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UCLA hires Joe Tresey as defensive coordinator

Not the Bruins' first choice, Tresey is a former defensive coordinator at South Florida and Cincinnati.

February 15, 2011|By Chris Foster
  • Former South Florida defensive coordinator Joe Tresey will oversee UCLA's defense next season.
Former South Florida defensive coordinator Joe Tresey will oversee UCLA's… (J. Meric / Getty Images )

UCLA's two-month search for a defensive coordinator ended Tuesday when the school announced it had reached into the United Football League to hire Joe Tresey, defensive back coach of the Omaha Nighthawks.

He wasn't the Bruins' first choice.

"I had a guy picked three times now and circumstances led to the search continuing," Coach Rick Neuheisel said last week.

"Rick kept me abreast of the situation," said Tresey, who was defensive coordinator at South Florida in 2009 and Cincinnati in 2007-08. "It was important to be patient, but it was great Rick kept me informed."

Neuheisel said the search stretched on because he "wanted to make the wisest decision I could. I'm thrilled that Joe was patient with me."

South Florida ranked 24th in total defense and was tied for 19th in scoring defense nationally among 119 teams in 2009. The Bulls beat Florida State, 17-7, that season, but their schedule also included Wofford, Western Kentucky and Charleston Southern.

The entire South Florida staff was fired after that season after a school investigation concluded that Coach Jim Leavitt had grabbed one of his players by the throat, slapped him in the face and then lied about it.

"We were all tied to Jim," said Tresey, 52, who also coached at Central Michigan, Akron, Virginia Military Institute and Georgia Southern.

Tresey was fired at Cincinnati after the 2008 season for what Coach Brian Kelly said were "philosophical differences" in the direction the defense should take.

Neuheisel contacted Kelly, now Notre Dame's coach, and said, "I was comfortable that it wasn't anything to be concerned about."

UCLA was 94th in total defense and 86th in scoring defense among 120 teams last season, but the Bruins had a handful of quality freshmen gain experience.

Neuheisel said that he will hire one more assistant coach, probably a defensive line coach, but would wait and confer with Tresey.

chris.foster@latimes.com

twitter.com/cfosterlatimes

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