Monday, September 1, 2008

One of the great lies of coaching

USA Today profiled UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel in its Friday edition. If you recall, the University of Washington fired Coach Neuheisel in 2003.

He was then out of the game for a couple of years, working as a volunteer coach at a Seattle high school, before joining the NFL's Baltimore Ravens as QB coach and offensive coordinator. Neuheisel was hired as head coach of UCLA, his alma mater, in late December of last year.

The USA Today story includes some great quotes from Coach Neuheisel that I think coaches can relate to:

On spending more time with his family: "Coaches are always guilty of the notion that, well, I don't have a real quantity amount of time [to spend with my family], but the quality is really high. Well, that's one of the great lies of all time."

On being fired at Washington: "Your rationalization button just goes to an all-time high. You want somebody to say, 'Hey, how can they be doing this?' But you know what, at the end of the day, it just doesn't help. It happened. I'm sorry. Let's move on. The bitterness and the retribution and all the different things you feel — because they're human emotions — they're wasted. You've just got to focus on all the good things you've got going on, and at the end of the day, you'll see your way out of it."

On disciplining players: "I catch myself as a dad doing it. 'Don't do it again,' rather than administering the discipline. It's easier, because they'll like you more, and they promise you they're not going to do it again, (but) you just have to do it. Then the question is how much. I've made mistakes in the past. I'd suspended [a starter] for the Michigan game, which was a huge game, but I told him I'd let it be half the game if he got it all done, as an incentive. As I look back, it was the wrong message. It looked as if I was desperate and I'd give up things to find ways to get guys to play, and I wasn't telling the kid that he needed to focus on what he'd done wrong."

On how he's matured: "You don't have to have this paranoia that exists in our profession that somebody else is out there getting this. Basically, that's where my head was when I was 33. I was trying to look for the loophole. In law school [Neuheisel has a law degree from USC], you always are searching for an angle. I was looking for that stuff. I'm at a point in my life where I know I can do this job. I don't have to take shortcuts. I might lose a recruit that I might have gotten years ago, but that recruit won't help me win games if that's what I would have needed to do to get him, or build the kind of program I want to build."

[Here's ESPN's excellent "Outside the Lines" interview with Coach Neuheisel.]