Petersen, Tressel Top Names for UCLA Gig

UCLA has made it official on the rumored firing of Coach Rick Neuheisel.  Now since that is finished, where do the Bruins go from here?

Let’s face it.  Replacing Neuheisel will not be comparable to replacing John Wooden.  But UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero wants this hiring to be like Wooden’s, and his last.

Guerrero has hired three football coaches since becoming AD.  The pressure is on him to make the right choice.  With that in mind, Guerrero has only two names in mind.  Those names are Jim trestle and Chris Peterson.

Sure the name of Tressel raises the hair on the back of some necks.  He comes with baggage, but he also comes with a winning record and a National championship under his belt.  One more than any other coach Guerrero will speak with has.

Tressel still has the class and national prominence UCLA wants and needs to compete with USC and Lane Kiffin.  Kiffin is dominating recruiting in the Los Angeles and southern California area.  Tressel could even the playing field and bring in prized recruits from talent rich Ohio and Florida.

However Tressel will be under the NCAA’s “just cause” penalty.  It is expected to last 5 years.  Which means any school wishing to hire Tressel has to come before the NCAA and show “just cause” why they should be allowed.

Tressel has already sat out the 5 game suspension invoked by Ohio State when he took the job as special assistant with the Indianapolis Colts.  So the hearing with the NCAA should just be a formality.  Unless the governing body wants their piece of Tressel’s flesh.

Peterson is the other candidate.  Up until now he has been unwilling to leave Boise State.  He has loved the area and built the school into a title contender.  But they will never take the last step, the step into National Championship contender.  That might be the draw that lures Peterson away.

As much as he tries, Boise will never play the schedule needed to draw BCS votes and respectability.  With his talented senior class graduating, Peterson might look at this being the best time to try other pastures.  With Peterson’s history recruiting in California will be second nature.  Peterson grabs several of his players at Boise in Northern California.

Many believe that is why Guerrero decided to pull the plug on Neuheisel at this time.  Peterson is always the top coach and he will be courted by several schools.  The timing gives Guerrero a head start on the Peterson sweepstakes.

Tressel aside, Petersen has the best record of any coach available.  71-6 record in six seasons at Boise and is 4-2 in bowl games.  But if Peterson decides to speak with other schools, UCLA will not be the only one.  Penn State, Arizona State, Illinois, Kansas and others are expected to call on the 47 year old.

UCLA is a down program with a large upside.  Whether it be Peterson, Tressel or another name, the Bruins needs to hit a home run on this choice.  Anything less will mean doom for Guerrero.

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