Pac-12: Randy Shannon

Coaching issues not done at UCLA

February, 15, 2011
UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel admitted that his nearly two months search for a new defensive coordinator was "long and exhaustive," but even the hiring of Joe Tresey has not completely ended the coaching intrigue for his team.

For one, the Bruins still have a vacancy on the defensive side of the ball after Neuheisel fired line coach Todd Howard last week. While Neuheisel said he "probably" would be looking for a defensive line coach, he and Tresey have not decided position responsibilities for 2011. Tresey is a secondary specialist but he has also coached linebackers. Presently, Tim Hundley is the Bruins secondary coach and Clark Lea oversees linebackers.

Further, Tresey is a 4-3 coach. One of the reasons Neuheisel fired Chuck Bullough in December is a stated desire to adopt a 3-4.

During a conference call Tuesday, Neuheisel said what he most wanted was "flexibility." For his part, Tresey said that his scheme is a "multiple 4-3" and that "we have the ability to play some 3-4."

Said Neuheisel, "It became very clear listening to Joe explaining his tactics that there are a lot of different ways you could go."

It is no secret that Tresey wasn't Neuheisel's first choice. Neuheisel even said last week that he "had the guy picked three times" but things didn't work out.

Neuheisel wasn't sure of the date he first interviewed Tresey -- either late December or early January -- but he then turned his primary attention to other candidates, such as Rocky Long, Vic Fangio, Randy Shannon and Rocky Seto. Part of that, he said, was a familiarity with the other candidates that he didn't have with Tresey.

"I wanted to be thorough; I didn't know Joe," Neuheisel said. "I wanted to be right."

That included Neuheisel calling Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly. Kelly, while head coach at Cincinnati, fired Tresey after the 2008 season, and one of the reasons -- at least one made public -- was Kelly's desire to switch from a 4-3 to a 3-4. Neuheisel noted that he needed to understand what he called a "a hiccup" on Tresey's resume.

"I wanted to get to the bottom why that happened," Neuheisel said. "I was comfortable after the conversation with both Coach Kelly and with Joe that there wasn't anything that would be of concern to me going forward with Joe as our coordinator. [The problem at Cincinnati] was a timing issue."

Tresey said that Neuheisel kept him in the loop on where he stood throughout the long and exhaustive search.

And, in the end, he got the job.

UCLA finds a defensive coordinator

February, 15, 2011
A lot of names have been attached to the UCLA vacancy at defensive coordinator, but the guy Rick Neuheisel tapped on Tuesday was not one of those names.

Joe Tresey, 52, a former defensive coordinator at Cincinnati and South Florida, has been named UCLA's defensive coordinator, ending a lengthy and winding search since Chuck Bullough was fired on Dec. 18.

“He has an aggressive style that forces turnovers and negative-yardage plays and I feel our players, especially our youngsters, will benefit greatly from his style of play," Neuheisel said in a statement. "He is a fine teacher and I can’t wait for him to get started.”

Tresey coached at South Florida in 2009 and Cincinnati -- under current Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly -- from 2007-08. Last year, he was the defensive backs coach for the Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League. (Recall that Bulls coach Jim Leavitt was fired in January 2010 after a school investigation concluded he grabbed one of his players by the throat, slapped him in the face and then lied about it.)

In 2009, South Florida ranked 24th nationally in total defense (321.8 yards) and 19th in scoring defense (19.8 points) while compiling an 8-5 record. The Bulls forced 23 turnovers that season. In 2008, Cincinnati ranked 31st nationally in total defense (321.9 yards), 19th in rushing defense (115.0) and 25th in scoring defense (20.1 points).

Tresey is a secondary specialist "with a reputation for forcing turnovers and piling up sacks."

But also consider this paragraph from a Tampa Tribune story on Tresey's hire at South Florida: "Tresey was fired last month by Bearcats coach Brian Kelly, who said he had philosophical differences and was shifting to a 3-4 defense, but the move could have also been prompted by Tresey's talks with Miami."

Recall that one of the reasons Neuheisel dispatched Bullough was a desire to switch to a 3-4 scheme. Tresey is a 4-3 guy.

Here's a Q&A with Tresey, also from the Tampa Tribune.

A 1982 graduate of Ohio State, he also has coached at Central Michigan (2006), Georgia Southern (2004-05), Akron (2002-03) and VMI (1999-2001).

Before Neuheisel tapped Tresey, a multitude of coaches were touted as potential candidates, including Vic Fangio, Randy Shannon, Rocky Long, Chuck Heater, Teryl Austin, Rocky Seto, Jeff FitzGerald and Steve Brown.

Neuheisel: DC will be hired this weekend

February, 10, 2011
Coach Rick Neuheisel said he feels the pain of UCLA fans who are impatient with the belabored process of his hiring a new defensive coordinator, but he said during a teleconference Thursday that he plans to make a decision this weekend.

"I understand the scrutiny," he said. "I understand the perception and all that kind of stuff but at the end of the day, none of that matters. What matters is that we play well next year."

Chuck Bullough was fired Dec. 18, and it has appeared a number of times that Neuheisel was on the cusp of hiring a candidate, whether that was former Miami head coach Randy Shannon or Seattle Seahawks assistant Rocky Seto.

"I've had the guy picked three times now but circumstances have led the search to re-continue," he said.

Neuheisel pursued Vic Fangio, but he opted to follow Jim Harbaugh from Stanford to the San Francisco 49ers. Other reported candidates were Rocky Long, who was promoted to head coach at San Diego State upon the departure of Brady Hoke to Michigan, Chuck Heater and Teryl Austin, former co-coordinators at Florida, and Kentucky co-coordinator Steve Brown.

Reporters asked Neuheisel about Cincinnati Bengals assistant Jeff FitzGerald as well as whether Shannon was still under consideration, but Neuheisel declined to comment on specific candidates.

Questions about the defensive coordinator vacancy dominated the conference call that was arranged to talk about new tight ends and F-backs coach Jim Mastro, who also will oversee the Bruins running game under new offensive coordinator Mike Johnson, who replaced Norm Chow.

"With Mike Johnson working in that throw game and Jim helping in that run department, we're going to be able to put together an offense that we'll all get excited about," Neuheisel said.

Mastro worked 11 years at Nevada, where the pistol offense was invented by coach Chris Ault. UCLA used a pistol scheme last year, but the Bruins ended up ranking last in the Pac-10 in total offense. Neuheisel said that the Bruins won't be a pure pistol team in 2011.

"It will be a portion of our offense, not the be-all, end-all," he said.

As for Neuheisel's vacation this week to Cabo to celebrate his 50th birthday, which inspired some consternation among impatient fans, he called it a "command performance" for his wife.

"I wasn't there long enough to get a tan," he said.

UCLA staff not Seto

February, 7, 2011
UCLA still doesn't have a defensive coordinator after coach Rick Neuheisel's flirtation with former USC linebacker and Trojans assistant Rocky Seto abruptly ended.

It appeared last week that Neuheisel was on the cusp of announcing Seto's hiring, but apparently things turned sour in the eleventh hour, perhaps in part because many Bruins fans didn't want a former Trojan running their defense, particularly one without a proven track record. Seto is presently on Pete Carroll's staff with the Seattle Seahawks helping with the secondary.

Further, Nevada running backs coach Jim Mastro is still deliberating whether he will accept a position as the Bruins' running game coordinator. The Orange County Register reported that Mastro would coach tight ends and F-backs while Bruins running backs coach Wayne Moses would stay in his current position, if Mastro opts for Westwood.

Other than Seto, the L.A. Times reported that Neuheisel talked to former Stanford defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, now with the San Francisco 49ers, former Miami head coach Randy Shannon and former Florida defensive co-coordinators Teryl Austin and Chuck Heater. Heater was a Washington assistant when Neuheisel was the Huskies' coach from 1999-2002, but Heater was hired to coordinate Temple's defense.

So what now?

Well, maybe Neuheisel just moves down to the next name on his list. Or maybe he regroups and casts out a new net. It would be a bit of a surprise at this point if he pulls a rabbit out of his hat and lands an experienced, "name" defensive coordinator. And, by the way, that might not be a bad thing.

Neuheisel's stated preference for a 3-4 scheme -- or at least a hybrid of it -- suggests his best candidates are NFL assistants who are itching to call their own plays. But how committed is Neuheisel to a 3-4 if he was serious about Seto, whose mentor -- Carroll -- is a 4-3 guy?

While some might think a jump to UCLA under Neuheisel might be risky -- Neuheisel is under a lot of pressure to win in 2011 -- there's solid, young talent on the Bruins' defense. Even a single impressive season in Westwood could provide a career boost. It would certainly be a way to get on a Pac-12 coach's radar.

As it stands now, Neuheisel isn't inspiring much confidence with his constituency. A second 4-8 finish in three seasons, combined with coaching staff turmoil,and a disappointing recruiting class isn't sending the Bruins into the offseason on an uptick.

Of course, all the hullabaloo between now and September could be easily forgotten if Neuheisel simply does one thing this fall: Win.

Seto UCLA's next defensive coordinator?

February, 2, 2011
Rick Neuheisel didn't have much luck with the last coordinator he hired with a USC history. Maybe things would be different with Rocky Seto running the Bruins' defense than they were with Norm Chow running the Bruins' offense?

Seto has interviewed for UCLA's vacancy at defensive coordinator. He is a former Trojans linebacker and is presently an assistant for Pete Carroll with the Seattle Seahawks, working with the secondary.

The LA Daily News reported about "10 or so" candidates have interviewed for the job, including former Miami coach Randy Shannon, who's helping out with ESPN's recruiting coverage today.

Seto was USC's defensive coordinator in 2009 after coaching the secondary from 2006 to 2008.

UCLA QB struggles? Now it's on Neuheisel

January, 23, 2011
And so the uncomfortable Norm Chow-UCLA-Rick Neuheisel tango ends. Chow is off to Utah after reaching a "mutual agreement on the terms of their separation with the school," and the Bruins' offense moves on with Mike Johnson as offensive coordinator in what appears to be a make-or-break season for Neuheisel.

Neuheisel's staff vacancies aren't all filled, however, which is why he and former Miami coach Randy Shannon are going to chat about a vacancy at defensive coordinator.

Chow and his new team will play host to their new Pac-12 South rivals on Nov. 12 in a game primed for media folk -- who me? -- who like to stir things up.

Everyone put a good face on this weekend. Neuheisel and Chow expressed their admiration for each other as well as disappointment that their pairing failed to create even mediocre offenses.

"We're disappointed it didn't turn out the way we hoped it would, but it wasn't because of a lack of effort or a lack of teamwork," Chow told Ramona Shelburne of ESPN Los Angeles. "Rick and I are friends. I feel like we worked very, very well together and it's just unfortunate that the results didn't show that.

"I told Rick, when all this settles down, the four of us [Chow and his wife, Diane, and Neuheisel and his wife, Susan] should all go out to dinner. "

For Utah, it looks like a big win. It gets an offensive coaching legend who knows the Pac-12 and really knows the Bruins' personnel, which will help in the head-to-head meeting.

But Utes fans shouldn't do a celebratory back flip just yet. You may want to wait for results. Start with this from the Salt Lake Tribune:
Terms of [Chow's] contract and salary with the Utes are unknown, as is the fate of current Utah co-coordinators Dave Schramm and Aaron Roderick.

Chow will be the fourth coach to serve as Utah’s offensive coordinator under [head coach Kyle] Whittingham, who just completed his sixth year as the Utes’ head coach.

Two Utes assistants will either get dumped, demoted or leave on their own (both are highly thought of). Or, if Schramm and Roderick stay, how will the offensive staff mesh? The lack of offensive continuity also is notable.

Further, Chow, 64, has now completed his third uncomfortable exit, starting with USC in 2005 and the Tennessee Titans before he arrived at UCLA. His three years at UCLA were not successful. He is one of the all-time greats, without question, but he hasn't been his all-time great self for a while.

As for UCLA, this probably feels like old news because it was reported here weeks ago. Still, there is a notable takeaway. While the headlines were about Chow leaving and the "chemistry issues" that caused it, the more important change going forward is Neuheisel taking over as his own quarterbacks coach.

Think about that for a moment. The best way to illustrate Neuheisel's frustration with the offense (Chow) the past two seasons is by playing highlights of him constantly berating his quarterbacks after they trudged off the field. Neuheisel has said this offseason that he recognizes he needs to change that -- yelling at struggling QBs typically is a recipe for disaster -- but now he'll have to hold up a mirror when he wants to hand out blame.

Chow and Neuheisel clearly had different ideas about the position. Now there's one less person at whom to point the finger.

The chief reason UCLA is 15-22 in three seasons under Neuheisel is poor QB play (poor offensive line play is a close second, which is a horrible combination to have). Neuheisel will be coaching two guys -- Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut -- with starting experience (Prince might not be 100 percent this spring after knee surgery). A third option is true freshman Brett Hundley, an elite recruit who is already enrolled and who is the future of the program.

That means Neuheisel, as head coach and QBs coach, faces a huge question this spring and preseason that might ultimately decide his fate: Who's his QB? Does he go with experience, which should be more reliable if less talented, or does he go with youthful upside that might be infuriatingly inconsistent when his job status is almost entirely about the present?

Neuheisel likely needs seven or eight wins to coach into his fifth season. The single-biggest factor in whether the Bruins get there is likely QB play.

And that will be on Neuheisel.

Carroll tops with NFL players

October, 14, 2009

Posted by's Ted Miller

The Sporting News asked 43 NFL players which college coach they’d most like to play for -- other than the one they did.

USC's Pete Carroll was No. 1 with 12 votes. Three other Pac-10 coaches got one vote.

Here are the results, provided by the magazine.
  • 12 votes: Pete Carroll (USC)
  • 8 votes: Urban Meyer (Florida)
  • 3 votes: Mike Leach (Texas Tech), Randy Shannon (Miami)
  • 2 votes: Frank Beamer (Virginia Tech), Lane Kiffin (Tennessee), Joe Paterno (Penn State), Nick Saban (Alabama), Steve Spurrier (South Carolina)
  • 1 vote: Bobby Bowden (Florida State), Dennis Erickson (Arizona State), Chip Kelly (Oregon), Ken Niumatalolo (Navy), Bob Stoops (Oklahoma), Jeff Tedford (California), Ron Zook (Illinois)
Here's what the players said about Carroll, according to the magazine:
Broncos CB Champ Bailey: “I don’t like coaches that are uptight all the time.”

Vikings DE Jared Allen: “I keep it on the West Coast because I’m a West Coast-type of guy. That’d be pretty cool. He seems like he has fun. It seems like he really enjoys coaching, and his players enjoy playing for him, with practical jokes and stuff like that. It seems like our personalities would mesh well together.”

Bills FS Donte Whitner: “It seems like the guys that come under him are ready to play in the National Football League. He runs everything. He gives his guys a lot of freedom, just as pro coaches do, so when you make that transition to the next level you are prepared and you know what to do with the free time that you have. [Ohio State’s Jim] Tressel is the same way.”

Kelly, Ducks ready to stop talking about Blount

September, 7, 2009

Posted by's Ted Miller

About seven minutes into his press conference Monday, Oregon coach Chip Kelly said emphatically, "We're done talking about LeGarrette Blount."

Thirty minutes later, Kelly was still talking about Blount, the Ducks running back whose punch of a Boise State player last Thursday and subsequent season-long suspension reverberated as a national story.

"It's obviously been a difficult couple of days for the football program," Kelly said. "There's not a manual for this."

That's why Kelly talked to a lot of people, including former NBA player Kermit Washington, who is best known for delivering a thunderous blindside punch to Rudy Tomjanovich's face during an in-game brawl in 1977. Kelly and Oregon facilitated a call between Blount and Washington, who was suspended for 60 games.

Some reached out to Kelly. Miami coach Randy Shannon called -- the two don't know each other -- and offered perspective. Shannon was the Hurricanes’ defensive coordinator when his team fought a massive brawl against Florida International in 2006.

But, really, what is there to say? No matter how the present season turns out, the experience at Boise will rank as one of the low moments in the program's history.

Kelly, not surprisingly, preferred looking ahead to Purdue, which visits Autzen Stadium on Saturday. Looking back at the terrible performance -- during and after the game -- wasn't his favorite subject.

"Our team has moved on," he said.

How Blount will move on remains to be seen. While he won't play this season, Oregon will keep him on scholarship and allow him to practice with the team if he chooses.

Blount didn't practice Monday.

“I can’t force him to do anything -- it’s his decision," Kelly said. "But I also know the young man’s been through a lot and he probably deserves some time to catch his breath and try to make a logical decision based on what he feels is the best situation for him."

As for the game, Kelly wasn't terribly expansive about what went wrong with his offense. No one other than freshman punter Jackson Rice received a positive review Monday.

Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli was trying too hard to hit the big play instead of moving the chains. The offensive line showed its youth. Of the receivers, only Jeff Maehl seemed to get open -- or to catch the ball when it arrived.

Kelly didn't have a problem with how the Ducks prepared, only with how they executed in the 19-8 defeat.

While Purdue is expected to finish at or near the bottom of the Big Ten, the Ducks only beat the Boilermakers 32-26 in overtime last season.

Long-time Purdue coach Joe Tiller retired after going 4-8, and Danny Hope, his top assistant, took over. The Boilermakers opened with a 52-31 win over Toledo.

The Ducks were off Saturday and Sunday, and Kelly said Monday morning's practice was good.

He's not worried about a hangover or a loss of focus.

"I'm not worried about our kids at all," he said.

He'd just like to change the subject.