Neuheisel on Coach Firings

Head Coach Rick Neuheisel answered questions Saturday about the firing of Defensive Coordinator Chuck Bullough and wide receiver coach Reggie Moore...

OK, How are you?

‘'You know, better days. I've had better days. This is always a difficult thing to say goodbye to, you know, colleagues, but more importantly, friends; people that you've come to really admire. But at the end of the day you have to make decisions that you think are in the best interests of the program and so I let both Reggie (Moore) and Chuck (Bullough) know this morning that I was going to go in a different direction.''

With Chuck, what was the tipping factor?

‘'Well, you know, I just felt, and Chuck, as organized as he is, had counter arguments to my points, but I just felt like we needed to have a couple of alternative schemes that might be able to keep us as a more consistent defense. I just felt like, you know, he's a 4-3 guy, he believes in the 4-3, and it was certainly beneficial in my opinion to, because so many coaching changes had happened in years previous to try to keep the same system in place that DeWayne (Walker) had had. I thought we did some really good things, but at the end of the day we were not consistent enough stopping the run and I thought maybe some of the athletes that we had in our program might fit better in some alternate schemes. You know, Chuck was in my opinion not the guy who was going to be the expert in that department.''

Do you expect to make any more changes?

‘'I'm not entirely done evaluating. Certainly, there are some other things that I want to continue to consider. But I was sure about these particular moves and that's why I informed the guys this morning.''

Is Norm (Chow) still a guy you're evaluating at this point?

‘'The offense is still a place that I am evaluating and Norm as the coordinator is certainly in that category. But I, you know, am just trying to figure out what's the best way to go, if it's a reshuffling, if it's new personnel. I still am sorting that out in my own mind.''

When you say reshuffling, what do you mean by reshuffling?

‘'Is it the same coaches, different responsibilities? Or does it require new faces?''

You talked a bit the last few weeks of the season about the inexperience and the injuries. Did that come into much of a factor when you were thinking about Chuck?

‘'Certainly it did. I mean, certainly it did. If I'm Chuck's agent, I can make a great case that, you know, you can point to the inexperience and the injuries as the entire reason we didn't get it done. But at some point these decisions become subjective and you have to trust your own instincts as to what's the best thing to go forward. I'm certainly on the hook for making that subjective decision, but I've got to trust myself.''

When it was so obvious, why didn't this decision come earlier?

‘'I don't know what's so obvious. I just said, I considered the last question. And, also, the timing of the season ending in December with a recruiting visit that weekend, followed by the last two weeks of contact period before we go almost a month without being able to be in recruits homes … we had to utilize that time to get out and recruit and I wasn't sure at the time I was going to make any moves. So I couldn't sit around and determine that I wasn't and lose a complete week of recruiting, so I took the necessary time to make what I think is the wisest decision.''

You mentioned that you felt the schemes might be better. I assume you're talking about a 3-4 …

‘'Well, the ability to have, you know … yeah, the 3-4 is a perfect example, but maybe to be able to go back and forth.''

With Chuck, you mentioned he was a 4-3 guy. How does that differ from Norm being a guy who has never been a shotgun guy and he's kind if working in a shotgun-like scheme a lot?

‘'Well, you're right. You're right. And I didn't want to make that mistake again.''

Do you have a list, maybe not that you can give out, but a list at all of guys that you want at this point?

‘'I have some ideas. I'm certainly not ready to share them, but I wanted to be able to speak to these guys in person. You know, when you're out on the road recruiting, this is not the kind of thing … these guys deserve much more than a phone call. I wanted to be able to come in and thank them for their service, thank them for their friendship and thank them for their loyalty because they were both terrific in that regard. It's a painful part of this business, but also necessary to make the moves that are going to help catapult us hopefully to a place where we're back in the championship discussion.''

You just mentioned a second ago when we were talking about the shotgun and Norm and the 3-4 and Chuck, you said you wouldn't make that mistake again. Was that a mistake, you felt, that Norm was …

‘'I think based on the numbers with respect to the running game it was, you know, in some ways a success. But in terms of the overall productivity of the offense, I don't think it can be called a complete success. No. I think it can be categorized as a possible mistake.''

No, but we were talking about guy's preferred schemes and it just sounded like you didn't think Norm was the guy to work a shotgun offense …

‘'Well, are you talking Pistol now or are you talking shotgun?''

Shotgun, because it is the same sort of a deal …

‘'Well, we used the shotgun the first two years that Norm was here. The thing that was new was the Pistol and that's what I took it as.''

OK, so in that regard, if you decide to stick with the Pistol, that will enter into the decision about

‘'Well, a lot of things are factoring into the decision with Norm. As I've shared with you, I'm still, you know, molding that around in my head as to what is the best way to go forward.''

Is taking over the receivers yourself something you might look at?

‘'I've certainly coached the receivers before in my life, as I've coached the quarterbacks before in my life. Like I said, there's a lot of ways to throw the balls up in the air and figure out how it's the best staff to put forth and that's why I'm being careful.''

Would that include you calling plays, since you've done that as well, too?

‘'I mean, all of that is up in the air.''

Would you rule out a guy that runs a 4-3?

‘'I'm not ruling out anybody. But I certainly want versatility.''

So only if the guy runs a 4-3, he can run other defenses …

‘'It all depends on the resume, you know? Chuck has been a football guy his whole life and I think is a terrific football coach. But he's been a coordinator now two seasons. I'm looking for somebody with a little more experience so there's more tactical application of, here's what you do when this happens …''

What was Bullough's reaction? I would assume he wasn't surprised …

‘'No, I think he's proud of his effort. I think he made a good case for a situation we found ourselves in. Like I said, if I were his agent, I would've understood exactly. But this is, you know, a decision that I've got to make and one that I wrestled with. But I feel strongly that this was the right choice going forward and, again, I believe that Chuck Bullough is going to be a terrific coach.''

What was the deciding factor with Reggie?

‘'You know, I just felt like we could play that position more consistently.''

Is there something that kind if spoke out that said that was a coaching issue and not a player issue?

‘'I'm not following the question.''

‘'Well, I mean, if a guy is not playing consistent, sometimes it's just the guy who is not a consistent guy …

‘'I just felt that there were lots of places where we could have cleaned it up maybe just a little bit better.''

Would you say that the problems with the passing game and on the decision had a lot to do with the receivers?

‘'This is not just pointing at Reggie. This is just me making a staff decision as to how to improve. We've got more than just the problems that we're talking about now and we've got to figure them out. But at the end of the day, a coach wears lots of hats and I need them to be able to wear them all and be effective in all facets. I just believe these moves were prudent in improving UCLA football.''

Have you settled on a candidate you think would be right?

‘'No. No. There will be plenty of time to weigh the candidates and pick the perfect fit.''

You said you still were evaluating the offense. Are you through with the defense?

‘'No, I think I'm through with the defense. Obviously, I've got to make a decision as to who is going to come in and coordinate but I think the other three guys are in good shape.''

You said you want experience at the defensive coordinator position now. Why was that not your thought process two years ago when you hired Chuck with no coordinating experience?

‘'Fair question. You know, I believe that Chuck was ready for the task. I believe it was the right thing to do for a football team that had a lot of coaching changes in the past and to try to keep the system the same and continue to grow, anticipating a good defense in 2009, was the right move and Chuck was champing at the bit for the chance. Sometimes, that's what you need. I think Chuck is going to be a great coordinator. I think there are games where he has been a great coordinator. I just at this point for us, I think we need the ability to do a little bit more, the experience to handle some of the things that come our way.''

Did any of that have to do with the options that were around in 2008 and the options that are around now?

‘'I'm sorry, say again, Jon?''

Does any of that have to do with, you know, maybe the options that were available to you for those coaches in 2009 and …

‘'Is this based on the talent pool that's available out there?''

Yeah …

‘'No, I don't make the determination because I can go get this guy, I make the determination because I think that we can do better and now we'll go out and see exactly what the talent pool looks like. But I expect there will be some quality candidates.''

Do you have a timetable for evaluating Norm and the offense?

‘'You know, I'm trying to work as quickly as I can. I don't want to be pinned down to any one day. I want, also like you, to be able to enjoy some holiday time. But we're going to try to work quickly.''

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