Ranking 20 Years of UCLA Defensive Coordinators

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Nov 2, 2013; Pasadena, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins cheerleaders react during the game against the Colorado Buffaloes at Rose Bowl. UCLA defeated Colorado 45-23. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

3. Phil Snow, 2001 – 2002

Phil Snow will always be remembered fondly by me because his tenure was the first time I realized, ‘Hey, it’s possible for UCLA to be good on defense!’ Defensive coordinator for Arizona State head coach Bruce Snyder from 1995-2000, Snow was brought in to tighten up Bob Field’s defense and implement a simpler, more physical, pass-rush-oriented scheme.

Statistical Rankings
Year | SOS | SD | TD | DFEI | DS&P+
2001 | 14 | 27 | 23 | n/a | n/a
2002 | 8 | 51 | n/a | n/a | n/a
Avg. | 11 | 39 | 23 | n/a | n/a

Snow’s defenses featured ten future NFL draftees: Coleman, Anderson, Thomas, Manning, Leisle, Ball, Chillar, Ware, Emanuel, and Page. The difference was immediately apparent. UCLA went to Alabama in 2001 and held the Tide to 17 points. They faced an Ohio State squad that had hung 42 on them two years prior and beat them in a 13-6 slugfest. They held a Dennis Erickson-led Oregon State team to 7 points.

More: Several Bruins Make the Butkus and Lombardi Award Watch Lists

I really wanted to be able to put Snow at number one or two on this list, just because of the horizon-expanding realization that UCLA could field a tough, consistent defense. But the numbers ultimately don’t support it. His teams also gave up 38 points to Tyrone Willingham‘s Stanford, 42 to Arizona State, 48 to Washington State, and 27 and 52 in back-to-back losses to USC.

The defense took a step back in 2002, largely as a reflection of the entire team being in disarray during the waning days of the Toledo regime. Toledo was fired, along with Snow and the rest of his staff, after the 2002 season. Making it doubly bitter was that Snow was then replaced by the feckless Larry Kerr. The next slide will address why keeping a DC from a previous head coach might not be the best idea, but I still sometimes wonder what if…

Where is he now: Phil Snow is currently the DC at Temple.

Next: 13-9