Tuesday, April 22, 2008

DOH-mer Of The Week- Rick Neuheisel

From the beginning, the UCLA postseason has been odd. The post Karl Dorrell era kicked off with the school interviewing 3 men for the coaching vacancy (Rick Neuheisel, Norm Chow, and Dwayne Walker), and somehow landing all 3 men on staff. They’ve put together their own “dream team” of coaches, with Chow being one of the great offensive minds in the game, Walker being a pupil of Pete Carroll across town and a respected defensive coordinator, and Rick Neuheisel already proving he could take both bottom feeding Washington and Colorado to new heights.

With the coaching staff set, the Bruins set out to start anew, and put the embarrassment of the 2007 football season behind them. But somehow, the UCLA football program managed to pull off a rarity, by embarrassing themselves, as a unit, in the postseason. As a recent hire at UCLA, Neuheisel has yet to be in a position to lose a game, but last week he somehow managed to lose his team.

Many made the trek to Westwood, on a beautiful Spring day, to watch the Bruins practice. Some were invited guests, which included parents, potential recruits, and high school coaches. As everyone settled in and watched the team stretch, before beginning their workouts, the Bruins rose to their feet and started running…kept running…through the gates…and never came back. I wonder how long people waited, before realizing the football players, and not the coaching staff, delivered a message that practice was over?

The Bruins fulfilled a tradition, known as “over the wall”, and left the new dream team staff to face the humiliation, and steam with anger. You may ask how I can get a DOHmer out of tradition, but it's actually pretty easy. This week’s DOHmer is head coach Rick Neuheisel. And it's not for having his team abandon him in front of invited guests, but for his later comments.

Rick was furious and said the act by his players was totally unexpected. Attempting to save face, he also said he had no clue of the tradition. In other words, Ricky flat out lied. Take a quick peep at the photograph below.

That’s a picture of former UCLA quarterback, and Rose Bowl MVP, Rick Neuheisel, when he was a player at UCLA. As a player, Rick took part in the “over the wall” tradition, so how could he not know about it? Neuheisel’s former coach at UCLA, Terry Donahue, pointed out that Rick was often the “instigator” for the over the wall ditch party. How does a former UCLA QB hide on a UCLA campus? It just doesn't happen. This was one of those times where Rick needed Norm to take the questions from the media, since he never attended or coached UCLA before this year, and would genuinely be "shocked". But instead, Neuheisel sat there as a current coach, former player, and 1980s practice "wall climber", claiming to not know of the tradition.

How was former coach Karl Dorrell not embarrassed by the stunt, but the new coaching staff is? Dorrell, who was also a player for the Bruins, knew about the tradition, and would actually help plan it. Dorrell, knew which day “not” to invite guests, and which day was going to look like a practice, but become a “no practice”. Dorrell helped a long tradition continue, without making a jackass of himself and the program.

As one guest put it, “Now we know why they play in the Lays potato chip bowl every year”. Another guest stated that the act would never fly at Fresno state, where he played college ball. Their actions certainly wouldn’t sit well across town with Pete Carroll, with Trojans admitting that if they ran away from the field, those responsible for the brainstorm would never see the turf again.

What I found most shocking was the fact that the entire team was able to sprint the field and disappear through the gates. The defense may get a pass, but anyone that saw the Bruins play in 2007 would know the offensive unit usually stalls at the 20 yard line. Was it all worth it? Who knows? But I’ll take any opportunity to laugh at the powder blue, and even reward them with a prize. Way to go…DOHmers!

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