UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel admitted that his nearly two months search for a new defensive coordinator was "long and exhaustive," but even the hiring of Joe Tresey has not completely ended the coaching intrigue for his team.
For one, the Bruins still have a vacancy on the defensive side of the ball after Neuheisel fired line coach Todd Howard last week. While Neuheisel said he "probably" would be looking for a defensive line coach, he and Tresey have not decided position responsibilities for 2011. Tresey is a secondary specialist but he has also coached linebackers. Presently, Tim Hundley is the Bruins secondary coach and Clark Lea oversees linebackers.
Further, Tresey is a 4-3 coach. One of the reasons Neuheisel fired Chuck Bullough in December is a stated desire to adopt a 3-4.
During a conference call Tuesday, Neuheisel said what he most wanted was "flexibility." For his part, Tresey said that his scheme is a "multiple 4-3" and that "we have the ability to play some 3-4."
Said Neuheisel, "It became very clear listening to Joe explaining his tactics that there are a lot of different ways you could go."
It is no secret that Tresey wasn't Neuheisel's first choice. Neuheisel even said last week that he "had the guy picked three times" but things didn't work out.
Neuheisel wasn't sure of the date he first interviewed Tresey -- either late December or early January -- but he then turned his primary attention to other candidates, such as Rocky Long, Vic Fangio, Randy Shannon and Rocky Seto. Part of that, he said, was a familiarity with the other candidates that he didn't have with Tresey.
"I wanted to be thorough; I didn't know Joe," Neuheisel said. "I wanted to be right."
That included Neuheisel calling Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly. Kelly, while head coach at Cincinnati, fired Tresey after the 2008 season, and one of the reasons -- at least one made public -- was Kelly's desire to switch from a 4-3 to a 3-4. Neuheisel noted that he needed to understand what he called a "a hiccup" on Tresey's resume.
"I wanted to get to the bottom why that happened," Neuheisel said. "I was comfortable after the conversation with both Coach Kelly and with Joe that there wasn't anything that would be of concern to me going forward with Joe as our coordinator. [The problem at Cincinnati] was a timing issue."
Tresey said that Neuheisel kept him in the loop on where he stood throughout the long and exhaustive search.
And, in the end, he got the job.