UCLA no longer has a head coach.
Hardly a climactic statement, unless, of course, you are a fan of the
The thing is, a lot of big time programs out there right now have lost their
head coach, whether through their own choice or the administration simply looked
to make a change.
- West Virginia head coach Rich Rodriguez is now with the Michigan Wolverines.
- Bobby Petrino bailed on the Atlanta Falcons and is now the head man at Arkansas
- Former Arkansas coach Houston Nutt now takes over for Ed Orgeron at Ole Miss
- One-time Green Bay Packer head coach Mike Sherman now takes over the Texas
A&M football team
And oh yeah, Bill Callahan is out at Nebraska, that position now being held
by Bo Pelini, who is currently at LSU as D.C., preparing his Tiger defense for
Ohio State in the national title game. And Pelini was actually the interim head
coach at Nebraska , just long enough to lead the Huskers to a win over Michigan State in the 2003 Alamo Bowl.
The absence of head coaches in these situations means that quite obviously,
the future of the assistant coaches is in jeopardy as well. But with all due
respect to the impact head coaches have on recruiting, it's those under them who
are usually the workhorses in recruiting.
Just ask Nelson Rosario
A commit to the Bruins since August of this year, all Nelson was thinking
about was the future. It was about how he would do at UCLA, the kind of college
life he would have and just how far he and the rest of his teammates could take
UCLA in the future.
Now, that future is unsteady at best, Karl Dorrell now out as the head man,
leaving the fate of the assistants in jeopardy. As is the case with most
schools, it's not very often that many assistants are retained when a new head
coach is brought in.
Not good news for Nelson. While he understands how much the loss of a head
coach could hurt, he's more concerned with other guys. "I've gotten to know a
few of those coaches really well, like coach Babers and coach Scott," Nelson
said of running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Dino Babers and wide
receivers coach Eric Scott, respectively. "If they aren't around after
everything is done, that's probably going to change a few things for
As with most any recruit or in this case, commit, the relationships are
paramount. These are the coaches whom they have grown to know and more
importantly, trust. That's almost two years worth of developing that trust,
potentially going down the drain.
That could be a monumental blow for UCLA recruiting, especially considering
the fact that even with six out of their 21 commits listed as a soft verbal,
UCLA still sports a top 10 recruiting class. As with any coaching search, the
longer it goes on, the more likely it will be that the commits in this class
will steadily start to defect.
Rosario says that's certainly an option, one which he has been exploring more
and more lately, and there are a few schools who have shown the most interest
thus far. " Oregon has shown a lot of interest, and next to UCLA, I probably
know more about them than any other school," he said. "And I have spoken to
Colorado coaches a few times, but don't know a whole lot about them. And
Nebraska contacted me recently, and I think they offered me back in July or
something. I am going to have to study a bit more on them to see what's going on
You'd have to forgive Nelson if he isn't going at this whole search with a
lot of energy, because it's something he really would rather not do. He chose
UCLA for a reason, and he's hoping that when the dust settles on this fluid
coaching situation, the foundation for his decision in those assistants, still
remains. But he's preparing for what seems like the inevitable, but it's still
not a situation he's looking to cement as done.
"I am hoping they keep the assistants, because that's who I developed really
close relationships with," he said. "I don't like the idea of having to build
new relationships, especially this late in the season. But I will. I mean, I am
prepared to look at everything, so I have an alternative just in case this
doesn't work out.
" Oregon is probably the school I know the most about other than UCLA. But I
am not ruling anyone out at this point. Right now I am keeping all of my options
When asked about his offensive preference, Rosario said that he has grown
fond of both the spread and something akin to the west coast. The offense he ran
at El Camino High in Oceanside , CA , was a little bit of both. Whatever the
offense, though, they are going to have to throw the ball or he's not going to
give them a second look. "I'm a receiver. I want to catch the ball, so the more
you throw, the better I will probably like the system," he said. "I just want to
play in something which I think caters to what I do."
There are probably a lot of offenses which fit that, Nelson standing a
daunting 6-6, weighing approx. 220 pounds. But his height is only the tip of the
iceberg, so to speak. Players Rosario's height aren't normally huge jumpers, but
that's one thing this young man does especially well, ranking as the defending
CIF champion in the high, long and triple-jump.
That helped him dominate the competition as a junior, Rosario amassing over
1,000 yards on 53 catches, scoring 11 times. He nearly duplicated that effort
his senior year, totaling the same number of catches, but for just under a
thousand and 10 touchdowns. He's a mismatch anywhere he lines up on the field
and his vertical, which is around 40 inches, could make him almost impossible to
cover in certain systems in college.
That would be nice, and Nelson continues to evaluate that now that he is
approaching the status of being a recruit versus that of commit. But he's still
holding out hope. "I'd like to see those assistants stay and that would make
things pretty easy for me, because I'd definitely sign with UCLA then," he said.
"But I know a lot of us (UCLA commits) are keeping a really open mind. It's hard
to tell what will happen. We can hope for the best, but make sure we are
prepared in case things don't work out.
"So, I guess I'll just keep looking around."
Nebraska has only recently reintroduced themselves to Rosario , which perhaps puts them behind in the overall race for this potential decommit from the Bruins. And Nelson said of Nebraska , that he didn't know much about them other than who their head coach was. The Huskers look like an option, and it certainly would appear that Nebraska has started going after him now that their own staff situation is more concrete. Stay tuned to Big Red Report as we'll keep you abreast as to just how it goes.