I started covering the Huskies in Keith Gilbertson's second season. Which means, I never got to cover Rick Neuheisel.
I got my first real time with him at media day; and he certainly seemed to say all the right things. I'll have some of that in the Friday paper. But here is some of what we heard from Neuheisel.
ON GETTING THE UCLA JOB
Where I was in 2003 and 2003 to getting this opportunity has been kind of like a climb. I've been trying to climb back. And when you get that call, and you're waiting for the fax to come across that machine, it's pretty special. You have a lot of flashbacks about stuff that went on, but now you're excited about all that lies ahead. Maybe that's what is the most fun: Now there is a future. We're never guaranteed anything, but at least there is the thought that you're going to get to do this after wondering if it's ever going to happen.
ON IF HE FEARED HE'D NEVER COACH AGAIN
I was always confident. But there were days when there was less confidence than others. Saturdays were hard days. I couldn't stand not watching it. I had to watch every game. … I'd watch literally from the time we left the office until it was dark. And I'd coach every game. I'd manage every game and every decision and scream at TV and so forth.
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ON WHETHER THERE WAS A LOW POINT
The dealing with the dismissal and the lawsuit in such a public forum, and having things said about your publicly… As a coach you get to coach next week – win a game and stop all the talk, right? When you're not able to do that, you don't have that. You have to kind of weather it. And what makes it even more difficult is it's your family and your wife and all these people who have to deal with it, and they did nothing: guilt by association. And you have to deal with that. Those things you wouldn't wish on anybody.
ON THE CHANGES IN THE LEAGUE
In my last year, Pete Carroll was a good coach. Now he's an icon. Mike Bellotti has now reached the status he deserves, given his longevity and his status and the things that he's accomplished. Jeff Tedford is now a bona fide big-time coach. Dennis Erickson was already, but now has come back and rekindled the magic that everybody knew he had at Arizona State, and he's on everybody's who's who list. The Pac-10 now is a legitimate hotbed for big-time coaches. I would say on par with the SEC, definitely on par with the SEC. … You can go on down the list. I think Harbaugh hit one out of the park last year when he made the big statements early and then beats SC – you've got to admire that. This is a great conference and I'm happy to be part of it.
On UCLA'S VISIT TO WASHINGTON
I'm still not allowing myself to be depressed about it. Just because in college football, every game's hard. Going to Seattle will be an interesting game from a media perspective – there will be lots of storylines. But I kind of have already been through it with the Colorado-Washington game. So I'm not as leery as I might have been. … There will be a lot of emotion in the building. It should be a good football game.
ON THE RECEPTION HE EXPECTSI imagine it will be a lot of boos. Maybe that will be the nice way to put it.
For me, I had a great experience at the University of Washington. The ending was messy. I feel badly about it because there were no winners in the end. I didn't win. They didn't win. A lot of good people were hurt by the chain of events and it was too bad. It didn't need to go down that way. But that's in the past, and hopefully everybody's learned from it. I certainly have and we move on.