Leave it new UCLA head coach Rick Neuweasel Neuheisel and the Bruins “marketing machine” to start making noise in The City of Angels NOW. The ad is a bold move, and it’s trying to lay the foundation for the future of UCLA football. Bravo.
UCLA fans are tired of getting shown up by their cross-town rivals. Maybe the rest of the Pac-10 will be thankful too, if the Bruins (or any other conference team) can finally upend the mighty USC Trojans. USC head coach Pete Carroll and his staff should be concerned that a proven recruiter and talented coach (Neuheisel), with a brainiac offensive coordinator in Norm Chow (formerly of SC), could be the “great equalizer” in Los Angeles in the not-too-distant future.
However, Coach Neuheisel is no stranger to stirring to the pot. A great, but controversial coach, Neuheisel will have the Bruins turned around sooner, rather than later. He’s willing to take risks… and it often leaves opposing teams ground up into the turf physically and mentally, along with unclassy sideline behavior that he has exuded over the years. The 1996 Cotton Bowl first comes to mind. Much to the ire of Oregon coaches and fans, a fake Colorado Buffalo punt was called by Neuheisel late in the game, after victory for CU was well in hand. Screams classy, doesn’t it? He also created the mythical “Northwest Championship”, and his players made up championship t-shirts (white T’s with permanent markers), checking off the Washington Husky wins over the other three teams, Washington State, Oregon State, and Oregon. Needless to say, Neuheisel hasn’t won many fans outside of his own programs.
But has he learned from his past discretions off the field as well? Neuheisel turned the Colorado football program into a semi-power, but also turned it upside-down, as they were put on probation after he left. Neuheisel also kept the Washington Huskies relevant with upper-tier bowl games. But trouble followed him again, when Neuheisel was fired in 2003 for betting on NCAA basketball. But “Slick Rick” came out of litigation squeaky clean anyway, when he collected a $4.5 million settlement from the NCAA and Washington.
The question of the season is, can he distance himself from the past, and put UCLA back on the map? Only time, and the patience of Bruin fans, will tell. If Neuheisel gets a sliver of success in SoCal, we might be seeing a little sideline “f-you love” to “Ricky” from Coach Carroll: