How The New Coaches May Change the Pac-12 – Part II

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Yesterday, I talked about how the hirings of Mike Leach to Washington State and Rich Rodrigues may affect the future of the Pac-12. Today, I address the other two openings in the conference.

How UCLA and Arizona State make out in the coaching carosel will also have a big impact on how the conference goes (especially given the weakness of the Pac-12 South). UCLA was said to be seeking Chris Peterson from Boise State. But, Peterson declined. I am not sure what it is about the city of Boise, as compared to the beaches and sunshine of Los Angeles, but Peterson seems to love Idaho. I suspect it really comes down to the knowledge that he is unlikely to have the same kind of success anywhere else. Many coaches in his position of bringing a minor non-BCS conference teams to prominence, have found that when they move to a major school that success is fleeting. All he has to do is look at his predecessor Dan Hawkins, who left the success of Boise State to lose a lot of games at Colorado.

UCLA is definitely the most underachieving program in Pac-12 football. I mean, when Washington State, Oregon State, or Arizona struggles, that is understandable. But, UCLA has everything you could possibly ask for in a program. They are in a sunny location, beaches nearby, have a beautiful campus, are one of the Top 5 public universities in the country academically, are in the 2nd largest media market, and are smack-dab in the middle of one of the most fertile recruiting grounds anywhere.

Sure, they have to compete with USC for attention, but the city is big enough for the two of them. Heck, its big enough for all twelve Pac-12 schools to recruit successfully in the area. So, what is it that makes success so elusive for the Bruins? I don’t have an answer to that, but one thing I do know is that UCLA has (and will have) plenty of money to grab a big name. After Petersen rejected them, they moved  onto Kevin Sumlin at Houston, but Kevin seems more interested in the Texas A&M job. Then it was Al Golden at Miami…Sorry, but no dice.

So, they can get someone who is

ready to take on the challenge? One name being mentioned who has a history of success in this conference is Mike Belloti. While I am not really even sure why Mike Belloti left Oregon, he knows west coast recruiting, the style of play in the conference, and both the challenges and opportunities available at UCLA.

The Los Angeles Times even speculated that UCLA could go after Steve Sarkisian. To which I say, yeah right…

Whoever takes over the program, if they can figure out how to turn that program around, UCLA is definitely a sleeping giant. With USC about to lose 10 scholarships the next two seasons, there is even more of an opportunity to try and take away some of those prized recruits from their cross-city rival. If UCLA does turn it around, schools like California, Utah, and maybe even Washington may be hard pressed to keep up with the Jones…

As for Arizona State, they were talking big (Sumlin), but then things went eerily silent.  The Sun Devils may play in the 6th largest market in America, but no one there cares. The Valley of the Sun is home to one of the most apathetic fan bases in the entire country. Perhaps it is because over half the population has no roots in Arizona and moved there either to retire or while looking for cheap housing from California. But, I just don’t get the sense, despite being the largest university in the country, that they really care who the coach is or how well the program is doing.

In addition, Phoenix is an ugly, sprawl of a city, without any real character. There isn’t any place you can really say here’s a place to hang out (Heck I’ve lived in Arizona off-and-on for 4 years and never even deliberately went to Downtown Phoenix). Tempe may be the nice town in the valley, but that’s not saying much.

Arizona State is now said to be looking at June Jones (who name fell like a lead weight into the Salt River in the media here), Art Briles at Baylor, and Fredora at Southern Miss. But, I suspect in the end, Arizona State will either hire an assistant coach somewhere looking for their first head coaching opportunity, a head coach from a minor non-BCS conference, or will find some retred who has been out of coaching for a while.

Either way, I am not as optimistic about ASU’s future right now as I am about Washington State or Arizona (or even UCLA). They may find themselves in the bottom half of the conference for the foreseeable future.