H-O-R-S-E

So I have been away from the internets most of the day traveling back to the East Coast. For my in-flight reading I did pick up a hard copy of Fox 71's fishwrap and, sure enough, garbage columns from Plaschke and Simers were up there prominently in the first and second pages of the sports section. I am not going to link to that kind trash. DumpDorrell.com has the links here. I wouldn't bother commenting on those predictable columns focusing on Coach Neuheisel's NCAA recruiting violations that took place 5-10 years ago. But, after listening to a moron like Mark May, and checking out some other columns, I thought I put in my 2 cents with the help of friends in the Bruin blogosphere.

First, if you haven't done it yet, go over to Bruin Roar right now and read CPBruinFan's must read post on Coach Neuheisel and NCAA violations.

Apparently, he was written up for two sets of violations during his time at CU and UDub. He was written up for a set of `compensation violations,' which includes high crimes such as ... you ready for it?!!! ... going $3 over the limit for some recruiting weekends so kids could have access to things such as Nintendo games:

Use of a hotel game room at a cost of $3 over the limit for some recruiting week-ends.
$3 so a kid could play Nintendo? Golly Gosh! Wow. That sounds as serious as getting a star receiver $10,000.00 in free rent!

I mean really? Oh it gets better. The second set of violations fall under category of `recruiting violations' which includes such violent crimes as:
Engaged one UW recruit in a game of H-O-R-S-E, deemed an improper tryout by the NCAA.
No, I didn't make that up. That's what Coach Neuheisel got written up for.

And, yet, if one were to read the panting of Plaschke, Simers, and Dohns of the world he or she could get the impression that Coach Neuheisel was in charge of a program where athletes were involved in (alleged) incidents of rape, violent assault, steroid use, racist websites, taking academic shortcuts, or getting hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, rents, and gifts.

But, hey, what do we know? We live in a world in which people like Plaschke can get away with writing with a straight face something like this:
Because Carroll has worked hard to build that rare dynasty that follows the rules.
So, yeah, to sum it up, it is totally cool to have a coach whose players somehow, someway systematically gets themselves on the police blotter or embroiled in blockbuster NCAA scandals involving hundreds of thousands of dollars of illegal benefits, yet it is not okay for UCLA to hire a coach who has been humbled, paid his dues for NCAA "infractions" involving $3 extra benefits or playing a game of H-O-R-S-E.

Let's get back to Coach Neuheisel. CPBruinFan articulates what so many of us have reflected on his past:
He was an aggressive recruiter, no doubt. There is a fine line between been aggressive and violating the rules. Rick stepped over that line a few times. He didn't cheat, he didn't steal signals, he didn't break the rules of the game. No, he just went a little too far in trying to get the best talent into his program. In NASCAR they have an expression, "if you ain't cheating you ain't trying". In the same way, recruiting is a dance that has coaches going as close to the line as possible and finding "creative" ways to interpret the rules.

He was young and obviously didn't realize that, while each violation was minor, that as a whole it could hurt the University. If anyone in the college ranks understands the repercussions of pushing the NCAA rules, it is Rick. I think now that he is older and wiser, he'll learn form these mistakes. He has recently expressed that he is sorry for the incidents that occurred and he takes ownership of them. There isn't anything he can do now to make up for those mistakes, except run a clean program and stay out of trouble.

I'm all for giving Rick a second chance. It has been almost 10 years since his last violation was committed. He is, after all, a Bruin and member of the UCLA family and that should be enough reason to give him our support. He is definitely one of Westwood's wayward sons and It's time for him to come back home and prove that his past is just that... in the past.
While the boys over at DumpDorrell.com unload on the hypocrites as they look to the future:
Were there similar reports when Eric Scott was kept on at UCLA after being nationally ridiculed for being arrested for felony robbery??  And having, as we later found out, 3 convictions for unregistered weapons and disturbing the peace??  No. Instead we got a beautiful redemption piece by Brian Dohn, and charges dropped pieces from the rest of the beat press.  Nary a word after.

Yet, Rick Neuheisel hasn't been afoul of the NCAA for over 5 years (as the PR said, some of his infractions were a decade ago) and even those infractions were all minor. Neu was young when he committed them and now he is older, wiser, repentant, and committed to doing things right - basically all the things we would want in a human being let a lone a coach - and the press still want to crucify him??  The beat press is swallowing their 2nd bitter pill this month, the first with the firing of their guy Karl Dorrell and the second with the non-hiring of their guy DeWayne Walker.  They are mad and want to take it out on us and Neu.

We will repeat again, Rick Neuheisel will not get the goodwill he deserves as new head coach.  Next season, we lose 17 starters and 25 seniors, practically every one on the field will be new to the position.  We have a much tougher schedule.  You all know this because we have been writing about this since early in the '06 season.  We said at the time and since that any coach will be lucky to get this team to .500.  Brian Dohn said the same thing, and we put it here on the record.  He was undoubtedly convinced at the time that his 2nd guy Walker (Dorrell was his first) would get the job so he was making sure Walker had support already for next season.  Neu won't get the benefit of such wisdom next year or ever, unless he starts winning titles and even then he will not get the benefit of fair treatment by some.

Rick Neuheisel has a big challenge ahead of him that Karl Dorrell did not have and DeWayne Walker would not have had.  He has to fight the press from Day 1.  We think Neu will overcome this challenge but it is not fair to him, to UCLA football or to UCLA.  The press is ready to pounce on him and turn his tenure into a Neuclear era.  Hacks like Simers, Plaschke and Dohn are renegades who will search long and hard for that uranium ... it will sell papers and keep their paychecks coming.  One spec is all they need to torch Neu and blow up his tenure.  With the myriad of rules and compliance procedures there is not a coach or program in America that is not absolutely clean.  It's impossible.  That is why programs have compliance officers whose full time job is to check the rules and procedures on everything every staff member and player does.  That is why the Washington compliance officer got the NCAA tournament pool rule wrong after Neu ASKED the officer for the ruling on it.  That is why Neu WON a $4.5 million settlement against both Washington AND the NCAA.
Well if today is any indication, we are going to have Coach Neuheisel's back. Thanks to many of you including 66 and uclahy have already pushed back on the predictable attacks against Coach Neuheisel.

We are going to do what we can to enjoy just the game and forget most of the shenanigans around UCLA football just like we are now doing when it comes to UCLA hoops. However, we should let the world know that we are not just going to sit back and take this nonsense in the coming days, weeks and years if these idiots keep coming with their same predictable, lazy BS attacking on our head coach. Every time they attack Coach Neuheisel with their H-O-R-S-E-&^%#, we are going to call them out as hypocrites for looking the other way, when a far more disturbing (and in some cases disgusting) record was being compiled on the other side of the town.

In many ways, Coach Neuheisel is the perfect General because we know he is not going to sit back and take this H-O-R-S-E-&^%#, and we are going to do what we can to back him up. Anyway, let's get back to more important stuff. Coach Neuheisel has a program to rebuild.  And we are going to enjoy that process just like we did when Coach Howland arrived in town five years ago.

GO BRUINS.
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