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Neuheisel Finding A Way & Getting Everyone Fired Up

So let’s see now. We haven’t even gone through a week of Coach Rick Neuheisel in Westwood. But already RN has been running laps around Pom Pom and his over-rated football team (not sure how else we can view a program that loses to Stanford at home and struggles to beat a Dorrell coached football team to end the regular season) in the media, and now appears to have delivered by securing his "number 1" recruit in DeWayne Walker. So much for some of the pre-emptive whining that was coming from certain corners of Bruin fanbase. Not only Neuheisel delivers Walker with two of his key defensive assistants, it looks like he will probably be bringing in new blood in the defensive staff as well now that DeLoach looks like he is on his way out.

Couple of quick clips from today’s papers. Here are the topline grafs from the LA Times:

"There are a lot of familiar faces in the athletic department from when I played at UCLA and coached here," Neuheisel said. "Everyone in the department raved about these three guys."

Neuheisel said that Walker "is a proven, top-notch defensive coordinator. I'm elated he has chosen to stay."

The benefits go beyond Xs and O's. By keeping Walker, Neuheisel stands a good chance of hanging onto a large chunk of the 2008 recruiting class. Walker and wide receiver coach Eric Scott were key to landing many of the local recruits, who have wavered some since Coach Karl Dorrell was fired.

The recruiting "was a very important part of keeping DeWayne," Neuheisel said. "He was an integral part of getting many of these youngsters."

Neuheisel was hopeful that many of the local recruits would visit UCLA this weekend. He will also continue to meet with assistant coaches to decide whether any others will remain.
And speaking of recruiting, Painter notes how RN didn’t waste any time in communicating the news to a key recruit, even before he shared it with the beat press:
By the time Neuheisel had a conference call with reporters announcing Walker's decision, he'd already phoned a recruit to tell him Walker was remaining on staff. Neuheisel said he couldn't reveal the recruit's name but did say the recruit was elated. Walker seemed happy to be staying as well.
The guy is like the energizer bunny. I mean, if I have my notes right, yesterday morning he was busy meeting with Walker, Howard and Bullough on a one-on-one basis, and yet found time to call into 570.

And there were the robo calls which he also found time to do in his first 72 hours, which has everyone all fired up. I can’t ever recall a head coach of a Bruin football program engaging in this kind of outreach to fire up the alums, students, and season ticket holders. And, folks, this is all strategic on the part of RN. I can’t emphasize enough how important playing the media game is in the culture of college football. It is even more important in a place like Los Angeles, where Pom Pom and Southern Cal’s crafty PR department have dominated the last 5-6 years. Within 96 hours, RN has sent a clear and unmistakable signal to everyone around the Southland (read bluechip recruits) that Southern Cal is no longer the only game in town. And no matter how much the Trojan clowns want to deny it, make no mistake about, it is getting under their (dirty) skin and into their (air)heads.

Anyway, going back to staffing issues, has a little scoop on who could be our next WR coach. Moreover, in terms of reactions to Walker staying, I thought I highlight some clips that pretty much sums up how I view it. First, let’s go with, who points out how Walker had no real other choice:
As we said from the beginning, there was no real other choice for Walker. Udub was his only other suitor, despite the pimping on the boards and in the beat press, and Udub was a dead end. It's clear that Walker will not retain his entire staff, but he will have his DL and LB coaches around. We suspected that LB coach Chuck Bullough would get the ax from coach Neuheisel. With the recent talk of Ken Norton Jr. coming back it appeared that he could have been in line for Bullough's job. But maybe that was Rick playing the media better than Walker and calling Walker's bluff. No matter, they are on the same page now.
Rye with a great take on how RN navigated the situation:
I trust RN and don't think for a second DW will rock the boat because if there was any sign he might, RN wouldn't have kept him. RN knows what it takes to be a head coach and a staff working as one is part of what it takes. I'm glad RN got it done and the fact that he beat out Washington and Texas (I'm not 100% sure I believed they were that interested) for DW shows he has what it takes to sell the program. He'll be beating out places like that and every other program for recruits in the near future too.

RN has been out of the game for 5 years and DW has made some good recruiting connections so RN will be introduced to these people and be able to maintain the relationships long after DW leaves. While I was never under the impression our recruiting would collapse without DW, you cannot ignore the fact that DW has done a good job in that area and will help. With DW's connections and RN's personality finishing the job, I can't wait to see the talent we bring in.

It will be interesting to see what DW does this season on defense considering the amount of talent leaving. He will have to be creative defensively to hide some of our weak spots and really emphasize the fundamentals because I feel our fundamentals (especially our footwork tackling) has been poor.

I think we need to remember DW only has 2 years of DC experience. He's going to keep learning and get better so I think we're only going to see our defense improve with the recruits we bring in and DW's growth. This is why DW wasn't ready to be a HC. He hasn't even mastered being a DC yet, but I'm excited to see him grow with RN's direction (Yes I'm saying "grow," but there's nothing wrong with growth if they actually are growing unlike we were under the previous regime).
And from Quickhands who has a pretty interesting take on how we should not dismiss the Norton to UCLA scenario just yet:
Head coaches find ways/positions to get the guys they want on staff. I seem to remember that on Dorrell's first staff, we had a coach for ILBers and OLBers.

DeLoach coached safeties. He's likely gone.

So how about this...

Walker - DC and Cornerbacks (Same as 2007)
Howard – DL
Bullough - OLBers and Safeties Norton - ILBers and ???? (Special Teams/Recruiting Coordinator)

If RN wants KN and KN wants to come to UCLA, they will find a way to make it work.
Yeap. He is already finding a way to make it work and has everyone around here fired up in doing so.