Rick Neuheisel interested in return to coaching, Oregon State job

Throw Rick Neuheisel into the mix as a possible candidate as the next football coach at Oregon State.

Neuheisel, who most recently served as the coach at UCLA after stops at Colorado and Washington, confirmed to ESPN he is intrigued by the job. The current CBS Sports analyst and SiriusXM radio host first told Oregon-based radio host John Canzano on Wednesday that he misses coaching and expressed interest in the opening, which was created last month when Gary Andersen and the school parted ways after just 21 games.

"I'm not going to pursue it," Neuheisel told ESPN. "If they reached out to me and thought I might be a fit, I would absolutely entertain a conversation. But those sort of searches, they have guys in mind. They have ideas to where they're going.

"I've made up my mind that if someone thinks I'm the right fit for a particular situation, I would absolutely entertain and listen to it."

Sources told ESPN's Adam Rittenberg that the search firm Oregon State hired is targeting candidates with some head-coaching experience and ties to the Northwest. Washington offensive coordinator Jonathan Smith, a former quarterback at Oregon State, is expected to be among the top candidates for the job.

Oregon State players last week started an online petition to keep interim coach Cory Hall as the permanent coach.

It's unclear whether Oregon State views Neuheisel as a possible candidate.

Neuheisel has been out of coaching since the end of the 2011 season, when he was fired at UCLA. He compiled a 21-28 record in four seasons at the school and is 87-58 in 12 seasons as a head coach, which included four seasons at Colorado (1995-1998) and four at Washington (1999-2002).

After his tenure ended at UCLA, Neuheisel was hired by the Pac-12 Network as an analyst before its launch in 2012, and he left for CBS in 2015.

"I understand how these things work," Neuheisel said. "Usually you're chasing your tail if you're trying to insert yourself. It's always best to be contacted.

"I think the Oregon State job is a good job. With the right guy in that position, given where the program sits currently, I think it can be kick-started rather quickly."

Neuheisel, 56, isn't willing to shut the door on a return to coaching as an assistant, either.

"I don't mean to make it sound like I don't enjoy what I'm doing. I enjoy the radio show that I'm involved with, and CBS has been wonderful and it has been a great experience," he said. "College football has been great to me, but I'd be lying if I say [that when] I watch games I don't miss the locker room. I saw [Notre Dame coach] Brian Kelly celebrating after the NC State game and I'm sitting there going, 'Dang, that looks like fun.'"

Oregon State (1-7, 0-5 Pac-12) has lost six straight games but has been much more competitive in its two games under Hall. The Beavers were 7-23 under Andersen, who replaced Mike Riley prior to the 2015 season.