UCLA's Walker says 'no' to Huskies, will stay with Bruins
UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel announced tonight that DeWayne Walker will stay at UCLA as defensive coordinator.
Seattle Times staff reporter
New UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel has yet to coach a game against his former school, but he scored a victory of sorts against the Huskies Wednesday night by convincing defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker to stay at UCLA.
The Huskies had pursued Walker to fill the same position at UW, replacing recently fired Kent Baer, reportedly offering at least a two-year deal worth more than $400,000 per year, more than any Huskies assistant has ever made.
Walker said "it was one of the toughest calls I had to make'' to tell Willingham he was staying at UCLA, but that he had "unfinished business." His son, Kevan, has committed to play at UCLA next season.
Walker was UCLA's defensive coordinator the past two years, earning praise for his work as the Bruins finished fourth in the conference in total defense this season. He served as the Bruins' interim coach for the Las Vegas Bowl after the firing of coach Karl Dorrell.
Indications are that Walker agreed to stay after Neuheisel agreed to keep defensive line coach Todd Howard and linebackers coach Chuck Bullough, who arrived at UCLA along with Walker in 2006.
Walker said the Huskies not only pursued him, but Howard and Bullough as well.
"He [Willingham] did a great job selling the program,'' Walker said. "I think he sold Todd and Chuck. But again, at the end of the day when we sat down and pulled all the pieces together, this is the place we need to be.''
Walker's statements indicate that Willingham was willing to make a massive overhaul of the defensive staff. Randy Hart, who has been at UW since 1988, is currently the Huskies' defensive line coach. Chris Tormey is the Huskies' recruiting coordinator and linebackers coach.
Hart said Wednesday that his future "has not been discussed. Until I'm told anything else, I expect to be there.''
Walker said he spoke with UW president Mark Emmert "a couple of times. He just said he would like for me to be part of the program.''
Walker's decision to stay at UCLA, which was announced in the evening, came after he and Neuheisel met earlier on Wednesday.
Walker said there was some urgency because "Tyrone was putting pressure on me a little bit. But I wanted to give Rick time that we would make all of this fit.''
Neuheisel said, "We are just as thrilled as we could be'' that all three are staying at UCLA and indicated that raises will be given to each.
It's uncertain where UW goes now. Another rumored defensive coordinator candidate, Ron English -- fired along with the staff at Michigan -- announced Tuesday he is heading to Louisville.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or email@example.com.
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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