As geeked as I am about Ben Ball, I have to switch gear a bit to share something re. Coach Neuheisel.
You know Coach Rick Neuheisel has won over the traditional media in Los Angeles when even the Kurt Streeters of the world are writing glowing articles about his return home.
Yes, the same Kurt Streeter who wrote dumb columns defending Karl Dorrell has written a piece on UCLA's new football coach. And for once it is actually a must read piece for every UCLA football fan. Streeter writes about Coach Neuheisel's decision to seek out a position unpaid volunteer assistant coach at Rainier Beach High School following the march madness pool related BS that ended his tenure as the Washington head coach.
The traditional media in Seattle dismissed it as a PR stunt. However, as Streeter writes, based upon his conversations with coaches and players from Rainier Beach High, it was anything but a PR stunt:
At Rainier Beach he made no money, his games weren't even on radio and the coaches had to borrow a television to watch tapes in a cramped office that smelled like old socks.
Some of the players had talent and confidence, some did not. Some juggled practice with work because they had to help bring food home. Some were homeless.
For two years, Neuheisel was a constant at practice, and there at every game but one.
He sat with the players as they rode together in old yellow buses, driving off to play schools in Seattle and to towns far from there.
He shied from interviews and became a brother to Haley and the other coaches. Neuheisel made clear to them that he was only there to help, not to take over. Whatever was needed, he would do: He'd help with game plans, of course, but also with taping ankles and putting on shoulder pads and giving kids rides across town to their homes.
"We counted on him," Maddock said. "What a great experience. For us, yeah, [and] you could tell it, for him."
Neuheisel worked closely with Maddock and the other quarterbacks, whom he hosted for pregame pizzas at his home. He revamped their technique, taught them to read defenses, how to keep drives going, how to lead when the hot moments come.
"Coach Rick," as he was called, hardly ignored the others. When the star linebacker tore up his knee and could not practice, he helped the kid walk through drills on the sidelines. When the best wide receiver spoke of quitting, Neuheisel pulled the player aside, sat with him on a bench and talked about how important it is to enjoy every moment of being 17 because being 17 happens only once.
Anyone who read this story about Coach Neuheisel will never doubt the authenticity of Rick Neuheisel's passion and drive as a football coach.
I am glad we have CRN back home where he belongs, ready to serve what he calls (and we, of course, agree) the greatest university in the world.