What Went Wrong in Westwood: Pt. 2

Ed. note: I’m taking a retrospective look at what eventually doomed the Rick Neuheisel era. He obviously did not lack a passion for the job, but questionable decisions and cruel twists of fate – and knees – led to his dismissal from his alma mater. I take a look back at a dozen of the pivotal moments that eventually sealed Neuheisel’s fate.

2. Hiring Norm Chow and then not giving him the reins

When Neuheisel brought offensive guru Norm Chow in to join defensive wiz DeWayne Walker as coordinator, folks around UCLA were calling it a coaching dream team. What a nightmare. Walker was gone in a year and while Neuheisel and Chow have both downplayed any “chemistry issues” in the media, to be certain, there were issues. Neuheisel never ceded full control of the offense to Chow, and their back-and-forth instruction with quarterbacks caused mass confusion. Eventually Chow was jettisoned after three years after the ill-fated switch to the Pistol offense doomed the passing game.

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  • steelcurtain

    I wish you were USC’s beat writer. Any chance of switching spots with wolf?

  • PeterUCLA

    I always had the feeling that Neuheisel was afraid of being criticized for not bringing Chow on board, even though he clearly wanted a strong say in the offense.

  • VB

    Totally agree with you here. Our offense was schizophrenic due to the two headed monster of Neu-Chow.

    Neu lacked a clear, strong vision and philosophy and how to execute it. Contrast this with Harbaugh, who had a clear philosophy and vision, recruited to fulfill his vision, got all players to buy in on both sides of the ball, and executed his vision both at San Diego and Stanford, and now with the 9’ers.

    Neu did not lack passion and love for Ucla, but he doomed himself with hiring Chow and not letting Chow do his thing, the injury bug to his senior QBs, lack of recruiting enough lineman, and then changing philosophies midstream.

    Since the elements for the Pistol are all there, perhaps Guerrero should call up Chris Ault for a formal interview being that the other candidates are saying no thank you.

  • Richie

    I thought Chow was forced on RN?

  • Semi-Pro

    Jon did not say that all of these occurrences were decisions made by Neuheisel himself. Whether or not the decision was made by Neuheisel is moot.

  • Steven

    While the decision actually being made (by whomever) may be moot, the blame should not be placed on RN if this series is examining “What Went Wrong in Westwood.” That black mark shouldn’t go down in RN’s column. It should be in DG’s column, perhaps.

    I think that’s what some of the commenters are saying.

  • BruinRogue

    You have one of the biggest weapons in the game and he’s muzzled. Any success Brehaut and Prince have had throwing the ball probably comes from his initial tutelage.

  • Lifelong Bruin Fan

    Not trusting Chow to run the offense was a HUGE mistake.

    Oh, and to think what could have been…sigh