OSU SEARCH: Would 3rd time be the charm?

RICK NEUHEISEL HAS eight years of Pac-12 coaching experience at UCLA and Washington. (He also coached Colorado for four seasons, though before they joined the conference). He’s been an analyst for the Pac-12 Networks the past two years, studying in depth every Pac-12 program. Is he the right guy for Oregon State? And would it all come together for Neuheisel in Corvallis?

Critics will point to the most recent four-year stint at UCLA, where Neuheisel was let go after a 6-7 campaign in 2011 and a 21-29 record overall.

There's a flip side to that.

The UCLA program was in much different shape back at the end of the 2007 season. And to add the proper context: Neuheisel left the UCLA cupboard very well stocked for Jim Mora in 2012.

Oregon State needs two things most in their coaching hire: someone who can made a difference in recruiting, and someone with the plan - the right plan - to compete with Oregon.

Both of those would seem to be right in Neuheisel's wheelhouse.

Neuheisel's first three Bruin recruiting classes were all in the top 15 nationally on Scout.com, even the first one where he had just a couple months to solidify it after his hire.

Three top-15 classes.

That is a game Oregon State fans are unfamiliar with.

Mora in his first season benefited greatly from those three classes, posting a 9-5 mark in 2012 -- and he was still benefiting from it this past season, with the top-15 2010 class that Neuheisel signed being fifth-year seniors at UCLA in 2014.

But it’s a bottom-line business and, no argument here, Neuheisel didn’t win enough at UCLA.

He’d probably be the first one to tell you he made some mistakes along the way, and that he thinks he should have won more games at UCLA too.

But it would have been very interesting to see what Neuheisel would have done with one more year in 2012, with those recruits who in 2012 had matured and developed enough to start making an impact at the Pac-12 level.

Meanwhile, for the past two years Neuheisel has watched Oregon intently in his job as a TV analyst, including the two Arizona upsets wins, as well as what the rest of the Pac-12 is doing.

A current coach studies the opponent during game week, and then moves on to the next team on the schedule. Neuheisel studied all the Pac-12 teams continually, week-in and week-out.

If you've ever watched him in his role as an analyst, he's impressive. His preparation comes through in ways it doesn't for other analysts.

Some coaches don't have a "learning chip." what you saw 10 years ago is what you'll get today. Neuheisel doesn't appear to be in that group.

The guess here is that he's learned why things didn't work at UCLA and UW, and the same mistakes won't be repeated in his next head job.

And what if that next job is Oregon State?

The view from this chair is he'd bring a different brand of recruiting to Corvallis.

And a new energy to the Civil War rivalry.

There are lots of other great candidates out there, any one of whom could succeed at OSU. Neuheisel's is one of the names that merits strong consideration.

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