[UPDATED: Golden Is Out] Ready For His Return

The conventional wisdom in Husky Land is that Coach Neuheisel is nothing but trouble. When you talk college football with a Husky Fan (or a Colorado fan) they will always make the easy argument that somehow it was Neuheisel's responsibility that their program cratered after his departure, even though it was their ADs who brought in losers like Gilbertson, Willingham, and Barnett.

None of RN's detractors, who make the easy argument that he drove his programs into the ground, will point to the fact he was 15-10 in his last year in Colorado and in Washington and, even though he had an abrupt ending at both programs, neither school had losing seasons the year after he left.

In this post, I wanted to zero in with the help of a couple of articles re. the situation at Washington, the only program that ever fired Neuheisel. However, as we know by now, that firing led to Coach Neuheisel filing a lawsuit, resulting in $4.5 million settlement in favor of RN.

And as this article from few years ago, written by Matt Hayes (ironically an original supporter of Karl Dorrell, who eventually realized Dorrell was in over his head in Westwood), pointed out the facts re. Neuheisel and Washington paint a different picture than the one sketched out by bitter Husky fans. Here are some details re. Neuheisel and that infamous tourney pool he participated in Washington:

* The NCAA knew about his participation in the pool in 2002 but did nothing for a year. When it did act, an official called it the "most egregious" case of gambling in NCAA history.

* In 1997, the NCAA voted down an amendment that would have specifically outlawed participation in such pools, leaving NCAA compliance directors to interpret the rules--and that's the crux of Neuheisel's lawsuit against Washington and the NCAA.

* Neuheisel, thought by many to know no loyalty, turned down a lucrative job offer from Notre Dame two years ago to stay at Washington.
I forgot about the part of how Notre Dame had put on a full court press for Neuheisel, who decided to remain in Washington.

If you go on to read the rest of the article, it gives us a peak into the bureaucratic incompetence of both the Washington athletic department and a joke NCAA institution (which still cannot do anything about the out of control situation in South Central), that were dead set on going after an easy target:
When Hedges [Barbara Hedges, then Washington Athletic Director] fired Neuheisel, she said Neuheisel had lied to NCAA investigators and that he was fired "due to repeated incidences of dishonesty and participation in high-stakes gambling on intercollegiate athletics." But when the NCAA charged Washington in February with lack of institutional control, Neuheisel was not cited for lying to investigators. Moreover, in accepting Washington's self-imposed penalties, the Pac-10 didn't charge Neuheisel with a "show cause" edict, which would have required a league school hiring him to justify his employment or be penalized. Neuheisel and Sulkin are hopeful the NCAA won't hand down a show cause edict, which would place any school in the same circumstance.

Neuheisel and Washington went before the NCAA infractions committee last month, and Sulkin [Bob Sulkin, Neuheisel's attorney] asked NCAA gambling czar Bill Sauna why the NCAA voted down an amendment in 1997 that would have eliminated the need for university compliance directors to interpret the gambling rule. Sulkin says Saum responded, "Because everybody knows the rule."

Dana Richardson, Washington's director of NCAA compliance,' didn't. Her e-mails in 1999 and 2003 to the athletic department specifically gave Neuheisel permission to participate: "The bottom line of these rules" she wrote, "is that if you have friends outside of (intercollegiate athletics) that have pools on any of the basketball tournaments, you can participate."

The NCAA's response: Neuheisel should have known better.

This is the same organization that specifically told Neuheisel after his refractions from the Colorado case in 2002 that he should not interpret NCAA bylaws and should strictly follow interpretations from his university's compliance director. Neuheisel, of course, says he followed the advisement of Richardson, who resigned in February.

Neuheisel and Sulkin also say the NCAA was told about Neuheisel's participation in the pool a year before it acted. Only after the NCAA contacted a confidential informant a year later--and asked again if Neuheisel still was participating--did the case move forward. When Sulkin asked Saum at last month's hearing why the NCAA didn't investigate earlier, he says Saum replied, "Because we didn't believe it."

Despite initial reports Neuheisel won $25,000 or more, Sulkin's official response to the NCAA claims that Neuheisel bet $3,600 in 2002 and $2,790 in 2003, and won a total of $8,409. If that's true. Neuheisel bet less than one quarter of one percent of his salary over two years on the pool. By comparison, a person with a $50,000 salary would have bet a little more than $50 a year.

"Everybody knows that rule."

"We didn't believe it."

"He should have known better."

Maybe Rick Neuheisel made his bed. But the NCAA had better get its bedtime story straight.
Well, it sounds like neither the NCAA nor Washington ever got their stories right, as it was Coach Neuheisel who ended up feeling vindicated in a $4.5 million settlement out of the whole deal.

Well, that was almost four years ago, which brings us today. And as we are living through a period in which the all out campaigning for the UCLA coaching position has led to DeWayne Walker's family member's apparent negative campaigning against Neuheisel, I thought this quote from Wayne Clough, the President of Georgia Tech University (who interviewed RN before going with Paul Johnson) was telling:
"With Coach Neuheisel, I respect what he brings to the table," Clough said. "I thought he would have brought a lot to Georgia Tech. I tend to be a forgiving person. I grew up in a Christian home. The idea is you give people a second chance. If somebody can express that clearly to you, that they understand they made some mistakes and they can do something different, then I can live with that. It just didn't come to that.

"He's a very bright and talented young man, and I hope the point will come where he does get that opportunity."
At this point, if we don't have a Leach or a Petersen or a Mendenhall on the table, I am ready to get behind Coach Neuheisel:


Via juliecinci's photostream

I hear 3 time Super Bowl Champion Troy Aikman is pushing for the return of Coach Neuheisel. When someone as reserved Aikman gets behind a cause in the Bruin Nation, we should take note.

As I mentioned above, if DG cannot land Petersen or Mendenhall or Leach, it is time for him to bring the prodigal son home. If you prefer RN over Walker please email Dan Guerrero at dguerrero@athletics.ucla.edu and Chancellor Gene Block at chancellor@conet.ucla.edu, and let them know respectfully and politely you are ready to welcome Coach Neuheisel back home. If you are an alum or student, please make sure to indicate your graduating class in your emails. As always feel free to post your email in the comment thread to share with rest of BN.

GO BRUINS.

UPDATE -N: Now at least in the public arena it looks like we are down to RN v. Walker as Golden has pulled out. GO BRUINS. -N
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