The Bruins have finished up their finals, and now can start working toward their New Year's Eve date to San Francisco with a collectively clear mind. The team did practice yesterday afternoon, and while specific news on the session has been slow to come out, Jon Gold is reporting that with the coaching position temporarily vacated with Rick Neuheisel's departure, Marques Tuiasosopo has taken a full staff position and has been named the team's QB coach - at least through the bowl game and new coach Jim Mora's review of the coaching staff. Brett Hundley spoke of his respect and admiration of Tui. Speaking of the new coach, Jim Mora's introductory press conference will be held today at 2:30pm PST. We will have an open thread for the event.
As N noted last night, and various local media writers have covered, the momentary fiasco that saw many members of the football team temporarally denied their bowl-per diem checks has now been settled. While there does still appear to be some question as to whether the finals-week practice sessions in question were mandatory or voluntary, Jill Painter raised a good point in asking why the per-diem was ever at issue, as a motivational tool or punishment.
But UCLA should have never dangled the money in front of players as motivation to do anything. John Wooden never had to motivate players like that, and he won 10 national basketball championships. He has a ton of books UCLA might want to check out for better motivational ideas.
Jill also noted the uncertainty that many players felt about the workout and practice expectations for them during finals week, while finding that the strongest pressure for the workouts and 'punishment' for not participating sufficiently was not from the coaches, but from administrators.
What hurts UCLA is not the players using social media to expose an egregious error. The real problem is someone at UCLA saw fit to threaten players with money players say they use to eat. The training table consists of only lunch when the campus is shut down.
... Said Carroll: "Most of the guys felt like it not even the coaches who were pressuring us. It was like our player personnel people, William Peddie (director of player development). That's a bigger problem. We felt like it wasn't the coaches who (were) withholding the checks."
While the team has now successfully fought hunger, and is getting ready for the Fight Hunger Bowl, Rick Neuheisel has landed his first post-gig. He will appear on the CBS Sports Network this week as an analyst on the network's 'Inside College Football' program, looking back at the season and breaking down the upcoming bowl matchups.
Neuheisel, fired after leading the Bruins to a 21-29 record over four seasons, will join host Adam Zucker and analysts Aaron Taylor, Brian Jones and Randy Cross to discuss the 2011 college football season and preview this year’s bowl games.
Rick's appearance will debut on Tuesday evening, from 5-7 pm. Neu and Randy Cross might have a few words to share about Chianti Dan and Morgan Center's incompetence and lack of commitment to the UCLA Football program.As Tasser noted yesterday afternoon, the now-completed coaching search and overall incompetence of Chianti Dan's administration in Westwood has gone national. Ivan Maisel was the latest to raise the matter of Morgan Center's mindset, while discussing Kevin Sumlin's move to Texas A&M for ESPN.com.
Sumlin showed little interest in Arizona and rebuffed Arizona State. Having coached against UCLA this season and last, Sumlin knew what kind of players the Bruins had. But UCLA's facilities need updating, and so does the mindset of its athletic department, which combines the efficiency of a publicly funded bureaucracy with the spending habits of a have-not. As Chris Dufresne of the Los Angeles Times wrote Wednesday, "UCLA is an enigma wrapped in a riddle wrapped in a months-old requisition order for new goalposts."
Now the Mora hire is done and I don't want to go back too much to re-litigate it, but according to a post by Ted Miller on ESPN's Pac-12 blog yesterday morning, ASU may be taking a different path in hiring its new coach.
Is Arizona State trying to poach a fellow Pac-12 coach -- as in Utah's Kyle Whittingham? Maybe. The Sun Devils certainly could do worse. Whittingham, in our mind, is a top-20 coach without question.
... The larger point is the new TV contract continues to impact coaching salaries in the Pac-12. Arizona State is trying to find a coach, and Whittingham -- whatever conference he coaches in -- offers potentially good value if he can be lured to town.
... What's becoming clear though is there is money to spend and schools are having to spend it to lure top coaches.
The takeaway is that ASU's Athletic Director may be taking one of the approaches that some of us at BN - myself included - called for our administration to consider when conducting the coaching search. That is, looking at coaches that have track records of success leading significant programs, but are being paid at a rate lower than their status justifies. For us, Mark Dantonio from Michigan State was one of these coaches that might have been felt out, while it seems that ASU's AD at least contacted Kyle Wittingham - who since the first report of interest came out has been offered a $300k/year raise.
Making a run at coaches like these is far from a sure thing; while the new media money entering the conference means that schools like UCLA and ASU can offer larger salaries to these established coaches, they do not have the same push to move up to greater heights - and are not seen as being on the coaching carousel in the same way that, say Hugh Freeze or Kevin Sumlin were before their moves to SEC schools. But for an ASU fan, I imagine that the sign that their athletic administration is kicking the tires on at least one head coach with success in major collegiate ranks is encouraging.