Monday, November 12, 2007

Coach Profile: Rick Neuheisel

On pretty much every UCLA message board there seems to be a fairly good sized group of fans who think Rick Neuheisel would be the perfect coach for the Bruins. At the same time, there seems to be an equally large group of fans who are strongly opposed to Neuheisel coming within 100 yards of the program. No other head coaching candidate seem to polarize the Bruin fan base more than one of Westwood's own sons.


Richard "Rick" Gerald Neuheisel Jr. is 46 years old and currently the offensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens. He played his college ball in Westwood, as you all should know, but you may not know that he started off as a walk-on. He eventually earned the starting spot his senior season and he lead the Bruins to a PAC-10 championship and Rose Bowl victory over Illinois in January of 1984. He had a very brief professional career with the USFL and played a few games for the San Diego Chargers during the strike season of 1987.

Neuheisel started his assistant coaching career at UCLA where he helped tutuor Troy Aikman. In 1994, Rick took the assistant coaching job at Colorado and a year later was promoted to the head coaching spot at the very young age of 34. After four seasons in Boulder, he left to become the head coach of the Washington Huskies. In his second season in Seattle, Neuheisel's team won the PAC-10 title and the Rose Bowl, posting an 11-1 mark for the season.

In 2003, Rick was fired from Washington for his involvement in a neighborhood March Madness basketball pool. The Infractions comitee found that Neuheisel had violated NCAA rules but didn't sanction him becauce the University had erroneously sent a memo to all their coaches saying they could participate in such pools. Neuheisel sued the University for wrongful termination and they ended up setteling the suit for $4.5 million.

After taking a few years off from professional coaching, Neuheisel took a position as the quarterback coach with Baltimore in 2005. Last season he was promoted to offensive coordinator. It has been long rumored that Rick is eyeing a return to the college head coaching ranks and his past history as a Bruin player and assistant coach means that UCLA could be high on his list.

College Head Coaching Record

Year Team Overall Bowl Rank#
Colorado (Big Eight/Ten) (1977 - 1994)
1995 Colorado 10-2
Cotton (W)

1996 Colorado 10-2
Holiday (W)

1997 Colorado 5-6

1998 Colorado 8-4
Aloha (W)


Washington (Pacific Ten) (1999 — 2002)
1999 Washington 7-5
Holiday (L)

2000 Washington 11-1
Rose (W)+

2001 Washington 8-4
Holiday(L) 19

2002 Washington 7-6
Sun (L)


Total: 66-30

Indicates BCS bowl game. #Rankings from final Coaches Poll of the season.


The fact that Neuheisel has prior head coaching experience is a plus and it helps that he has a PAC-10 championship under his belt as well. His recent tenure in the NFL will likely resonate with recruits who are looking for a school that will prepare them for professional football careers. He is still a young coach and his overall win loss record is pretty good.

Since Neuheisel is looking to get back into the college game, he might be willing to accept a lower salary then another coach with his background. His salary at Washington, back in early 2000 was close to $1 million, so UCLA might be able to draw him in with the a contract close to $1.2 million. His ties to UCLA could also keep him around for a few years if he is successful.


Neuheisel is controversial for a reason. His programs at Colorado and Washington both had minor NCAA violations. He also had a reputation for letting his players get out of control and there were some questionable off-the-field incidents while he was the coach. While Rick was virtually cleared of wrong doing in the gambling incident up in Seattle, it leaves a lot of fans antsy that the NCAA infractions committee might follow him to Westwood.

Neuheisel also has critics that say his recruiting wasn't very good and the proof of that comes in his limited long-term success at both schools. He did very well his first few years, but he couldn't continue with that success in subsequent seasons. It is hard to know for sure, since his tenure at both Colorado and Washington were rather short, but something to consider in his hiring.


I think the trouble Rick got into with the NCAA has been overblown and the guy has had some success both in the PAC-10 and in the NFL. He hasn't had consistent success in his time as a coach, but I think Neuheisel will learn from his past mistakes. You have to feel like he'd get recruits excited about playing for the Bruins and his background as a QB coach and offensive coordinator could draw some really talented signal callers into the program. UCLA definitely needs a boost in that area with our quarterbacks really stinking it up this decade.

He probably isn't the most exciting pick but it would be hard for Guerrero to not even consider a former Bruin player in his search. The "toxic" factor may cause Dan to shy away from actually hiring Rick especially since he hired Dorrell primarily to cleanup the mess Toldeo left. I have to say, it would also be nice to get a coach who isn't directly related to Terry Donahue in some way... just for a change of pace. Still, I think Neuheisel could really improve this program.


Anonymous said...

I am curious about Neuheisel. It seems to me the relevant criticisms about his performance as a coach (on-field only) are that he did not do very well at the end of his stints at Colorado and Washington. However, at Washington it looks as if he finished 2nd, 1st, 2nd and 3rd in his four years, and the 3rd place was when USC started ascending. I don't know enough about the recruiting situation, especially at Washington, to say that his recruiting was no good at the end. Do you know if there were other on-field issues during his time at Washington?

I know the guy is pretty bright, and he has never been a dogmatic system coach who never adapts to the talent he has. I know enough about the NCAA infractions to figure that he is an agressive coach who presents some potential problems if he is hired in the sense that UCLA will be on the NCAA radar screen. But I want to know more about his coaching chops before writing him off.

Anonymous said...

One note about the comment regarding Rick being tied to Terry Donahue. I agree with the Donahue association skepticism. However, when Donahue was given the chance, he chose Bob Toledo as his OC over Rick. Rick left UCLA and the rest is history. The fact that Donahue did not choose Rick is a positive in my opinion. Shows you what I think about Donahue...

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the worst choice available.

Idle Rick players are the devil's playground.

If you want trouble with drunk players fighting in Westwood apartment parties and blowing off going to class Rick is our man.

Toledo's players (lack of) behavior makes Rick look like a saint.

Rick would have us right up next to Erickson and Cheatey Petey on the off-season police blotter. Plus, his Student-athletes don't perform as students.

Over the long term (3-5) seasons this is a disaster hire.

Anonymous said...

I disagree 100%! Rick Neuheisel would breathe life back into UCLA football. I'm not saying we need to be criminals. However, we sorely need some personality & swagger. Rick would bring us that.

Another take on Neuheisel. We have a fast, running style QB in Osaar Rashaan. Does the name Marques Tuiasosopo sound familiar? Neuheisel made him a star! HIRE NEUHEISEL!

seahawcla said...

Neuheisel left UW in shambles, he was the spark that led to the mess they are today. If he had not been fired he would have been in the same boat as Gilbertson. He failed to recruit, go ask UW fans about Slick Rick.

If you noticed Colorado was fading as well.

The guy is the worst option I have seen, we would be better off with KD.

Stephen said...

Ricky would bring us the swagger/experience/confidence that the bruin football program so despertately needs! Proven winner and Rose Bowl champ as player and head coach! Bruin alum! Acquitted of all wrong doing! Hire the Golden Boy immediately!

law4dad said...

First of all let's be clear! Rick and UCLA have a date with destiny! Rick was created and cultivated for this job. Some of the other names being mentioned just don't fit! I can't imagine that anyone else is being seriously considered. It's time for Rick to
take his fulfill his destiny.

law4dad said...

First of all let's be clear! Rick and UCLA have a date with destiny! Rick was created and cultivated for this job. Some of the other names being mentioned just don't fit! I can't imagine that anyone else is being seriously considered. The time is right. It's time for Rick to fulfill his destiny.

Anonymous said...

Regarding this comment:

Another take on Neuheisel. We have a fast, running style QB in Osaar Rashaan. Does the name Marques Tuiasosopo sound familiar? Neuheisel made him a star! HIRE NEUHEISEL!

That is totally off. In 1996/1997 Neuheisel recruited Marques as a safety when he was coaching at Colorado. He didn't see him as a QB.

When Rick N and Karl D arrived at the Udub in 1999 the offense struggled. Keith Gilbertson was the one who saved it that season.

I don't think Rashann has the same ability as Marques, Dennis Dixon, or Jake Locker.

law4dad said...

I can't believe what I'm reading here! Neuheisel is the only candidate truly being considered. HE was born for this moment. Any weakness (almost none) he may have had in recruiting has been strengthened by his stay at Baltimore. Successful programs require NFL connections i.e. Pete Carroll. And for the idiot that said "look what mess he created at Washington." Are you kidding me? I say it doesn't get any better than first place. And let's not forget what he did as a quarterbacks coach at Colorado for Kordell Stewart. Kordell has publicly credited Neuheisel for his success at Colorado and Pittsburg. All postives and no negative!!

Anonymous said...

Kordell Stewart had maybe 1 or 2 good seasons in the NFL. Rick N is the same coach who reamed out his QB on national TV when he was at Colorado.

Comparing his pro experience to Pete Carroll's is a joke. Pete C was actually a head coach with a + .500 record. Slick Rick hasn't done much in Baltimore.

Also he couldn't recruit linemen at Washington. One he did get was Tank Johnson. If you want to continue your UCLA tradition as powder puff football Slick Rick is your guy. You will either have small numbers of linemen or have a thug or two.

Anonymous said...

Pete Carroll was a mediocre pro coach. 6-10 with the Jets and fired after one season. The only good season he had was with New England in 1997 winning AFC east basically because he followed Bill Parcells who created the team and left him with great personel. In 1998 the team went 9-6 and in 1999 8-8 and he was fired. The point about Carroll is that he was a better assisitant coach that Head coach. Currently high school coaches like him because of his pro experience and pro style offense/defense. They recommend their players play for him. (#1 recruiting influence-HS head coach) Rick can do the same. If he keeps Dwayne Walker and Eric Scott that will really help. He has strong NFL ties. Baltimore is struggling this year and that is why Neuheisel was appointed OC to help correct the problems.

If everyone is really being honest I would be really surprised if anyone else is truly being considered as Bruin head coach. Dan Guerrero may not have contacted Rick directly about the coaching job after the Notre Dame loss but I'll bet he called to "Hi". and we all know what that "Hi" meant!

As for the current UCLA quarterbacks, I am not convinced that any of them are capable of being a "tops in the nation" QB. Osaar Rashaan has running ability but does not possess enough arm strength. Pat Cowan and Ben Olson have had their chance and should have produced better results. They simply don't have the talent. Rick needs to recruit a top 4 star QB. I am sure many 4 star QB's would love to play for him. Maybe it's time to bring Aikman, Bono, stewart and Maddox out on the recruiting trail.

I do have one concern about Rick. More than his leadership, recruiting, NCAA rules compliance issues and offensive/defensive schemes is: Does he really want the job? Is he really excited to be the head coach of UCLA? He has made alot of money in the past 5 years with a large multi million dollar settlement from UW and a good salary from Baltimore. Is he really interested in getting back into the college ranks? This would be my "ultimate question" if I were Dan guerrero. If he is "stoked" then I say give him the job and let him fulfill his destiny!

Anonymous said...

If UCLA hires a known liar, cheater, and snake like Slick Rick an otherwise exceptional institution will deserve what it gets. Neuheisel broke the program at Colorado with recruiting violations and if you look at the shambles Washington is in it is all due to him. The guy is a plague. Hire him and prepare to pay with the reputation of your program. Would you want your son to play for a guy with the reputation of Rick Neuheisel. Think about it before you answer.....what character lessons would you want your son to learn from him.

law4dad said...

Infraction issues were clearly inherited from previous head coaches Bill Macartney (Colorado) and Jim Lambright (Washington. The Infraction (s) occured during these coaches tenure, not Neuheisel. The problem was that the sanction penalties occured during his tenure.

Obviously you don't like Neuheisel but you are vastly in the minority. Very very likley he will be the next coach of the Bruins. His many positives will out weigh the negatives.

Anonymous said...

I can't speak for MacCartney and Colorado but Lambright and Washington finished up their probation/sanctions from Don James when Lambright was fired in 1998. UW started racking up violations again on Slick Rick's first day at the UW in early 1999. He contacted his Colorado players about coming to Washington for example. The Lambright era didn't commit any violations; it just inherited them from the Don James era.

Rick's only positives will be that his first two years might be good - he will inherit Dorrell's hard work. After that everything will be negative.

law4dad said...

As a matter of fact neither Colorado nor U of W were actually sanctioned during Neuheisel's tenure. Two investigations but no sanctions. NCAA infractions often are not discovered until a year or two later. That was the case with Lambright.

Let's be clear about Neuheisel's stay in Washington. He was loved by the team, the school, the alumni and the boosters. His firing was met with significant anger and protest. Don James and Jim Lambright rallied around Rick during the "Office pool" fiasco. Rick clearly should have never been fired. His one mistake was not admitting to his bet in the very beginning. Consistently, it is widely believed that AD Barbra Hedges subsequently resigned 2 years early due to enormous pressure and opposition related to the Neuheisel firing and unexpected trial. And let's not forget that Neuheisel won!!!

Read the Seattle message boards and on line sports section commentaries my friend. U of W screwed themselves especially their football team and fans. In fact current AD Todd Turner just resigned effective 1-2008 citing, in part, continued fall out from the Neuheisel fiasco. When Neuheisel won the lawsuit the outrage against Hedges and the University intensified and made it even more difficult to recover.

Bottom line is: Rick is going to be the head coach at UCLA. If not now then in future. It will happen. Just a matter of time. Likely now! Will likley be announced on the Sunday or Monday following the Las Vegas Bowl on 12/22. (next Saturday.) Go Bruins!

Anonymous said...


You can attempt to paint it pretty anyway you want. I live in Seattle, but am not a Husky or even a Husky fan, but I love college football and I know what happened at UW and I see everyday the result of Neuheisel's tenure. The program is in shambles, the stadium is falling apart and there is little hope for improvement after 5 years in the basement. The alumni have all but deserted the program and there is a $400M+ stadium rennovation plan that does not have a chance in hell. Stanford has better facilities that UW. If you know college football, you know how sad that is....

To be 100% clear Neuheisel got repremanded several times prior to the "Gamblin' Rick" issue (which just showed his arrogance and his sense of entitlement to think that he could gamble on ANY NCAA game, no matter what some memo said). He got repremanded for lying to the media and lying to his superiors. He was warned that the next time he was caught in a lie he would be fired. He lied about gambling on the NCAA pool and then attempted to "correct his previous statement" after he was caught red handed in the lie and thus he was fired.

A few other truths:

- Barbara Hedges resigned because she was incompetent and the new university President was going to fire her. She hired Neuheisel. She should have been fired when he was fired. She bet the farm on him and lost. She overpaid and blew the University's money.

-Look at the end results of EVERYPLACE this liar has been (Colorado, UW, Baltimore). If you are UCLA Exec Admin or faculty or alumni, your alma mater deserves far better. HAVE SOME PRIDE and some self respect. GA Tech (who is no UCLA) passed on him and now Duke (one of the WORST teams in college football) is talking to him (as well as your ex-coach who deserved to be fired, especially after losing to Notre Dame). Dont you think you can do better? Dont you think you deserve better? Plenty of QUALITY coaches would kill to coach such a storied program. Respect yourself more and hire someone who will not be covering his past messes from DAY 1 on the job. When he sits in the living room of a recruit don't you think that they and his parents will see his character.

On the other hand, hire him....enjoy the hype and short term gains...but in the long run you will pay...just ask any Husky or Buffalo alum.

law4dad said...

The first part of your post is true. Washington program is in shambles and badly needs to update facilities. BUT that has nothing to do with Neuheisel! many pac-10 need better facilities. USC are the worst. In fact they may be temporarily playing in the Rose Bowl this year.

What Washington needs is a winning program. Alumni, fans, faculty and boosters would kill to have another 11-1, 8-4, 7-5 season with 4 straight bowl appearances.

Your misguided perspective on Rick's past is factually incorrect, professionally inappropriate and far too severe.

Regardless he is set to be the next coach at UCLA and believe me U of W and Colorado would love to have his won-loss record at any reasonable expense.

Mikey Likes It! said...

Absolutely true! Many PAC-10 schools need new stadiums and training facilities but they still find a way to win. Rick Nueheusel is a winner. Whatever minor problems he has had in the past should be forgiven and forgotten in favor of his excellent coaching abilities.

REAL UCLA fan said...

Rick Neuheisel will be a repeat of Karl Dorrell. The alumni love their members and don't care about the team. There is no candidate for the head coaching job better than DeWayne Walker. Read what the team members say. UCLA has two defensive players ranked in the top 10 in the nation with "soft verbals" to UCLA. DeWayne Walker recruited them. If he does not get the head coaching job, adios to both. Walker has several offers and will not stay at UCLA to be the DC under Slick Rick. He may have won some games as a college HC, but what price did his teams pay for those.
There are about 6 or 7 available coaches out there who are better choices than Neuheisel.
How about Eric Bieniemy? Running back coach for the Vikings. Ex-running back coach and RECRUITING COACH for UCLA. Brought Maurice Drew-Jones to UCLA (after committing to Colorado. If UCLA could somehow put Bieniemy and Walker together, what a recruiting tandom!

Mikey Likes It! said...

It's a little late. Word is Neuheisel has already been hired. Regardless, Dwayne Walker is a good coach. BUT i think he and Karl Dorrell are one in the same; Not Dorrell and Neuheisel. Neuheisel has a certain dynamic that motivates players and is magnetic and attractive to new recruits. His personality is more suited to being a head coach at UCLA at this time.

I am very close to 4 Bruin starters (2 on defense). They agree that Coach Walker is very good but lacks the excitement level that motivates 18 to 22 years old males.

Hopefully, walker will stay on as a defensive coach but I doubt it. He will likely decide to leave. However Eric Scott will likely stay which helps tremendously with the recruiting class of 2008.

Walker will get a shot at a head coaching job probably sooner than later. But he is not the right man at the right time for UCLA.

shmolous said...

Neuheisel is the most exciting prospect the Bruins have. As someone who has observed the Bruins and the coaching staff at every home game for the last 6 years I believe the team needs an infusion of "football attitude", something the soft-spoken and deliberate Karl Dorrell was unable to provide. If I have to explain what this attitude is, you wouldn't understand. If Rick becomes coach the Bruins will live up to their talent level, which is always great, and lead the team to a national championship! Go Bruins!

rapid Bruin alum said...

The Trojans should be afraid, very afraid! UCLA now has talent, charisma, star power, and a recruiting allstar to better that 'other' school across town - year in and year out.

real UCLA fan said...

Gee, it looks like this blog stopped when Rick was hired. Okay, I was not in his corner, but he is here. Now what happens.
I heard, but have not been able to confirm, that Walker has agreed to stay on as DC. That means we keep all of those four and three star defensive players he has on "soft verbal." Anyone have anything on that? He also has (allegedly) talked with Ken Norton Jr. about joining his staff.
I heard that Rick has been talking with Norm Chow to come back to the college ranks as his OC. I don't think it would happen, but wouldn't that be nice? Chow is not a big fan of Pete Carroll, you know. He might like the challenge.

Anonymous said...

He is a SCAB!!!!!!!! a former replacement player for the NFL. Never trust a SCAB because it means all that he does is look out for himself!!!

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