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When and if "Sports Viewpoint" turns on Bob Toledo
Really, the weather is no problem
By: Richard Linde, 5 July 2002

You didn’t go to a bowl, Coach? Not making seven digits? Can’t afford to buy that new Lamborghini? Your wife and kids won’t talk to you? Feel like that slob out of American Beauty? Having a midlife crisis? Women aren’t giving you the double take anymore?

“Okay, okay,” our hypothetical coach answers. “So it’s been awhile since I’ve had ice running down my back or had to bang the side of my head to clear the Gatorade from my ears. I didn’t get the ax this season; that’s what counts.”

UCLA’s head football coach Bob Toledo fits the profile of the coach described above; he’s a guy who needs a timely shower of Gatorade before he develops the jimjams or a compulsive hand-washing complex. The alums are after his hide and he needs to produce this season or he may be in trouble, especially now that AD Pete Dalis, the guy who hired him, has retired.

Winning his first six games last season, Toledo’s Bruins—rated number three at time time—looked like a number one team before they took to the road and lost two in  a row to Stanford and WSU. 

Then it is was revealed that Heisman Trophy candidate DeShaun Foster was driving a new Ford Expedition that had been loaned to him by a Hollywood television director. Foster was suspended because he had violated the NCAA “equal opportunity” rule. The first week of the suspension, UCLA lost to Oregon at home, 21-20.

And then the Cory Paus DUI charge surfaced just before the rivalry game against USC. Toledo let his quarterback play in the game saying that he didn’t have enough information about the arrest, even though it was a matter of public record. USC thrashed UCLA 27-0, salvaging its season while adding Drano to the Blue's expected bowl appearance.

Several other incidents occurred under Toledo’s watch of which he apparently wasn't aware. The season before last Foster failed to tell UCLA authorities about a marijuana bust, and then there were the 22 players involved in the handicapped parking permit fiasco that occurred in 1999. The latter revelation and subsequent no contest pleas led to player suspensions for two or three games.

After marijuana was found in Foster's car, Toledo said that that kids in the family make mistakes and kids in the family need to be forgiven. That was the tact he took in the Paus incident.

In the main, up to this point in his career, Bob Toledo has been given a free ride by the Los Angeles media—mostly because of USC’s cross-town presence.

At least a few "paranoid" Trojan fans will tell you that. 

But honeymoons can last only so long, even among the most charitable of the sports media, most of whom are willing to blink when it comes to Bob Toledo’s alleged “lack of control.”

When the Los Angeles Times prints negative letters from Bruin fans, it is likely Dan Guerrero will start a coaching search, having used Sports Viewpoint as a voice meter for measuring the popularity of his coach, for over the years it has signaled the demise of scores, ranging from Gene Bartow to Paul Hackett, who slain by pen and whim lie draped along Times Mirror Square with no plaque for remembrance as those stuck to Hollywood boulevard honoring others who starred in tinsel town of which we so fondly remember.

When fans turn on Toledo, signaling his ouster, some people have speculated that Washington’s head coach Rick Neuheisel might accept the UCLA coaching job if presented the opportunity since he's a UCLA alum and former assistant coach under Terry Donahue. 

Even Toledo has said that. 

That happened last season during the negative recruiting wars that surfaced when Neuheisel charged that UCLA coaches had “pounded and pounded” on Clayton Walker, who had given an oral commitment to play for Washington.

"Basically what Neuheisel and (assistant coach) Steve Axman were telling them was that I was going to get fired," Toledo was quoted as saying. 

"I told the kid (Walker), 'If I get fired, I know Rick Neuheisel will be the first one to apply.' That's exactly it, verbatim."

Would Neuheisel accept the UCLA coaching job if offered?

Money and perks say no.

Rick Nueheisel earns as much as $1.462 million per season at Washington (The Seattle Times), including all incentives. Bob Toledo earns $578,000 at UCLA (The Los Angeles Times), which includes apparel and shoe money.

It’s unlikely that UCLA administrators will be willing to  raise the ante enough to lure Neuheisel away from Washington.

When asked why he didn't hire coaches with more experience, Dalis said, "I have presented plans to secure a coach, but I was limited in what I was able to offer in compensation. I have a sense that may be changing a little bit, but to date, [senior administrators] at this university have not wanted to do that." That in reference to the hiring of Steve Lavin and Bob Toledo. [Steve Henson, Los Angeles Times].

And then there are the perks.

Not long ago, Toledo was quoted as saying, "…He (Neuheisel) made some real negative comments, that (UCLA) coaches live far away, that we're not close to the campus, that the school doesn't take care of its ex-players, that he had to go to USC to get his law degree.”

Toledo lives in Westlake Village and must negotiate 30 miles of car-infested traffic, taking the Ventura and San Diego freeways to work. During the pre-season, Toledo will hold one week of summer workouts on the CLU campus in Thousand Oaks, which is located several miles from his home.  

Presumably, a new coach with "limited pay" would be forced to commute in the same way, without the CLU respite.

The penetrating eyes of a head football coach are unnerving enough, more so in the early morning when painted in variegated colors ranging from blue to red to smoggy brown depending on the vagaries of freeway congestion and sleep deprivation.

Conversely, Rick Neuheisel, a players' coach, pilots his boat  across Lake Washington from his home on Mercer Island to his office, which is located on the western shore of the lake.

Does Neuheisel skipper (no pun intended) his boat to work on blustery, rainy days?

It is rumored that tenured coaches at Washington walk across the lake to work, a la ex-Husky-coach Jim Owens. For those coaches, the weather is no problem.

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