No one -- well, not many people -- would blame a head football coach for taking a little personal time following Signing Day. After the long grind of fall camp bleeding into the season followed immediately by the sprint to the recruiting finish line, it's a rare human being who wouldn't have his batteries almost totally drained.
But that blameslessness assumes the coach wasn't leaving important unfinished business behind him when he went on vacation. And for an unstable-looking program coming off of a 4-8 disaster of a season, multiple vacancies on the coaching staff most definitely qualify as "unfinished business." But according to a candidate for one of those vacancies at UCLA, that hasn't stopped Rick Neuheisel from jetting off to warmer climes:
Nevada running backs coach Jim Mastro interviewed for and was offered a position on the UCLA football staff Friday, but said he won't make a decision on whether he's leaving the Wolf Pack for at least a week.Remember that "running game coordinator," the position for which Mastro is interviewing, isn't the only or even the most important open position on the Bruins staff; that would be defensive coordinator, the job for which Neuheisel had reportedly already hired former USC assistant Rocky Seto before Seto's premature Facebook announcement (and according to many , fan-related protests based on Seto's Trojan past) led to his dismissal.
"Nothing's done. We're still in talks," Mastro said via cell phone Friday night. "The challenge of the move is appealing, but this isn't an easy decision" ...Mastro said UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel was in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, and is scheduled to return to the U.S. on Thursday. Mastro said he needed to discuss the terms of a potential contract with Neuheisel before making a decision.
And as Bruin fans already irritated by the Seto fiasco are bitterly pointing out , while Neuheisel enjoys the Cabo sunshine, other schools are in the process of potentially hiring one of the precious few brand-name coordinators still on the market.
If his team hadn't gone 2-7 in its conference, if the Bruins' recruiting class hadn't been the program's weakest in years, if he had all his staff's i's dotted and t's crossed, then no one would begrudge Neuheisel a little time off. But given the state of affairs in which he has left his team, it's hard not to imagine him playing a fiddle on that Mexico beach as his program burns a hole to the bottom of the Pac-12 .