Neuheisel officially out after Pac-12 title game
On Sunday, multiple media outlets informed the general public that Rick Neuheisel would be fired following UCLA’s appearance in the Pac-12 title game Friday night.
Monday, the school has finally gotten around to informing the coach the same thing.
According to ESPN.com and others, Neuheisel was informed Monday morning, presumably by athletic director Dan Guerrero, that he would not return in 2012 as the Bruins’ head coach. The school subsequently confirmed their decision to relieve Neuheisel of his coaching duties via a press release.
Neuheisel will coach the Bruins in the conference championship game against Oregon, then be replaced on an interim basis by offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach Mike Johnson. A national search for a permanent replacement will commence immediately.
Guerrero will hold a press conference at 5:30 ET this evening to address the change.
“I have a great deal of respect for Rick Neuheisel and the manner in which he has run this program during his tenure as UCLA head football coach. Decisions such as this one do not come without a great deal of heartache,” said Guerrero in a statement. “However, it is apparent to me that a move was necessary at this time in order to give UCLA the best chance to enjoy the success that we all desire.”
“Rick Neuheisel’s strong personal values, integrity and tenacity made this decision extremely difficult for Dan Guerrero and the University. We wish Rick the best in his future endeavors,” said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block. “UCLA’s athletic program has built a rich and proud legacy throughout the years, producing student-athletes who are winners on and off the field. While we insist on emphasizing academic performance by all students - including our student-athletes - we also have a strong commitment to ensuring our athletic programs are successful overall. I have complete confidence in Dan’s ability to recruit and hire a head coach who can revitalize UCLA’s football program, and have pledged my full support in this process.”
Neuheisel is completing his fourth season at his alma mater, compiling a 21-28 mark overall and an abysmal 12-22 record in Pac-12 play. Oddly enough, his best conference season was also his last as the Bruins took advantage of Arizona State’s November collapse to claim the first-ever Pac-12 South crown. That Sun Devils’ collapse also cost Dennis Erickson his job at ASU.
As for potential replacements, Boise State’s Chris Petersen (not going to happen, folks), Houston’s Kevin Sumlin (two-way battle between UCLA and ASU) and Cincinnati’s Butch Jones have been mentioned.