Rick Neuheisel is still one of my favorite Bruin. I will always be grateful for what he did as a player and what he did as an assistant coach. It's not much of a secret Donahue stabbed him the back after 19995 Rose Bowl, when instead of promoting him to offensive coordinator, he brought in washed up/fired OC from Texas A&M (who despite being a mediocre coach used the available talent to run off a 20 game winning streak). I was a student at UCLA at that time. And I still remember the stories in talk radio (back then we didn't have the internets to get our Bruin fix ... lol) about how Coach Donahue brought in Toledo because he was insecure about having Neuheisel in his staff.
Anyways ... Neuheisel went on to became a HC at Colorado where he won 10 games in each of his first two seasons.He was the guy that many of us wanted when Donahue retired at the end of 1994-95 season. However the facts that he had only been at CU for two seasons as the head coach (after the school had taken a chance on him) and that Donahue had passed over him to hire Toledo as the OC, probably kept him from taking the job at UCLA. He turned us down and we went on to settle for Toledo (after striking out with Glenn Mason (Kansas), Bill Snyder (Kansas State) and Gary Barnett (Northwestern).
Anywa, Neu left an 8-4 Colorado team in 99 to take over Washington, where he won a Rose Bowl in his second season. Lot of you guys know the story. He was fired for filling out his entries in March Madness pool. But it turned out later that it was actually Washington University compliance department that totally goofed, actually sending out memo to its employees that the type of pool Neuheisel was participating in was actually allowed in that department. From wiki:
Legal proceedings enabled Neuheisel to collect a substantial settlement and essentially clear him of wrongdoing as the NCAA and University of Washington were forced to abandon their case.
Oh and remember all those stories about Neuheisel being such a bad influence that Gary Barnett's chronies were spewing after he took off for Washington. Well given how Barnett's regime at CU turned out, I am not sure if Neu was actually cause of the institutional problems at Boulder.
Neuheisel moved on. He is now quarterback coach for Baltimore Ravens, one of the feel good stories in this NFL season. And Neuheisel has become a big part of that feel good story, as he is being credited for the revival of Steve McNair and once stagnant Ravens' offense. From the Washington Post today:
"I'm glad it has turned out the way it has," Neuheisel said recently. "I had to go through the other stuff before tasting this to realize that football is, from a macro scale, the same. Whether you're coaching Pop Warner kids or you're coaching in the NFL, when there's a connection amongst the team, when the chemistry feels right and when you can put the pieces together and everybody kind of knows their role and enjoys their role, then it works."
When McNair, 33, joined the Ravens in June looking for a fresh start after an acrimonious departure from the Tennessee Titans, he met Neuheisel, 45, whose rejuvenation had begun more than a year earlier. But unlike McNair, who came to Baltimore seeking to prolong his prolific career, Neuheisel arrived hoping to heal his wounded reputation and return to coaching at a high level.
On Jan. 1, 2001, Neuheisel coached the University of Washington to a victory over Purdue in the Rose Bowl, and the Huskies finished the season ranked No. 3 in the country. But 2 1/2 years later, he was fired for his involvement in an NCAA men's basketball tournament pool and for allegedly lying to NCAA investigators.
Neuheisel filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the NCAA and university, and in March 2005 he received a $4.5 million settlement after it was revealed that the university's compliance office had sent out a memo that permitted the type of pool in which Neuheisel participated.
"In this business, perception is so important, and you have very little chance to affect your perception when you're not out there," Neuheisel said. "Ultimately I got some measure of vindication, but . . . you're never going to get it all back."
Well it is good to see Coach Neuheisel doing all right. Look I am not sure if Neuheisel would be my top choice, if Karl Dorrell fails to win the Pac-10 this upcoming season.
However, if there are talks about Neuheisel taking over at UCLA, I think it would be intriguing. He could be a natural fit in Westwood where he would be able to use his charisma and enthusiasm to lure in recruits from one of the richest recruiting hotbed in the nation. And given how Donahue reported stabbed him in the back, his arrival in Westwood could give us an welcome relief from the influence of Donahue mafia, which still celebrates and supports mediocrity in the form of Karl Dorrell.
Just something to think about.