Is Duck On The Menu In Westwood?

Oregon's Bellotti talking with UCLA

Dec. 20, 2007

By Brian Curtis
CSTV Editor


Brian Curtis is a CSTV football and basketball analyst and a regular writer.
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Published reports out of Los Angeles and Eugene confirm that UCLA administrators have spoken with Oregon head coach Mike Bellotti about the vacant head coaching position at UCLA. The Duck coach, whose team lost its last three games without the services of Heisman hopeful Dennis Dixon, is widely regarded as a great offensive mind.

There are a few things working in Bellotti's favor if, indeed, he is interested, and I can't imagine he would speak or meet with UCLA brass unless he was. (Of course, when USC was looking to replace Paul Hackett, Bellotti talked to them and parlayed that into a huge raise at Oregon.) First, Bellotti knows the Pac-10. Not from five years ago like Rick Neuheisel and not like Temple coach Al Golden. Second, Bellotti runs an option offense that piles up yards, something desparately needed in Westwood. Third, Bellotti's buyout at Oregon is a reported $350,000--that's chump change for the Bruins. Bellotti clearly is intrigued enough. But why wouldn't he go?

Well, there's Nike, for one thing. The sneaker conglomerate has funded perhaps the best football facilities in the nation. Bellotti makes over $1 million a year. And the Duck staff recruits the heck out of Southern California despite the out-of-the-way locale of Eugene. In other words, he has everything but sunshine and Beverly Hills.

A few things have happened in the UCLA search: either athletic director Dan Guerrero and Chancellor Gene Block are not sold on Neuheisel and Golden or talking to Bellotti is just a cover pending an announcement. I get the feeling that this is serious between the two parties. And imagine if defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker stayed on--between him and Bellotti, that would be one good football team.



Bellotti does have his detractors, who say he can be arrogant and aloof. Then again, they say that about most coaches. And then there was the issue of his son, a walk-on at Oregon, being suspended privately for a DUI and Bellotti's estranged wife verbally assaulting a sportswriter during a game in the press box. OK, so nobody's perfect.

We'll know more as the days unfold.