As of this moment, not well.
So far in the two weeks since Rick Neuheisel was told that his services as the head football coach of the UCLA Bruins were no longer needed, three men have said no to athletic director Dan Guerrero’s overtures:
1. Boise State coach Chris Peterson, for the third time no less as he had already turned down the Bruins twice in previous years.
2. University of Houston coach Kevin Sumlin, who beat UCLA in Week One of the season, and…
3. University of Miami coach Al Golden, who had interviewed for the job in Westwood in 2007 but was passed over for Neuheisel.
There’s quite a bit of specuation as to why these three coaches treated UCLA like a nerdy kid in high school asking a girl for a date…
It’s well known that Peterson is seen as a king in Boise and has a great set-up there, complete with a big contract and all the trimmings. Plus his family’s happy in that small town environment, and as Peterson’s a small town guy, he probably didn’t want the challenge of coaching in a big city and the pressure of competing with the likes of USC for recruits and everything else.
As for Sumlin and Golden, I don’t think they wanted the pressure either, and they probably don’t want to live in Los Angeles or be at a school where the perception is that football isn’t given top priority and the support it needs, but that’s just me.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Guerrero’s next target, who like he did with Peterson is prepared to offer a $20 million dollar deal, is former Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks coach Jim Mora, Jr.
Mora has had so-so success in the NFL, going 26-22 in two years with Atlanta and having a 5-11 record with the Seahawks in 2009, before he was replaced by Pete Carroll the next year. The only time he coached in college was as a graduate assistant with Washington in 1984.
If someone from the Morgan Center – the headquarters of UCLA’s Athletic Department – came up tome and asked for my suggestions as to who should be hired as the next Bruin football coach, I’d give them these names and strongly suggest that they hire one of them, in order of preference:
1. Pat Hill
This former Fresno State coach, who was recently fired after a 15-year tenure in the Central Valley, has the toughness that the Bruins really need right now.
His motto of “anytime, anyplace, anywhere” is a good one, and his Bulldog teams showed over the years that they were not scared of anyone, even taking invincible USC to the fourth quarter in a game at the Coliseum in 2005, the Trojans needing an epic touchdown run by Reggie Bush to squeak by the Bulldogs by a touchdown.
A $20 million deal would be a significant raise from his Fresno State salary, and his no-nonsense approach would wake the Bruins up. Plus I think he would relish the challenge of building up a BCS team in L.A. and taking on USC in their own back yard.
2. Herm Edwards
This is an NFL guy with much enthusiasm and energy who, though his overall 54-74 record wasn’t good, coached in the league for eight years, leading the New York Jets and the Kansas City Chiefs.
For those folks who point to his won-loss record, I recall another guy whose tenure in the NFL during the late 1990s wasn’t so hot, never lasting more than three years in either of the two places he coached.
He was then hired by a certain crosstown school in 2001 and went on a historic run – yes, I know it all ended in scandal and sanctions, but you can’t take away that team’s dominance.
His name? Pete Carroll.
And if he could work out with USC, Edwards could work out with UCLA – and wthout the scandals, either.
3. Randy Shannon
Although he’s not a West Coast guy, Shannon has college coaching experience, heading his alma mater at the University of Miami from 2007-2010 after playing linebacker for the Hurricanes during their glory years and leaving “The U” with a winning record.
The biggest plus with this man is his background working with defenses – before becoming the ‘Canes’ head coach, he was their defensive coordinator for six years, where in five of those years his defensive units finished in the nation’s top ten, including 4th out of 120 FBS schools one season.
That’s great news for a maligned Bruin defense that gave up 200-yard rushing days numerous times this year; Shannon would get that straightened out in a jiffy.
Plus at a mere 45 years old, he would be more able to relate to the players, and as he hails from the Miami area he could provide a pipeline to some of the best high school players in the country, as South Florida is famous for providing that.
And he’s a straight arrow coach who, compared to other ex-Miami coaches like Dennis Erickson and Jimmy Johnson, kept the program relatively clean.
Though unfortunately I’m not an influential booster and have no say over who UCLA gets, I strongly feel that the Bruins consider these coaches, particularly Hill.
Since his job may well depend on who he hires to come to Westwood, Guerrero would do well to look these guys up, gather their interest, and make an offer to one of them.