Rick Neuheisel Fired: The Top 5 Candidates to Replace Him at UCLA

Randy ChambersAnalyst INovember 28, 2011

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - NOVEMBER 19:  Head coach Butch Jones of the Cincinnati Bearcats reacts during a game against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Rutgers Stadium on November 19, 2011 in New Brunswick, New Jersey.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

We all knew it was a matter of time before UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel was fired, but nobody thought it would be right now. The Bruins are a subpar 6-6, but they still are playing in the Pac-12 championship game this weekend against Oregon.

I know UCLA was blown out last weekend by USC 50-0, but by firing the head coach now, you're basically saying the Bruins have no chance to beat the Ducks. The firing had to happen, but the distractions to the team and the players wasn't necessary.

Neuheisel coached the Bruins for four seasons and finished with a 21-28 record. He will coach the Pac-12 championship game, and then offensive coordinator Mike Johnson will take over his duties until the school finds a more permanent replacement.

Here are some of the top candidates the school should be looking at.


Kevin Sumlin

Sumlin has done a fabulous job at Houston, racking up a 35-16 record in four seasons. He may also take the Cougars to a BCS bowl this season if they can continue to run the table. But with quarterback Case Keenum on his way out, Sumlin may be looking for a new challenge at a bigger program. UCLA may be the right fit, but the Bruins will also have to compete with Arizona State.

Sumlin has a great offensive mind, and the Cougars have one of the top offenses in the country. When he was the offensive coordinator with Oklahoma, the Sooners had one of the top offenses as well.


Chris Petersen

With quarterback Kellen Moore and the majority of that Bronco team on the way out, Petersen will be in the conversation for every coaching vacancy. UCLA isn't as attractive as some of the other coaching positions that are open, but it's worth a shot. Petersen has won 92 percent of his games at Boise State and three of the five bowl games.

This is a very unlikely hire, but Petersen is looking for a school that could earn an automatic BCS bid, and UCLA does have that going for it.


Butch Jones

Jones replaced Brian Kelly at Cincinnati and has it competing for a possible BCS bowl this season. His overall coaching record isn't that impressive at 39-24, but he is a solid recruiter that could help turn this program around. He had the top recruiting classes in the Mid-American Conference coaching Central Michigan and won two MAC championships. Other teams that may be interested in his services are North Carolina and Illinois.


Ron English

This may be the dark-horse candidate, but English could be a solid fit at UCLA. You wouldn't think so by his 8-27 record at Eastern Michigan, but he has a great defensive mind and is a solid recruiter. The Bruins will never be able to have a better recruiting class than USC, but English could help narrow the gap a bit.

In 2008, he was considered a candidate for the Arkansas job and the Michigan job before becoming a defensive coordinator for Louisville. English recruits well, is a great defensive coach and would come cheap for UCLA.


Mike Leach

Leach is another coach that is a candidate for nearly every coaching vacancy, because he'd probably jump at the first opportunity that presented itself. He would instantly help recruiting because of his name and would provide a great offensive coach to improve those horrible offensive numbers. Leach is actually from the West Coast, and if you read this, he has been hinting at possibly coaching the Bruins all along.


Randy Chambers is a B/R Featured Columnist that covers College Football and the NFL. You can contact him @Randy_Chambers or Randy.Chambers7@yahoo.com