UCLA Has Finally Found Their Defensive Coordinator

Michael TierneyAnalyst IFebruary 13, 2011

UCLA Has Finally Found Their Defensive Coordinator

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    The search is over!

    In 2010 the UCLA Bruins finished the season a dismal 4-8 (2-7 in the Pac-10), with a defense ranked 95th in the nation (total defense) and 108th in the nation (rushing defense). There is no doubt that these numbers impacted the Bruins on National Signing Day where UCLA recruited a mostly 3-star class ranked 54th in the nation according to Scout.com.

    In a year which cross-town rival USC is halfway through a two-year bowl ban, and could be reduced pending the outcome of USC’s appeal to the NCAA, the Bruins needed to capitalize on Trojan trauma in order to back up the bold monopoly words proclaimed by Head Coach Rick Neuheisel back in August of 2008.

    After the 2010 season ended, Neuheisel explained that time would be taken in evaluating his coaching staff, and that he would like to “move quickly” in making decisions about his coaching staff. In two short weeks, Neuheisel fired defensive coordinator Chuck Bullough.

    Bullough’s replacement search has been arduous. Neuheisel is looking for experience and flexibility (a coach who is not too tied to the 4-3 defense), and he is determined to find the right coach, despite costs.

    2-15-11 Update: Joe Tresey is named Defensive Coordinator

    2-19-11 Update: Inoke Breckterfield is named Defensive Line Coach.

    Let’s look at a few candidates including THE final choice.

UCLA’s First Choice for Defensive Coordinator

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    NFL Photos/Getty Images

    Vic Fangio

    Last Job: Stanford Defensive Coordinator

    Team Record: 11-1

    Quality:  Excellent 

    Plan

    On Dec 22nd Vic Fangio was believed to be at the top of Neuheisel's list of candidates to replace Chuck Bullough.

    Result

    On January 8th, Fangio took the 49er’s Defensive Coordinator position.

    Comment

    Fangio has tremendous NFL experience (Saint’s Linebackers Coach; Panther’s Defensive Coordinator; Colt’s Defensive Coordinator; Texan’s Defensive Coordinator; and Ravens Assistant Head Coach), and he is going back to the NFL with the 49er’s new Head Coach Jim Harbaugh.

UCLA’s Second Choice for Defensive Coordinator

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    Rocky Long

    Last Job: San Diego State Defensive Coordinator

    Team Record: 9-4

    Quality:  Excellent 

     

    Plan

    On December 22nd, Rocky Long was thought to be Neuheisel’s second choice to replace Chuck Bullough.

    Result

    On January 12th, Long took San Diego State’s Head Coach Position

    Comment

    Rocky Long’s Coaching Ledger includes two years as San Diego State’s Defensive Coordinator, 11 years as New Mexico’s Head Coach, two years as UCLA’s Defensive Coordinator, and five years as Oregon State’s Defensive Coordinator. Long is happy to be a head coach.

UCLA’s Consideration 3.1 for Defensive Coordinator

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    Phil Snow

    Current Job: Eastern Michigan Defensive Coordinator

    Team Record: 2-10

    Quality: Marginal


    Plan

    On December 22nd, Phil Snow was believed to be a Neuheisel consideration to replace Chuck Bullough.

    Result

    There are no reports that Snow was offered by Neuheisel

    Comment

    Phil Snow’s Eagle’s 2010 defense was 113th in total defense. The team’s 2010 record was 2-10, and they play in the MAC.

UCLA’s Consideration 3.2 for Defensive Coordinator

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    Jeff Golden/Getty Images

    Ken Norton Jr.

    Current Job: Seattle Seahawk Linebacker Coach

    Team Record: 7-9

    Quality: Excellent


    Plan

    On December 22, Phil Snow was believed to be another Neuheisel consideration to replace Chuck Bullough.

    Result

    There are no reports that Norton Jr. was offered by Neuheisel

    Comment

    Ken Norton Jr. turned down a chance to leave USC (under Pete Carroll), to Neuheisel’s staff in Jan 2008. Blogs say Norton Jr. and Neuheisel have had words in the past. Ken was fairly successful at USC and he recruits great players.

UCLA’s Consideration 3.3 for Defensive Coordinator

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    NFL Photos/Getty Images

    Jeff Fitzgerald

    Current Job: Cincinnati Bengals Linebacker Coach

    Team Record: 4-8

    Quality: Marginal


    Plan

    On December 22, Jeff Fitzgerald was believed to be another Neuheisel consideration to replace Chuck Bullough.


    Result

    There are no reports that Fitzgerald was offered by Neuheisel.

    Comment

    Fitzgerald is a Linebackers Coach with the Bengals and his talented linebackers did not seem to do much this year. He has no D.C. experience.

UCLA’s Consideration 3.4 for Defensive Coordinator

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    Tim Hundley

    Current Job: UCLA Bruins Secondary Coach

    Team Record: 4-8

    Quality: Marginal


    Plan

    On December 22, Tim Hundley was believed to be another Neuheisel consideration to replace Chuck Bullough.

    Result

    There are no reports that Hundley was offered by Neuheisel.

    Comment

    Tim worked with Neuheisel in Colorado, Washington, and now at UCLA. He does have D.C. experience at SMU, UTEP, and at Washington under Neuheisel. At UCLA, Hundley’s secondary has been porous.

UCLA’s Consideration 3.5 for Defensive Coordinator

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    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    DeWayne Walker

    Current Job: New Mexico State Head Coach

    Team Record: 2-10

    Quality: Excellent


    Plan

    On December 22, Walker was hoped to be another Neuheisel consideration to replace Chuck Bullough.

    Result

    There are no reports that Walker was offered by Neuheisel.

    Comment

    DeWayne Walker was an outstanding defensive coordinator for UCLA. He also coached the secondary for Pete Carroll at USC. Walker is a very good coach. His record at Head Coach at New Mexico State is not great yet.

UCLA’s Third Choice for Defensive Coordinator

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    Doug Benc/Getty Images

    Teryl Austin

    Current Job: Florida Defensive Coordinator

    Team Record: 8-5

    Quality: Good


    Plan

    Austin was expected to be Neuheisel’s third choice to replace Chuck Bullough.

    Result 

    On January 6, it was reported on an ESPN Twitter account that Neuheisel was to interview Austin, but that meeting is unsubstantiated.

    Comment

    Austin has plenty of NFL experience and has only started his D.C. job at the Gators a year ago. Swapping Florida for UCLA would be very unlikely.

UCLA’s Fourth Choice for Defensive Coordinator

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Randy Shannon

    Last Job: Miami Head Coach

    Team Record: 7-6

    Quality: Marginal


    Plan

    On January 23, Randy Shannon was expected to be Neuheisel’s fourth choice to replace Chuck Bullough.

    Result

    Although some blogs reported that Shannon was hired at UCLA, two weeks passed without an announcement. On Feb 8th Shannon interviewed for Maryland’s defensive coordinator position. On Feb 11th Maryland offered Shannon the position which he is expected to accept.

    Comment

    Shannon was fired because the Hurricanes finished a 7-5 regular season that began with championship expectations. Many blogs in cyber world say Shannon comes with “baggage” - whatever that may be.

UCLA’s Consideration 4.1 for Defensive Coordinator

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    Chuck Heater

    Former Job: Florida Co-Defensive Coordinator

    Team Record: 8-5

    Quality: Good


    Plan

    On January 1, Heater was reported, in unsubstantiated blogs, to be a Neuheisel consideration for replacing Chuck Bullough.

    Result

    Heater was hired as Temple’s Defensive Coordinator

    Comment:

    UCLA beat Temple in the Eagle Bank Bowl back in 2009. Temple beat UCLA for the Heater battle in 2011.

UCLA’s Consideration 4.2 for Defensive Coordinator

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    Mark Carrier

    Current Job: New York Jets Defensive Line Coach

    Team Record: 13-6

    Quality:  Good

     

    Plan

    On January 26, Carrier was imagined to be another Neuheisel consideration to replace Chuck Bullough.

    Result

    There are no reports that Walker was offered by Neuheisel.

    Comment

    Mark Carrier has spent three years as the Baltimore Ravens Secondary coach and a year as the New York jets Defensive Line coach. He might consider the UCLA D.C. job to be a step backwards.

UCLA’s Fifth Choice for Defensive Coordinator

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    Rocky Seto

    Last Job: Seattle Seahawks Secondary Assistant

    Team Record: 7-6

    Quality: Marginal

    Plan

    On February 2, Rocky Seto was actually Neuheisel’s fifth choice to replace Chuck Bullough.

    Result

    Neuheisel hired Seto and later the same night Seto posted his happiness on Facebook before UCLA announced the hire. UCLA fans saw the Facebook post and objected en-masse on several blogs or sports sites. Neuheisel yielded to the Bruin following and rescinded Seto’s offer.

    Neuheisel hired Seto and later the same night Seto posted his happiness on Facebook before UCLA announced the hire. UCLA fans saw the Facebook post and objected en-masse on several blogs or sports sites. Neuheisel yielded to the Bruin following and rescinded Seto’s offer.

    Comment 

    Rocky Seto does not have a ton of experience. He probably is a great guy; however, USC’s secondary took a huge dive under his watch. The UCLA D.C. search continues.

UCLA’s Consideration 4.3 for Defensive Coordinator

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    Bill Young

    Current Job: Oklahoma State Defensive Coordinator

    Team Record: 11-2

    Quality: Good

    Plan 

    On February 10, Bill Young was another Neuheisel consideration to replace Chuck Bullough.

    Result

    Oklahoma State would not grant Neuheisel permission to speak with Cowboys’ defensive coordinator Bill Young.

    Comment

    The Oklahoma State Cowboys finished 2010 with a record of 11-2. It is believed that Bill Young’s last stop is at Oklahoma State.

UCLA’s Sixth Choice for Defensive Coordinator

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    Steve Brown

    Last Job: Recently Demoted from Kentucky’s Defensive Coordinator

    Team Record: 6-7

    Quality: Marginal

    Plan

    On February 2, Steve Brown was expected to be Neuheisel’s sixth choice to replace Chuck Bullough.

    Result

    Neuheisel interviewed Brown on or about Feb 9th but UCLA still does not have a defensive coordinator after this interview.

    Comment

    Kentucky fans may be slightly down on Brown because they feel that he does not recruit well, but the Wildcat’s total defense has improved from 53rd in 2009 (tied for seventh in the SEC standings) up to 45th in 2010 (10th in the SEC standings). UCLA's new Defensive Coordinator is.....

And UCLA’s Choice for Defensive Coordinator Is:

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    Joe Tresey

    Last Job: Omaha Nighthawks (United Football League) Defensive Backs Coach

    Team Record: 3-5

    Quality: Good

     

    Plan

    On February 9, Neuheisel said "I understand the scrutiny," but that he would make his choice to replace Chuck Bullough by Sunday February 13th. Neuheisel would not name his last two candidates but also would not rule out one more interview (at a later time).

    Result

    On Tuesday, February 15, Coach Neuheisel has selected Joe Tresey as his new Defensive Coordinator.

    Comment

    It will be a huge challenge for Tresey work in any new schemes with the players. Spring practice starts in only six weeks (March 31st). We can probably expect Tresey to make only minor adjustments to UCLA’s present defensive philosophy.