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UCLA HC Hot Board (UPDATED 2/11 5AM) (1 Viewer)

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UCLA Coaching Hot Board UPDATED 2/11 5:00 AM​

UCLA embarks on its February football coach coaching search. These are the coaches we've already heard mentioned, or those that make some sense as good fits, or both...​

Tracy PiersonTRACY PIERSON2 hrsVIP281


This isn’t your conventional coaching search. It comes at a very inopportune time. It’s always the right time to fire a failed coach, but there are more opportune times to hire a coach than in February.

Right now, many would-be coaching candidates are preparing to kick off their spring practice at their current programs. Many start in March. So, it would likely have to be a situtation where the move to UCLA is obviously a step-up and it’s understandable, despite the bad timing, or the coach candidate isn’t currently employed as a coach.

We've heard from sources close to UCLA that it intends to make this a quick search, but we'll believe it when we see it.


Here are some names that 1) we’ve heard already mentioned, 2) we think make a great deal of sense and could logically be considered or 3) both.

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UPDATE 2/11 5:10 AM

-- Washington's new coach Jedd Fisch was in Cabo San Lucas and spoke with the UCLA administrators who were there. At this point, given the information we have, we won't consider Fisch a serious candidate.

-- Chris Horton has interviewed, it's been confirmed.

UPDATE 2/10 6:10 PM

We had heard there was a mystery sitting coach that was a candidate, and we've discovered it's Stanford head coach Troy Taylor. The word is that the Martin Jarmond plane will go from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, to the Bay Area to meet with Taylor Sunday morning.

UPDATE 2/10 5:30 PM

Tony White is gaining some momentum.

UPDATE 2/10 5:00 PM

The word is that Tommy Rees has moved into one of the finalists for the job at the moment.

UPDATE 4:19:

P.J. Fleck tweeted this out moments ago:


You would have to interpret this tweet that P.J. Fleck has decided to stay at Minnesota.



TOM HERMAN

(48), Head Coach, Florida Atlantic

Salary: $1 Million

PROS:
Herman became a big name in coaching when he was the offensive coordinator at Ohio State in 2012-2014, and then did extraordinarily well in his first head coaching gig at Houston for two years. He was a big thing in 2017 when he was hired at Texas. He’s known as a great offensive mind and a very good recruiter. The feeling is that he’d be very good with donors and NIL. He’s from SoCal, going to Simi Valley High and then playing at Cal Lutheran in Thousand Oaks, so he has deep California ties.

CONS: Herman didn’t catch fire in Austin. He was 32-18 overall, but couldn’t lead Texas to a conference championship, much less a College Football Playoffs. If you don’t do that at Texas in five years you’re out. So he sat out two years and then took a job he could get, Florida Atlantic, and went 4-8 in his first season. It’s tough to know if he’s actually doing a good job at FAU. He has a little bit of a rep as tough personality, and there’s a question if he’s a good fit at UCLA.

LIKELIHOOD: It’s pretty easy to believe Herman would take the UCLA job if offered. He’d be coming home, be back in the Power 5, going into the Big Ten, and would probably make five times what he is now. UCLA could maybe get him at a discount, too, figuring he’s still benefitting from the Texas $15 million buyout. Here’s the biggest factor that makes him a candidate: UCLA athletic director Martin Jarmond knew Herman when they both were at Ohio State. We’ve always heard his name mentioned as a candidate if Chip Kelly were ever to be fired because of the Jarmond connection.

WHY ON THIS LIST: Name mentioned.

DAVID SHAW
(51), Former Head Coach, Stanford
Former Salary: $9 million in 2022
PROS: The national optics on this would probably be good. Shaw is remembered as a great college football coach at Stanford and generally revered in the sport. Shaw knows how to run a program, and one that emphasizes academics. He did guide Stanford through perhaps its biggest football heyday in its history. He had five double-digit win seasons on The Farm, and guided Stanford teams to three Rose Bowls.
CONS: The other perspective on Shaw, and the one much more based on recent evidence, is that he was handed a Stanford program on the rise, rode that out and then rode it into the ground. He had four losing seasons at the end of his Stanford coaching career, with each season looking worse than the last. From what we’ve heard, after reaching success at Stanford, he put it on autopilot. He stopped working hard and stopped recruiting. He had publicly talked about how he wouldn’t embrace NIL at Stanford. There are so many worrisome echoes of Chip Kelly with Shaw.
LIKELIHOOD: There could be a high likelihood. If you’re an administration that cares more about winning the press conference and national optics, it could consider Shaw a victory that fell into its lap. Shaw’s son is a walk-on UCLA receiver, so Shaw has been hanging around and there’s probably a comfort level with the administration already. UCLA could think of it as an easy transition. He probably has the endorsement of Chip Kelly and, believe it or not, that could have some sway with the UCLA administration.
WHY ON THIS LIST: Name mentioned.

MATT CAMPBELL
(43), Head Coach, Cockeye State
Salary: $4 Million
PRO: He’s a program builder. He took a perennially bad Cockeye State program and turned it around in a couple of seasons. The 9 wins he posted in 2020 was only the second season Cockeye State had won that many games in over 100 years of football history. Before he got to Ames, Cockeye State hadn’t had a successful season in 12 years. His five successive winning seasons were easily the most in a millenium. He’s thought to be a good guy who does it the right way, is very young and has a lot of football coaching ahead of him.
CONS: Cockeye State is the furthest west Campbell has ever coached or lived, so he has no experience in the west. It can’t be underemphasized how experience in the west is key, because coaches who have never been here sometimes experience culture shock. After his phenomenal five-season run, he then went 4-8 in 2022 and then 7-6 this last season, so there isn’t a great deal of buzz around him like there was 2-3 years ago. While he only makes $4 million a year, which you might think makes him affordable, $4 million in Ames is like $8 million in L.A. There was a gambling scandal at Cockeye State which might be a trip-up with UCLA vetting.
LIKELIHOOD: Campbell was among those midwest coaches that got mentioned for every Big Ten opening for a few years, but it was obviously not enough to get him to leave Cockeye State. The feeling has always been he’s waiting for the right situation, but it could be, now, he’s feeling he’d better take the next best opportunity, and that could be UCLA. We’ve always heard him mentioned in UCLA circles, that he’d be a good fit at UCLA. He’s supposed to be a good guy, who builds programs the right way, so those tied into the coaching world think he’d be a good fit at UCLA. Cockeye State has annually started its spring practice in late March, so would Campbell even think about ditching out on the Cyclone program at this point?
WHY ON THIS LIST: Name always mentioned in association with UCLA.

TONY WHITE
(44), Defensive Coordinator, Nebraska
Salary: $1.6 million
PROS: What UCLA has been missing for a while, which we’ve now come to view as a key element to being the coach at UCLA, is someone who wants to be in Westwood. Chip Kelly had no affinity for UCLA, and Jim Mora always kind of resented the place. Being an alum shouldn’t be the only reason you hire someone, but it sure would feel good to have a head coach who valued being at UCLA and had some pride in the four letters. White is a tireless worker, and he’d embody the young, up-and-comer who would work his ass off to win at UCLA. He’s a fantastic recruiter. He’s built a formidable defense wherever he's been – San Diego State, ASU, Syracuse and now Nebraska. He has deep ties to UCLA, is still loved around the program, and would hit the ground running with donors and raising NIL. UCLA could save some money on his salary and could spend it on an expensive offensive coordinator and coaching staff, and White wouldn’t have too big of an ego to do it. We’ve been talking about a key factor for a coach at UCLA is having the hunger and motivation to win in Westwood, and White would have it in bunches.
CONS: Obviously, White has no head coaching experience.
LIKELIHOOD: White would absolutely take the job if offered. It’s a question of whether UCLA, with its inflated self-image, thinks it's better than hiring a mere coordinator, and isn’t at least a coordinator at Alabama, Ohio State or Michigan.
WHY ON THIS LIST: He's been mentioned.
UPDATE 2/9 at 4:01 PM
We can officially upgrade his status for the "Why on this list" to "He's been mentioned."

TOMMY REES
(31), Tight Ends, Cleveland Browns
PROS: Son of former UCLA football recruiting director Bill Rees, and brother of former UCLA player Danny Rees. Was the Alabama OC/QB coach for a season. Highly regarded, considered young up-and-comer. Was reportedly offfered the Ohio State offensive coordinator job before Chip Kelly. Considered a dynamic personality and thought to be a very effective recruiter. His semi-UCLA pedigree could possibly resonate with fans and donors. Cut his teeth as the quarterbacks coach and then offensive coordinator at Notre Dame, where his offenses were considered very good, which got him the job at Alabama.
CONS: Really young, with no head coaching experience.
LIKELIHOOD: We're starting to hear some buzz about Rees. It seems improbable that a 31-year-old would get the head coaching job, but we keep hearing that he's impressing the UCLA people.
WHY ON THIS LIST: Name Mentioned.
UPDATE 2/10 5:00 PM
The word is that Rees has moved into one of the finalists for the job at the moment.


TROY TAYLOR
(55), Head Coach, Stanford
Salary and Buyout: Unknown
PROS: He was successful at Sac State, leading the Hornets to a 30-8 record in three seasons, including a 12-1 mark in his last year, 2022. He's spent a year at Stanford getting to know what it's like to deal with an academic-minded university. His coaching background is just about 30 years on the west coast. He made it a condition that Stanford had to develop some kind of NIL plan and allow him to recruit the transfer portal. He lacked serious talent at Stanford in 2023 and even at 3-9 you could make a case that there were flashes of good coaching.
CONS: It could be described as an uninspired hire. Taylor isn't exactly a compelling personality. It's uncertain how he'd do in the NIL environment with UCLA donors.
LIKELIHOOD: Completely unknown at this point. We had heard there was a mystery sitting coach who was a candidate. We're pretty certain the itinerary for Martin Jarmond's plane is to fly from Cabo San Lucas to Oakland Sunday morning.
WHY ON THIS LIST: Name Mentioned.

JUSTIN WILCOX
(47), Head Coach, California
Salary: $3 million
PROS: Wilcox is considered a very good defensive coach. Everywhere he’s gone, as either a defensive coordinator or head coach, he’s put solid to very good defenses on the field. He knows the UC system, wouldn’t miss a beat in being able to navigate it. He has established recruiting ties to the west, and particularly California. He’s always done decently in filling out a staff, and knows the west coast coaching landscape really well.
CONS: He hasn’t had a winning season at Cal since 2019. It wouldn’t be a very inspiring choice, and probably wouldn’t do much to move the excitement/hope needle. He’s known to be a pretty quirky guy. His defenses haven't been as good in the last few years.
LIKELIHOOD: You’d have to think that Wilcox would snap up an offer, as a lifeline to get out of the Cal program. But then again, from what we know, he had a chance to take the Oregon job before Dan Lanning and turned it down. That, in fact, could be a reason why he’d snatch up the UCLA job.
WHY ON THIS LIST: Name Mentioned.

BRIAN HARTLINE
(36), Offensive Coordinator/Receivers Coach, Ohio State
Salary: $1.6 Million
PROS: Hartline, as Ohio State’s OC, has long been mentioned for head coaching jobs. The offense he ran at Ohio State was considered a very good one, not just because he has elite players but the scheme itself. He’s been ranked the No. 1 assistant recruiter in the nation by 247Sports. He reportedly works incredibly hard and almost certainly would want to prove himself as a head coach. He obviously knows the Big Ten well.
CONS: OSU head coach Ryan Day has said he wants to go in a different direction with the OC job for 2024. Hartline would remain at OSU, but probably not as OC. He’s Ohio State born and bred. He’s never coached anywhere but at Ohio State. He could experience some serious culture shock in Los Angeles. It’d take him a while just to get acclimated to the west coast and how things are done at UCLA – and coming from a football-first university like Ohio State, that could lead to some frustration for him.
LIKELIHOOD: Hartline would probably be on the list of coordinators, and there could be a Ohio State familiarity between Jarmond and Hartline, even though they missed each other there. The fact that he’s being moved out of the Ohio State OC job is probably a positive in terms of him being motivated to take the UCLA job. It would ironic that Chip Kelly getting the Ohio State OC job could very well be what facilitates Hartline getting the UCLA job.
WHY ON THIS LIST: Name has been mentioned.

BARRY ODOM
(46), Head Coach, UNLV
Salary: $1.7 Million
PROS: Everywhere Odom has gone the defense has dramatically improved. As a DC, he turned around the defenses at Memphi and Missouri, before getting promoted to be the Tigers’ head coach in 2015. At a disadvantage in the SEC, he managed a few winning seasons but was fired and became the DC at Arkansas, where he again built a good defense. He was hired as UNLV’s head coach last December and he had the Runnin’ Rebels at 9-5 in his first year, the first time UNLV has won more than 7 games since 1984. You’d think he has gotten familiar with the west coast while at UNLV. He has an innovative offensive coordinator in Brennan Marion who would probably come with him.
CONS: His one head coaching stint before UNLV, at Missouri, had mixed results. He has limited experience in the west. It’s unknown how he’d do with NIL and donors at UCLA’s level.
LIKELIHOOD: Obviously Odom would be very affordable and would almost certainly snatch up a UCLA offer.
WHY: It makes sense UCLA would consider him.

D’ANTON LYNN
(34), Co-Defensive Coordinator, USC
Salary: $2 Million
PROS: You’d have to say that Lynn has some immediate familiarity with UCLA. He had the most success in one season of any UCLA coordinator in recent history. Players love him; in fact, a couple of key UCLA defensive players followed him to USC when he jumped ship to take the job across town. He was generally liked and respected at UCLA – before he jumped ship. It’d be interesting if he could bring back those UCLA players with him – and maybe poach a few more from USC. Probably the biggest pro of hiring Lynn: it'd be really fun to screw with USC.
CONS: He’s only had one year of success as a coordinator. It was a great year for UCLA’s defense and his scheme was good, but he was also gifted with some considerable talent to work with. While at UCLA, he wasn’t generally considered to have the out-going, head-coach type of personality. He didn’t recruit aggressively while at UCLA. We'd have to wonder how he'd do in the NIL donor environment. We know that there is some lingering animosity about his move to UCLA. You also probably don't want to hire anyone for the head job whose first introduction to college football was working for Chip Kelly in the low-expectations recruiting environment he built here.
LIKELIHOOD: I’d have to think it’s fairly unlikely. Lynn’s move to USC smarted and left a mark. While on one hand you can’t necessarily blame him for taking a far more lucrative offer, sometimes that doesn’t matter when it comes to the UCLA/USC dynamic. There is still the question if he’s head coaching material, and after just one year as a coordinator, if he’s actually a good coach. I’d have to think he’d take it if offered the job. I'd have to think UCLA wouldn't offer him unless it had assurances he'd take it, because it just doesn't want to live with another Lynn/USC snub.
WHY ON THIS LIST: It makes sense UCLA would consider him.

JASON CANDLE
(44), Head Coach, Toledo
Salary: $1.125 million
PROS: If UCLA doesn’t get a known name, the options are a Power 5 coordinator or a mid-major head coach. Among the mid-major head coaches, Candle might be the No. 1 option. He’s coming off an 11-3 season in which his Toledo team went 8-0 in the Mid-American Conference. He’s been uncannily successful at Toledo, with two 11-win seasons, two nine-win seasons and six bowl games in eight years, never having a losing season. He did inherit a pretty successful Toledo program from Matt Campbell, but you could look at it that Toledo has a track record of discovering good coaches. Being from a non-Power Five program in the state of Ohio, there could be some Mick Cronin parallels. If UCLA wants to get a guy who has to be hungry to win at the next level, it’s almost certainly Candle, who has been successful at Toledo for eight years but just hasn’t gotten the right Power Five offer yet. He’s an offensive coach, and his teams have high-powered offenses; Toledo had the No. 15 offense in the country for yards per play in 2023, and Candle does it on the ground, with the No. 8 offense in the nation for yards per carry. So, his offense would be a pretty easy transition for UCLA’s personnel. He’s considered a good recruiter, commonly finishing with the No. 1 recruiting class in the Mid-American Conference. Right now, his 2024 class at Toledo is higher rated than UCLA’s 2024 class.
CONS: He hasn’t been west of Ohio, except for maybe vacation. He likely has no ties to the west. He’s never coached at the college level outside of the Toledo program. A theme in this coaching hot board is potential culture shock for coaches from outside of the west to come to UCLA and you’d have to think that might be the case with Candle. There’s always a question of whether a mid-major coach could make the leap to high-major. It’d be a mystery just how succesful he could be in the UCLA NIL world.
LIKELIHOOD: It’s entirely uncertain how likely this could be. I wouldn’t be surprised if Candle gets his name mentioned, even though we haven’t heard it yet. I wouldn’t be surprised, with Martin Jarmond’s Ohio connections, that Jarmond is a couple degrees of separation from Candle. I wouldn’t be surprised if that all coalesces into an interview. And when you have a young, up-and-coming coach with energy in an interview that can be pretty compelling.
WHY ON THIS LIST: It makes sense UCLA would consider him.

REMOTE POSSIBILITIES​

Chris Horton (39), Special Teams, Baltimore Ravens
The former UCLA safety could draw interest as a now longtime NFL special teams coordinator.
-- Pete Carroll (72), Former Seattle Seahawks coach
Do we have to include any description here?

OUT OF CONSIDERATION​

BRETT BRENNAN
(50), Head Coach, Arizona
Salary: $2.7 Million (Buyout: $10 million)
PROS:
Brennan played wide receiver at UCLA in the mid-'90s, so as an alum he would bring some UCLA pride back to the head coaching job. He's actually from the Bay Area, too, so he has deep California ties. Being at San Jose State for seven seasons as head coach, he definitely knows the California recruiting landscape, and is considered a good evaluator. He did moderately well at San Jose State, with three seven-win seasons in the last four years. He had the No. 17-ranked offense in the country for yards per play in 2023, with a well-balanced attack.
CONS: While it would be kind of fun to steal Arizona's new hiree, there really wouldn't be much of a buzz over the hire. He's not a dynamic personality, and it's arguable whether he could move the needle with donors and NIL.
LIKELIHOOD: I wouldn't discount it. While it wouldn't be an exciting hire for fans, you can see how it makes sense for UCLA in many ways -- affordable, an alum, almost certainly passes vetting, etc. There is an opinion out there, however, that Brennan might not take the job if offered since he's been on the Arizona job for less than a month. Here's probably the deal breaker: Reports have Brennan's Arizona buyout at $10 million.
WHY ON THIS LIST: Name mentioned.
UPDATE 2/10: We know that Brennan interviewed, and he's in line for a second in-person interview.
UPDATE 2/10 1:03 P.M.: Info is coming hot and heavy -- we have now heard that Brennan pulled his name out of the running and will stay with Arizona.

P.J. FLECK
(43), Head Coach, Minnesota
Salary: $6-7 million
PROS: He's turned Minnesota, where it's not easy to attract talent, into a winner. He posted an 11-win season in 2019, the most wins for a season in Minnesota history, and then followed up with two 9-win seasons in 2021 and 2022. He's considered a players' coach, a rah-rah guy. He coined the axiom "Row the Boat," which caught fire nationally in 2019. He's an offensive guy and Minnesota has generally had good offenses, and overchieved given its level of talent. He has a rep for being a good recruiter at Minnesota. You'd have to think his rah-rah personality would serve him well in donor circles and NIL.
CONS: He's entirely a midwestern guy. He has no experience in the west. When we're talking about culture shock for a non-west-coaster coming to UCLA, he could be a candidate. The knock on him is that he's more hype than substance. Fleck's buyout is $5 million, so that could be a snag, especially with his salary, which is, with bonuses, estimated to be $7 million a year. That's Minneapolis money, too, so L.A. cost of living makes matching his salary something to overcome. We’ve also heard he has some red flags that could show up in the vetting process.
LIKELIHOOD: We know he's a candidate actually on UCLA's list and is being vetted. There could be a personal connection with Martin Jarmond. Many times when you hire a coach you lean toward the opposite personality of the coach that just departed, and Fleck, being the hype type of guy, is just that.
WHY ON THIS LIST: Name has been mentioned.
UPDATE 2/9, 2:30 PM
Fleck's buyout is $5 million, so that could be a snag, especially with his salary, which is, with bonuses, estimated to be $7 million a year. That's Minneapolis money, too, so L.A. cost of living makes matching his salary something to overcome. Will he be willing to take a paycut?
UPDATE 2/9, 4:01 PM
We've heard from some Minnesota sources who would be glad to see Fleck leave, which isn't usually a good sign.
UPDATE 2/10, 4:20 PM
P.J. Fleck tweeted this out moments ago:


You would have to interpret this tweet that P.J. Fleck has decided to stay at Minnesota.
 
Last edited:

nja13

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Reading through that, if I were a UCLA job, White actually seems like the best candidate. If your fine with a guy who has no HC experience, that is.

Was the Fleck section deleted?
 

2010sarenevercoming

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Interesting fact, UCLA's last 4 (non-interim) head coach hires going back to 2003 were coming off an NFL gig as their most recent spot. I'd say there's a pretty decent chance they give a pro assistant a strong look.... kind of odd that a UCLA insider doesn't even have that on the radar as a possibility.


Me to UCLA football people:

I Know More Than You Season 4 GIF by Parks and Recreation
 

Ironwardog

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the Tony White thread lives again….. I wonder if The Simulation has been cooking up this scenario for Lynn to go back to UCLA to take the HC job and then USC to come back at White with a $3 million a year offer…… just when we thought it was safe to keep White for one more year…..
 

Toe

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He’d be coming home, be back in the Power 5, going into the Big Ten, and would probably make five times what he is now.

I wonder how long it will take for writers to realize that the Power 5 no longer exists...
 

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