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Oregon Fans Are Rick Neuheisel Haters

The win for Oregon over UCLA must have been extra sweet for the fans who have all sorts of distaste for Bruins coach Rick Neuheisel. Apparently the hatred dates back to two events. The first was a fake punt run by Neuheisel’s team in the 4th quarter of the ’96 Cotton Bowl when his team already had a three touchdown lead. The second was when Slick Rick’s Washington team danced at the Oregon “O” at midfield following a 42-14 win. As a result, Oregon fans were fired up about giving it to Neuheisel this weekend:

A man outside the stadium Saturday was selling “Neuheisel [stinks]; Go Ducks” T-shirts. Fans, including kids, heckled Neuheisel the moment he popped his head out of the locker room for warmups.

“We just hate him,” said John Conrad, a resident of North Bend, Ore. “We never really hated Washington that much before Neuheisel coached there. It’s a long feud.”

“His expressions, his nerve, his ego, his attitude, I just don’t like him,” said Myrtle Brech, a 70-year-old grandmother from Creswell, Ore. “Just the look on his face, you can tell he thinks he’s better than everyone else.”

It’s incredible; I never knew that I could share the same thoughts as a 70-year-old grandmother! I think she summed up in words exactly what I don’t like about Neuheisel. At least she only deals with him once a year, but as my coach, I have to deal with that all year long. I guess the only thing I can hope for is some quick turnarounds with the program because nobody can argue with winning. And luckily for the Ducks their play on the field did the talking.

The Road to 4 Wins Off to a Fast Start

I wouldn’t exactly say this was the same thing as the Saints beating the Falcons in their Monday night opener after Katrina a few years ago, but the energy and thought of something “new” made the UCLA win over Tennessee pretty sweet Monday night. It was a new coaching regime, a big-time SEC team coming across the country, on Labor Day for a national audience in prime time, and UCLA had just declared that USC’s supremacy in the city was over. That’s a lot of hype, build up, pressure, and anticipation all built up into one game, and perhaps why UCLA had to win the opener.

Seeing three starters go down early and four interceptions by Kevin Craft in the first half was hideous. Tennessee didn’t capitalize on the mistakes and got burned in the second half. If there’s anything we learned from Monday’s game, it’s that:

[Read more...]

UCLA Football Keys to Success: Ditch Spring Practice

Apparently there’s a tradition with the football program that they ditch a Spring practice every year. Though I was at school there four years and have followed the team for much longer, I hadn’t heard of it til now. Perhaps it’s because the team never had much hype or expectations. Or perhaps it’s because of this very tradition that the team sucks, and the two go hand-in-hand. Though it’s old news by now as it happened on Tuesday, I never really got my chance to take a stab at this. What kind of team has a tradition where they skip practice? What kind of loser rebels came up with this? Worse yet, what kind of losers let the tradition continue under their watch? How hasn’t someone put a stop to this?

I remember seeing and reading recently that some of the new coaches were working the players harder. Like guys were bragging about being up and working out/training around 8am or something. I sat there laughing to myself — if they’re bragging about being at the track or in the weight room at like 8am and that’s early, then WTF were they doing before? No wonder the team stunk. I would have thought it was a given that all D-I football teams — especially those aspiring to win their BCS conferences — would be up everyday bright and early, running, lifting, and training on a daily basis. But no, not at UCLA — their traditions aren’t to have weight lifting contests or 40-yard dash contests. Nope. Their tradition is to skip practice. Yup, that’s the attitude — that’s the ticket. No wonder they’ve been so disappointing all this time. And now I think about guys on the team who were winners recently — the Maurice Drews, the Brandon Chillars — and I wonder how these guys let this tradition continue.

How can a team tradition possibly involve not working hard? Is there any wonder why the program has sucked so much recently? I think we just answered the question.

Rick Neuheisel to Use Harsher Penalties

It doesn’t take me saying it for you to know that the biggest concern about Rick Neuheisel is his controversial past. He left Washington amidst an NCAA tournament pool issue, and his reign at UW was marred with trouble, as recently chronicled by the Seattle Times. That’s the big reason why he didn’t have any head coaching opportunities after getting booted from U-Dub in ’03, and why UCLA seemed reluctant to hire him. Now contrast Neuheisel to the recently fired Karl Dorrell, who about the only positive compliment one could give about the program he ran was that it was clean. Now don’t get me wrong, I want a clean program. But I want the program to be clean, and successful at the same time. And luckily for Bruin fans, looks like the man formerly known as “Slick Rick” has learned his lesson and will be changing his ways. He reflected on his times at Washington:

“Out of all of this, that’s my biggest regret,” Neuheisel said. He gave a painful look. “I should have made that penalty stiffer. I had an opportunity to send a loud and clear message and neglected to do so. I should have been stronger.”

“I didn’t give out huge penalties in the first place,” he said, leaning forward. But now, “I can see the value of stiff penalties in the future, when they are warranted.”

Those quotes are from an article by Kurt Streeter in the LA Times. Streeter closed by saying Bruins fans need to hold Neuheisel to those words, and I completely agree. As long as he’s learned a lesson or two, or three about enforcing harsher penalties and being stricter, I think we’re in business. Hopefully he appreciates this opportunity to the point where he won’t make those mistakes. Kelvin Sampson couldn’t keep his hand out of the cell phone jar. Hopefully Neuheisel doesn’t have Sampson’s disease.

UCLA Football Is Finally Legit

At least it appears that way for the time being. Phone calls were shared and cheers were aplenty late Sunday evening and all of Monday amongst the Bruin crowd. No sooner than the moment Lawrence Tynes kicked his way out of torture were the Westwood faithful already focused on a newer, greater piece of news: UCLA had hired Norm Chow as their new offensive coordinator. What is so great about the hire? It means that within two months, UCLA football has gone from six-win oblivion, to all of a sudden having possibly the best coordinator tandem in all of college football, and no doubt a marquee coaching triumvirate of DeWayne Walker, Rick Neuheisel, and now Norm Chow. I am clearly excited about the news as it gives a fresher, reassuring appeal to a football program which had grown stagnant.

Furthermore, speaking specifically about the Chow hire, I am amazed that it happened. First of all, I was stunned to hear that the Titans had fired him. Why? was my first question. How easy can it be to coordinate an offense with an unorthodox QB in Vince Young who was running on a bad wheel most of the year? Not too easy in my opinion. As Gutty Little Bruins told me, Chow was the sacrificial lamb for all of VY’s sins. Sounds about right to me. Next, I thought Chow was way too high profile to come to Westwood. He had already interviewed for the head coaching position but didn’t get it. He had bigger fish to fry. Yet Chow went from pro back to college — in the same capacity — clearly a step down. Regardless, I’m happy about it.

So, as The Driver emailed in, UCLA now has one of the most accomplished offensive coordinators in college football paired with one of the top defensive coordinators in college football, working under a man who somehow convinced both men to come to Westwood. Oh, the future seems bright. Still, before the Honeymoon begins, I must express my skepticism. For one, can these brilliants chefs make a kosher meal if they don’t have good groceries to begin with? In other words, the signs of success could take a few years. And secondly, say they do have success, how long will Chow and/or Walker stay? Or worse, say UCLA does poorly next year, will Walker regret his decision to stay in Westwood and then skip town as soon as he gets his first bite?

While I don’t have the answers to these questions, I will put my skepticism aside and instead smile about something I haven’t in years: UCLA football. We are back.

And p.s. USC fans, the Chow hire cancels out the loss at Pauley Pavilion. Don’t think I would neglect to mention that loss.

Rick Neuheisel Really Wants You to Buy Season Tickets

One of my buddies who’s currently a student at UCLA’s law school passed on a message to me Wednesday. He got straight to the point, wasting no time:

i just got the most obnoxious phone call
rick ****ing neuheisel
on a broadcast message …
talking about how great UCLA is for sports and academics
and how great the program is going to be

At first he found the message humorous, but after about a minute of the blathering he got annoyed and hung up since he’s a Cal fan. And sure enough, sitting at home today, the phone rang and went to the answering machine. Who was it you ask? None other than Neuheisel with a recorded message expressing optimism about the football program, urging me to get season tickets. FanHouse’s Brian Grummell picked up on this story yesterday, and passed on a link to Bruin Report Online where other UCLA people said they’ve received the call. Considering the fact that many of you have no connection to the UCLA family, here it is for your listening enjoyment. Though I can’t stand recorded spam messages, I like the energy and enthusiasm the football program is now trying to generate. This is just the type of spark we need to revitalize interest in what’s been a dead program.

Linkage: Fire Rick Neuheisel Already?

Fire Rick Neuheisel website is already for sale [The Wizard of Odds]

The Top 10 sports blog stories of the year [Ballhype]

Maine high schooler is balling with only one hand [SPORTSbyBROOKS]

If Thom Brennaman did the play-by-play for D-Day [EDSBS]

Cowboy fans fight each other at a Skins game language NSFW [Mr. Irrelevant]

Sophia Bush looks great kicking off the new year in Miami [Just Jared]

Does anyone love T.O. more than T.O. loves T.O.? [Deadspin]

Remembering the horrible Baltimore Bullets [Scott Van Pelt Style]

Green Bay wants you to know Packer fans are great, topless [With Leather]