The impending departure of UCLA head coach Rick Neuheisel has opened the door to many possibilities for the Bruins to rebuild their program.
Many names have already been floated around. Former Oakland Raiders head coach Tom Cable, current New Mexico State head coach DeWayne Walker, and former Oregon head coach Mike Bellotti are just a few prominent candidates that have been mentioned in the last week.
However, one candidate stands out: Chris Petersen.
The Boise State head coach has been the subject to constant speculation that he will move on to greener pastures, but Petersen has always turned them down. The coach has dodged the coaching carousel rumors, as he claims to feel settled in small-town Boise, and enjoys the stability of the Broncos job.
This time, it may be different. Not only are the Bruins heavily pursuing the California native, they are willing to throw a great deal of money at Petersen, according to ESPN's Rick Reilly.
On Twitter, Reilly posted: My guy says UCLA is offering Chris Peterson 5 yr/$20 million and assurances his special needs kid will get great care at UCLA med center.
(Petersen's son actually was diagnosed with cancer when he was a one-year old, but has received treatment. There have been reports that the Boise doctor that treated Petersen's son has moved on to UCLA.)
As for Petersen, and his prospects for perhaps filling the vacancy in Westwood, the timing might be right for him to move on. Though he has had great success with Boise State, his fantastic tenure may have run its course.
Indeed, things are less rosy in Boise based on some recent developments. In September, the NCAA placed the Broncos on three-years probation, and stripped the program of nine scholarships over three years.
Also, Boise State had to change their blue uniform colors after opponents complained that the uniforms and the team's home blue turf gave the program an unfair advantage. Boise State made the change, and they didn't seem to be quite as dominate at home this season compared to previous seasons.
Meanwhile, Boise State will no longer have the services of quarterback Kellen Moore. The four-year starter has racked up enormous numbers and the Broncos relied heavily on the star. Sophomore Joe Southwick will likely be the starter in 2012, though he arrived in Boise as a less-touted recruit. The Broncos will also be without leading rusher Doug Martin next season, as the senior running back moves on to the NFL.
Petersen again failed to play for a national championship in 2011, as the conference schedule remains too weak to get the respect that major conferences receive. When the Broncos have a one-loss season that means they are out of title contention, but that's not the case for SEC, Big 10, Big 12, and Pac-12 programs.
Petersen has an outstanding 71-6 record with Boise State, but the 47-year-old may feel it's time to move on. He helped build the program to national prominence, and a change of scenery, and a new challenge, might be best for his career.
From UCLA's perspective, Petersen would be an ideal addition. The Bruins need a winner to take over the program after years of struggling under Karl Dorrell and Neuheisel. Whoever takes over at UCLA would be greeted with reasonable expectations, considering how the football team has under-achieved in recent years. Bruin fans would be elated if the new coach wins eight games next season, and at least gives USC a competitive game.
After years of failure, the Bruins need to win, and don't necessarily need to have a pro-style offense. As Oregon has proven, the spread offense can yield great results, and may not be hurt the program's ability to recruit. Petersen can bring his Boise State-style offense to the Rose Bowl, and get the Bruins back on track.
Petersen would arrive with fan-fare and could make some immediate noise. This might be a match made in heaven for both him and UCLA.