One of our favorite UCLA Bruins beat reporters, Miguel Melendez of Inside UCLA has transcribed an excellent KLAC radio interview with former UCLA Bruins football head coach Rick Neuheisel. In keeping with Neuheisel’s role as Pac12 football analyst, the discussion touched on topics relevant to Pac12 football, especially the resurgent UCLA football program under Head Coach Jim L Mora. One Neuheisel sentence in particular stood out to me:
One of the things I’m trying to do for Jim is make sure people understand that UCLA is leaving a lot on the table with respect to what can be done to build a great football program, especially when you’re playing your home games 30 miles away from your campus. - Rick Neuheisel
Rick’s head coaching stint failed to return the storied university to football prominence, costing him his job. His replacement was Jim L Mora. A lesser man might have walked away, disillusioned at the real lack of support from AD Dan Guerrero and the Chancellor, Gene Block. That’s not Rick Neuheisel. Rick has never stopped bleeding UCLA Blue and Gold; he is a Bruin through and through. His Bruin career is vintage Hollywood, complete with a feel good, story book ending. He was Rocky before Stallone. Yes, the story is that good.
It is clear to me that Rick has taken the bully pulpit approach to help his beloved UCLA get to where he knows it needs to be, despite the lackluster effort of the AD and Chancellor. Rick is helping his replacement, Jim L Mora, get the support and facilities Mora needs to return UCLA to it’s rightful place among the elite programs. Rick Neuheisel has placed his love of his alma mater before his own pride and ego. Although he couldn’t coach UCLA back to prominence, he may well succeed by bringing intense public pressure on the Chancellor and the AD to do what’s right for the program.
I’m betting on Rick Neuheisel, the former UCLA walk on and Rose Bowl MVP, to succeed.