UCLA Fires Coach Rick Neuheisel
Rick Neuheisel's tenure as head football coach at UCLA is officially over, according to the university.
In a press release, UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero announced that Neuheisel will be "relieved of his duties" following the Pac-12 Championship Game this Friday, where the Bruins will take on Oregon.
Neuheisel was 21-28 in four years as UCLA's head coach, never beat archrival USC and coached the Bruins to a winning season just once.
The firing comes just two days after UCLA suffered a 50-0 beatdown at the hands of the Trojans, especially ill-timed following Neuheisel's comments that "the gap had closed" between USC and UCLA.
"Decisions such as this one do not come without a great deal of heartache," said Guerrero. "However, it is apparent to me that a move was necessary at this time in order to give UCLA the best chance to enhoy the succes that we all desire."
Neuheisel said at the Pac-12 title game teleconference he was thankful for his time as coach.
"Certainly when you’re the UCLA coach, you’d like to play better against USC. I know that," Neuheisel said. "We had our chances, but when you lose in the fashion we did, that’s a difficult pill to swallow."
The former UCLA coach said he did not plan on resigning before the Pac-12 Conference Championship Game and wished the team well against Oregon.
“I hope I’m not a distraction,” Neuheisel said. “I hope I’m some sort of help, in respect to the planning and how we go about it. We’ve been knocked down before this year, and somehow, some way, we’ve always responded. I hope we’ll respond the same way.”
Offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Mike Johnson will take over head coaching duties on a interm basis following Friday's title game.
UCLA finished second to USC in the Pac-12 South Division with a 5-4 conference record and a 6-6 overall record. However, because of USC's sanctions, the Trojans are ineligible for the Pac-12 Championship Game, meaning the Bruins will represent the division against Oregon. If UCLA wins, they will represent the Pac-12 in the Rose Bowl, which Johnson would coach. Lose, and the Bruins would fall to 6-7, leaving them ineligible for any bowl game.
According to the university, "a national search for a permanent head coach will begin immediately."