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The Prodigal Son Returns?


As much as I would have loved Walker as the HC for strictly entertainment reasons the hiring of Neuheisel will be just as good as he will surely say or do something stupid for us to comment on, but he will also make the program better and in the end that is better for the Pac 10.

The bigger question I would have is for Dan Guerrero and it would simply be: Is that it? That's the best you could do?

There is a great read on the Coaches Hot Seat that nails this whole sad situation dead on.

[...]but are the people running UCLA football, Chancellor Block and Dan Guerrero, really going to tell anyone that hiring Rick Neuheisel is the right move?

[...]does anyone really believe that Rick Neuheisel is who UCLA wants to hire as their head football coach? If so, then Chancellor Block and Dan Guerrero need to go ahead and bring a lot of boxes to work and pack up everything, because the first-time something happens with Neuheisel, either recruiting related or something he tells his bosses at UCLA that is not true, that will be the day that Block and Guerrero will be hitting the road with those boxes, because they will be out of their jobs.

I'm also pretty sure that any bloggers from UW or CU also have their opinions and they should be taken to be just as credible as some of the information that has come out from across town in regards to the Dorrell situation.

The search for a new coach at ucla has been a spectacle to watch. This search has looked like a Chinese fire drill from the word go. It took him a week to hire a search firm, which makes it appear that Guerrero vacillated on the decision to fire KD because he didn't put any of the plans in motion to find a replacement for Dorrell until AFTER he let Dorrell go. Waiting that one-week put him behind the 8-ball right out of the gate. But I can understand why, the Eric Scott debacle put DG in a "once bitten, twice shy" kind of mindset so he had to make sure there would be no surprises.

While we don't know who exactly was on DG's list the coaches that were in the public eye hardly fit the requirements that Guerrero set forth at his presser after h fired Dorrell. It was clear that regardless of who he was looking at it was going to be an uphill battle to find the signature hire that a lot ucla fans were counting on, but it is clear from the hiring of Neuheisel that there just wasn't a lot of interest in the ucla job. Is ucla really prepared to tarnish their supposed squeaky-clean image because some influential boosters who would hold up money for the Pauley restoration are pushing him? That tells me that DG is not negotiating from a position of strength and that is never a good thing. That Neuheisel was even considered shows just how dire the situation was as it was reported that DG wasn't even considering hiring Neuheisel AT ALL!

As KD's exit finally appears imminent; I want to share some reliable double hearsay comments by DG on the golf course last week. My 76 yr old father played golf yesterday with a former UCLA OL (he thinks it was class of `66). The KD situation and replacement issue came up and the former player volunteered that he had played golf with DG last week and when asked specifically about the Neuheisel option DG was quoted as stating:

"Rick Neuheisel has as much chance of coaching UCLA football as you or me".

Even the more rabid part of the fan base when given the choice of Walker, who most despise and Neuheisel with all of his past issues, had no choice but to hold their nose and accept him as DG just couldn't get any big names to take the bait at ucla. They think they deserve a big name head coach, yet the candidates they think they should have are not interested in coming to ucla. When the coaching search brings up a name like Neuheisel after the AD said there was no chance of him ever being the coach and who is then endorsed by the more rabid part of the fan base only as an alternative to Walker, Golden or Chow, you know you have problems; that is not a ringing endorsement.

Neuheisel's hire does not scare me but it should concern ucla, he is going to have some issues that he will have to overcome like a lack of talent in 2008 something that he has not been accustomed to in the past. More important of course there is his past as well, for those who want "empirical evidence" I would point you in the direction of both SMQ and Dawg Sports for their individual takes on Neuheisel. I can assure you that both of these writers are solid in their analysis and are beyond reproach. I won't bother quoting any of the linked stories as that would do them injustice, you should read them in their entirety as they are completely neutral observers on this subject, they have no dog in this hunt.

The bigger problem is Slick Rick's ability to tell the truth, as referenced above. He clearly lied to the administration at UW in regards to his interview with the 49er's so there was already some bad blood there and they were probably looking for a reason to get rid of him at that point. That he is a first-tier candidate at ucla shows DG just doesn't have a grasp as to who to go after or how to get them. That's how desperate the situation is over there as RN is labeled as the prodigal son yet he has been off the radar screen for a while and still makes some bruin alums cringe at the mere mentioning of his name.

Plaschke made some good observations in his recent column about the whole search that reinforce the Coaches Hot Seat post about how the disconnect between the alums and the institution has made this such a calamity.

No one really knows how this will turn out for ucla, they are understandably stoked but there are no guarantees. It didn't take long for the clowns across town to start rationalizing or spinning Slick Ricks infractions as "minor" or so way back in the past that they don't matter. SC went through their own misgivings with the hiring of Pete Carroll and we lucked out so who really knows how Neuheisel's hiring will work out. I will also admit that his hiring will shake things up a bit and that is a good thing for USC and ucla.

I just want to see some competitive football so hopefully Slick Rick will be up for the challenge. But you can bet your bottom dollar that he will do more than make ucla at least competitive.