Posted on: March 8, 2008 12:12 pm
Edited on: March 8, 2008 12:38 pm

New Neuheisel


There is a lot more to Rick Neuheisel. You read about only a fraction of the man in my Thursday piece.

Here’s more:

Did you miss the college game?

Neuheisel: "I was always hopeful that I'd be able to get back in. I always had to deal with the fact that it may not happen. Saturday's were hard for me the last five years. I did a little stint in high school football which was a blast. But that was Fridays, then I'd watch college football all day (on Saturday). I'd have my kid's Pop Warner game … but I couldn't keep turning on the radio. Then I'd come home and watch, all day. It was very hard."

Do you think you were being blackballed?

"I don't know if blackball was the right term. I certainly knew  there was an image of who I was, that was (possibly) going to keep me from having this opportunity.

"The other thing that was going on was the search (firm) stuff. That's kind of a new industry the last five, six or seven years to college athletic directors. It used to be an athletic director had a list and called you in. The first two jobs I had with Colorado and Washington I never talked to anyone with a search firm. Now search firms are the way.

Did you call Chuck Neinas?

(Note: Former Big Eight commissioner and NCAA executive Chuck Neinas is arguably the most well known and powerful coaching head-hunter in the nation. He works out of his office in Colorado.)

"I called Chuck. He just said, 'You have to understand here's what our business is. You have to ask yourself, what is the president of the University of Washington going to say about you?

"I said, 'I understand that but you're not going to get both sides of the story that way.' He was very friendly and he's a very important person in that industry.

"With respect to the NCAA, at first I thought they were just out to get me. When you start to learn who the people are, they're not just behind this badge, a lot of them were just trying to do their job.

"There's this image of they and we, and who are those guys. In particular (enforcement director) Dave Didion and (vice president of enforcement services) David Price, I got to know. They were not bad guys, they were good guys.

"I remember sitting down one time with David Price during the litigation. You have breaks. He walks by and we kind of have eye contract and I patted the seat next to me. I said, 'I hope some day we can be pals, that this isn't forever.' I'll never forget it. He said, 'I hope, Rick, that's the case.'"

(Note: When I checked with the NCAA about this anecdote they sent back a note that it is not uncommon for opposing sides in enforcement cases to form a relationship after the case is concluded.)

Would things have gone quicker for you had you not sued (the NCAA and Washington)?

"I don't know. It was a very, very difficult time. What was being said about me and what was being labeled as the reasons for my firing I couldn't live with, they weren't right. Their side of the story was not correct.

"The University of Washington settlement offer to me was not close to being fair from my standpoint. Obviously, there's a lot of pride that goes into these things. My family weighed in heavily. My dad weighed in heavily saying, 'You can't let them do this to you.' As I look back, I felt like I was pushed into a corner where I didn't have a choice."

How does it feel to be back?

"Unbelievable ... It's a magic carpet ride. There are stacks of stuff, notes to return. You can never catch up. I've said this before, I've got this sense of calm about this deal. Having done it twice at CU and Washington, I know there is time. You don't have to hurry up. I think you make mistakes when you hurry.

"You've got the guru of all coaches, the Yoda of all coaches here, John Wooden. One of his mantras is be quick, don't hurry. Nothing could be truer about taking over a program."

How about the NFL vs. college?

"It might have been Dick Vermeil who said being in the NFL is like going to graduate school. I think that's right. The scheming of the game is great for you because it's a 24-7 football job. This job, you wear so many different hats. It's a great experience for those of us who love football. That being said, it's a really, a within-the-box league. I think people are afraid to venture out and try anything for fear of scorn or somebody will tell their owner why would you do something stupid like that?

"I like (wearing) the alumni hats, I like the recruiting. I like the interaction. I swear to you there's more to that in pro football than meets the eye. Bill Belichick gives the impression that it's all business, but I think he's one of the great communicators. He just doesn't want to show it.

"It's a three-headed monster no matter where you are. It's the owner, the head coach and it's the general manager. If those three guys don't have a bond ... you don't have a chance. I would say that two-thirds of the teams have that issue at the beginning of the year. Two-thirds of the teams have a trust issue in that triumvirate. That just filters.

Are you happier in college?

"I'm happier in college because I'm around the kids. I like recruiting. I like going out to different homes and meeting the families. It was like riding a bike. You take off your coat, whip it down and let's get down to business.

"There was a time when a (recruit) was giving me a hard time, I just kicked off my shoes like it was my house and I laid down on the couch. (At that point Neuheisel grabbed the remote) I said, 'Unless you like country western music you're going to make your decision fast. I'm going to turn it up every 30 seconds.'"

Did you get him?

"He came."

What was Karl Dorrell’s downfall?

"I have a theory on coaches. Sometimes they fit programs and sometimes they don't. You have to be your own personality. To Karl's credit, he didn't change his personality, he was who he was.

"I called him right after the game. They just beat USC (in 2006). There was a point when they stopped them on fourth-and-1. You saw the fire in his face. I said, 'Watch the TV and look at yourself. You've got to do that more.'"

"He agreed but he is who he is."

Have you run into Pete Carroll?

"I called him early on when I got the job. I wanted permission to talk to Ken Norton Jr. Pete's great. Pete is that guy who will compete at everything. When you do something well, he's going to look at you and say, nice job. But the very next thing out of his mouth is going to be chin up, 'I'll see you next time.' There's going to be no concession. That's the way it's going to be.

"We'll respect each other. We'll fight tooth and nail. Maybe when we're eating on the rubber chicken circuit how many years down the road we can act like we're buddies, but right now it's going to be grind it out."

The power has shifted to USC, how do you get it back?

"One day at a time. Keep doing the right things, keep stacking one good decision on top of another good decision. Eventually we will get to that day where there is balance again."

But they've got a stranglehold on recruiting.

"What they've been able to do is get their recruiting classes done so that when we're out there in the contact period they're really in junior recruiting. When you're out there in December and January, they're going a lot of junior recruiting so they're ahead. And they've got this image of glamor that they're parlaying into great recruting."

In Seattle you took a lot of heat for not recruiting great defensive players. Did you miss on some defensive players?

"Everybody evaluates players to the best of their ability ... I know we had a list of guys who were great players. Whether or not we actually ended up with those great players I'd have to go back and look at the list ...

"I think they (critics) spent too much time talking about me and it hurt the performance of the players rather than championing the players. They were too busy wanting to blame me for lack of performance. My point was, to the people who were asking, if you just sit there and start talking about players being good you're going to get better performance. The more you chastise, the more it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy."

How did you get (offensive coordinator) Norm Chow?

(Note: Chow was fired recently from the Tennessee Titans. The former USC offensive coordinator then became available to coach against the program where he tutored two Heisman Trophy winners)

"The stars aligned. I had wanted to talk to Norm before. We got word from Tennessee's attorney that he was under contract and I couldn't talk about him anymore. Fortunately for us, he became available.

Who's going to be your quarterback?

"It's an open competition ... I told our guys the most important thing is that there be no more exciting place in Los Angeles than our practice field. If you want entertainment you come watch UCLA practice ... That's exactly how Pete runs his. I give credit where credit is due. That's what has to happen."


Category: NCAAF
Tags: UCLA
Posted on: March 6, 2008 6:22 pm

Wanted: Millionaire Willing To Throw Money Away

Whoever wrote this press release gets the positive spin award. It's obvious the All American Football League is dead before it ever gets started.

You'll remember the AAFL was going to debut in April at various stadiums, mostly in the Southeast. It had the unique (I guess) twist of employing only college grads. Hey, who didn't want to see Shane Matthews again at The Swamp? Apparently, a lot of people.

Don't believe the second paragraph of the release that blames the downturn in the "subprime mortgage crisis." Well, it could be that or it could be that the Florida franchise had sold less than 3,000 season tickets.

I've got a better chance of starting at shortstop for the Yankees than the AAFL has of landing a TV contract.

The joke of this league was that it was being run in their retirement afterlives by former august educators like Cedric Dempsey (NCAA executive director) and Charles Young (UCLA president). Hey, anything for a buck right?

Anyway, save all those AAFL souvenirs. They'll be worth something someday.

The press release that moved on Thursday ...


In an attempt to secure kickoff of its inaugural season as well as its long-term future and success, the All American Football League has begun discussions to explore multiple financing options.

Since inception, the League's finances have been indirectly tied to the $300 billion federally guaranteed student loan asset backed securities market.  In August, the subprime mortgage crisis began spreading into other sectors such as municipal bonds and federally guaranteed student loans.  The situation, which was considered to be temporary at the time, has continued to worsen.  

Despite the fact that the Federal Reserve has repeatedly lowered interest rates during this financial crisis, their efforts have not yet restored liquidity in many asset backed markets, including municipal bonds and student loans.   

The League held its inaugural draft in January, and the team rosters and staffs are all in place.  All teams are scheduled to open training camp Wednesday if liquidity can be immediately restored.

Every effort is being made to insure that the '08 season will be played as planned, but  this  depends upon a locating new majority owner with the needed liquidity, which in turn depends upon the League being able to finalize a TV deal.  Otherwise, the inaugural season will be postponed to '09.

Category: NCAAF
Tags: AAFL
Posted on: February 28, 2008 4:53 pm

Student Princes at Kansas State

Leftovers from the Ron Prince story. The Kansas State coach signed what is believed to be a BCS-conference record-tying 19 junior college players.

"Very few programs have said, 'We on an ongoing basis, are going to evaluate the players that come out of the community colleges who fill our needs.' It's very telling that the highest ranking that a Kansas State team had was that following year (when K-State signed 12 juco transfers in 1997)."

(Kansas State was ranked No. 1 for three weeks in 1998 and fell a game short of playing in the first BCS title game.)


"At Virginia, we had a different way of putting the team together, no mid-year transfers, no community college players.


"We had 20 million players within six-hour driving radius at Virginia. Here the population is much more decentralized. Texas.

--Look at the recruiting list in the story. Eleven of the 19 juco players are from California. Offensive coordinator Dave Brock has experience in that region. He was on the Temple staff in 2003 when then-coach Bobby Wallace signed at least 19 jucos.

--It's clear from the depth of Ron Prince's research that he was ready for the job.

"I looked at all 12 (Big 12) teams, for the last six years, their signing classes and their rosters. The reality for our situation was, after the '03 season we were consistently one of the younger teams. We had too many young players.

"I told coaches, we're going to start facing teams in the Big 12 South that were much more veteran than us. Colorado, ourselves and Iowa State were likely going to be very young. In preparing for this year … (the question was) how are we going to have enough high school kids in their third, fourth and fifth year playing for us?

"That's why Virginia Tech is so good. You don't see them put a freshman or sophomore out there unless their name is (star linebacker) Xavier Adibi."

--Kansas State is not the only school to oversign. Alabama did it too this year. But Prince signed seven more than the limit (25). Some of those will grayshirt (enroll, but not on scholarship). Others will not qualify academically. I asked Prince if that is an accepted practice.

"For us grayshirting is a huge part of it, taking a high school kid who might not get recruited by anybody else. I can see down the road how this kid is going to have tremendous value.

"There are players who know they're going to grayshirt. There are players who know they're going to go to a community college. If you sign a player, at least everybody knows where he's going to go.

"What we've done is establish our relationship with them and know they'll be here some day. We do enough business in that world that the player feels good about us.

"Our conference signed the most (junior college players) in the nation. That may send up red flags to some people but this is who we are. There were 20 mid-year signees in this conference."

"Coach (Bob) Knight didn't take a lot of pro prospects out of high school. He took guys who were going to be there four years. That's what we're doing with our high school players. Our expectation is they're going to be here 3, 4, 5 years."


Category: NCAAF
Tags: Kansas State
Posted on: February 24, 2008 1:39 pm

Recommended viewing

Been sitting on this pretty cool DVD for a while. "Winning Lives, The Story of Ted Ginn Sr." debuts 8 tonight (Sunday 2/24) on CSTV.

It's a documentary on the inspirational coach at Glennville High School in Cleveland. Ginn, father of Miami's Ted Ginn Jr., decided to long ago dedicate his life to the kids (not just the football players) at Glenville. He has gone on to found the Ted Ginn Academy in Cleveland. I profiled him in September 2006
 prior to the monster Ohio State-Texas game.

The doc goes inside the man (who doubled as a security guard at the school), Cleveland's inner city and the redemptive powers of football.




Category: NCAAF
Tags: Ohio State
Posted on: February 21, 2008 4:01 pm

Keeping the seat warm for Will Ferrell

LOS ANGELES -- Waiting here in the USC sports info department before going up and see Pete Carroll.

I'm in Heritage Hall, which can be a tourist trap. All those Heismans in the lobby. Superstar coaches ducking in and out. But here I am killing time typing at a desk that used to be occupied by Will Ferrell. Frank the Tank, Ron Burgundy etc. got his start here at a sports info assistant.

Since he became a big-time actor, Pete has brought Ferrell into the program on numerous occasions. Most notably, during Rose Bowl practices one year when Ferrell -- unknown to the players -- suited up and was golf-carted into a drill. Matt Leinart completed a pass to this "walk-on tight end" as Pete described him.

Ferrell took his helmet off and the players went nuts. It was during the "Old School" days and players began chanting "You're my boy, Blue!"
Pete announced on  his website (, believe it or not) that he went to see the premier of  "Semi-Pro" Tuesday in Westwood. Gave it a thumbs up. I'm fired up to see it because of all the old ABA references. I cant remember going to Spirits of St. Louis games as a teenager and seeing a young Moses Malone and a frequently tardy Marvin Barnes. Just saw a thing on HBO last night. George Gervin and Artis Gilmore even have cameos.

Anyway, I don't feel any funnier sitting in Will's old seat, but it is nice to be in the same ass groove as my comedy hero.

Stay classy.
Posted on: February 20, 2008 12:22 pm
Edited on: February 20, 2008 12:29 pm

National college football notes

 The time has come to quit tinkering with our game.

The NCAA rules committee last week issued a series of confusing proposals that have to do with the "pace" and "tempo" of the game. That's code for -- watch out.

Two years ago this same group applied a bunch of misguided timing rules that cut approximately 16 plays out of each game. Coaches howled, fans protested. The college game, in 2006, was bastardized. Thankfully, the rules were tweaked again in 2007 to give us back our familiar game.

Now the rules committee is proposing NFL rules that are sure to make our college game more like, well, the NFL.

 After the game is declared dead (not counting change of possession or injury), the offensive team will have 40 seconds to snap the ball.

 On out of bounds plays, the clock will start on the signal from the referee, not on the snap of the ball (except in the final two minutes).

These are two rules that have helped compartmentalize NFL games into nice, tidy, three-hour windows. Games in which each team basically runs 62-68 plays.

Last season, the average I-A team ran 72 plays per game. At least six ran 78 per game. Tulsa led the nation running an average of 80.4 plays. That offense was the first to produce a 5,000-yard passer, a 1,000-yard receiver and a 1,000-yard rusher on the same squad.

Let's see, what was the last NFL team to do that?

The opinions of rules committee folks vary. One source in the room said that teams might lose the equivalent of one series (three or four plays) per game. Some say the 40-second rule could actually add more plays because officials will be more cognizant of getting the ball in play so as not to cheat an offense.

The fact that there is no consensus is scary. We like the game the way it is. What the suits don't realize is that, by and large, fans want to spend as much time as possible on campus on a football Saturday. A lot of them are driving five, six, seven hours to get there. College football is an event, not a commodity.

The average length of a game last season was 3 hours, 23 minutes, 4 seconds. That's up 1:47 from 2006. Anyone complaining?

"I don't know anyone who thinks the game is too long now anyway," said an officiating crew member from a BCS conference. "What do they care if the game is 20 minutes longer, or a half hour?"

We think rules committee member Randy Edsall, the Connecticut coach, has it right.

"We, as coaches, are willing to do some things to speed up the pace of play because we understand the TV games are a little bit longer, " Edsall said. "We also have to have the cooperation of the TV people."

Two changes that were discussed: 1) compel networks to go to a commercial during a replay. That kills two birds. Networks get to sell product, instead of wasting down time with happy chatter.

2) Cut the length of halftime.

"We might have to go to a 15-minute halftime," Edsall added. "Get your (commercials) done before the game. Get them done in your breaks. There has to be some give and take on all three sides. It just can't always be the coaches trying to come up with ways to (speed up) the pace of the game."

All of this year's proposed rules changes are still subject to approval by the NCAA oversight panel. Let's hope the panel takes a long, hard look at the proposals and the rules committee's track record before rubber stamping things. In 2006, that was a disaster.

  Nice job by the Division I-A Athletic Directors Association, which is working on a college version of the Rooney Rule.

The NFL long ago compelled teams to interview at least one minority candidate when filling a head coaching position. The AD's association is doing the same except for one key ingredient.

It has no way of forcing schools to interview minorities. Instead, schools will be "encouraged" to adhere to the standards.

That's a political move without any teeth. Until the NCAA steps in (which it probably can't), expect more of the same. To his credit, president Myles Brand has used his bully pulpit to encourage more minority hiring but more needs to be done.

The college presidents need to agree as a group that their schools will interview at least one minority candidate for every head coaching opening. The ADs have shown they don't have across-the-board support. If they did, they would have agreed to sanctions for schools that don't comply.

 The silly (off)season has kicked off, fittingly, in the SEC. Too much time and not enough to do for our college football stars frequently is a dangerous combination.

 Tennessee kicker Dustin Colquitt, with a history of alcohol-related problems, recently spoke to a group of fifth-graders graduating from a Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) class.

Colquitt was charged Sunday with a DUI and leaving the scene of the accident. The Clinton, Tenn., police chief has apologized for allowing Colquitt to speak.

 Alabama lineman Jeremy Elder admitted to robbing two students on Sunday. One student said Elder got $26 after being confronted at gunpoint. The student also said he was able to identify Elder from video footage taken at Bryant Hall, the athletic dorm.

Elder was spotted walking toward the rear of Bryant Hall after the alleged robbery wearing a checkered black and white (houndstooth?) baseball cap adored with the Alabama "A".

At least the caper was well thought out. Good luck with the rest of your life, Jeremy. You'll need it.


Category: NCAAF
Posted on: February 18, 2008 9:16 pm

End of the line for Ryan Perrilloux?

As a three-time "loser", Ryan Perrilloux is running out of chances at LSU.

The talented LSU quarterback's third career suspension came down Monday from coach Les Miles. The announcement contained no specifics but apparently it is the result of a bunch of little stuff like being late for meetings, classes etc. Except that Perrilloux has exactly no equity built up with Miles. The three suspensions have been for different and troubling reasons

Combine that with the fact that Perrilloux arguably saved LSU's season with effective backup work and his do-or-die start in the SEC championship game. This was going to be his team in 2008. Miles has little behind him on the depth chart but it is clear the coach has little patience. I scraped up this two-day old blog
 if you really want to get into rumor mongering.

Bottom line: Don't be surrpised if Crazy Les boots even crazier Ryan. How do you screw up such a great situation? From quarterback of the defending national champions to looking for a school to transfer to.




Category: NCAAF
Tags: LSU Tigers
Posted on: February 14, 2008 1:10 pm
Edited on: February 14, 2008 4:53 pm

Mauk denied sixth year at Cincinnati

The NCAA just denied Cincinnati quarterback Ben Mauk a sixth year of eligibility. Typical of the times, though, Mauk is not done pursuing his eligibility for a final year with the Bears.

He intimated that he might be pursuing this from a legal angle. Why not? There's a little thing called a temporary restraining order.

Mauk was the trigger man for the first 10-win at Cincinnati in 50 years. Strangely, Cincinnati based its case on Mauk's 2003 redshirt season at Wake Forest. Mauk missed most of the 2006 season at Wake after injuring his shoulder. He took advantage of a short-lived NCAA rule to transer to Cincinnati without sitting out.

Wake supported Cincinnati's pursuit of a sixth year. This from the Cincinnati press release: "NCAA Bylaw ... states that a redshirt year is considered within the control of the student-athlete and/or institution and does not constitute a missed participation opportunity."

Cincy will be OK. It has Notre Dame transfer Demetrius Jones and a couple of good recruits on the roster.

Why am I writing about Cincinnati? As long as coach Brian Kelly is there, the Bearcats have a chance to go to a BCS bowl in any given year. Forget about Greg Schiano and Tom Bradley, Kelly might be the next coach at Penn State. Which leads me to the next item ...

You've got to read the latest from Happy Valley from one of my favorites, Harrisburg Patriot-News columnist David Jones:

It seems like the winds of change are finally blowing through. It looks like a significant portion of the Penn State trustees would support president if he decided to make a move on Joe Paterno. It seems clear, after reading this, that JoePa is entering his last season. The question is, does Joe go quietly or does he fight it?

It also raises another issue: What is Paterno telling recruits, specifically Terrelle Pryor? The nation's No. 1 player delayed his signing last week, in part, so he could take an official trip to State College. The word is that Paterno told Pryor that his replacement will come from within the staff. That might be news to Spanier and AD Tim Curley who might prefer to go outside for a replacement.

If it's a promotion, expect Tom Bradley to replace Joe (no surprise). Bradley is recruiting his --- off trying ot land Pryor.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or