UCLA Football: Why Bruins Are Right To Stay with Rick Neuheisel for Now
The Rick Neuheisel Era hasn't gone as planned at UCLA.
Upon his signing to become the head coach of the Bruins, UCLA released an ad saying "The Football Monopoly in L.A. Is Officially Over" with a picture of Neuheisel pointing at someone during a UCLA practice. But it was clear that he was pointing right at USC and former head coach Pete Carroll.
During his three-and-a-half years in Westwood, the Bruins' record is 18-25 overall with a 10-20 record in the Pac-10/Pac-12. He's led the Bruins to one bowl game in 2009, which they won, but haven't finished any better than eighth in the conference.
This year the Bruins are 3-4 with a 2-2 record in the Pac-12. The most recent loss, a 48-12 loss to a 2-5 Arizona Wildcats team.
Many Bruin alumni are calling for an immediate end to the Neuheisel Era. But letting Neuheisel go isn't the right decision.
At least not yet.
Just after the end of the 2007 season, UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero fired head coach Karl Dorrell, both pictured to the left, and signed Neuheisel.
Neuheisel signed a five-year deal worth $1.25 million a year with up to $500,000 in incentives each season. That makes him the tenth-highest paid state employee in California.
For the state of California to have to eat his contract while he does nothing would be a huge mistake. California is already having enough financial troubles, they shouldn't have to worry about paying a former employee.
Would It Make a Difference in 2011?
Yes, UCLA has underperformed this season and every single season under Rick Neuheisel's tenure.
But if the Bruins were to fire Neuheisel during the season, would it really change a whole lot?
There is an outside chance that with a new coach in charge the players will rally around him and go undefeated the rest of the season. But in the end, the players are going to be the same.
Their skills won't improve with a new coach.
They won't heal faster.
They're still going to be inconsistent.
Recruits Could Be Lost
Rick Neuheisel has had some heralded recruiting classes during his tenure at UCLA, specifically the graduating class of 2009 that included current backup quarterback Richard Brehaut (left).
But none of them have panned out as planned.
If Neuheisel were to be fired midseason, it is highly likely that UCLA would lose a fair amount of their recruits from the class of 2012.
Even though the recruiting class of 2012 may end up being just another lackluster Neuheisel class, they will undoubtedly be better than the potential players who would take their vacant scholarships.
UCLA is 3-4 right now. The only terrible loss of the season was on Thursday night.
The other three losses were all to be expected, to a 6-0 Houston team, an improving Texas team and the currently ranked No. 8 Stanford Cardinal.
On the schedule for the Bruins the rest of the way are Cal, Arizona State, Utah, Colorado and USC. ASU and USC aside, the other three games are winnable. This doesn't mean that UCLA will win all of those games, but there is a possibility.
If the Bruins could finish 3-2 down the stretch, that would leave them at a bowl eligible 6-6, tied for Rick Neuheisel's best regular season record.
In the end, whether Neuheisel is fired or not is up to the athletic director, Dan Guerrero. But if he wants to make the right choice, whether it be to keep Neuheisel or relieve him of his duties, he should wait until the end of the season to make his decision.