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T.J. SIMERS

UCLA's football success takes an extended leave

Coach Rick Neuheisel and Athletic Director Dan Guerrero seem to change their tune annually, particularly regarding just-fired offensive coordinator Norm Chow. But the team's lack of success has remained constant.

January 24, 2011|T.J. Simers

Here's what I don't get.

One year ago UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel and Athletic Director Dan Guerrero get together and agree to extend, that's extend, Norm Chow's contract.

So what changes in the next 10 months or so?

Guerrero says he had extensive conversations with Neuheisel about Chow's contract status a year ago, and that Neuheisel "was convinced it was the appropriate thing to do. [Neuheisel] was very satisfied with the way things were going.''

But things didn't go well for the Bruins.

A year ago Neuheisel changed offensive approaches when things weren't going well and brought in the "pistol." This time around he's changing offensive coordinators.

"Rick knows there is maybe one shot to straighten this thing out,'' says Guerrero, and as turnarounds go, this is the same AD who laughed off a columnist's suggestion at the start of last season that anyone would be better for the job than Neuheisel.

"We're going to have a small [recruiting] class of maybe 15 to 16 student athletes, so he said he wanted to take a real good look at everything," Guerrero says. "He decided he wanted to take more ownership of the offense. That's how he wanted to move forward."

If Neuheisel is taking ownership of the offense, there seems to be no need for another offensive coordinator. But he hired one, old pal Mike Johnson. UCLA must have a ton of money.

In the words of Guerrero, who also has the authority to make changes when things don't go well, it sounds as if it's really on Neuheisel now.

"Nothing went south in terms of that relationship between Rick and Norm," Guerrero says. "It's just Rick wanting to take ownership, and it probably makes sense for what he's doing in many ways."

Better to take ownership four years into a job, I say, than never doing so.

THE CLIPPERS ran ads across the bottom of Page 2 and Page 3 Monday morning. As for truth in advertising, I wondered about a statement in one of the ads: "Griffin & Gordon will be with the Clippers for their careers."

Clippers President Andy Roeser replied via e-mail: "We're more than happy to contribute to the LA Times' bottom line and help to pay Page Two's salary. At the same time, we think it's important to send a clear, credible message that we are committed to our star players for the long term."

Works for me.

CHARGERS FANS usually have nothing to do at this time of year other than be bitter. As San Diego Union-Tribune columnist Nick Canepa put it after the Packers and Steelers advanced to the Super Bowl, ". . . LaDainian Tomlinson will be watching. Again.

"Pledging allegiance to another franchise didn't help his own personal elevator reach the level he's long been seeking. But he did absolutely nothing to so much as push a button in Pittsburgh. He remains a playoff also-ran, be it on the left or the right coast.''

Can't wait to see how these folks react to their whole football team leaving town.

THE LOS ANGELES Chargers, if successful with a change in scenery, will be advancing to Super Bowl XLVII (47) in the New Orleans Superdome two years from now.

No date has been set for the game, because we're waiting to see if our Chargers will be playing a 16- or 18-game schedule.

SOMEONE E-MAILED to let me know my name was mentioned recently in a Steve Lopez column. That was so nice, but I just wish they had told me what newspaper he writes for.

I WONDER if anyone on the Packers' defense took a second to give it some thought. Just imagine if someone had told them before the season began, all they had to do was stop Caleb Hanie on the game's final drive to advance to the Super Bowl. What would they have said?

"What team does Hanie play for?"

JAY CUTLER reportedly cried after hearing NFL players were challenging his toughness, or lack of it. That means everyone in Chicago was left crying because Cutler remains under contract for the next four years. And Hanie is going to be a free agent.

I HAVE e-mailed Josh Rawitch, the Dodgers' PR guy, more than 20 times requesting an interview with Frank McCourt. In each instance I've received pretty much the same response, "Mr. McCourt respectfully declines."

Now I wonder if the messages were passed on, or if Rawitch can be trusted to return a message unedited.

I talked to McCourt myself recently, and requested an interview. In front of several well-dressed male and female guests attending an event at the Century Plaza, the Dodgers' owner said: "In your [bleeping] dreams."

So much for "respectfully" replying.

I told him, "I spend many sleepless nights wondering when we might talk again."

I didn't get the impression he felt any sympathy.

THERE WAS an old picture of Jack LaLanne in the newspaper Monday morning, in his 60s, handcuffed, shackled and towing boats filled with children while swimming in Long Beach Harbor. I saw that and I thought of Rick Baedeker, the Laguna Beach jello king, who won't go golfing unless he can ride in a cart.

ALL YOU need to know about golf, other than the fact Dwyre is writing about it and he only writes about dying sports, is that Martin Kaymer has now replaced Tiger Woods as No. 2 in the world rankings.

Martin who? I might've guessed he was a hockey player.

OK, SO I looked it up. Martin Kaymer won the 2010 PGA Championship, which goes to show you just how faceless golf has become.

Did I mention Jhonattan Vegas just won the Hope Classic? Some classic.

t.j.simers@latimes.com

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