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Coaching Drama Update: Waiting on Shannon & Carrier, Early Impressions on Johnson

We are still waiting for finality on our coaching search soap opera as we do not have any official word on Randy Shannon. As noted in last night's update UCLA and Shannon could be working out contractual issues. Bruins are also looking at former Trojan DB Mark Carrier, who has established himself as a reputable position coach in the NFL. Carrier has had solid stints with Baltimore (as DB coach) and New York Jets (as DL coach) where he helped put together couple of the most effective and aggressive defenses at the highest level.

May be this is wishful thinking. There is a line of thought that Rick may be trying to convince Carrier to come into UCLA as a secondary coach and team up with Shannon. This way Carrier could potentially serve as a "DC in waiting" and take over should Shannon depart after couple of successful years in Westwood? It could be a long shot as Carrier arguably has better job security with the Jets. Rex Ryan is now a pretty celebrated coach in Big Apple, while Rick has issues here in Westwood. For now though we will have to be patient and see how it all works out.

Some additional thoughts on the new offensive coordinator after the jump.

The college football writer for the New York Times - Paul Myerberg from Pre-Snap Read - is impressed with the Johnson hire:

Let's ignore the awkwardness of having to reach a buyout agreement with Chow shortly after inking him to a conference extension, or the awkwardness of a future U.C.L.A.-Utah tilt during Pac-12 play. Be happy for U.C.L.A., as if Neuheisel wanted to have a better working relationship with his coordinator, he couldn't have made a better hire.

Johnson and Neuheisel go way back: back to Johnson's playing days at Arizona State, as Bruins Nation writes, when he and Neuheisel bonded over the finer points of the quarterback position. That relationship continued when Johnson was an assistant at Oregon State, bumping heads with his future boss over recruits while Neuheisel was at Washington.

Finally, Johnson was the wide receivers coach with the Baltimore Ravens while Neuheisel was coaching the quarterbacks, cementing the ties that led to his hiring after being released as San Francisco's coordinator at the end of this past N.F.L. season. These ties led to his inevitable addition to the staff, though U.C.L.A. and Neuheisel should be criticized for dragging their feet in both making Johnson's hiring and Chow's departure official; there was no need to make this a month-long drama.

They must really love reading Patroclus, Bellerophon, gbruin and tasser10. Looks like they ghostwrote those grafs. LOL.  

Johnson served up some comments on his offensive philosophy in a local media appearance yesterday:

"I know Rick wants to be involved in the play-calling and I have no problem with that."

Johnson, who will also coach wide receivers, said the Pistol offense, which the Bruins installed last season with mixed results, will be a part of the new offense, but not the focus.

"My philosophy is that I want to make a defense defend the entire field, horizontally and vertically, and that is going to be the goal, so we're going to put together an offense -- and we're going to give it a new name, eventually -- but the Pistol is going to be a portion of it; it won't be the entire offense," said Johnson.


"I believe that you develop an offense around the talent that you have, and you don't make the talent fit into a certain offense," Johnson said. "So I'm going to go back as the offensive coordinator and evaluate the players and see what is the best place and the best offense to put the players in."

The comment regarding the pistol formation is key. It is not surprising. Lots of smart commentary and analysis have popped up here about the pistol last few months sometimes presenting an either-or scenario. I think a successful OC can figure out a way to use both pistol and pro-set to best fit the talent available on his roster.   I think what is instructive is how programs such as Alabama and TCU have been able to integrate this formation as a part of a multi dimensional offense that heavily use pro-set.

Lots of this is also dependent on how Johnson is able to get most out of available talent on current UCLA roster. There is a good amount, as Rick brought in some decorated classes in past three seasons.  Everyone is excited about Brett Hundley's arrival in Westwood. We should not discount Richard Brehaut or Kevin Prince, as they could benefit with a fresh perspective from Johnson, who will oversee an "open competition" out in Spaulding this Spring.

I should add that Johnson also coached up Chad Johnson and TJ Houshmandzadeh at Oregon State, who went on to emerge as prolific WRs in the NFL. We will watch the development of our WRs along with the rotation (which came under severe scrutiny from many here during this past season) very closely.

Let us leave you with this from Myerberg:

The real positive - or positives, rather - is that things seem to be coming together. The offense needed changes, both in terms of the coaches on the staff and in the way Neuheisel delegated responsibility: too many cooks spoil the broth, as the saying goes, and having clearly defined roles of responsibility will be a tremendous boon to an offense that seemed rudderless in 2010.

If Shannon can be brought in to the run the defense, as well as given a free hand, U.C.L.A. will consistency: this will be a first under Neuheisel. That's a good start.

Hopefully we will not have to wait much longer for all the drama to end.