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UCLA football: Bowl game might not save Rick Neuheisel's job

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UCLA becoming eligible to play in a bowl game isn’t the sole criteria that will decide the fate of Bruins football Coach Rick Neuheisel, Athletic Director Dan Guerrero wrote in his blog on the university’s website this week.

In a message to season-ticket holders and donors, Guerrero said that “returning to a bowl is just one of several steps we need to take to get this program to the level we all desire.”

Guerrero did not elaborate on what those “steps” were and refused an interview request before the Bruins’ Pacific 12 Conference game at Arizona on Thursday.

“We’ll let the blog speak for itself,” UCLA spokesman Nick Ammazzalorso said.

The Bruins need six victories to become bowl eligible, though that would not guarantee a bid. UCLA has reached a bowl game only once since Neuheisel was hired, going to the EagleBank Bowl in 2009.

Other areas that might figure into Guerrero’s equation are UCLA’s game against USC and the Bruins’ performance on the field.

UCLA’s play could also tie in with attendance, which Guerrero has called a “critical piece” to the athletic budget. UCLA has seen attendance drop from an average of 76,379 in 2007 to 60,376 in 2010. This season, the attendance has continued to decrease.

Guerrero said he wants a football program that is “relevant on the national scene on a consistent basis.” He made similar statements when he fired Bob Toledo and hired Karl Dorrell.

But, Guerrero said, “in order to compete on the national stage, we first must achieve success in the Pac-12 Conference.”

UCLA has not won a conference title since 1998.

Guerrero said he would not fire Neuheisel during the season, as Arizona did to Mike Stoops.

The football coaching staff “will be evaluated at the conclusion of the season,” Guerrero wrote.

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--Chris Foster, reporting from Tucson, Ariz.

Photo: UCLA Coach Rick Neuheisel gives the thumbs-up to fans as he walks into the Rose Bowl before a game earlier this season. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

 
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