UCLA fires its football coach


City News Service

UCLA football coach Rick Neuheisel was fired Monday, but he will lead the team against Oregon during Friday’s inaugural Pac-12 championship game.

Neuheisel compiled a 21-28 record during his four years leading the Bruins.

“I have a great deal of respect for Rick Neuheisel and the manner in which he has run this program during his tenure as UCLA head football coach,” UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero said. “Decisions such as this one do not come without a great deal of heartache. However, it is apparent to me that a move was necessary at this time in order to give UCLA the best chance to enjoy the success that we all desire.”

After Neuheisel’s departure, offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach Mike Johnson will take over as head coach on an interim basis. According to the university, a national search will be conducted for a new head coach.

“Rick Neuheisel’s strong personal values, integrity and tenacity made this decision extremely difficult for Dan Guerrero and the university,” UCLA Chancellor Gene Block. “We wish Rick the best in his future endeavors.”

UCLA, 6-6, is a 31-point underdog to Oregon, 10-2, in Friday’s inaugural Pacific-12 Conference Championship Game, according to the gambling website

The Orange County Register reported that Boise State coach Chris Petersen, Houston coach Kevin Sumlin and Cincinnati coach Butch Jones are tops on UCLA’s wish list for a new coach.

When Karl Dorrell was fired as UCLA coach in 2007, creating the vacancy Neuheisel ultimately filled, Petersen was Guerrero’s top choice as a successor, the Los Angeles Times reported, citing unnamed sources.