Petersen says no to Bruins
Boise State Coach Chris Petersen chose lifestyle over money, sending UCLA’s search for a coach in a new direction Friday.
Petersen had been targeted by UCLA officials after Rick Neuheisel was fired as the Bruins’ coach Monday, according to a person familiar with the situation who was not authorized to speak on the matter.
UCLA pushed hard, people familiar with the talks said, putting together a package that would have paid Petersen nearly $4 million per season and provided more than $2 million annually for assistant coaches.
That left UCLA officials rethinking the search. Athletic Director Dan Guerrero has yet to set up interviews.
Guerrero is seeking a big-name coach who will generate excitement in the UCLA fan base. Attendance at home games has dropped in each of the last five seasons.
But UCLA is not the only school pursuing a coach.
Washington State hired Mike Leach and Arizona hired Rich Rodriguez in the last two weeks. Arizona State, Kansas, Texas A&M;, Illinois and Penn State are prominent programs also looking for coaches.
UCLA, Texas A&M; and Arizona State have interest in Kevin Sumlin, whose Houston team is 12-0 and ranked No. 7 in the nation in the Associated Press media poll.
UCLA had made Petersen its priority and spent the last week making overtures, people close to the situation said.
But Petersen, who is 71-6 at Boise State, chose to remain in Boise, where his family is comfortable. Petersen has turned away others in the past, including a $3-million offer from Stanford last year.
Boise State officials reworked Petersen’s contract this season, giving him a five-year deal worth $8 million.
This is the second time Petersen has declined the UCLA job. UCLA officials approached him twice after Karl Dorrell was fired after the 2007 season.