Bob Toledo, who held several different positions in the Pac-10 through the years, including head coach at UCLA, stepped down Tuesday from the head football position at Tulane. He’s 65, so this might be the end of his coaching career.
Tulane was 2-5 this year and 15-40 in Toledo’s five-year tenure. It’s a tough place to win, with demanding academic standards and in a city (New Orleans) whose undying sporting love is the Saints. The Tulane athletic director is Rick Dickson, who was hired at Washington State in 1994 (when the Cougars were too suave simply to do the smart thing and name Bill Moos).
Toledo’s departure calls to mind a memorably tawdry exchange between him and Rick Neuheisel, the ex-Washington coach, when both, it turned out, were on the last legs of their respective tenures at UCLA and the UW, respectively. It was a scathing back-and-forth, one that I’ve always seen as beginning kind of a downward spiral for Neuheisel at Washington.
The scene was letter-of-intent day in February of 2002, and at Neuheisel’s press conference to discuss recruits, he was noticeably tired and irritable. He questioned what he said were negative recruiting tactics by some schools, naming Oregon and UCLA, coached by Toledo. The Ducks had been showing, on their stadium video board, a quick clip of Neuheisel, followed by an image of a woman throwing up.
As for the Bruins, here’s what I wrote out of that press conference:
Neuheisel also lit into UCLA, his alma mater, for its recruitment of offensive lineman Clayton Walker of Scottsdale, Ariz. Walker said he recently lost his job at an area steakhouse because two Bruins assistant coaches showed up in Scottsdale unannounced and he felt uncomfortable leaving them to go to his job.
“Talk to Clayton Walker after UCLA had been there,” Neuheisel said. “You had to have a fire hose.
“I mean, (head coach) Bob Toledo tells him, `You don’t think that if I’m (Toledo) gone, that (Neuheisel) is not going to be the next head coach at UCLA?’ I mean, Bob Toledo is basically telling him he’s going to get fired. It’s ridiculous.”
A few days later, I got hold of Toledo at home, and he was in a talkative mood. Here’s an excerpt of the story that came out of my conversation with him:
UCLA’s Bob Toledo, one of two coaches whose staffs Neuheisel implicated five days ago, lashed out last night at Neuheisel, saying, “If you live in a glass house, you shouldn’t throw rocks, you know what I mean?
“We never had a problem in the conference until he started talking about negative recruiting. Now I’m going to start talking.”
Neuheisel, the Washington football coach, said last week that UCLA assistant coaches had “pounded and pounded” offensive lineman Clayton Walker of Scottsdale, Ariz., who had given an oral commitment and eventually signed a letter of intent with the Huskies on Wednesday.
Neuheisel claimed Toledo told the recruit that Neuheisel stood to be the next coach at UCLA, thus questioning the UW staff’s stability. Toledo paints it differently.
“Basically what Neuheisel and (assistant coach) Steve Axman were telling them was that I was going to get fired,” Toledo said.
“I told the kid, `If I get fired, I know Rick Neuheisel will be the first one to apply.’ That’s exactly it, verbatim.”
Reached at his home last night, Neuheisel said he didn’t want to comment.
“I’m not going to get involved in this,” he said. “Bob can go ahead and say what he wants to say.”
Other accusations Toledo made regarding Neuheisel: “He called a couple of our recruits and said we were lying to them. He made some real negative
comments, that (UCLA) coaches live far away, that we’re not close to the campus, that the school doesn’t take care of its ex-players, that he had to go to USC to get his law degree.
“He’s doing a lot of negative recruiting. He’s taking a lot of potshots at anybody.”
That next season would prove to be Toledo’s final one of seven at UCLA, and Neuheisel would last two more seasons before his tumultuous end at the UW in 2003. The recruiting histrionics of that period resulted in Oregon, Neuheisel and Toledo all being reprimanded by the Pac-10 office.
Toledo had been head coach at Pacific from 1979-82, and then had a lengthy tenure as an assistant at Oregon to Rich Brooks.