Somebody check the
By: Richard Linde, 5 August 2002
Neuheisel and Colorado officials face the NCAA on August 9 in Philadelphia to
answer questions relating to the alleged 51 secondary rules violations that
occurred during Neuheisel’s tenure as head coach at Colorado from 1995 to
1998. Colorado could be cited for a lack of institutional control and
Neuheisel’s coaching activities at Washington could be limited.
Neuheisel says that he
was not aware he was breaking any rules and that the incidents were inadvertent
on his part. As part of the 51 allegations, Nueheisel and his staff are alleged
to have made illegal contact with recruits twenty-three times during the May
The latest off-field
incident involving Coach Neuheisel poses some questions.
Why did it take a
whole year for the NCAA to warn Colorado of potential recruiting violations,
coincidentally at the time Neuheisel left Colorado to coach at Washington?
In January 1999, about the time Nueheisel left Colorado to
coach at Washington, apparently the NCAA notified Colorado of the possibility
of rules violations based on a news article about a recruit’s visit. That
article which appeared in the Portland Oregonian a year earlier (January
1988) included a photo of Taylor Barton, Rick Neuheisel and two Colorado
assistant coaches. A reporter and photographer accompanied Barton, out of
Beaverton, on his recruiting visit to Colorado, which is a violation of the
NCAA’s publicity rule. The article ran two weeks before signing day, although
allegedly the paper had assured Barton that it would run the story shortly
In July 2001, the NCAA notified Colorado that it was
formally conducting an investigation into possible rules violations, 18 of them
questioned by Neuheisel as occurring outside of its four-year
statutes of limitations.
Why did it take so long for the NCAA to conduct the
The alleged rules violations under Neuheisel’s watch
occurred during a four-year period from 1995 to 1998. Eight of the alleged
violations involved the use of a private jet loaned by a booster for recruiting
and business trips, one that former coach Bill McCartney used as coach of the
Buffs. It’s hard to believe that Colorado officials were unaware of this
arrangement, as does Neuheisel who believes they were aware of it. If so, why
wasn’t it self-reported much earlier?
What kind of an emotional toll are the current flap and
other well-publicized incidents taking on Neuheisel?
Shortly after Neusheisel took the Washington job in
January 1999, he and his staff committed three minor recruiting violations. One
of them involved assistant coaches making improper home visits during the NCAA
quiet period. He says his NCAA rules book was unpacked and he wasn’t aware of
the dates when recruiting contact was prohibited. Another violation concerned
phone calls he made to former players at Colorado to wish them luck and say
goodbye. Neuheisel was charged with tampering. Then he was charged with
illegally ascertaining the athletic ability of a high-school defensive back by
engaging in a basketball shoot around with him during a recruiting trip.
Washington sanctioned itself as a result of these
After letter of intent day in February, a worn-out,
emotional Neuheisel publicly ripped recruiting tactics at Oregon and UCLA.
One involved the jumbotron incident at Oregon.
With potential Washington recruits in the house at the
Oregon/Oregon State football game (Eugene, 2001), a video clip of Rick
Neuheisel was juxtaposed with a scene from the movie "Airplane" that
showed a woman vomiting. It was shown six times on the Jumbotron. Later, the
Oregon athletic director apologized for the incident.
Neuheisel also publicly criticized UCLA coaches for
pounding away at Husky verbal Clayton Walker, allegedly telling him that he (Neuheisel)
would be the next coach at UCLA. Bob Toledo retaliated, saying that if he were
to be fired, Neuheisel would be first in line to apply for the UCLA job. The
Pac-10 reprimanded Neuheisel and Toledo for their public comments and
reprimanded Oregon for its recruiting tactics.
An indefatigable media has persisted in covering the latest flap. Since
July 20, gohuskies.net lists 10 different stories from various media sources
around the net covering the latest set of allegations against Neuheisel.
One article, not listed, involves a comparison between
Neuheisel and Steve Spurrier.
Sportswriter Darryl Richards of FOXSports.com calls
Neuheisel “the heir apparent to Steve Spurrier as college football's
lightning rod.” During Pac-10 media day in Los Angeles, Neuheisel told
Richards that, "I am honored by the thought that there may be some
similarities between Steve and I (sic) because he is one of the great coaches
in the game…If I can be mentioned in the same sentence with him, whether it
be positive or a tongue-in-cheek positive way, that's okay with me."
Blaine Newnham (Seattle Times) opens his latest
story ("Watchful eyes stay locked on Nueheisel") with: "Rick
Neuheisel. Creative, crafty or criminal?"
Newnham doubts Neuheisel intentionally broke rules.
"I think he just saw himself as outworking and outsmarting everyone
If true, I doubt that Neuheisel did anything that
scores of other college coaches have not done. They will continue to push
the envelope to the disadvantage of Washington's recruiting activities.
A devoted family man, Neuheisel wonders about the emotional affect of these
stories on his three sons.
As a self-imposed
punishment, he says he will not evaluate high-school players in future years
during the month of May, that people make things up and that they can’t blame
you if you’re not present.
The preceding flaps
and the outcome of the NCAA meeting on August 9 could eventually take their
toll on the sensitive, emotional Neuheisel. As a lightning rod, he’s a
kinder, gentler version of Steve Spurrier; and as such, it’s not clear that
he’s as well grounded.