UCLA football: Neuheisel juggles recruiting, staff decisions

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UCLA assistant football coaches hit the road recruiting Monday, while head Coach Rick Neuheisel still pondered the future of the staff.

The Bruins were 4-8 overall this season and 2-7 in Pacific 10 Conference play, finishing ninth for only the second time since the conference expanded to 10 teams.

Neuheisel continued to say he would evaluate the staff but did not set a timetable for a decision to be made. He has repeatedly dodged the question about the future of offensive coordinator Norm Chow and defensive coordinator Chuck Bullough.

“I would like to make decisions quickly, but we have to be prudent,” said Neuheisel, who has a 15-22 record and has not finished higher in conference play than eighth in three seasons as the Bruins’ coach. “We have to make sure we have everything information-wise.”


The current recruiting period lasts until Dec. 20, but Neuheisel was hopeful that any staff decision made before the Feb. 2 signing date would not affect players who commit.

“The kids understand that assistant coaches, for whatever reason, might have an opportunity that is best for their family,” Neuheisel said. “You hope that [recruits] will choose schools based on the university and the direction that program is headed.”

But, Neuheisel said, “I try to do as good a job as I can with as many of the guys , creating relationship with me. I try to make sure they understand that I am, or at least I’ve told so, going to be here.”

Financial considerations will not play a big role in staff decisions.

Chow has a two-year contract extension believed to be worth about $500,000 per season. Bullough has one year left at $325,000 and offensive line coach Bob Palcic has one year left at $210,000.

That leaves UCLA committed to about $1 million in assistant coach salaries for the 2011 season.

“Everything will be factored in,” Neuheisel said. “But you can’t be hamstrung making decisions for what is best for the program by that.”

Besides, he said, “what’s best for the program could be everybody being back.”

As for next season, Neuheisel said he would “be crushed, as I am today, if we’re not going to a bowl game a year from now.”

Whether failing to do so would put his job in jeopardy, Neuheisel said, “That’s for another person to answer. The short answer I can give is I am going to do everything I can to get UCLA football back playing championship football in the new Pac 12.”

-- Chris Foster