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December 21, 2007
EUGENE, Ore. ? Oregon coach Mike Bellotti, who had his team ranked No. 2 before a late-season collapse, has reportedly surfaced as a candidate for the vacant head coaching job at UCLA.
"He's acknowledging that they have spoken with him," Oregon assistant athletic director Dave Williford told the Eugene Register-Guard late Thursday.
Southern California newspapers first reported on their Web sites that UCLA administrators had met with Bellotti. The Los Angeles Daily News said Bellotti had been contacted by the Bruins earlier in their search but had balked.
Bellotti, who turned 57 on Friday, is 105-52 in 13 seasons at Oregon.
The Ducks are 8-4 this season, but lost their final three regular-season games after losing quarterback Dennis Dixon to a knee injury. Oregon will play South Florida in the Sun Bowl on New Year's Eve in El Paso, Texas.
The Bruins are seeking a replacement for Karl Dorrell, who was released from his contract Dec. 3 after compiling a 35-27 record in five seasons.
Bellotti's contract at Oregon, with guaranteed salary, incentives and deferred compensation, is reportedly worth more than $1 million a year. The Daily News said UCLA is "armed with enough money to pay at least $1.8 million."
Bellotti has been connected to high-profile openings in the past, at Notre Dame, Ohio State, Arizona State and Southern California.
UCLA has talked to a number of prospects.
On Thursday, Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator Norm Chow, who once held the same position at USC, pulled his name from consideration.
The Bruins interviewed Temple coach Al Golden on Wednesday, a day after meeting with former Washington coach and current Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Rick Neuheisel, who played quarterback for the Bruins.
UCLA defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker is serving as interim head coach for the Bruins' Las Vegas Bowl appearance on Saturday against Brigham Young.