PROVO Even before BYU's kickoff with UCLA in the Pioneer Vision Las Vegas Bowl, the two programs are making hard-news headlines because of a vacant coaching job in Westwood.
The Bruins, who are looking for a new head coach, are wading in BYU resumes, including current interim coach DeWayne Walker, a BYU defensive back coach in the mid-90s when the Cougars went to the Cotton Bowl.
UCLA is also looking at former BYU, North Carolina State and USC offensive coordinator Norm Chow, currently the coordinator for the Tennessee Titans of the NFL. And today, ESPN reported the Bruins would like to talk to current Cougar coach Bronco Mendenhall about replacing fired Karl Dorrell.
Walker formally interviewed for the UCLA job this week. Chow has been contacted by UCLA but has not interviewed. According to BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe, UCLA has not asked permission to talk to Mendenhall, whom Holmoe re-negotiated his BYU contract with in July and signed an extension in August.
It was for this very reason Holmoe re-upped Mendenhall, the 2006 MWC Coach of the Year, before his pact came due.
"He's a very successful coach who will have his name pop up frequently now," said Holmoe of Mendenhall, who guided BYU to its second straight undefeated league championship in 2007.
Mendenhall, according to sources on campus, doesn't see a need to respond to media enquiries about the ESPN report.
Walker, in his second year on UCLA's staff, is gaining support from current Bruin players who have taken a campaign for Walker to athletic director Dan Guerrero.
"I think he's going to make a great head coach one day," UCLA defensive end Bruce Davis said after a recent practice, quoted in the Long Beach Telegram. "Wherever he winds up, his team will respond to him and (the players) will have a coach they can play for."The Cougars begin practice for UCLA in the indoor practice facility on campus on Thursday.