It took a while, but UCLA hired the right guy to take over as head coach. As we've said before, Rick Neuheisel was immensely successful at Colorado and Washington. He's also a popular UCLA alum who quarterbacked the Bruins to a Rose Bowl title. He has the dynamic personality to match Pete Carroll in recruiting, he is very smart, and he has a law degree. His 2000 Washington Huskies team should have played Oklahoma in the national title game after being the only team that season to defeat Miami, but the BCS computers disagreed.
Some have asked if Neuheisel is so smart, why did he get caught with so many recruiting violations. It's a legitimate question. But at one time, Neuheisel was reportedly so full of himself that he tried to push the limits of the NCAA rulebook. Sports Illustrated once wrote about an instance during a recruiting period when coaches were not allowed to meet with recruits in person, but could speak with them on the phone. Neuheisel reportedly flew to a recruit's house, stood across the street from the recruit's home, called the player from his cell phone, and told the kid to look out the window.
Neuheisel says that he's matured, and I believe him. He simply has too much to lose if he screws up again. He already sank about as low as any coach could, when he was stuck serving as the volunteer assistant for a high school team in the Seattle area. Now he's worked his way back into people's good graces, and he wants to leave a legacy at his alma mater.
As for DeWayne Walker, he's an outstanding defensive coach and he deserves to be a college head coach. Many UCLA fans have called for Walker to stay on as defensive coordinator. That's all fine and good, but he should only stay on if Neuheisel wants him to. One never knows how two people will gel, and it's uncertain if Walker will fit into Neuheisel's system. If they get along, then that's great. But it's certainly not the end of the world for the Bruins if Walker chooses to go to Washington and be Tyrone Willingham's defensive coordinator, or if Neuheisel decides to hire someone he feels he can work with better.