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.