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UCLA REPORT

In 1995, Job Was Barnett's

September 20, 2002|Steve Henson

Pete Dalis made Gary Barnett an offer that--after considerable waffling--he decided he could refuse.

Barnett was the hottest commodity in coaching in 1995, leading long-struggling Northwestern to a 10-1 regular-season record. But after losing to USC in the Rose Bowl, he decided to stay at Northwestern.

So Dalis, then the UCLA athletic director, turned to assistant Bob Toledo and offered him the chance to succeed Terry Donahue as Bruin coach.

Seven years later, Barnett will make his way back to the Rose Bowl--as coach of disappointing Colorado. He downplayed his long-ago decision, preferring to focus on getting his current team to rebound from an embarrassing loss to USC.

"I was very serious [about the UCLA offer], but I really don't want to talk about that this week," he said.

Dalis offered Barnett $500,000 a year. Northwestern countered with a similar offer but with far more security, a 12-year deal worth $6 million.

Dalis even brought in UCLA Chancellor Charles Young to meet with Barnett the day before the Rose Bowl. The coach asked to wait until after the game, and the more time he had to think, the greater the pull became to remain at Northwestern.

"As the discussion went on, I could sense Dr. Young really wanting me to take the job," Barnett wrote in an autobiography published after the season. "Everything they said was terrific, everything they did was terrific, and they seemed willing to go any extra distance."

But ultimately, he decided L.A. was too far. During a recruiting trip to North Carolina a few days later, he called Dalis and declined the offer.

"In the next few weeks, I was supposed to be accepting a number of coach-of-the-year awards for what we had done at Northwestern," Barnett wrote. "How could I be at one of these banquets and be introduced as--the UCLA coach?

"What do I tell these kids is the reason I'm going to UCLA? The only reasons I could give them would be that I like warm weather and I like to play golf, and those are pretty damned selfish."

Barnett, 56, coached three more seasons at Northwestern before replacing Rick Neuheisel at Colorado.

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Freshman Glenn Ohaeri will play wing on the punt coverage team, replacing Ricky Manning and Joe Hunter, who shared the duty on the side opposite Keith Short.

Toledo said he wants cornerbacks Manning and Hunter to get a breather.

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Fullbacks J.D. Groves (sprained neck) and Pat Norton (ankle), and defensive lineman Steve Morgan (knee) will play.... Freshman linebacker Kirby Joseph had shoulder surgery and will redshirt.... Linebacker Dennis Link's wife, Shobana, gave birth to a son, Dylan, Thursday.

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