Bruins bowling without Toledo
Spencer Havner was on his way to the UCLA campus for class early Monday when he got the news most Bruin football fans – and players – had expected.
“A teammate called me up this morning around 11 a.m. and told me Coach (Bob) Toledo and the athletic director had a meeting, and that Coach Toledo had been fired. I wasn’t surprised at all,” said Havner, a 2001 graduate of Nevada Union High School and redshirt freshman linebacker. “I heard that (they) were going to have a meeting this morning and that the AD would make the decision if coach Toledo would stay or go.”
First-year Bruin AD Dan Guerrero said while he’d built a good relationship with Toledo since taking over in July, recent history forced his hand.
”This was an extremely hard decision to make but one I felt was necessary for the future of the program. I (have) respect for all that he has accomplished at UCLA,” he said. “(But) the circumstances over the past four years, both on and off the field, created an environment that, in my opinion, hindered long-term success.”
”In the final analysis, when I looked at all the factors on both sides of the ledger, I felt that for UCLA football to take the next step, we needed a fresh start,” Guerrero added.
Off-the-field problems during Toledo’s tenure included a handicapped parking scandal in 1999, and star running back DeShaun Foster1s season-ending suspension in 2001 for driving a new car leased by actor-director Eric Laneuville. In addition, Toledo learned two days before the loss to USC in 2001 that Paus had pleaded no contest to a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol and faced four days of jail time. It was his second alcohol-related offense.
“It’s exciting to have some new energy coming in, but it’s tough to lose a relationship you’ve built with someone,” Havner said. “It’s sad because he has a family and a life. Hopefully there will be an upside to all of this.”
The 56-year-old Toledo guided UCLA to a 49-32 record in seven seasons, the third-most wins for a football coach in school history, including a school-record 20-game winning streak in 1997-98, but the Bruins have gone 24-24 since and have lost four straight to rival Southern California.
“I came to UCLA with class and dignity and I will leave with class and dignity,” Toledo said in a statement released by the school. “I have nothing but great things to say about UCLA.”
The Bruins are 7-5 this season, including a 52-21 loss to USC on Nov. 23 and a 48-27 loss to Washington State on Saturday.
Toledo will not coach UCLA in the Dec. 25 Las Vegas Bowl, where the Bruins will play New Mexico. Ed Kezirian, assistant director of academic services, will serve as interim head coach. He was a Bruins assistant from 1982-92.
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