Toledo's future could be decided today
By: Malamute, 9 December 2002
The decision on Bob Toledo’s fate could be made today, according to the Los Angeles Times, when the beleaguered coach meets with UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero.
Guerrero, former athletic director at UC Irvine, has refused to be interviewed since the USC game, according to the Times. “’When he dropped out of sight for a while, he was getting ready to fire somebody,’ said one person close to Irvine.”
Bob Toledo (49-22) has gone 24-24 since his team posted a 20-game winning streak that ended in the 1997-98 season. He has lost to cross-town rival USC in four consecutive outings, a fact that has not been lost on UCLA alumni and boosters.
Keeping Toledo as head coach has as a certain financial appeal to it, since he is one of the lowliest paid coaches in the Pac-10--making $578 thousand per year, a salary that includes apparel and shoe money. In contrast, Rick Neuheisel’s contract extension with Washington can be worth as much as $1.82 million per year to him, if bowl incentives and graduation rates are included.
Buying Toledo out of his current contract would cost boosters and alumni $1.3 million. Neuheisel has a $600 thousand buyout clause in his contact and would have to repay a $1.5 million loan given to him by the university this year, if he should leave the university on his own volition.
In other words, Rick Neuheisel is chained to the Huskies, as master to his dog, by the contract extension given to him last September. Ironically, during the recruiting wars of last season, Toledo speculated that Nueheisel would be the first to apply for his job if he should be fired; however, if Toledo should be fired today, there will be little speculation that Nueheisel will be UCLA’s next head coach thanks to Neu's contract extension.
But nice guys usually finish last, and of them, those who are head football coaches must face a grim reaper, after each and every season, that is looking to trash them in the waste bin of ridicule, to be forever scoffed at and belittled by alums and boosters.
In Toledo's mind, with all the speculation that surrounds him, this day's meeting with Guerrero must seem unfair.
Toledo lost 23 seniors from last year’s team--many of them turning pro--and his Bruins were picked to finish sixth in the Pac-10 this season. The Bruins finished with a 7-5 record and tied for fourth in the Pac-10 (4-4). During the season, Toledo lost his starting quarterback, Cory Paus, to injury and was forced to go with two freshman quarterbacks, Drew Olson and Matt Moore.
With a number of returning starters, UCLA should be much improved next season, regardless of Toledo's fate.
In part, because of the uncertainty of Toledo’s future, his Bruins have been relegated to the Las Vegas Bowl, where they will meet New Mexico.
Toledo, 56, and his wife live in North Ranch, which features a 27-hole golf course, one of the nicest in Ventura County. Toledo and Mike Price, WSU, are golfing buddies. Ironically, Toledo's loss to Price's Cougars on Saturday might have been his last bogey for a while.
According to the Times' article, "His own family is handling the torturous uncertainty. Toledo's wife, Elaine, tearfully thanked Bruin supporters while holding one of her granddaughters near the locker room Saturday."