What Went Wrong in Westwood: Pt. 1

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.

1. Do not pass go, Do not collect $200

Though no fault of Rick Neuheisel, an ill-timed advertisement became the butt of jokes and set a tone of skepticism that Neuheisel could never overcome. When the “The football monopoly in Los Angeles is officially over,” ads hit newstands, Neuheisel’s bravado was immediately questioned. When the team lost to USC 28-7 in Neuheisel’s first game, he was roundly mocked. By the time the Trojans beat the Bruins 50-0 on Nov. 26, Neuheisel’s fourth straight loss to his cross-town rivals, more Monopoly jokes had been told than at a Parker Bros. convention. Eventually, Neuheisel’s passion bucket full of ready-made inspirational quotes wore out a fan base that just wanted to win.

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  • PeterUCLA

    Jon, thanks for pointing out what so many “journalists”, bloggers, and Neuheisel naysayers have been getting wrong for four years. The ad in question was wholly generated by the UCLA Athletics marketing people, and they never consulted the coach. In fact, he was surprised when first asked about it.

    Coach Rick did many things wrong, but he should not be berated for decisions he did not make.

  • BigFatDaddy

    Thanks PeterUCLA for pointing this out. It’s true that the perception is that the ad was of Neuheisel’s doing.

  • Gary

    I for one don’t really care to relive/rehash what all went wrong, ready to move on…

  • Slippery Pete

    Jon you were not covering the team at the time of this advertisement if I remember right. This ad was something that was done by UCLA ticketing or marketing. Neuheisel had no idea that it was being done. If you can go back 4 years in the Dan Patrick show this was discussed the day after the ad run and Rick knew nothing about it and was uncomfortable about it being run. This was a mistake by UCLA, but had absolutely nothing to do with Rick.

  • Pete, what does my very first line say? “Though no fault of Rick Neuheisel…”


    But “perception is reality,” as the cliche goes. And wasn’t Neuheisel’s smiling picture placed right along that ill-advised slogan?

    And why were the SC boys saying they felt
    “disrespected” by Neuheisel the week before the SC game when the coach was talking about how the “gap” was closing?

  • Trublubruin

    Neuheisel didn’t sign-off on the “Monopoly” campaign but he surely put his foot in his mouth numerous times after this incident. The most egregious comment he made was obviously the “gap has closed” with SC a week prior to the game. Seriously, that back had the nerve and stupidity to actually make that statement when it was clear BEFORE the game that that gap had not been closed one iota since his arrival. He continued to make sorry excuses to guise his faults in leadership, recruitment, player development, discipline, coaching personnel, offensive system, philosophical direction, and program culture. He knew what he was getting into when he took his “dream job” but he didn’t have any real vision or plan of execution. He left Colorado in shambles, he left Washington in a wreck, and he did the same at UCLA. He is NOT a good head coach and he’s not much of an offensive coordinator. There is a reason why Terry Donahue passed him over for the offensive coordinator job in 1993 for Bob Toledo. I for one am not buying into any excuses for his abject failure as head coach at UCLA. He got his chance and like all the other chances this guy has gotten, he blew it again.

  • BruinRogue

    Meh, I didn’t fault Rick then and I don’t now. It was the right choice at that moment.

  • Lifelong Bruin Fan

    I didn’t realize that xCRN had nothing to do with this ad. Talk about a marketing blunder by the UCLA Athletic Department….

  • Johnny Angel

    Nothing better is to be expected from an out of touch and incompetent UCLA administration. After ten years of futility and humiliation on the football field the same people are going to make the next bad decision for UCLA football. Words don’t do justice for the utter disgust that I have the UCLA administration for letting this happen and even causing this to happen.