Guerrero still searching for a coach -- and a clue

LAS VEGAS -- So you’re Rick Neuheisel and you probably took the seven points and UCLA because you’re an alum, but you really don’t want the Bruins to win straight up because that’s a victory for DeWayne Walker.

So you’re Walker, and you were spotted before the Las Vegas Bowl throwing the football around just like Pete Carroll likes to do before games, so UCLA immediately announces you will get the chance to meet with Chancellor Gene Block.

So you’re Al Golden, and you’re a finalist for the UCLA job, and you can’t believe it either.

NOW TELL me again Athletic Director Dan Guerrero knows what he is doing, UCLA a Las Vegas Bowl loser to a team it beat this season and no one inspiring yet to be identified to lead them into next season.


So you’re Karl Dorrell, and right now you’re smiling somewhere, curious like anyone else to know why it has come to this.

Guerrero not only didn’t have someone waiting to replace Dorrell, the best the Lightweight could do three weeks into this circus with the aid of a search firm is pinpoint a former Bruins quarterback who is also an NCAA hoodlum, Walker and some no name with a 5-19 record.

I’m not surprised. How could any one expect the Lightweight to get anything right when he couldn’t even pick the correct guy to serve as interim head coach.

He passed on the Towel Waver, 1-0 in previous Las Vegas Bowl appearances, and gave the interim post to Walker, who is now 0-1 in Las Vegas Bowl appearances.


GUERRERO STILL isn’t talking, thereby losing spin control of the search, and by the way, how are those hush-hush talks with Mike Bellotti going?

Bellotti can’t win at the end of the season because he loses his starting quarterback, but Dorrell gets fired because the Bruins are down to their third and fourth quarterbacks. And Bellotti is the dream candidate to replace Dorrell?

For a good part of the season UCLA embarrassed itself on the field, and now it continues with a search still desperate for a better answer, although it could be worse and BYU’s Bronco Mendenhall could be a candidate for the job.

No question Mendenhall has what it takes to make UCLA a winner, but that would require him coaching the Bruins’ opponent every week.

Mendenhall’s decision a la Joe Pisarcik not to have his quarterback kneel and allow time to run out in the first half allowed UCLA to score and later have the opportunity to win.

Many of the Bruins spent a good deal of time this week at the craps table in the Venetian, and I know what that can take out of a person.

But when they took the field against BYU, they appeared ready to play football, a credit to Walker.

A victory might have been the biggest thing going for Walker, who began hugging the other UCLA coaches on the sideline with three seconds to play and Kai Forbath lining up for a game-winning 28-yard field-goal attempt.


Walker has never been a head coach before, though, and he will learn. Forbath’s kick was blocked, leaving Walker overrun by celebrating BYU fans and players.

SO NOW what? Does UCLA’s Final Three excite you?

If the Bruins are going to hire Neuheisel, why are they waiting? The last thing anyone wants to do is put Neuheisel in the position where he has to scramble for recruits, and maybe start piling up the infractions.

What’s it going to take for UCLA to believe Neuheisel has changed? Has he?

The way the story is told, Neuheisel met with the UCLA chancellor and told him he would keep Walker, hire Norm Chow and he would have one of his former fraternity brothers, who is rich now, pay for their salaries.

He also said he could produce four different donors, each giving $1 million for the Pauley Pavilion makeover, and no question, “Slick Rick” still has it.

If the Bruins are going to hire Golden, shouldn’t someone besides his mother know who he is?

Five wins at Temple over two years might rate a medal, and maybe one day he will be one of the game’s top coaches, but is it necessary for UCLA to take such a risk?


If the Bruins are going to hire Walker, why didn’t they do so before the Las Vegas Bowl? Did Walker’s chances of becoming UCLA’s new coach all come down to one game?

If so, he failed. It’s no longer enough to just be the gutty little Bruins, not with Carroll & Co. competing for the national title or going to the Rose Bowl as consolation.

Everyone got really excited with the mention of Bellotti’s name without really thinking it through because the present crop of candidates is so lackluster.

Had Bellotti left Oregon it would have been because of personal and professional problems, UCLA hoping for the best on the rebound. UCLA deserves a better shot at success.

And that’s on Guerrero, a Lightweight so far, who needs to step up his game. He expected as much from Dorrell, saying he would be very interested in seeing how the final four games went.

Well, it will be very interesting to see how the next few days go.

KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR will be appearing at this year’s Basketball 101 session, although I can’t imagine him talking to anyone.

You will probably have a better chance of mixing with Phil Jackson, Derek Fisher and Jordan Farmar, who are also part of Jan. 16 event at Staples Center open to the public, which will also include a locker room tour, cocktail reception, buffet dinner and silent auction.

It’s also the chance to meet Jeanie Buss and maybe make Jackson jealous.

For ticket information and a list of all Abdul-Jabbar’s memorable quotes, contact Michael Smith at

TODAY’S LAST word comes from the Las Vegas Bowl press box PA:

“BYU offensive lineman Travis Bright broke his leg and is out for the game.”

I guess those kids at BYU aren’t very tough.


T.J. Simers can be reached at To read previous columns by Simers, go to