Saturday, December 18, 2010
Rick Neuheisel fires DC Chuck Bullough
By Ramona Shelburne and Peter Yoon ESPNLosAngeles.com
LOS ANGELES -- UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel fired defensive coordinator Chuck Bullough and wide receivers coach Reggie Moore on Saturday and said more changes to the coaching staff could be coming.
"I'm not entirely done evaluating," Neuheisel said. "There are certainly some other things that I want to continue to consider, but I'm sure about these particular moves and I informed them this morning."
The Bruins finished a disappointing 4-8 this season, hampered by a defense that finished No. 108 in the nation against the run and a passing offense that ranked No. 116.
Neuheisel said he had not yet made a decision about whether or not to keep offensive coordinator Norm Chow, but wanted to move "as quickly as possible" in sorting through the pros and cons.
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"The offense is still a place I'm evaluating and Norm as the coordinator is certainly in that category," Neuheisel said. "But I'm just trying to figure out what is the best way to go, whether it's a reshuffling or if it's new personnel. I'm still sorting that out in my own mind."
Neuheisel added that Bullough would be the only defensive coach changed, meaning linebackers coach Clark Lea, defensive line coach Todd Howard and secondary coach Tim Hundley will return next season.
He said he has not yet decided on replacements for Bullough and Moore.
Bullough, 43, had been the defensive coordinator for two years after moving up from linebackers coach. UCLA has a promising stable of young players returning on defense next season and Bullough said he was disappointed not to be able to see their development.
"The disappointing thing is this defense has so much talent, that's what I told Rick this morning when we talked," Bullough said, when reached by ESPNLosAngeles.com. "We have great kids, great young kids that we've recruited and I was looking forward to using that talent next year as it got older.
"But that's the profession and you have to move on."
Neuheisel said he was concerned over Bullough's lack of experience. He said he's looking for someone a little more versatile than Bullough, who steadfastly ran a 4-3 scheme.
"I just felt like we needed to have a couple of schemes that would help make us more consistent," Neuheisel said. "He's a 4-3 guy and believes in the 4-3. At the end of the day we were not consistent enough at stopping the run and I felt like some of the athletes that we have in our program might fit better in some alternate schemes.
"Chuck was, in my opinion, not the guy who was going to be the expert in that department."
Moore's receiving unit suffered inconsistencies all season. The Bruins were plagued by dropped passes from Week 1 through the season finale against USC, hampering the Bruins' ability to get much of a throwing game going.
UCLA ranked 99th in total offense and 104th in scoring.
"I wasn't surprised because [Neuheisel] said to the offensive staff a while ago that we were in a precarious situation," Moore said when reached by ESPNLosAngeles.com. "Somebody obviously was going to have to answer, and it happened to be me. But I'm still a Bruin, I wish them well. It was a good experience for me and I'm thankful to UCLA for giving it to me."
Neuheisel met briefly with both Chow and Bullough following the season, but both he and his staff have spent the majority of the past two weeks recruiting off campus.
Chow agreed to a two-year extension in July. It was approved by the UC Board of Regents in mid-November, but the contract had not been prepared for Chow to sign until Friday, according to an athletic department source.
"A lot of things are factoring into the decision about Norm and I'm still mulling that around in my head," Neuheisel said.
He said his decision on Chow, like the decisions on Bullough and Moore, will be based on what he feels is best for the future of UCLA football.
"At some point these things become subjective and you have to trust your own instincts on what is the best way to go forward," Neuheisel said. "I'm certainly on the hook for making a subjective decision, but I've got to trust myself."
Ramona Shelburne is a reporter and columnist for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Peter Yoon covers the Bruins for ESPNLosAngeles.com.