As a new era dawns on UCLA football, I wanted to take a look back at Rick Neuheisel.
We have discussed at length what went wrong during his 4 years at the helm of the team. I don't want to rehash the painful details. I know Rick had his faults as a coach but I will forever despise Chianti Dan for taking advantage of a Bruin because of his love for the school, and not giving him the tools and support to succeed. He shortchanged his coach and the rest of us.
It's the holiday season and I wanted to focus on the good memories from one of our own, which we shouldn't forget just because things didn't work out.
Call it a scrapbook or what you will, and feel free to add your own moments after the jump.
THE ROSE BOWL HERO
THE PASSION BUCKET
A COACH'S FIRST VICTORY
Huge win at home, with a 3rd string QB, on a Labor Day night, on national TV.
COFFEE IS FOR CLOSERS
An epic signing day in 2009.
Excitement during the 2010 signing day:
THE ENTIRE WORLD THAT BLEEDS BLUE AND GOLD
A big win at Tennessee.
A BOWL WIN IN THE TUNDRA
Hope for the next season.
HOPE IS NOT A STRATEGY
Stomping Texas in their stadium.
A LAST RAY OF HOPE
Beating ASU at home, still a chance at winning the Pac 12 South outright.
A CLASSY SEND OFF
After the last practice.
A BRUIN FOR LIFE
If not for his words, if not for his emotional interview after his last practice, there was a singular moment that proved to me beyond any doubt that Rick Neuheisel loves UCLA. It was during the championship game against Oregon, but sadly I can't find a clip for it. UCLA had just scored at the beginning of the second half, in what seemed like a momentum shift after a defensive stop, to make it 24-35. And there was Rick, walking by himself along the sideline, with no one around him, hunched over and pumping his fists, psyching himself up. At that moment, he wasn't just the coach, he was a fan. He was us. I won't lie, I was watching that game on DirecTV on a flight back home, and I got teary eyed at that scene.
UPDATE: Here's the Oregon video clip:
Thank you Rick, and Good Luck in anything else that you do. Perhaps you can replace Craig James so that Fox might actually listen to the announcers for once...