Just how serious was UCLA about luring Boise State head coach Chris Petersen to Westwood?
The Bruins had extended discussions with Petersen late Thursday night on a five-year deal that would have paid him upwards of $3 million annually, in addition to $2.5 million for his staff, according to a source with knowledge of the discussions.
The discussions were serious, according to the source, but ultimately UCLA was informed Petersen would not be a candidate for the job, as ESPN.com's Joe Schad reported Thursday night.
UCLA was paying Rick Neuheisel $1.25 million annually over the life of his five-year contract. In a news conference announcing that Neuheisel had been fired on Monday, athletic director Dan Guerrero said that the school would have "more financial ammunition" on this coaching search because of the infusion of money from the new Pacific 12 Conference television contract, which begins next year.
"Certainly having more financial ammunition gives us the opportunity to look at a greater pool," Guerrero said. "It's going to be a lot more significant than I've ever had in the past."
A conference source told ESPNLosAngeles.com on Monday that UCLA earned $6.3 million in revenue under the old television contract, but will earn more than $15 million next season.
The infusion of money into the Pac-12 manifested itself earlier this week when Washington State hired Mike Leach for a reported five-year deal that will pay him $2.25 million annually.
Petersen's contract at Boise State pays him $1.5 million annually with $100,000 raises every subsequent year to $1.9 million in 2015.
It is not the first time Petersen has passed on such a lucrative offer. He reportedly turned down a $3 million offer from Stanford last season. He has spoken many times about his affection for the Boise community and aversion to uprooting his family, including a 2009 Sports Illustrated article where he referred to himself as a "homebody."
While UCLA focused in on Petersen first, he is not their only option for their coaching vacancy. The school also has interest in Houston's Kevin Sumlin, former Oregon coach Mike Bellotti and Cincinnati's Butch Jones, according to a university source. The school will likely consider new candidates as well, the source said.
Ramona Shelburne is a columnist and reporter for ESPNLosAngeles.com.