Follow us:

Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

December 2, 2011 at 9:58 AM

Friday links — and one last Pac-12 pick

The Pac-12 season officially ends tonight with the conference’s first title game.

No one is expecting much, with Oregon favored by as much as 32 points, and apparently the potential of not even a full-house on hand.
I’ll present a pick below, but I’m not projecting a surprise. Anything could theoretically happen, I guess. But it’s hard to make much of a logical case for it in this instance, and I won’t be the one to try.

When the game concludes, it will also end the UCLA coaching career of Rick Neuheisel.

He’s better-known around here as one of the most controversial coaches in UW history, on the field and off.

On the surface, his UW coaching legacy seems secure, with a 33-16 overall record and a Rose Bowl title and No. 3 final ranking in 2000, the last time the Huskies have been to a BCS bowl or finished a season ranked in the top 10. But more than a few around the program cite the slide of the next two years — 8-4 in 2001 and 7-6 in 2002 — as proof he was losing control, and as the beginning of the troubles that followed.

He wasn’t around for the complete drop into oblivion of the next few years. He’s insisted he would have prevented it, others around UW aren’t so sure, and obviously we’ll never really know.

I’ve always wondered what he would have done to change the quarterback situation in 2004, which in my view was the single-biggest on-field reason for what happened that season (amazingly, and surely forgotten, is that the defense allowed only 311 yards per game that season despite the 1-10 record. UW hasn’t allowed fewer than 379.8 in any season since then and that 2004 total is actually the lowest in any season in the post-Don James Era.)

I’ve talked to lots of former players and gotten just about every viewpoint imaginable on Neuheisel. I’m not sure any UW coach has ever stirred such conflicting emotions.

His exit is also just as controversial, and not really worth debating anymore other than to note that the whole episode seems almost quaint now given many of the scandals that have followed throughout college sports.

Many around UW I talk to have always seemed more bothered that Neuheisel simply never appeared to want to commit to staying in Seattle — it felt to a lot of people like he didn’t really appreciate the job he had with the Huskies until it was being taken from him.

But you had to respect the road he took to get back into coaching, and it felt appropriate that when he got another chance it was at his dream job, UCLA. That it hasn’t worked out reinforces to some around UW his responsibility for the cracks they saw developing in his final years with the Huskies.

Obviously, though, every situation is different. I think he had a better coaching staff surrounding him at UW than at UCLA — or at least one with better chemistry — especially early on, smartly keeping Randy Hart and bringing back Keith Gilbertson, two guys who knew well the lay of the land on Montlake (it kind of felt like his hiring of Norm Chow at UCLA was an attempt to replicate the success he had working with Gilbertson at UW — obviously, it didn’t work).

And as was learned later, he also took over a better base of talent at UW than many might have suspected at the time — among the main reasons Jim Lambright was fired was a feeling that recruiting was slipping, nobody really realizing exactly what the team had in Marques Tuiasosopo (the group of linemen he inherited I also think was a lot better than many thought at the time).

Regardless of what you think of him, though, it’ll he hard to watch tonight and not feel empathetic — has there ever been a situation where a coach is attempting to guide his team to a win that could qualify it for a BCS bowl, all the while knowing he wouldn’t get to coach in that bowl if he succeeds?

Ken Goe of The Oregonian also nicely details a few other reasons to think kindly of Neuheisel tonight (I’ll admit I don’t have a lot of similar stories to share, in part because his relations with our paper were pretty frosty for a while — he wouldn’t speak to any of us for a few years — for what are I think are obvious reasons. But everyone here has always respected that he put all that in the past once he got the UCLA job and he’s answered all of our questions since). ESPN.com’s Ted Miller, who also covered the entire Neuheisel era for the sadly-defunct Seattle PI, shares similar feeings.

As for the game tonight, I simply see no way UCLA’s offense can keep up with Oregon’s. It’s hard to imagine the Bruins won’t play better than they did in the 50-0 loss to USC last week. But I’d expect Oregon to do its usual job of pulling away in the second half to win comfortably. Call it OREGON 45, UCLA 17.

Last week: Straight up, 5-2; against the spread, 2-4-1

Season to date: Straight up, 68-23; against the spread, 35-54-1.

NOW FOR SOME LINKS. …

Bud Withers reports there’s already a buzz building in Pullman over Mike Leach. Here are lots of other Leach-related links.

— Still unclear who will replace Neuheisel, but it won’t be Chris Petersen.

Jon Wilner unveils his latest bowl projections as well as what sees as the only — and outlandish — scenario that could keep Stanford out of the BCS, which of course would send UW to the Holiday Bowl, probably.

— An update on Oregon State’s recruiting includes some familiar names.

— The morning roundup from Dr. Saturday.

— This story on Baylor’s bowl hopes provides a good overview of what the Alamo Bowl may be thinking in regards to its Big 12 choice.

— There had been some conjecture whether Mike Price would return at UTEP next year, but the school announced Thursday he will be back.

— Some interesting Pac-12 coaching nuggets from Greg Hansen.

Comments

COMMENTS

No personal attacks or insults, no hate speech, no profanity. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate this thread by reporting any abuse. See our Commenting FAQ.



The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.


The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►