The above picture was taken by Jon Gold at Inside UCLA, and it says a lot of things about our Bruins.
For one, it’s important to note what it meant to Jon Gold:
Neuheisel’s last practice at Spaulding field as head coach of the Bruins culminated in a celebration, not for a coach, it seemed, but for a UCLA legend.
You can’t rephrase that and do that quote justice. Gold is absolutely right — this is less about Rick Neuheisel the UCLA head honcho, and more about Rick Neuheisel, the die-hard, True Blue-bleeding Bruin whose dream job was to take the reigns at UCLA.
We can talk about how his tenure didn’t work out and all that, but there’s been enough of that. This is as heartwarming a moment as you can find at any college. Neuheisel took beatings in the media, in the blogosphere and from fans (hell, I’ve booed Rick at the Rose Bowl before, I admit). Yet, the guy stood tall and proud to be coaching his UCLA Bruins. What was indifference to us was undying optimism and love for his alma mater, and the belief that he would do anything to make things right. It’s killing him to know that he’s going out the way he is, but as his mantra goes (one which he’s reminded us like hell the past few days), “tough situations don’t last; tough people do.”
Don’t expect this to be the last thing we hear from RN. Because while his tenure here in Westwood was rocky, it had its good moments, especially this past year. Going 5-1 at home, in front of the fans who so wished for your exit, is no joke. Learning to adjust to your quarterback’s strengths (as Kevin Prince has fluorished in the second half of the season, while Richard Brehaut showed flashes of brilliance after replacing Prince) is a tall task for anyone. RN is a hell of an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. He’s going to get picked up, and that team will be lucky to have him tag along their coaching staff.
Who knows? Perhaps in five years, if we’ve managed to pick up another stinker of a head coach, RN will have risen up from the ashes and matured well enough to really take the reigns of a legitimate, Division-I football program, and there’ll be a vacancy.
OK, so that’s a little too storybook-fairy-tale, but I’m not ruling out anything…