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END OF AN ERA: DONAHUE RESIGNS : Donahue Calls Screen Play : College football: After 20 years as UCLA's head football coach, he resigns to become an analyst for CBS.

December 12, 1995|STEVE SPRINGER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Even after talking to all of them, Donahue still wanted to sleep on his decision with what was left of Sunday night. The only similar time he did such a thing, in January of 1987, he drifted off thinking he would accept the coaching job of the NFL's Atlanta Falcons, but woke up deciding to turn it down.

A year ago, Donahue seriously considered becoming coach of the Rams, but changed his mind when he learned they would be moving to St. Louis.

In making the decision to leave this time, Donahue talked to both Vermeil, who made a successful transition from the sidelines to the broadcast booth, and Bill Walsh, who did not. Donahue also kept in mind the career moves of his cross-town rival, USC Coach John Robinson, who gave up coaching to become a sportscaster, only to return to the coaching profession.

"I have some apprehensions," Donahue said. "This is a new arena. I had something I'll never have again. You won't get [the high from coaching] in any other job. I know that, but I had that and I'll cherish it."

Perhaps no one in the press room Monday could better identify with Donahue's decision than KCBS sportscaster Jim Hill, who was an NFL defensive back before becoming a broadcaster.

"You are not concerned about how the team on the field did," said Hill, in describing the transition process. "But you are concerned with the team in the broadcast booth. It's the same highs and lows. But you just get there different ways."

But having gone the way he has, would Donahue definitely rule out ever returning to coaching?

"I wouldn't say that at all," he replied.

But for now, at least, he is excited.

"Let's tee it up," he said, "and kick off."

Still, even in the midst of his euphoria at having finally resolved the situation, Donahue, for one brief instant, wavered.

"I can't believe I'm holding this press conference," he said. "What are you all doing here?"

Until those 11 words of resignation came out of Donahue's mouth, no one was absolutely sure.

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