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Coaching Search Notes: Pavlov's Dogs Edition

Just as we expected the UCLA beat reporters are using the recruiting weekend to make a pitch for DeWayne Walker. From the LAT (emphasis mine throughout):

The current Bruins coaching staff and players were in Westwood trying to prevent a collapse on the recruiting front.

"I tell [the recruits] it's about the institution more than anything else," defensive end Bruce Davis said. "This is UCLA. There is going to be a good coach coming in."

Many recruits already think there is one in place.

Interim head Coach DeWayne Walker, who has been interviewed for the job, was responsible for a good portion of what is expected to be a talented recruiting class. His presence is a big reason that a mass exodus has not occurred.
Uh hum. Predictably Dohn from the Daily News stays on the same narrative without being subtle about it:
"I conveyed to them that there's a reason why we're still together," Walker said. "We started off with a vision, and I still believe in that vision. Hopefully, everything works out. These kids are good kids."

Several recruits already said they would stay if Walker remained on staff, but would go to another school if Walker left. Guerrero has made it known he would like to keep Walker on staff, even if Walker wasn't the head coach. Walker said he "lightly" discussed that possibility with the recruits.

"I let them know what I know," Walker said.
"All I can say is, `Hey, I've interviewed for the job, and we'll wait and see what Dan decides to do. We'll know soon enough. It's about telling the truth. All I can do is tell them what's been told to me."
And Kevin Pearson from the Press Enterprise parrots the same talking points:
UCLA has what is nationally considered a top five recruiting class, but since the firing of Coach Karl Dorrell, many prospective players have backed off their once-solid commitments, visited other schools and said they will honor their commitments only if they are happy with the new coach.

Most have also said that retaining defensive coordinator and interim head coach DeWayne Walker, a prime candidate for the permanent job, and wide receivers coach Eric Scott is crucial to their signing with UCLA in February.

"Right now, we just want to get them together and have some fun," Walker said of the weekend activities. "That's all we can do -- be sincere about the situation and tell the truth about the situation and see what happens from there."
As I have said before on BN, these beat reporters are more predictable than Pavlov's dogs. And again given how I have been reading these guys day to day for more two decades and having a little clue on how this world works, I don't think it is unreasonable to suspect that these TPs are not appearing just by mere coincidence.  So much for the firewall UCLA administrators should have established between Walker and the recruits. The way it reads in the press it looks pretty obvious that these recruits are campaigning for Walker who didn't do anything to discourage it or took the classy route of recusing himself from the process, allowing someone like Coach Kezerian, who didn't have a vested interest in the HCing sweepstakes to take the lead on representing UCLA.

Anyway, I didn't expect anything less from a self promoting hack like DeWayne Walker, and his lackies from Morgan Center and the traditional media, who are not being very subtle at this point on who they are rooting for to be the next HC at UCLA.

As for other candidates in this coaching "search," we don't have any new developments. ESPN has an article on John Harbaugh (peppered with references to Jim Harbaugh). Apparently UCLA is interviewing a coach who also pursued jobs at powerhouse programs such as some directional school in Michigan. And Dohn reports on the Chow interview in Kansas City.

At this point, given the names we have in public the only acceptable choice will be Rick Neuheisel. However, he will only be an acceptable choice as a second tier candidate, provided Dan Guerrero can show us tangible evidence that he made a concerted effort to pursue (not just via a phone call) coaches like Mike Leach, Bronco Mendenhall or June Jones with meaningful offers (that passes the laugh test) from UCLA. If DG cannot make the case how he pursued those aforementioned first tier options with due diligence before settling on an option such as Rick Neuheisel, the target will be squarely on his back, if UCLA doesn't win a BCS bowl game in next two years. And of course it goes without saying neither Walker or CHOKER are acceptable options at UCLA.

Update: WWL is now reporting WVU's Rich Rodriguez to Michigan. I wonder if UCLA's "search firm" inquired into the possibility of Rodriguez coming to Westwood?