Slick Rick Is Back in the Game

UCLA chancellor Gene Block released the statement: “I’m pleased to welcome Rick Neuheisal back into the UCLA family . . .”

UCLA later sent out a correction — spelling Neuheisel’s name correctly.

Yes, the Neuheisel-UCLA marriage appears to be one of desperation. Slick Rick, who racked up 50-plus NCAA violations at Colorado and Washington, is back in the college ranks, leaving his gig as first-year offensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens, who stand No. 23 in offense and No. 25 in scoring and touchdowns. The Ravens, 13-3 a year ago, have lost nine in a row entering Sunday’s game against Pittsburgh.

UCLA, desperate to make a hire, gets a coach on the cheap: A reported five-year deal for $1.25 million annually, plus incentives. But it’s not like Neuheisel, 46, needs the money. In 2005, he settled a wrongful termination lawsuit against the NCAA and Washington for $4.5 million.

Neuheisel didn’t leave many friends behind when he bolted Colorado for Washington. T.J. Simers of the L.A. Times found this gem: When Neuheisel departed Boulder, the Denver Post’s Mark Kiszla began his column, “The Colorado Buffaloes have no football coach this morning, which is an improvement over their position 24 hours earlier.”

Neuheisel has a career record of 66-30. Of Slick Rick’s time at Washington, the Seattle Times Bob Condotta writes: “Neuheisel was 33-16 at UW but what many close to the program think is more relevant is that he was 8-9 in his last 17 games. That was the period when the Huskies began not to be able to run the ball well — they never topped 200 yards rushing in any of his last 23 games as UW’s coach; and began to give up points in bunches — UW gave up 30 or more points in eight of those games.

“One person close to the UW program once told me that they thought the best thing that ever happened to Neuheisel’s coaching reputation was that he was fired in the manner he was, his theory being Neuheisel might have been fired in a year or two for on-field performance. Being fired for something else — and at the time he was — allowed him to merely point to his overall record of 66-30 as evidence of his coaching acumen instead of the fact that both UW and Colorado began to lose more the longer he was in control.”

Kyle Bunch

Partnerships for R/GA Ventures. Raised in California, adopted by Texas. Opinions expressed here are mine and they are fantastic.

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