Nov. 28, 2011
UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero met with members of the media Monday afternoon at the Los Angeles Tennis Center Clubhouse to discuss the dismissal of football coach Rick Neuheisel.
Dan Guerrero Opening Statement:
As of this morning, in the meeting that I had with head coach Rick Neuheisel, I informed him that following the game this Friday night in Eugene, he would be relieved of his duties as the head football coach at UCLA. In that same meeting, I also indicated that I'd like for him to coach that game. Rick is obviously a great Bruin. He's taken the team to this point, and he was very open to that suggestion of coaching that game. Making this decision, I made no assumptions about the outcome of that particular game. By making the decision today, it allows us the opportunity to begin the search for a new coach immediately, and we will, in fact, do that. In the event that we will be playing any bowl game, I have indicated that Mike Johnson, our offensive coordinator and receivers coach, will serve as the interim head coach for any bowl game in which we participate.
This decision was made in consultation with my senior staff. I brought them in yesterday. We talked about the scenario, I indicated to them where I wanted to go with this particular situation. I talked to the Chancellor and informed him of the decision as well. He is in full support of the decision. We also talked about the timing, and the timing made sense for us to move forward today so that we could actually get things rolling as far as the search and make certain that we were able to talk to the student-athletes and talk to the assistant coaches. Did not want to be disingenuous with Rick at all. I made the decision and thought that it was in the best interest for all parties to go ahead and move forward.
Decisions like this are never easy, in particular with one of your own. There's always pain and heartache involved. Obviously, as I indicated earlier, Rick is a great Bruin. But there was no doubt about the fact that I felt this move was necessary at this time. Rick obviously brought a great deal to the table when it comes to his role here as the head coach at UCLA. His energy, his passion, his enthusiasm for the university, for the program, was obviously second to none. And he took on a challenging situation and obviously gave it his very best shot during the four years that he was here. And although the results weren't what Bruin fans wanted, what all of us wanted, just in the general sense, I take great pride in the fact that he represented us well at every turn, and I know that there are many out there who are grateful to Rick for what he did as a representative of this university.
In the end, I was concerned about the program's direction, most notably in the inconsistency that plagued the team, certainly this year. I believe the sign of a good, solid program is one that is consistent game in and game out. Even though you may not always win those games, the fact that you can be assured of the kind of effort that you're going to get on a game-to-game basis, as indicated, is a sign of a good, solid program. And we just weren't there. We certainly had some losses that were of epic proportions, if you will, and in the latter half of the season, and that simply just wasn't good enough.
The process for beginning the search will occur immediately, if you will. I will work with a small group of individuals from my staff, consult with football experts, people that I trust and respect, for some assistance in that regard. We will move forward with a consultant to help us now. We identify candidates; we certainly have a good idea of what direction we'd like to look, but these individuals can help us with background checks and certainly help us with the confidentiality of the process.
Our goal remains the same - it's to be a national player, to try to be in the national discussion on a regular basis, and, of course, to win championships. After today, I will not be commenting with any great frequency on the search process. Obviously it's important that we protect the identity of any candidates. I know that the media and many fans out there love the idea of speculating who the next coach might be, and I understand that. Everyone has reliable sources, everyone has inside information, but I can assure you with the highest degree of confidence that the only inside information is Dan Guerrero. Until such time as I move forward and come to the podium with a new head football coach, you will not be hearing much from me throughout this process.