After the 50-0 humiliation at the hands of USC -- not to mention the fact that none of his four regular seasons were any better than the worst regular season turned in by fired predecessor Karl Dorrell -- it was, almost certainly, time for Rick Neuheisel to go. But say this for the UCLA head coach: he never lost his players.
You can see as much in this video from the end of Wednesday's final full practice under Neuheisel before they take on Oregon in Saturday's Pac-12 championship game. Yes, that's Neuheisel being carried off the field on his players' shoulders as they sing the UCLA fight song:
Not surprisingly, Neuheisel -- a UCLA alum and former Bruin quarterback star -- was more than a little moved by the gesture, pausing to compose himself more than once while delivering his post-practice comments to the media:
“(A better tribute) is tough to imagine but it’s meaningful when you work to create relationships and you want desperately for them to achieve what they’re capable of achieving. Despite the fact that we didn’t win enough games, I think they are achieving as people.That finish might be tough to come by against the Ducks in Autzen, the same team and location where Neuheisel's Bruins were demolished 60-13 last season. But UCLA will at least have the chance to play in a bowl game after the NCAA approved a waiver to allow them into the postseason at 6-7.
I’m extremely proud to be a part of this team and I’m looking forward to a what is hopefully a grand finish.”
Neuheisel won't be coaching the team for that game, as interim coach Mike Johnson will have taken the reins. But after the above send-off, he's already got an ending as happy as this season was going to allow.
HT: Dr. Saturday