Source: Chris Petersen on UCLA list
UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero said that the school has a short list of names from which it will immediately begin a national coaching search to replace Rick Neuheisel, who was officially fired Monday morning.
While Guerrero would not say which coaches were on that short list, a source with knowledge of his thinking told ESPNLosAngeles.com that it includes Boise State's Chris Petersen, Houston's Kevin Sumlin, Cincinnati coach Butch Jones and former Oregon coach Mike Bellotti.
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Multiple university sources also indicate that there is mutual interest between UCLA and former Oakland Raiders coach Tom Cable --who was an assistant coach at UCLA under Karl Dorrell and is now with the Seattle Seahawks -- and former defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker, who's now the coach at New Mexico State.
The Los Angeles Times reported Monday that Petersen will be the first coach Guerrero will approach.
Guerrero said UCLA intended to hire a consultant to help with the search but has not yet done so.
Guerrero said at a news conference Monday that UCLA will have more resources to pursue a head coach and upgrade its existing facilities because of increased revenue from the Pac-12's new television contract.
University sources also indicate that several influential boosters have let it be known that they will contribute additional resources toward the hiring of a high-profile coach.
According to the terms of Neuheisel's contract, UCLA will have to pay Neuheisel a $250,000 buyout. That buyout can be spread over the remaining life of his contract, which expires Dec. 31, 2012.
The marketplace for coaches has changed considerably in the four years since Neuheisel was hired in 2007. Guerrero insisted that UCLA would be able to be competitive now.
University sources indicated to ESPNLosAngeles.com that the Bruins are prepared to spend at least $2 million on their next head football coach and perhaps even $3 million for the right coach.
UCLA has already crossed the $2 million threshold for assistant coach salaries, when it paid $2.1 million to its staff in 2010. Nearly a third of that, of course, went to former offensive coordinator Norm Chow.
Ramona Shelburne is a reporter and columnist for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Information from ESPNLosAngeles.com's Peter Yoon.