Coaches Hot Board: Day 11

Get the real news about the candidates that are being considered for UCLA's head coaching position. The information on this board changes and is the absolute latest on the situations with every candidate...

FRIDAY REPORT:

The coach I referred to that UCLA was talking to was Washington's Steve Sarkisian, as it was revealed in a Los Angeles Times story.

LATE THURSDAY NIGHT:

Disclaimer: I know many fans are getting to the point that you don't want to know every last small development and twist and turn in all of this. If that's the case, don't read the rest of this entry.

As I said earlier, a coach search really isn't a spectator sport. I know UCLA would agree.

I don't have much to update, but I can tell you that I'm now pretty certain UCLA has been talking with a candidate besides Jim L. Mora. At least one person from the UCLA Athletic Department -- not Dan Guerrero -- has been on the road and dealing with another candidate. This isn't to say there has been direct contact. I've heard that, in fact, there are some at UCLA that are pretty happy about the developments. Now, another disclaimer: These are some of the people who were pretty ecstatic over how the Chris Petersen situation was developing, too.

I haven't heard that the possibility of Mora is over, just that there is this other development happening.

I have my suspicions of who the coach is, but I don't have enough direct information about it to feel comfortable enough to reveal the name. I hope you understand. It's like this is Law and Order: UCLA, I only have circumstantial evidence at this point, and not enough for it to hold up in court. One of the reasons I feel it could be this certain coach is because I know he's a guy that some of the influential forces involved in this coaching search endorse.

UCLA is doing a very good job of keeping a tight lid on the information leaks now compared to last week, so I'm getting only very few bits and pieces. But this is what I've learned since the last update earlier today.

THURSDAY AFTERNOON:

For the last couple of days there has been plenty of information that was indicating UCLA could be making an announcement soon over hiring a new head coach.

It's now quite a bit more uncertain.

Good sources are indicating that the talks between UCLA and Jim L. Mora are not nearly that far down the line, that there have only been preliminary discussions.

There is also a bit of a power struggle. According to sources, there are strong influences on the program that aren't backing Mora.

So, if there is an announcement of a hiring, it might very well not be Mora.

There are other names being bandied around, but nothing that I feel is legitimate enough to report.

THURSDAY MORNING: I consistently hear that something is going to be announced soon, certainly sometime between today and the end of the weekend.

Information has dried up, as I've said, so I have to admit, much of what I have for you today is speculation.

Sources have only talked about Jim L. Mora, so I have to suspect that any impending announcement would be about him.

I haven't heard about a package deal with ex-Ohio Stae coach Jim Tressel. One source indicated that the implications with Tressel and the NCAA were being investigated by UCLA, and it was thought he would probably be sanctioned with a 2- or 3-year ban from coaching. I'm uncertain if that ban would encompass being an assistant coach.

But again, I have not heard about a package deal with Mora and Tressel, as has been the rumor.

There are those close to the situation trying to publicize that Steve Sarkisian isn't a candidate.

UCLA has not contacted SMU's Jone Jones.

***Wednesday Morning: an interesting rumor about an ex-head coach being on UCLA's campus***

Jim L. Mora
Current Position:
NFL Network Analyst
Age:
50
Overall record:
N/A
Salary:
N/A
Notable:
Former head coach with Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks. Led Atlanta to NFC Championship Game in 2004. Has rep as tough-minded coach and good defensive mind (former defensive coordinator). He's a west coast guy, and actually was a UCLA ball boy when his father, Jim E. Mora, was a coach at UCLA for a season in 1974. Graduated from Washington.
Positives:
Like other NFL guys on the list, would bring NFL gravitas.
Negatives:
Hasn't had sustained success as head coach. Has never really coached in college (Washington grad assistant). Recruiting ability a question mark.
Buzz:
He's made it clear to UCLA he wants the job, and has even started talking about his potential staff. The word is that he'd be considered by UCLA.
SUNDAY UPDATE: Now that Petersen is out, UCLA is pursuing Sumlin, but Mora's name is being floated more.
SUNDAY AFTERNOON UPDATE: With Sumlin out, there was a push for Mora, but he apparently didn't vet well.
MONDAY UPDATE: We're hearing that Mora could be next up on the list.
TUESDAY MORNING: I've heard that UCLA representatives and Mora had actually begun negotiating, which means it's gone beyond the mere feeling-out phase. But I've also heard from another source that there is a pretty strong resistance to Mora among many influential UCLA people.
WEDNESDAY: It was mostly quiet late Tuesday, with only a few reports trickling out that Mora is still the main emphasis.
THURSDAY MORNING: We hear there could be an annoucement soon, and the only name we hear mentioned now is Mora.
THURSDAY AFTERNOON: For the last couple of days there has been plenty of information that was indicating UCLA could be making an announcement soon over hiring a new head coach. It's now quite a bit more uncertain. Good sources are indicating that the talks between UCLA and Jim L. Mora are not nearly that far down the line, that there have only been preliminary discussions. There is also a bit of a power struggle. According to sources, there are strong influences on the program that aren't backing Mora. So, if there is an announcement of a hiring, it might very well not be Mora.
FRIDAY: More sources are indicating that UCLA hasn't spoken in detail with Mora and he might not be the primary target at this point.

Steve Sarkisian
Current Position:
Washington Head Coach
Age:
37
Overall record:
19-18
Salary:
$2.3 million
Notable:
Former BYU QB, he first earned notoriety as USC's quarterback coach under Peter Carroll, was the QB coach with the Oakland Raiders for a season, and then later returned to USC as its offensive coordinator. He was hired at Washington for the 2009 season.
Positives:
Sarkisian is a SoCal guy, from Torrance, and is a strong recruiter with great ties to the Southland. He is friends with USC's Lane Kiffin, so if Sarkisian were to be UCLA's coach it would be battle royale between the two. Two of his sisters graduated from UCLA. His Trojan ties could be viewed as an asset.
Negatives:
He was part of the Carroll USC staff that is repugnant to UCLA. He's still unproven as a coach, in his third year at UDub and having not won more than 7 games in a season. His DC, Nick Holt, hasn't been successful at Washington.
Buzz:
We've heard from sources that Sarkisian has expressed interest in the UCLA job through back channels. The fact that the L.A. Times' T.J. Simers wrote an article pimping him for it could be a set-up by Sarkisian. All of this, too, could merely be Sarkisian's play to get Washington to bump up his salary.
THURSDAY: Despite some sources denying Sarkisian is a candidate, there are other sources that believe he is.
FRIDAY: UCLA has spoken with Sarkisian. It's uncertain how interested the Washington coach is, but we've heard that there are some people with considerable influence over the coaching search that endorse Sarkisian.

Dan Mullen
Current Position:
Mississippi State Head Coach
Age:
39
Overall record:
20-17
Salary:
$2.5 million
Notable:
Earned a name as the offensive coordinator for Urban Meyer at both Utah and Florida. Considered the mastermind of Meyer's famous spread offense. Given a great deal of credit for coaching Tim Tebow. Parlayed all that into the head coaching job at MSU.
Positives:
Young, and has some buzz to him. Would bring a dynamic offensive system with him. Has generally done well against tough competiton at MSU. Considered a good recruiter.
Negatives:
No west coast roots, but has ties. Has garnered some criticism at MSU, and questions about the effectiveness of the offense there.
Buzz:
Mullen has a connection with someone influential at UCLA and has expressed interest in the job. He's getting buzz as a top candidate for the Penn State job.
SUNDAY: There is more talk at UCLA about Mullen becoming a real option.

Mike Bellotti
Current Position:
ESPN analyst
Age:
60
Overall record:
137-80-2
Salary:
N/A
Notable:
Had a 116–55 record at Oregon, including four ten-win seasons. The Ducks finished second in the nation in 2001 and he led Oregon to a bowl game in 12 of his 14 seasons as head coach. He had the second most victories of any Pac-10 school in his tenure.
Positives:
Belotti is a known name, with plenty of west coast ties, and the fact that he is responsible for starting Oregon on its innovative direction wouldn't hurt with recruits. He wants the UCLA job.
Negatives:
He's been out of coaching for a while, and it's not as if big-named programs have been knocking down his door. There would be a question of whether the game had passed him by, something UCLA has had some experience with when it comes to recent older, big-named coaches. There's still some residual bad feelings over how he handled the situation four years ago when UCLA offered him the job.
Buzz:
We've only heard that Bellotti is interested in the UCLA job, but nothing about UCLA being interested in Bellotti.
FRIDAY UPDATE: We've now heard confirmation that Bellotti is on UCLA's list.
SUNDAY UPDATE: Bellotti has continued to express interest in the job.
TUESDAY SPECULATION: There are a few sources that believe UCLA will ultimately turn to Bellotti, for a number of reasons. Not only does Bellotti have a strong coaching resume, but he has enough name recognition that UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero will be able to sell him to the majority of big donors, and there is a belief that, among the candidates being considered, he might have the biggest chance of putting fans in Rose Bowl seats.

June Jones
Current Position:
Head coach at Southern Methodist
Age:
58
Overall record:
99-69
Salary:
$2.15 million
Notable:
Jones has done a solid job at building winning programs at both Hawaii and SMU. He's the fifth coach to head up the SMU program since the "death penalty" in the '80s, and he was the first to post an 8-win season (in 2009). He's a pure run-and-shoot guy, with offenses that pass about two-thirds of the time.
Positives:
Jones is a west coast guy, with ties to the west, while now having established connections in Texas. He has both college and pro head coach experience (Atlanta Falcons, San Diego Chargers). He's been doing well coaching SoCal. He has exhibited a high interest in the UCLA job.
Negatives:
He also lacks a splash-worthy name. He's had a few controversies at his various stops and has a reputation for being somewhat of a loose cannon. He has been mentioned over his career for big-named coaching jobs but hasn't been able to get an offers. It's uncertain if he'd be out of his element at a big-market program and be able to recruit at that level.
Buzz:
Jones, at this point, is a bit down the list for UCLA at this time. The most recent word is that he could be among the few at the top of the ASU list, and if UCLA doesn't show enough interest fairly quickly, and ASU does, he could opt for Tempe.
SUNDAY UPDATE: We continue to hear that Jones wants the job.

Butch Jones
Current Position:
Cincinnati Head Coach
Age:
43
Overall record:
39-24
Salary:
$1.4 million
Notable:
Has followed Brian Kelly at both Central Michigan and Cincinnati, and been successful. Considered an up-and-coming offensive mind.
Positives:
Young, dynamic coach, work-aholic, know to instill respect and toughness. The thought is that he'll be a star in the college coaching ranks soon.
Negatives:
Still some uncertainty about success, since he's followed Kelly at both stops. No west coast ties. Recruits would say, "Who?" If he were to jump from Cincy it could be to Illinois, since AD there is the one that hired him at Cincy.
Buzz:
There is a connection between someone at UCLA and Jones which has put him on the UCLA map (Adidas?). So, he's on UCLA's list, which makes him more realistic than the other coaches that are merely showing UCLA interest.
SUNDAY AFTERNOON: We're hearing that Jones might be more of an east coast guy and not a fit at UCLA.

Jon Gruden
Current Position:
NFL Commentator for ESPN
Age:
48
Overall record:
N/A
Salary:
N/A
Notable:
He was the youngest coach ever in NFL history to win a Super Bowl. His named has been tossed around for many job openings, in the NFL and college since he left Tampa Bay in 2008. He's had a high profile being one of the commentators on Monday Night Football.
Positives:
He would definitely be a splashy hire. Being on Monday Night Football, recruits are very familir with him.
Negatives:
Rumored to want a truck load of money, no college experience and might go through considerable culture shock coaching college.
Buzz:
The latest word is that the Gruden told people close to him he wouldn't be interested in UCLA.

Jay Gruden
Current Position:
Cincinnati Bengals Offensive Coordinator
Age:
44
Overall record:
N/A
Salary:
N/A
Notable:
Getting respect for a fairly dynamic offense at Cincinnati. Considered an up-and-comer in NFL ranks.
Positives:
Would bring some NFL cache to the job. Has some buzz because of his last name.
Negatives:
Would be in unfamiliar territory coaching college, and no experience as a head coach beyond the Arena League, and only first year in NFL. Has only Arena League experience before this gig with Cincinnati.
Buzz:
We had heard the Gruden brothers might be a package, but the latest is that the Grudens have said to those close to them that they wouldn't be interest in coming to UCLA.
12/9: We're now hearing that the younger Gruden is showing interest, and he is on UCLA's list.

Mike Martz
Current Position:
Chicago Bears Offensive Coordinator
Age:
60
Overall record:
N/A
Salary:
N/A
Notable:
The former Rams' head coach has been successful in Chicago. Was architect of "Greatest Show On Turf" offense in St. Louis, and took Rams to Super Bowl in 2001. In his 6th year there he had to step down for health reasons.
Positives:
West coast guy, played at Fresno State, was an assistant there and at ASU. Would bring NFL cachet, especially to offense.
Negatives:
Hasn't coached in college in 20 years. Never been college head coach. Some criticisms of him have followed him during his career, and there are some critics of his offense in Chicago.
Buzz:
The word is that Martz is interested, and, on the UCLA side, we've heard he's a guy UCLA could be interested in. His name also was mentioned in connection with ASU. Source says he wants to return to west.


CANDIDATES THAT ARE OUT

Kevin Sumlin
Current Position:
Head coach at University of Houston
Age:
47
Overall record:
35-16
Salary:
$1.13 million
Notable:
He's had the #1 offense in the country two of the last three years. The Cougar offense has topped 40 points in 26 of 45 games, and reached 50 points on ten occasions. In 2007, Sumlin became the first Houston coach to lead his team to a bowl victory in 28 years. One of the hottest names being mentioned for many head coaching jobs around the country.
Positives:
Obviously very accomplished offensive coach. Sharp and articulate, could seemingly handle spotlight of big market program. Sumlin has Pac-12 ties, as he was an assistant at Washington State and would also be able to successfully recruit Texas.
Negatives:
Has always had a great quarterback at either Houston (Case Keenum) or Oklahoma (Sam Bradford) to run his offense. The one year he didn't, when Keenum was hurt in 2010, offense sputtered. Doesn't have the splash value of Petersen.
Buzz:
Has shown he's very interested in UCLA job. In fact, one source thought Sumlin is waiting to see what UCLA does before he decides on other head coaching job offers. Right now, the word is he is second-tier behind Petersen, but a second-tier option that sources believe UCLA administrators like and could see UCLA pursuing if Petersen falls through.
FRIDAY UPDATE: We don't have direct sources, but there are rumors that Sumlin will be the leading candidate for the now-open Texas A&M job, and continue to hear rumors about him and ASU. We had heard previously that Sumlin was next in line for consideration after Petersen, but that might not be the case now. He's favored by some in the Athletic Department, but not by some who have considerable influence.
SATURDAY UPDATE: UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero is going to Houston to talk to Sumlin, in light of the rumors he's supposed to be named the next head coach at Texas A&M.
SUNDAY MORNING UPDATE: Good sources are indicating that Sumlin was very close to finalizing a deal with Texas A&M, but sources are also saying that Sumlin wanted to hold off specifically to hear from UCLA. I've heard that if Guerrero feels he can get Sumlin by the end of the weekend he will pull the trigger. He is up against Texas A&M in direct competition for Sumlin. Guerrero's partiality toward Sumlin has caused some dissension among some key UCLA figures, including some donors. But sources are indicating that if Guerrero can get Sumlin done he will.

Chris Petersen
Current Position:
Head coach at Boise State
Age:
47
Overall record:
71-6
Salary:
$1.6 million annually
Notable:
Has led Boise State to two undefeated seasons and three top 10 final rankings in five years. Always the hottest candidate for coaching vacancies. The word is that there are enough elements now in place that make it the right time for him to leave BSU.
Positives:
Good talent evaluator. Innovative offensive mind. Gets the most with less out of any coach in college football.
Negatives:
Has never been in conference with serious competition. Thought to be small-town guy. Will likely, again, be hottest candidate for every major program with opening.
Buzz:
Strong sources are indicating the timing is right for Petersen and UCLA to finally agree. UCLA is prepared to pay him upward of $4 million per year, and his assistants $2 million, and offer facility upgrades. His son's doctor has taken a job at UCLA Medical Center. A UCLA contingent, which include Troy Aikman and Cade McNown, is supposed to fly to Idaho and make a face-to-face pitch to Petersen.
THURSDAY UPDATE: Negotiations are on-going and going well, according to sources. It's not a "done deal," as some other sources have reported, but it's looking positive. It's fluid, there are things to work through, but sources have indicated there are no deal-breakers. If it all works out, an announcement should come early next week.
MID-DAY THURSDAY UPDATE: I think I have enough reliable information now to say that the situation with Chris Petersen has changed from very, very promising to uncertain. I don't know why it's now uncertain, but based on the reliability of a few diferent sources, I think that's the best way to describe it. It's not "done" in either direction, by any means, and I'm hearing negotiations are still underway. As I've said all along, it's a fluid situation that can change suddenly. There very well could be more changes in direction by the time it's over.
FRIDAY MORNING UPDATE: We have not heard word that the UCLA-Petersen relationship is over. Some sources have gone dark, or have said to wait until through the weekend for further information.
LATE FRIDAY: We're still hearing it's not completely over with Petersen, but it doesn't look good.
SATURDAY: Amazingly, some sources are still maintaining there is a chance with Petersen.
SUNDAY: The faction of the UCLA Athletic Department that was still workng toward Chris Petersen has now conceded that it's over. In fact, they believe there's a chance Petersen could go to North Carolina. It is very much a lifestyle choice for Petersen and his family and not about the money. It's something UCLA mis-judged considerably, thinking that money would be the deciding factor when it ultimately wasn't. All in all, UCLA vastly misjudged its chances with Petersen. The Petersen camp did provide very promising and misleading feedback, but UCLA, in my opinion, was too willing to convince itself of its chances with Petersen, to the point it focused almost exclusively on him to begin the coaching search.

Al Golden
Current Position:
Miami Head Coach
Age:
42
Overall record:
33-40
Salary:
$1.5 million
Notable:
Turned around a Temple program, then was hired at Miami this season. Miami, of course, is the subject of an on-going NCAA investigation that could result in serious NCAA sanctions. Golden recently agreed to a four-year contract extension with Miami. With the sanctions looming like a dark cloud, the Hurricanes went 6-6 this season, only the third time in their history they didn't post a winning season.
Positives:
Young and personal, Golden is considered an up-and-comer and a defensive guru.
Negatives:
Miami is making an effort to entice Golden to stay with the extension. That effort was done primarily to counter any sentiment that Golden would be a candidate for the Penn State job. UCLA approached him in its last coaching search in 2007, but Golden withdrew his name from consideration. No real west coast ties.
Buzz:
UCLA has always liked Golden, and he's proven in the last four years to be a quality coach. UCLA's Athletic Department have reached out to him.
SUNDAY AFTERNOON: The word is that UCLA Chancellor Gene Block knew Golden at Virginia and favors him. It could be a move by Athletic Director Dan Guerrero that Block would approve. With Sumlin now not a candidate, UCLA going after Golden could be the next most likely scenario. If Golden wants it, we believe UCLA would snatch him up.

MONDAY UPDATE: There are reports that Golden turned down a UCLA offer.

NOTE: Other names being floated by various media outlets that we have not heard UCLA is interested in: Herm Edwards, former NFL Head Coach; DeWayne Walker, former UCLA DC and current head coach at New Mexico State; Randy Shannon, former Miami head coach (is campaigning for UCLA consideration).

Intermediaries are making a pitch to UCLA for Tom Cable, former UCLA OC and former Oakland Raiders Head Coach, but our sources are indicating UCLA has shown no interest.


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