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UCLA’s interim coach an Akron coaching target?

Just a couple of days after UCLA announced Jim Mora as the replacement for Rick Neuheisel, the man who will bridge the head-coaching gap between the old and the new is drawing interest for his own gig as well.

According to, interim Bruins coach Mike Johnson has been contacted by Akron regarding its coaching vacancy. The Zips fired Rob Ianello Nov. 27 after just two seasons at the MAC school.

Connecting Johnson to the Zips opening makes sense as he played quarterback for the football program back in the late 80s. Johnson, though, refused to address the speculation, saying his focus is on getting the Bruins prepared to play in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl against Illinois, which will also be led by an interim coach.

“We’re going to go through the 31st and finish this thing off the right way,” Johnson said. “We’re going to come out and be pros as coaches and we’re going to be student athletes for UCLA as players. And we’re going to do that until the last second of that game on the 31st. Whatever happens and wherever guys decide to go, I’m sure it’ll happen. It’s part of the business.”

Johnson was hired by Neuheisel this past January as the eventual replacement for offensive coordinator Norm Chow.

As far as the Akron job is concerned, the only other names we’ve heard attached to the opening are Florida State defensive coordinator and Ohio native Mark Stoops -- also of interest to Auburn, reportedly -- and Wayne State’s Paul Winters.

(Photo courtesy of UCLA athletics)