Thursday, September 21

Football coach Rick Neuheisel fired by UCLA

Rick Neuheisel was fired from his position as coach of the UCLA football team on Monday, athletic director Dan Guerrero announced.

Neuheisel, who is 21-28 in his four years as coach, will coach his final game on Friday when the Bruins take on the No. 8 Oregon Ducks in the Pac-12 Championship game.

Offensive coordinator Mike Johnson will serve as an interim coach while Guerrero searches for Neuheisel’s replacement.

“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,” Guerrero said in a statement. “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.”

Neuheisel made his case to stay during the Pac-12 Championship Game press conference on Sunday, explaining that he had “moved the needle” and helped UCLA progress this season on the way to a 6-6 finish to the regular season.

“We have won five conference games as opposed to three last year,” he said. “We’ve won the right to represent the South in (the) conference championship. We’ve certainly had some unfortuante evenings where things haven’t gone our way. I think (the) program is headed in the right direction despite the naysayers, and I believe that great things are on the horizon, hopefully as early as this weekend.”

Chancellor Gene Block also released a statement addressing the move.

“Rick Neuheisel’s strong personal values, integrity and tenacity made this decision extremely difficult for Dan Guerrero and the University. We wish Rick the best in his future endeavors,” Block said. “UCLA’s athletic program has built a rich and proud legacy throughout the years, producing student-athletes who are winners on and off the field. While we insist on emphasizing academic performance by all students ““ including our student-athletes ““ we also have a strong commitment to ensuring our athletic programs are successful overall. I have complete confidence in Dan’s ability to recruit and hire a head coach who can revitalize UCLA’s football program, and have pledged my full support in this process.”

Guerrero will hold a press conference at 2:30 p.m. to address the firing.

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