NEW ORLEANS -- New Mexico offensive coordinator Bob Toledo
is taking over at Tulane, a school desperate to rejuvenate its fan
base in a city that will be rebuilding from Hurricane Katrina for
"I was one of those people from far, far away watching when
disaster struck," said Toledo, a former head coach at UCLA.
"They've had to overcome a lot of adversity and that's one of the
things that attracted me here."
When Toledo walked into an atrium in the university's athletic
center for his introduction Monday, wearing an olive green suit
similar to Tulane's traditional school colors, boosters gave him an
extended applause. With the 60-year-old Toledo, Tulane gets a
long-established coach who has won at big schools and who was
looking to get one more shot as a head coach.
Toledo coached at UCLA from 1996-2002, compiling a 49-32 record
that included a school-record 20-game winning streak and two Pac-10
championships. Despite his successes, he was fired in 2002 by Dan
Guerrero, then in his first year as UCLA's athletic director, who
said he felt the program wasn't heading in the right direction
after a 7-5 season.
"Everybody's excited to know that he's a big-time guy and he's
coached a lot of good teams," Tulane running back Matt Forte said.
"For him to come here, it kind of gives us that attitude to want
to win and want to work hard."
Despite new on-campus practice facilities built after Katrina's
floodwaters receded, Tulane faces a constant recruiting hurdle
because of its relatively high academic standards. Toledo said
Pac-10 schools with strong academic reputations, such as UCLA and
Stanford, have proven that such schools can field good teams.
"I love challenges. There's no question this is going to be a
challenge," Toledo said. "People talk about what happened with
Katrina. People talk about the academics and how difficult it is to
get players in. Well, I haven't been through a Katrina, thank
goodness, but I have lived through the academic part of it. ...
Because you're smart doesn't mean you can't be a good football
New Mexico coach Rocky Long said he wasn't surprised to be
losing Toledo after one season.
"I knew that was a possibility. When I coaxed him out of
retirement, I told him if we had some success here he'd probably
get a chance to be a head coach again," Long said.
Long said Toledo will continue to coach the Lobos' offense
through the Dec. 23 New Mexico Bowl against San Jose State. The
Lobos went 6-6 this season.
Toledo will take over for Chris Scelfo, who was fired after
Tulane finished 4-8 this season.
Scelfo spent eight seasons at Tulane and went 37-57. He also
guided the Green Wave through the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina,
when the team was displaced. The Green Wave played 11 games in 11
different cities in 2005 and finished 2-9.
Toledo said he will interview Scelfo's staff first as he fills
assistant coaching positions, but also bring in coaches he has
established relationships with throughout his career.
The coach said he will focus his recruiting early on in
Louisiana, a state that produced numerous NFL players and fields
top college recruits every year.
"It's crucial that you attract the players from this area,
because not only do you get the kids, you get their parents and
their family and their friends to come to the games," Toledo said.
"My goal right now is to get people to support us. And I
promise we will be an exciting and entertaining and a winning
football team," Toledo said. "Hopefully, the people in this town
will get behind us."