Guerrero Press Conference Highlights

The new athletic director, Dan Guerrero, faces the media for the first time and, while saying all the right things, also gives us a hint of his vision...

A few impressions of the press conference yesterday when Dan Guerrero was introduced as the new athletic director:

It's readily apparent how much Guerrero loves UCLA. He beams when he talks about the school and its athletics, and called the UCLA athletic director position his "dream job." You can see the passion in him about it, and he made many references to how he expects to fulfill the excellence of UCLA athletics.

It was great to see Guerrero's family around him. They were there in force, and it's obvious that they were extremely proud of him and supportive of him.

While Guerrero said all of the things he needed to say, he definitely, though, couldn't hide his desire to win. He repeated "win" and "winning" again and again. He also emphasized work ethic over and over again.

I think he also, while saying the things he had to say, showed a certain mindset that the athletic department needs "improvement," specifically the football and basketball programs.

Here are a few interesting aspects of the press conference yesterday:

-- When asked whether having not overseen a football program would be an issue, Guerrero conceded how he thought that might be a concern, and then talked about how he was up to the challenge. He then said, "I'm not going to sit up in the press box and pass down plays to Bob Toledo," and then turned to Coach Toledo and said, "Unless you want me to, Bob." He ended his answer by saying, "I look forward to working with Bob, developing a relationship there, and helping to improve his program where it needs to be improved."

-- Guerrero said how he had inadvertently – and indirectly -- gotten an endorsement as athletic director from J.D. Morgan himself. When he was a senior baseball player at UCLA, he, as the informal spokesperson for the baseball team, confronted Morgan about not having an on-campus baseball facility. Guerrero said that Morgan's "veins were bulging, and he had a go at me." Years later, when Guerrero was in private business, he said he was on the other side of a similar experience, when a reporter had a go at him. He then wrote Morgan a letter. Guerrero said in the letter that Morgan might not remember him, but he remembered the impression the experience had on him. Morgan wrote back to Guerrero, saying he would never forget Guerrero. He also said that he always thought Guerrero would make a good athletic director some day.

-- Guerrero talked about two things important to an athletic department, image and substance. He talked about how maintaining a good, respectable image is important. He then said that substance was also integral. "Substance – it's what we produce. We're going to be about winning, and we'll continue to be about winning. But we're going to win the right way. So, when I say substance, it's win without compromising integrity, it's win by doing things right, it's win in a way that everyone that supports this program will be proud of what we do and how we do it."

-- When there was a question about improving facilities, Guerrero said, "During my tour, I noticed a lot of really good construction going on right now. That's pretty exciting. There's been a methodical movement toward improving the facilities on this campus. When I get in here, we'll continue to look forward and see what options exist to improve facilities."

-- When asked if Guerrero followed UCLA athletics very closely while the AD at UC Irvine, he said, "110% of my attention was focused on making the Anteaters a great program. But as a UCLA alum, there was always an eye on what was happening on this campus. So, I would say I'm reasonably more familiar to things that occur on this campus than most."

-- Guerrero talked about what was key in establishing himself as athletic director: "I have to develop a relationship with the people on the staff and the coaches. Before you decide which direction you can go, you need to establish a baseline. You know, where are we? What things work well here, and what things need to be improved. To me that's the most fundamental thing. To me, I can come here with the greatest vision in the world, but if I don't have any buy-in from our coaches or student athletes, or administration or from the community, it's a vision that's not going anyway. That's the most important thing."

-- One of the strangest – and curious -- moments of the day was when Guerrero was asked about the potential of an on-campus football stadium. He answered pretty quickly, "The reality is, it's not likely in this lifetime that we'll have a football stadium on this campus. Obviously that's one of the great challenges for UCLA. Having an on-campus stadium in one of your marquee sports, but it is what it is."

After joking that his vision was for someone to donate the Bel Air Country Club as the land for the stadium, Chancellor Carnesale then added seriously: "One has to only walk around this campus to see there isn't going to be a football stadium on this campus."

-- Guerrero was asked about the high expectations of UCLA basketball fans. He answered, "The biggest expectations should be from the athletic director – in all the programs, just not basketball. When I say we want to do things the right way, there are certain absolutes in all the programs that I'd like to see, and many already exist. Bring in the right student athletes, make sure they positively represent the university. On the playing field, we want them to be strong fundamentally, work hard at all times, fire out every night. Never take a night off. Those are absolutes that are very important in any program, and any program of this magnitude."


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