As the LA Times noted this morning, Wednesday saw little movement in UCLA's coaching search. The Daily News is reporting that Chianti Dan has talked with Jim Mora Jr in the past few days about the head coaching position, but will not fully re-assess the coaching market until after his return from New York. Our fellow Kraft/Coachless Bowl participant, Illinois, also has seen their coaching search drag out. The Chicago Tribune has reported that the university's formal application period for the head coaching position has been extended by 2 days. At least their AD is known to be currently interviewing candidates.
Elsewhere on the coaching carousel, ASU's pursuit (and near-deal) with June Jones fell apart late yesterday. While Jones had gone so far as to call his assistants in from recruiting trips to brief them on his negotiations to leave SMU, unsettled issues regarding payment of the $2 million buyout from his SMU contract together with pushback from influential boosters and dissatisfaction by the greater Sun Devil community torpedoed the deal. Meanwhile, North Carolina has reportedly inked Southern Miss head coach Larry Fedora, last seen punking former Chianti Dan favorite Kevin Sumlin in last weekend's C-USA title game, to a deal. In coaching news less likely to resonate in Westwood, Memphis is set to announce the hiring of TCU Co-Offensive Coordinator Justin Fuente as their new head coach.
That is 2 head coaching hires and a near-hire coming to fruition in the last 24 hours. Meanwhile, Chianti Dan concludes his trip to New York.
In an ESPN Insider post, Brock Huard wrote that despite the recent dominance of the SEC in the national championship picture as well as the more widespread aspects of college football, the Pac-12 is on the verge of upsetting the status quo to become the top football conference in the nation. Out of deference to the subscription firewall, I'll leave out the specifics but for the clear key factors; the new flow of money into the conference's athletic programs thanks to the new media contracts, which has allowed schools to invest in their football programs, in forms including stadium renovations and/or the construction of new football facilities at UA, ASU, Cal, Washington and Wazzu. The flow of money has also allowed schools like Arizona and Washington State to spend $2 million-plus on head coaches. As fellow ESPN blogger Ted Miller sampled in his own column yesterday,
The fundamentals are in place for tremendous growth in the Pac-12, led most importantly by a forward-thinking commissioner unwilling to settle for second. Larry Scott brokered the richest television deal in the history of collegiate athletics for his conference, one that not only ensures tens of millions of dollars annually for all of its members but also allows for the type of visibility and exposure necessary to get into every recruit's living room.
In his firewalled column, Huard specifically called out UCLA along with Arizona State as the 2 Pac-12 programs with strong pasts that need to demonstrate that they are willing to take advantage of this new opportunity, with their current coaching searches serving as an early answer. ... So much for our future.
In general football news, one of Yahoo Sports' CFB writers published his end-of regular season team rankings. UCLA placed #64 of 120 D-1 (FBS) teams. But hey, that is good enough for one of this year's 35 bowl games.
And in closing, Oregon State University announced that Fred Thompson, a freshman football player from Richmond Ca, died last night after collapsing while playing basketball on campus. On behalf of Bruins Nation and Bruins everywhere, our condolences to the Thompson family and to the Oregon State community for their far-too early loss.