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Time To Find An Altar & PRAY

Let's get back to the coaching search, which in just span of 24 hours has become a lot more fun interesting (interesting is more apt considering I can't really describe my stomach being tied up in knots for next 48 hours as "fun"). As much as we have beaten up on Dohn, to his credit, he did break the news on Chow "pulling out" (more on that below) and the Bellotti angle yesterday. So we will go with the lead grafs on his today's story on the latest focus of our coaching search:

The most intriguing development was Bellotti's involvement, which was first reported on the Daily News' Website. He is now the front-runner for the position, and a decision by Bellotti is expected to happen in the next 72 hours, sources said.

Bellotti, the dean of Pacific-10 coaches, is 105-50 since becoming Oregon's coach in 1995. Behind an explosive offense, Oregon was in the hunt for the national title until quarterback Dennis Dixon tore a knee ligament in mid-November. The Ducks lost their last three regular-season games, including a 16-0 shutout Nov. 24 at UCLA, to finish 8-4 and play South Florida in the Sun Bowl on Dec. 31.

UCLA's search firm contacted Bellotti shortly after Guerrero fired Karl Dorrell on Dec. 3, but was rebuffed, sources said. However, armed with enough money to pay at least $1.8million, UCLA made another run at Bellotti, who is making $1,055,000 at Oregon. He also has a $350,000 buyout. Bellotti, who turns 57 today, was also the head coach at Chico State for five seasons, and has a 126-77-2 career record.

His candidacy is a curveball in a laborious search nearly three weeks old. Earlier this week, Neuheisel, a former UCLA quarterback, and Temple coach Al Golden were in Westwood for a second round of interviews, which included a meeting with chancellor Gene Block.
Yeah, it's little more than a curve ball. Let me say IMHO Bellotti to UCLA would be an atomic bomb that will have ripple effects all throughout the West (beyond the Pac-10 schools). Bellotti's arrival at UCLA means that Oregon will be gunning for either Petersen or Tedford themselves, which will set off another set of dominoes. Belotti is easily in my top-3 list of candidates (by the way Meriones will have a post up later this afternoon listing the top-8 choice among candidates based on internal poll among the frontpagers), who I believe has the potential to shift the balance of power in this conference in favor of the good guys.

Now, believe it or not, there are Bellotti detractors. We got an interesting email that brought up the points that Bellotti has lost 4 or more games in a season in 8 of his 13 seasons of coaching, and how he has lost 3 or more games in 10 of 13 seasons at Oregon, and that he has lost 4 or more games in 5 or his last 6 seasons.

Those are good data points. However, so are these, courtesy of Bill Plaschke in today's LAT:
[M]an, can he coach.

Thirteen seasons in the woods, 11 bowl games in the spotlight, including the Rose, Fiesta and Cotton.

Only USC has won more conference championships during that time, and no other coach has been less afraid of the Trojans.

Remember how the Bruins spent a year celebrating Karl Dorrell's lone victory against Pete Carroll?

Mike Bellotti is 5-3 against Pete Carroll.

His teams have won 42 of 52 games decided by a touchdown or less, so he teaches them to be cool.

His teams are 26-13 after Oct. 31, so he teaches them to be strong.
Can't really disagree with those numbers. Can we? Remember, he achieved those numbers at a program that didn't have much going for it before he arrived there. And I also thought Sweetbreads was on the money in our comment threads last night:
Bellotti would be an absolute home run.  Any of you that disagree with this statement represent the "delusional" fanbase that EDSBS and others have talked about.  What the shit do you want?  Jesus H. Footballcoach?  Frank Leahy?  Paul Bryant?

Dick Vermeil is not walking through that door.  Daryl Royal is not walking through that door.  Urban Meyer is not walking through that door.

Bellotti would be second to Ben Howland as the best hire UCLA has made in three decades.

Stop whining.  Stop qualifying statements.  Stop complaining.  Find an alter, and pray.  Pray that Mike Bellotti takes the job.

Outside of Peterson, this is the best news we could get.  Please let this happen.
Honestly, that is the exact state of my mind right now. However, the cynical part of my brain tells me that this could be just a ploy on the part of Bellotti to leverage his contract. Remember he did the same thing with Southern Cal a few years ago when they ended up settling for Pom Pom.

And the conventional take is that Bellotti and his family in the end may decide to pass the lights of tinsel town given how they have had some family issues the last couple of years. All I can say on that front is if the Bellottis come here and focus on football and being a member of this Nation ala Coach Howland, we will have his back just like we do with Coach Howland. He will get the same kind of reverential treatment and breathing space we have given Coach Howland since the moment he arrived here.

But, still, I am not sure if I can get my heart broken all over again. Again, I don't want to get my hopes up because, as Fox 71 pointed out, being a Bruin football fanatic is like being Charlie Brown.

Now on other front, we have discussed the crazy idea of bringing in Neuhiesel as the HC, and then package him with Chow as the OC and Walker as the DC. Well that "conspiracy" theory is now What's Bruin in the LAT, in which Perleman points out how money would not be in an issue for that kind of package (although instead of Neu, he has Golden as the HC in this scenario):
What about money for all this? We have heard enough times from enough people that money is available to do what needs to be done. And there are these facts

>> UCLA grossed $23.54 million on football last season (2006) and spent $16.87 million, for a nice net of $6.67 million that helped support the other teams in the UCLA program. (Men's basketball, by the way, netted $3.85 million.)

>> That figure is going to be higher in 2007 thanks to UCLA's all-time records for season-ticket sales and seasonal home attendance and additional giving to the Wooden Athletic Fund.

>> Salaries for the top coaches on the UCLA staff this season included about $900,000 for Dorrell after academic bonuses get figured in, with $334,000 for Walker and $304,000 for offensive coordinator Jay Norvell, a total of about $1.54 million.

If we assume that Guerrero could spend $3 million for his top-tier coaching staff in 2008, then Golden could be hired at, say, $1.1 million, Chow at $1 million (a guess of about the same or a small raise on what he makes at Tennessee) and Walker would be increased to perhaps $600,000; that would total $2.7 million and leave money available for upping the pay for defensive assists such as line coach Todd Howard, linebackers coach Chuck Bullough and safeties coach Gary DeLoach. Guerrero made a point in his news conference on December 3 of how well UCLA pays assistant coaches, implying the pay "pool" for assistants was higher than at any Pac-10 school except perhaps USC.

Could this happen? Would UCLA be better for it? Is Guerrero trying to play multiple hands at the same table . . . while in Las Vegas of all places?

Yes, yes and yes.
What was that about UCLA not having $?

Now that is a lot to think about. BTW you are wondering why we would even consider this scenario since Chow dropped out of the picture. Well, from the same post, here is Perelman's observation:
"Nevertheless, I have decided not to pursue things further with UCLA at this time. My focus is on the Tennessee Titans and preparing our team for a chance at the playoffs."

Notice the focus on "at this time" and the reference to this season's playoffs and not the future. Tennessee has two regular-season games left, ending December 30. Chow could be available starting December 31 if the Titans miss the playoffs (they are one game behind in the Wild Card with two to play). By removing himself, he does not put UCLA in the position of picking over him.
So, yeah, there is a lot going on right now. All on a sudden I feel tinge beet more optimistic today than I did yesterday. But at the same time, my heart tells me to be careful and not fall into this trap of hope, and get Charie Browned again.

I will be traveling this afternoon (flying home to LA) for the Holidays. You can guess what I am hoping for in next 24-48 hours. I am of to finding an altar. You should do the same too.

Bring it home DG.