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COLLEGE FOOTBALL : Donahue, CBS Hold Talks on Possible Move : UCLA: Coach says he hasn’t signed a TV contract, declines further comment.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

UCLA Coach Terry Donahue has talked to CBS about the possibility of becoming a color commentator, but no firm commitment has been made, according to several sources.

Asked about it after UCLA’s 24-20 victory over USC on Saturday, Donahue said, “I have not signed a contract with CBS. I am under contract to this university.”

But asked if he had had discussions with the network, Donahue refused to comment, adding only that, “I have already said what I am going to say.”

There has been a great deal of speculation in recent weeks that Donahue, 51, completing his 20th year as the Bruins’ head football coach, would retire at the end of this season, especially if he got his 98th Pacific 10 Conference victory, making him the winningest coach in conference history.

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Donahue got that victory Saturday.

When it comes to speculation about his future, Donahue isn’t even safe from his players.

Friday night, he met with his senior players, as is the custom for the Bruins. They went around the room, each player talking about his future plans.

Thinking the session was over, Donahue stood up.

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Not so fast, he was told by his players. What are your future plans?

“I am not going to lie to you,” he said. “I can’t say I’ll be back. I can’t say I won’t. I am going to re-evaluate as I do every year.”

One source said that Donahue had not agreed to go to CBS as of Saturday evening, but that the situation could change in the days ahead.

CBS announcer Jim Nantz Saturday night said he could not confirm or even comment on anything concerning Donahue having talked with his network.

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Nantz, who will announce the Fiesta Bowl for CBS on Jan. 1 and become the network’s lead play-by-play man when it begins doing regular-season football next year, would only say: “Terry Donahue is a first-class individual and any network would be very fortunate to have him.”

Whatever Donahue’s future, one thing seems certain. Donahue did not want to walk away without setting the conference coaching record. He saw it as the ultimate way to answer those who have criticized him over the years.

“I’m absolutely beside myself with the win,” he said Saturday, “because it finally validates me as a coach. This has been a hard job for a lot of years and we’ve had some great wins, but it just seems like I could never get validated for some reason in some people’s minds. It wasn’t in my own mind. This win [validates] me.

“But on the other side of the coin, this is not something one person has done. There have been unbelievable players and coaches at UCLA over the last 20 years that have gotten me to win enough games so that the so-called record is under my name. This record to belongs to UCLA. It belongs to the university and to [Chancellor] Chuck Young and [Athletic Director] Pete Dalis, the people that had faith in me and worked with me and let me be the football coach.”

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There have been several years over the last 20 when Donahue was rumored to be leaving Westwood. He came close to accepting the head coaching job with the Atlanta Falcons. He came close to taking the head job with the Rams after last season, losing interest when the club left for St. Louis.

“I think this win is worth at least a two- to three-year contract extension,” Donahue said with a smile after Saturday’s victory. “I’m sure it is from several angles and I’ve always been pretty good at playing those angles.

“But the truth of the matter is, every season, when the season is over, I sit down and evaluate and decide what I want to do. And this year will be no exception.

“I know there are a lot of rumors rampant . . . but as of right now, I’m going to do what I always do. I’m going to enjoy this win and go home and be with my family, evaluate what I want to get accomplished at UCLA and what I want to do.

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