Rick Neuheisel Goes After Pete Carroll

On the same day that Tim Floyd did the inevitable and resigned as the school’s basketball coach, there was something else brewing between the football coaches of UCLA and USC. While trying to rally up the boosters at a speech in Westlake, Rick Neuheisel shared a story that frames Pete Carroll as a jerk. It seems quite petty and harmless to me, but the way Slick Rick operates, you would have thought that Carroll defamed the Bruin Bear located in the middle of campus. Check out Neuheisel working the room and pumping up the troops:

This guy should be a politician or spokesman rather than a football coach if you want to talk about true talents. Turns out this was much ado about nothing because rules apparently already state kids under 18 can be on the sidelines as long as they’re performing a game-day related task. Either Rick’s going all Lane Kiffin here not understanding the rule book, or Carroll really was just being a jerk. Funny the way coaches get themselves into trouble when they address boosters. I wonder why that would be the case. Anyway, you ask my opinion, this seems like Neuheisel just fabricating something to fire up the troops, nothing more than that.

Rick Neuheisel Should Burn Timeouts Too

Look, I don’t know exactly what Pete Carroll’s doing here or what sort of motivation he has. All I know is that he wants to wear his red jerseys against UCLA on Saturday while the Bruins wear the blue. It’s something the teams did back in ’82 when they shared the Coliseum as a home, and I have no problem if they relaunch the tradition. People have been suggesting that this is a cocky move on Carroll’s part, as if he’s saying he can beat UCLA without needing his timeouts. Whatever. I’m not sure if that’s exactly what he’s saying, but that’s possible. No big deal to me. At some point something will backfire if that’s the underlying message, even if it’s not UCLA causing the move to backfire. I mean how much can you really expect out of a team whose quarterback has thrown more touchdowns to defensive players than his own team this year?

I really think this is a moot point and moot argument because the I’m guessing the NCAA will allow them to do this for the rivalry game without facing a penalty. Perhaps it’s just much ado about nothing. If not, Neuheisel should just burn the timeouts himself to make it even with Carroll. I’m all about pride and don’t like getting shown up, so that will level things out. Of course it will still be a 40+ point blowout, but at least Neuheisel can go down without losing his dignity in the process. Otherwise it would be a slap in the face to the school to say they got beat by a team willing to give up its timeouts. Why don’t they just spot us 40 points to begin with? Or maybe Carroll’s just trying to give USC fans a nice sendoff before he takes the San Diego Chargers soon-to-be-vacant head coaching/GM job …

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:

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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.