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Neuheisel targets Walker, Chow

December 31, 2007|Chris Foster and Sam Farmer | Times Staff Writers

Rick Neuheisel, still enjoying that new-car smell as UCLA's football coach, wasted little time in taking the job for a test drive.

Neuheisel called Bruins defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker, another finalist for the job, Saturday night to ask him to remain at UCLA. Neuheisel said he would also contact Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Norm Chow to gauge his interest in coming west again.

Walker, who could not be reached for comment, is at the top of Neuheisel's list. Besides being an effective defensive coordinator, Walker has been instrumental in the Bruins' recruiting efforts. Walker also has an offer to become defensive coordinator at the University of Washington.

"I got a good vibe," Neuheisel said of his talk with Walker. "DeWayne is very fond of UCLA. Of course DeWayne needs to do what's best for DeWayne, and he's coveted right now. He's being pursued by Washington and probably others. He and I will probably talk [today]. The goal is for he and I to lock arms and do this together."

Neuheisel would like to add Chow to his other arm, though he is under contract with the Titans. Chow, who was offensive coordinator at USC from 2001-04, was also interested in the UCLA head coaching job and received an initial interview.

Chow was unavailable for comment as the Titans were playing the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday night.

"I know him, and I know that he has a great affinity for college football," Neuheisel said. "That doesn't mean he doesn't like what he's doing now. But I have a great affinity for Norm and what he's done in college football in all the places where he's been. It would be fun for me to have a chance to work with him."

Chow was also offensive coordinator at Brigham Young and North Carolina State.

UCLA, which used the West Coast offense, scored only 25 touchdowns on offense in 13 games this season. Chow, considered a top offensive mind, was credited for the Heisman Trophy seasons that Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart had at USC.

As to the type of offense he would employ, Neuheisel was certain of only one thing.

"You have to have the ability to run the ball," said Neuheisel, who previously was head coach at Washington and Colorado. "You can't line up in the Pac-10 and not be able to control the ball on the ground and be successful. In my fourth season at Washington, we got a little away from that and paid the price."

chris.foster@latimes.com

sam.farmer@latimes.com

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