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UCLA fires football coach Bob Toledo

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 9 (UPI) -- UCLA football coach Bob Toledo was fired as coach of the Bruins on Monday, one day after the school accepted a bid to play New Mexico in the Las Vegas Bowl on Christmas Day.

"This was an extremely hard decision to make but one I felt was necessary for the future of the program," Athletic Director Dan Guerrero said. "That being sad, I believe that in order to revitalize our program and move it forward, a change of leadership is required."

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UCLA is 7-5, but saw its defense fall apart in its final two games, losing 52-21 to USC on Nov. 23 and 48-27 to Washington State on Saturday.

Ed Kezirian, currently the director of academic services and an assistant coach from 1982 to 1992, was named interim head coach while a search for a permanent replacement begins.

Toledo will not coach for the Las Vegas Bowl as the game plan will be developed by the coordinators and current staff members.

UCLA has played the second half of the season without injured quarterback Cory Paus, forcing Toledo to use freshman Drew Olson and Matt Moore.

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Toledo has six years left on a contract. The contract buyout consists of one year of the full package of $578,000 and five years at a base salary of $153,000.

UCLA won its first six games in 2001, but a late-season collapse that included four straight losses put him on the hot seat entering 2002.

The program also endured several off-the-field problems, including a drunken driving conviction of Paus.

"The circumstances over the past four years, both on and off the field, created an environment that, in my opinion, hindered long-term success," Guerrero said.

In seven years at UCLA, Toledo is 49-32, including a school-record 20-game winning streak in 1997 and 1998. But he has just a .500 record in his last 48 games.

The 56-year-old Toledo came to UCLA as offensive coordinator in 1994 and was hired to replace Terry Donahue two years later.

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