruins around the interwebs who support this ought to be ashamed of themselves.
As always, BN will keep you updated.
A final thought: Chancellor Block has authority over the operations at U.C.L.A. As Guerrero bilks the state out of over $600,000 a year, Block's silence and inaction during this particular time, as well as over the last few years during Chianti's screwups, is essentially negligent. He is not the right man to lead U.C.L.A.