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Spaulding Roundup: Walker Watch

Let’s start our week with resetting the table on DeWayne Walker. By now most of you probably know that SDSU has offered its head coach job to Brady Hoke from Ball State, and from the reports it looks like Hoke will accept that offer and make it official some tome today. Interestingly there is a note in the Tribune report that Walker wasn’t very impressive during his interview (emphasis added):

San Diego State has hired Ball State head coach Brady Hoke as its new head football coach, sources close the situation said. An announcement of his hiring could come as soon as today, after Hoke informs his players of his decision this morning.

Hoke, 50, was one of three finalists interviewed last week, along with UCLA defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker and former Texas A&M coach Dennis Franchione. Sources said Walker didn't have the best interview and that Franchione has been notified he is not the choice.

HT to godblesstyus95, who also pointed to the effectiveness of a Pom Pom endorsement for Walker.

So where does Walker go? One option that is still out there is the head coach position at New Mexico State. Per Jill Painter in the Daily News, Walker could still be interested in that dead end job. But seriously why would a promising coach end up at place which couldn’t even interest Ken Norton, Jr. (a LB coach, not a DC) for an interview. So, I think Walker would be better served by ignoring that option.

Also, looming for Walker is opportunity to discuss with Les Miles from LSU re. a DC position with the Tigers (there has been no report I know of that indicates that LSU has extended any kind of “offer”). Our friends at And The Valley Shook, are keeping an eye on Walker and some of them are not all that impressed:

I'm going to ask the question: what's so great about Walker?  Here's the resume:

1998-2000 NE Patriots DB coach
2001 USC DB coach
2002-2003 NY Giants DB coach
2004-2005 WSH Redskins DB coach
2006-2007 UCLA Defensive Co-ordinator

The Patriots weren't very good when he was the coach there.  Neither was the defense.  the 2002 Giants had a good pass defense, and the 2003 Ginats had a terrible one.  Washington's defense during his tenure was decidedly average.  UCLA's program is a mess right now, but I don't really find myself raving about the UCLA defense.  I'm sure he's a good coach, but how did this guy become the second coming?  If we hire him, great.  If we don't, it doesn't look like we missed out on Buddy Ryan. 

I'm not saying this to say Walker is a horrible coach.  He's a good coach.  But there are a lot of coaching candidates out there and LSU doesn't need to hire the name cnadidate generating the most buzz.  i don't care about headlines now, I care about the headlines during the season.  And I don't want to see headlines about LSU's defense getting torched. 

Some thoughts here. While I have a lot of respect for the LSU program and accept the fact that it is ahead of UCLA at this point of time, I would think twice if I were an LSU fan about looking down on a 4-8 UCLA team, which played one of the most difficult schedules in the country with a 3rd string QB, and decimated OL as a “mess.” I wouldn’t be calling another program a “mess,” while dealing with my own, which just one year removed from a BCS championship is hobbling around with a 7-5 record, featuring 4 wins against Appalachian St, North Texas, Tulane and Troy (to which my team almost suffered one of the more humiliating losses in recent college football landscape).  Yeah, if Neuheisel's team played that kind OOC schedule, UCLA would be preparing for a bowl game as well. So not sure, if LSU fans can look down on UCLA football program as a "mess." We are doing just fine.

Also, Walker has built his reputation at UCLA based on the improvements (number wise) his unit showed from the Kerr years in Westwood. There is no question our defensive statistics improved since his arrival in Westwood.  Now I think Walker’s most passionate supporters will concede that he has yet to put together a complete season, since every one of his last three seasons have been marked with inexplicable and humiliating performances such as BYU (08), Oregon (08), Utah (07), WSU (07), Arizona (07), Washington (06), Oregon (06), WSU (06), and Cal (06). But the argument is once Walker has all his players in place and boosted by a good offense, he will be able to put together that complete season. Based on the improvements we saw in our defense during the closing weeks (again to be fair those defensive performances came against teams like Washington and ASU) there are reasons to be hopeful for a solid defensive unit in 09-10 season. If Walker sticks around and continue to develop our young players and we get a credible offensive unit next year thanks to a better OL in next two years, he could put together that dominating Buddy Ryanesque defensive unit that will vault him to top of everyone’s wish list.

Anyway, right now its not clear whether LSU is seriously interested in Walker. I haven’t heard of any reported interviews. The data points to keep in mind is Walker’s salary. Conventional wisdom is that LSU would be able to offer Walker ridiculous amount of $ outspending UCLA. Yet, if you look at the fact UCLA is paying Walker at a rate of $375,000 per year, which is not too far off from $400,000 LSU was paying Bo Pellini, their former celebrated DC who ended up taking the head coach position at Nebraska.

So, not sure how much of move up it is for Walker to move over to a program for a moderate bump, which wouldn’t be proportionate to the extra ordinary increase in pressure and expectations from an SEC fanbase.

As I said few days ago, both Walker and UCLA are in a win-win situation at this point:

The Bruins' coordinator said he will devote the next week to recruiting, then take some time off to rest and think.

"Obviously, I'm still happy at UCLA," he said. "So you can't disregard that."

Yep. Nothing wrong with Walker exploring options (and it does sound like he can use honing up his interviewing skills). If he decides to come back for another year or two and help CRN and Chow complete their rebuilding project at UCLA, he will have much better options than the ones presented to him this off season.